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Arknights is a free-to-play mobile game developed by Hypergryph, who also publishes the game's Chinese/CN server (which uses Simplified Chinese) alongside Bilibili. Outside of mainland China, Arknights is published by Yostar for the Japanese/JP, Korean/KR, and English/EN[note 1] servers (collectively referred to as the Global server[note 2]), and Longcheng (a subsidiary of the Chinese company XD Inc.) for the Taiwanese/TW server (that uses Traditional Chinese and also covers Hong Kong and Macau) until February 20, 2024, from which the TW server is published by HG's international subsidiary Gryphline.

Arknights is unique in which it mixes elements from both tactical RPG and tower defense games, which contributes to its rising popularity both in mainland China and worldwide following the game's international release. While the game features gacha game mechanics, Arknights is generally seen as among such games who are less "predatory" than others. The game is exclusively played in single-player mode, although a cooperative system between players is featured.


Arknights takes place in the dystopian world of Terra. Terra may seem initially similar to our Earth, a modern world with a relatively similar level of technology – perhaps slightly more futuristic. However, its inhabitants, the "Ancients", sport animalistic traits. The world is constantly devastated by Catastrophes, ecological disasters of various sorts, forcing the world's inhabitants to adopt a nomadic life through nomadic cities. Along with the Catastrophes came Originium, a black crystalline mineral left behind in the aftermath of Catastrophes. Originium is widely used by the Terrans as a source of energy and engineering materials, and serves as the catalyst of magic-like powers known as Originium Arts. However, exposure to Originium leads to a "terminal disease" known as Oripathy, which has become a pandemic plaguing all of Terra. Oripathy is not easily transmissible, at least until the death and crystallization of its victims. Nevertheless, those stricken with Oripathy are known as Infected and suffer heavy oppression and marginalization across the entire world.

The game is told from the perspective of Rhodes Island, an international, non-governmental pharmaceutical corporation based in the eponymous nomadic landship, the mission of which is to aid the Infected. Rhodes Island hires many Infected and non-Infected Operators of various skills, trades, and origin; and effectively prove to be much more than a simple laboratory, boasting the paramilitary tactics and firepower of a small private military company. As they are best used to deal with the Infected, R.I. enters conflict with Reunion, a violent non-state actor consisting of radical Infected militants who intend to punish the Terrans for their plight. The protagonist faction of Arknights is led by an enigmatic individual known only as the Doctor who has lost their memory from a long stasis in a mysterious Sarcophagus beneath the nomadic city of Chernobog, Ursus, and they are rescued in the game's opening act by Rhodes Island in needs of their tactical genius as their commander.

While Reunion is the game's initial antagonist, the story has since expanded to other greater conflicts. These ranges from geopolitical and social conflicts like the succession conflict in Victoria, the rampant capitalism of Kazimierz, and the never-ending fragmentation of Kazdel resulting the exodus and worldwide discrimination of the Sarkaz, to encroaching otherworldly threats that could wipe out the Terran civilization such as the "gods" of Yan, sea monsters of the abyss, demonic beings of the icy north, and finally handling legacies of a space-faring predecessor civilization. In summary, the theme of the story gradually focuses on mankind's prevailing will against all odds, even one that seems impossible to be overcome, while putting aside their differences to ensure civilization's survival.

Overall, Arknights heavily deals with themes of marginalization, oppression, racism, xenophobia, and geopolitics, and the relative maturity of its storytelling will likely feel familiar to players of Girls' Frontline.

For an overview of the storyline, please see the Synopsis sections of the respective Main Theme episodes.


Those who have played tower defense (TD) games will be familiar with Arknights' gameplay: the player must keep enemies from reaching a certain goal by using "towers."

However, Arknights integrates a significant design difference: unique Operators act as the towers who can be deployed around the map and hold off enemies whether by attacking or blocking them, and due to its RPG-inspired progression mechanics and unique Operator skillsets, no two "towers" typically work the same. Compared to most other TD games, Arknights features rather unique mechanics, as it is designed to be a tower defense game that plays like a strategy RPG. Enemies take various uncommon paths to reach their goals, there is a wide variety of enemy types with their own unique characteristics and behaviors, some stages event completely upend the tower defense dynamic, and the gameplay tends to be significantly more challenging than average.

Arknights naturally integrates a character progression system as most gachas do, which implies some repetitive farming of stages to acquire the resources needed to enhance their Operators. For this reason, Arknights includes the Auto Deploy feature which, uniquely, stores a semi-exact recording of the player's every input, deployment order and skill activation from a previous flawless clear on that map, allowing that map to be completed on its own without any further player input and making "grinding" for resources less tedious.

Arknights includes the Rhodes Island Infrastructure Complex, a Base where Operators can be assigned to work and produce additional materials to enhance their abilities, a base building mechanic which requires the player to do some amount of management and thinking.

Despite being solely a PvE game, Arknights does feature cooperative mechanics between players in form of Support Units and the Credit system. An actual cooperative game mode, Multivariate Cooperation: Defence Protocols, was also featured as a limited-time event.

Being a free-to-play gacha game, Arknights features gacha mechanics in the form of headhunting to obtain Operators. While they are generally regarded as fairly generous, we shall refrain from making such assertions, and let you make your own decision for yourself with the facts listed below:

Arknights gacha mechanics
  • All players receive a 6★ Operator to start with from the Newbie Pool. See the Headhunting article. They will also receive several free Operators, including some 2★, 3★, 4★ and Amiya.
  • A roll costs 600 Orundum icon.png. Ten rolls cost tenfold that amount exactly.
    • The game does not advantage or incentivize doing ten-pulls. Ten rolls at once and ten individual rolls will have the same result.
  • The game features a weekly farming operation called Annihilation that allows one to farm up to 1200 Orundum icon.png a week, and clearing a few of the harder operations allow increasing that cap to 1800 Orundum icon.png.
  • Daily and weekly missions award up to 1200 Orundum icon.png per week if fully completed.
  • Every perfect stage clear awards 1 Originite Prime icon.png, which can be traded for 180 Orundum icon.png. Challenge Modes for stages that have them award 1 Originite Prime icon.png as well.
    • Character Outfits are purchased for either 15 Originite Prime icon.png or 18 Originite Prime icon.png, thus it is entirely possible to acquire skins without spending real money.
  • It is possible to acquire a theoretically unlimited amount of Orundum per week by trading Originium Shard.png Originium Shard in the Trading Post. However, the yield is so low, and the production of this material in the first place is so expensive (requiring heavy amounts of Materials and LMD.png LMD that all but stop any character progression) that it is hardly an efficient method of acquiring free currency and it is not advisable.
  • Character duplicates are known as Potential and, up to a maximum of 5 duplicates, can provide some benefits on the Operator. Every duplicate awards some Certificates, and maximum Potential operators can see their tokens traded in for more Certificates. See the specific article on Certificates for the rules and exchange rates.
    • A Commendation Certificate.png Commendation Certificate is rather easily acquired from duplicates of low-rarity units, and the Commendation Store features 600 Orundum icon.png and 2 Headhunting Permit.png Headhunting Permit in its first phase for the price of 240 Commendation Certificate icon.png and 480 Commendation Certificate icon.png respectively. The first phase of this store can and should be cleared every month.
    • The second phase of the Commendation Store features 2 Headhunting Permit.png Headhunting Permit for 450 Commendation Certificate icon.png apiece. However, it is far less viable to acquire every month and should be reserved for extra rolls on banners you have saved up for.
    • The third phase of the Commendation Store features theoretically uncapped weekly Orundum, but with diminishing returns compared to the above two, and it is hardly viable for free-to-play playing.
    • A 6★ and 5★ Operator from the current Standard Pool headhunting banner can be acquired in the Distinction Store for 180 Distinction Certificate icon.png and 45 Distinction Certificate icon.png, respectively.
    • Otherwise, the distinction store has 8 Headhunting Permit.png Headhunting Permit and 3 Ten-roll Headhunting Permit.png Ten-roll Headhunting Permit for up to 258 Distinction Certificate icon.png, up to 38 rolls, with the stock being reset every month.
    • The currency is acquired rather sparsely, and acquiring this amount of currency requires quite a lot of saving it up and/or rolling, which makes it more practical to get free extra rolls to complement a banner for which you have saved up, as rolling a lot on a banner will be sure to give high amounts of Certificates. However, see Recruitment below for a better way to acquire Certificates.
  • The average headhunting banner features a 2% chance for 6★, 8% chance for 5★, 50% chance for 4★ and 40% chance for 3★.
    • Featured Operators have 50% chance to appear in their rarity. The rate is spread evenly between the two should two characters be featured in the same rarity. That also means there is 50% chance that a roll is not a featured character.
    • Headhunting banners always guarantee a 5★ if the player has not received any in ten rolls. Acquiring a 6★ or 5★ operator will consume this guarantee.
    • After 51 rolls without acquiring a 6★, the rate of 6★ operators will increase on every subsequent roll by 2%, and can increase to a 100% chance eventually. Acquiring a 6★ resets this rate bonus back to its initial 2% and 51 rolls timer.
    • There is no guarantee to eventually receive a Featured operator. A player can acquire multiple 6★ and they can potentially never be a Featured operator.
  • On an average of every three to four months, the game features Limited banners, of which one out of two featured 6★ will not be added to the pool of available 6★ after the banner ends, and can only be acquired on their Limited banners.
    • On limited banners, the rate of Featured operators increases to 70% from 50%
    • Limited banners award 1 Headhunting Data Contract icon.png exclusive to the banner on every roll. A shop allows to purchase all the featured 6★ and 5★ for 300 Headhunting Data Contract icon.png and 75 Headhunting Data Contract icon.png each respectively.
    • After an exclusivity period has passed, these Limited operators will reappear in a lower capacity on other Limited banners of the same pool and be featured in their shops, for 300 Headhunting Data Contract icon.png still.
  • The game features a system of Recruitment, or free gacha, of which a limited portion of the wider gacha pool is available entirely for free. However, the rates are much less generous, and it is significantly harder to get above 3★. Still, one can acquire most low rarity duplicates, and hope for the elusive Top Operator tag guaranteeing a 6★.
    • The main use of the Recruitment system for old-time players who more than likely have every non-rare unit in the pool to maximum Potential, is to farm a large amount of Commendation Certificate.png Commendation Certificate, and, hopefully, Distinction Certificate.png Distinction Certificate.
  • All story content, as well as Contingency Level/Risk 18 of Contingency Contract, is tested with, and designed with 4★ operators in mind. All this content can, and has been cleared with the extremely easy to acquire 4★ operators, meaning that while they make the game easier, the lack of 5★ and 6★ operators certainly do not prevent one from actually playing the game and getting every reward.

Another point to note which makes Arknights differ from most other gacha games is that the character designs notably tones down the fan service elements, given the setting, to a more practical and realistic approach.


Arknights was developed by Hypergryph Network Technologies, a Shanghai-based game studio comprised mostly of former MICA Team (of Girls' Frontline fame) employees. Most notably, co-founder and producer Hai Mao was previously a UI designer and character artist for the former.


Initially the Global server is about 8 months behind the CN server, but managed to reduce the gap to about 6 months by the Half Year Anniversary through releasing contents with minimal downtime which Global has consistently been ever since.[1] Originally Yostar intends for Global to be able to achieve content parity with CN; the aforementioned accelerated releases were likely done to achieve this. As CN started to release content more frequently however, Yostar apparently have abandoned this effort by the time Global is 6 months behind CN, although the official Arknights Discord server still claims that Global is trying to achieve content parity with CN.[citation needed]

The Global server's English localization are considered to be good, if not great, by the community although earlier on the localization are known to be of lackluster quality, possibly due to the accelerated schedule as mentioned above. In fact, the JP server had rewritten much of the story content in the Hour of an Awakening story arc of the Main Theme on the Invitation to Wine update.


The TW server, which is ~10 months behind the CN server at first, releases two events simultaneously (even merging contents released in two different events into one) with almost no downtime in between until TW is ~9 months behind CN and ~3 months behind Global by Near Light. As a consequence of the rushed schedule, some events in TW are released earlier than CN and Global; for instance, when Operation Originium Dust is live at Global, TW was in the midst of Maria Nearl and OD is live a few weeks after MN.

The TW server is known for suffering more issues that CN and Global does:

  1. Despite supposedly using Traditional Chinese instead of Simplified Chinese, some contents in TW remains using Simp. Chinese while few even uses Japanese. This is because the TW client is likely based on the JP client yet not fully adjusted to use Trad. Chinese.
  2. At one point TW made a client update while an event is live. The update causes the event to end abruptly, resulting in backlash from players.
  3. Because Purestream was not release before A Light Spark in Darkness in TW, a game-breaking issue occurs in TB-9 where running the operation will result in an error. A hotfix adressed this by changing Purestream into Ceylon.

Notable events

  • A collaboration event with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Operation Originium Dust, is held on March 2021.
  • A live Arknights-themed concert titled Ambience Synesthesia was held in May 2021, which has since become a yearly event.
  • A spin-off of Arknights, titled Arknights: Endfield, is confirmed to be in development.[2]
  • A collaboration event with Monster Hunter, A Flurry to the Flame, is held in March 2023.
  • A collaboration event with Destiny 2 will be held in the future.
  • On November 28, 2023, a gang of four cyberbullies were arrested by the Sichuan Police Department. These four cyberbullies are responsible for attacking various Arknights players online and spreading anti-Arknights messages in the Chinese internet community, most notably during Dossoles Holiday (see its Trivia for more information). The Chinese Ministry of Public Security even considered this crime as one of the most serious cyber-violence cases in China.


An anthology manga adaptation of Arknights, Arknights Comic Anthology, was announced on June 18, 2020 and released on June 25, 2020.

An anime adaptation of Arknights, titled Arknights: Prelude to Dawn, was announced on October 24, 2021.


Arknights quickly became popular when first released in mainland China. The Global release was also met with mostly positive reviews.[3][4][5][6][7]


  • Arknights was originally planned to be named Archknights, but this was changed so the name would be a combination of "Ark" (as in Noah's Ark of the Bible) and "Knights."[8] The "knight" part is also meant to be synonymous with "Night." Its symbolism is to denote the game's overall serious tone by depicting the characters as "Knights of the Ark" who guard the lives aboard in the long "night."[9]
  • The English name "Arknights" was the first one to be confirmed during the game's development, but the Chinese name "明日方舟" was determined later when a member in the development team proposed it during a rather typical barbecue party.[10]
    • The Chinese title has a rather hilarious meaning. According to that person, he got this idea from this Chinese proverb, 择日不如撞日 (to do it right now instead of choosing other days),[11] as they were running out of time to meet the publication deadline.

See also


  1. Includes North America, Australia, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
  2. Due to sharing the same publisher and release date, and being updated on the same day (although JP and KR are 16 hours ahead of EN).