Mobile games. If asked about what I think about those 2 words, I usually shuddered and shook my head. Mobile + games shouldn’t mix. Or so I thought. With the current advancements in tech and with a more mature market, the mobile gaming industry is starting to churn out decent games. One that caught my eye is Arknights, a tower defense game for both the iOS and Android.
Arknights isn’t your typical tower defense game. See, Arknights also has a colorful cast of characters that you can level up for better stats. Yes, it does have RPG elements in it. It is also a base management game, similar to that of Fallout Shelter. With all these elements, and the game’s relative generosity with its gacha mechanics, it’s no wonder that a lot of people are getting hooked to this game.
Taken from the official Android Download page:
Take on the role of a key member of Rhodes Island, a pharmaceutical company that fights both a deadly infection and the unrest it leaves in its wake. Together with your leader Amiya, you’ll recruit Operators, train them, then assign them to various operations to protect the innocent and resist those who would thrust the world into turmoil.
Yep, you’re a guy taken back from the brink to fight a global pandemic with andromorphic men and women. Some of your team members look like lizards, while others sport cute rabbit (or donkey) ears. Anyhow, you have a diverse set of characters (called Operators in this game) that are fully-voiced in Japanese, with each one having their unique quirks and personality.
Challenging Tower Defense
The main gameplay of Arknights revolves around Tower Defense. To put it simply, players must plot characters to prevent the enemy team from reaching the camp. Strategy and quick thinking comes into play here as Operators have specialties and roles, with each one having a unique skill. Bringing in a very capable roster is a must in Arknights. You cannot pause during battles to set Operators so each second and decision counts!
After completing a stage with flying colors, the player is then rewarded with “Auto Battle”. Auto Battle allows the AI to use your previous moves to complete the level and farm resources. Yes, in this game, Auto Battle is a reward that you must labor for in order to get.
As a break from the stressful Tower Defense, players can visit the base and tailor it to help in their advance. Players can manufacture resources, sell them for LMD, or interact with characters to increase their battle performance. In base management, Operators can be assigned to certain facilities. Each Operator has a base skill that, when used in the appropriate job and facility, brings out better results. Operators also suffer from fatigue, so the player has to rotate and give them rest after some time.
Players can also take time to use gathered resources to build or upgrade facilities. Each one has a function that helps in the development of the player’s stable of Operators. Some facilities open up more recruitment slots, allowing you to look for Operators after a specific time. While other facilities help in maintaining morale and keeping your Operators happy. Leveling up your base together with your characters is a must as it unlocks rarer and more valuable resources that you can use to further strengthen your roster.
In Arknights, you don’t level up from battles. You level up by getting resources from said battles and appropriating them to your Operators. This might off some people, but the system allows you to immediately bring new Operators up to speed so that they can join your main party. Of course, the higher the rarity of your Operative, the more resources it requires to level up. Leveling up your roster is important as missions become more difficult as you progress the story. Also, high-tier resources are given out as rewards for the most difficult missions.
Rewards / Gacha Mechanics
The game has 2 main resources: Originite Prime and Orundum. Originite Prime is the currency that can be used to buy virtually anything using the in-game Store, including gacha rolls, character clothing, and base materials. It can be purchased in bulk in exchange for real-life money. It is also rewarded for completing missions for the first time. Orundum is comparatively easier to get and is used when recruiting new Operators. They can be farmed to a limited degree and is often handed out during events.
While I despise microtransactions in video games, I do think that F2P games such as Arknights can justify this system as it is their only source of income. The good thing with Arknights is that it is generous with the Orundum. The resource can be regularly acquired, and players that are patient enough can collect and stockpile them for 10 rolls or more.
Verdict / Conclusion
Arknights is a game that you should try if you like Tower Defense. It adds more to the formula by not pulling any punches, introducing characters that are fully-voiced and a system that is well balanced.
Unlike the typical gacha game that requires your whole soul to progress, this one rewards your efforts and keeps you coming back for more. The core gameplay is not heavily reliant on luck and you can even complete the whole game (in its current form) without relying too much on high-rarity characters. You can even beat it with the free ones that you get!
One thing I also like about it is that it is comparatively generous. You can grind the game for resources that you can use to get newer better characters. While it does have a limit, it is again better than most of its competition.
In terms of updates, the game is constantly having new events every week. New characters, missions, and events can be expected regularly with this game.
To summarize, this is one of the games that made me think that “Hey, maybe I should give back something”. I played Arknights for a solid 3 months and had a blast with it that it made me think that spending a bit just to reward its creators for giving me a good time is appropriate. And I don’t even like gacha games. Arknights is a solid, well-rounded Tower Defense game that offers more. It is something I would recommend to those looking for a challenge or a decent, well-made RPG Tower Defense on mobile.