How to Get Started in Arknights

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Tower defense was an early pioneer in the mobile gaming revolution, but it took a while for developers to really combine the old ways with the principles of gacha-style RPGs. Arknights is the newest and hottest product of that genre-bending experiment, and brings a character and narrative-based focus to the typically distant style. If you’ve been interested in touching base with the game as it builds steam on the charts, Siliconera has your back with today’s “How to get Started” Guide.

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Published by Yostar, Arknights is developed by Hypergryph, a studio involving talent connected to MICA Team, the developer of hit mobile strategy title Girls’ FrontlineArknights takes place in Terra, an original post-apocalyptic fantasy setting where the world is menaced by massive disasters of supernatural origin. The disasters spread a new element called Originium, that jump-starts technological research but also seeds in the population a disease called Oripathy. Oripathy infection causes prejudice against the Infected, who band together for mutual protection. Players take the role of a “Doctor” at Rhodes Island, a combination pharmaceutical company/paramilitary group dedicated to supporting Infected and researching a cure. There they’ll command teams of Operators as they take on Reunion, a violent group of Infected dedicated to furthering the collapse of society.

There’s a lot to get into from the get-go with Arknights. Though this won’t be an exhaustive beginner’s guide, we hope these tips will make your first few hours with the game a little easier to parse.

Insane in the Brain

Activity in Arknights is governed by your “Sanity”, which corresponds to “Stamina” or “Energy” in other games. Sanity recharges over time, but can be depleted relatively quickly. The game gives away Sanity-recharge items, but as you get deeper in you’ll frequently run short of points. Efficient spending of Sanity is key to making the most out of your daily routine, and unlike some other games, it’s not unusual for players to sometimes spend premium “Originite Prime” currency to refill their Sanity meters.

Get Up To Speed

When starting out with Arknights, it’s best to focus on clearing story missions as quickly as your Sanity allows. Not only is the narrative engaging, but story progress gates a number of features and valuable rewards. Chief among these are key upgrades to the game’s base-building system, and the weekly “Annihilation” missions that generate valuable “Orundum” currency used on the character headhunting gacha.

It’s a Team Effort

Arknights blends the traditional map-and-layout focused style of tower defense games with the progression and character focus of RPGs. Unlike some RPGs, though, single power-leveled characters can’t quite “carry” a whole team through an encounter alone. Bar some notable exceptions (Hi, Silverash!), the best strategy is to try to upgrade a whole team’s worth of Operators to roughly the same level. Each mission conveniently lists a recommended level, so use that as a guide.

No Role Gets Left Behind

Just as Arknights‘ team focus emphasizes collective tactics and positioning, it behooves you to have team members capable of pulling their weight. When upgrading Operators, try to focus your initial use of resources on raising one or two of each class of Operator. Most missions will call for deploying multiples of each class. You don’t want to go into a mission where the only other unit of a class you have is grossly under-leveled.

Promote Wisely

Though Arknights’ general progression favors leveling up as a team, upgrading an Operator to their maximum potential can take a ton of resources. This is especially true of high-rarity, 5- and 6-Star Operators. Getting them to “Elite 2,” the maximum level cap, can take days or even weeks of focused activity. Consider a character’s stats, skills, and role well in relation to your needs before you commit to getting them to Elite 2.

The Yellow and Red

It can be a bit confusing, but two “premium” currencies rule the roost in Arknights. “Originite Prime” (OP) is the yellow-colored gem and can only be acquired by microtransactions and through first-time mission completions. It’s the main currency used to pay for cosmetic skins from the shop, and it can also be used to buy packs of upgrade resources. Hold onto the OP you get, after you catch up with the story, it’ll be a lot harder to come by without paying. The red-colored gems are “Orundum,” and it’s used almost solely for rolling on the premium character gacha. OP can be converted into Orundum for Headhunting rolls. Try not to convert OP unless you’re sure you’re going to roll, as you can’t convert it back.

All in a Good Day’s and Week’s Work

Arknights has a plethora of daily and weekly objectives to tackle, and these are your key to maximizing your resources as you play. Daily and weekly objective completion will generate a significant amount of Orundum and other key resources, so try to get as much done as you can while playing. It won’t take much time, either, especially once you’ve composed auto-deploy teams for your resource missions.

Be the Ace of the Base

As if the tactical strategizing wasn’t enough, Arknights includes an XCOM-style base-building and development system on top of that. Don’t ignore upgrades to the base, as its facilities, once built, will generate a significant chunk of the resources you’ll use to upgrade your Operators. Base upgrades also unlock things like recruitment slots, support slots, and other game systems.

The Almighty Lungmen Dollar

Lungmen Dollars (LMD) are the primary in-game currency of Arknights. Most every upgrade in the game costs some amount of LMD. You gain LMD from completing missions, but also can get it by selling resources generated by base facilities. Take every opportunity to build up a stockpile of LMD when possible, as high-end Operator upgrades in particular can empty your fictional coffers.

Help (Always) Wanted

Arknights includes multiple (paid and free) ways to gather up new Operators. The free system is called “Recruitment” and costs Lungmen Dollars and Recruitment Permits. It uses a “tag” system to generate new Operators over time semi-randomly. It’s extremely rare to score a 5- or 6-star Operator from the Recruitment system, but it can be done on occasion. Even if you’ve got as many low-rarity Operators as you need, keep using your Recruitment passes each day, because even recruiting duplicate characters can generate other currency used for shop purposes or tokens to strengthen the copies you already have.

“Headhunting” is the premium system, and functions similarly to gacha banners in other games. You pay Orundum (or Headhunting Permits) to roll on the gacha for limited characters. If you can scrape together the resources for it, consider trying to gather as much as you need to roll at least ten times on each new banner. This is because Arknights’ headhunting system guarantees a 5-Star character within the first ten rolls on any new banner. If you get lucky, you could get that 5-Star on the very first roll, thus saving Orundum for next time.

Practice Makes Perfect

The value of Sanity in Arknights, combined with the puzzle-like nature of many encounters, makes it preferable to get things done on the first try when possible. Use the practice system to test out your Operator rosters and figure out the timing for stages, the better to minimize your Sanity usage.

These are just a few general tips to get you started in Terra. Have fun!

Arknights is available on Apple iOS and Android devices.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh Tolentino is Senior Staff Writer at Siliconera. He previously helped run Japanator, prior to its merger with Siliconera. He's also got bylines at Destructoid, GameCritics, The Escapist, and far too many posts on Twitter.