As a new player, the first thing that will strike you about Arknights is the awesome diversity of playable characters. There are no less than 8 classes in the game, each with their own subclasses and very specific roles. While some operators can be used across multiple battles, others are highly situational, but no less necessary for your progression in the game.
To help you set things straight and put together a number of effective core teams, let’s take a look at the different classes and subclasses, as well as their unique functions. This information is best read before you start making pulls and upgrades because it can help you prioritize your resources and make better choices during the early-game.
Vanguards have a low deployment cost and can block up to 2 enemies, which makes them an excellent choice for the early stages of a battle. Usually deployed first in order to block initial waves, they also generate DP (deployment points), which allows you to use additional characters faster. There are two main types of Vanguards:
These characters feature skills that grant a fixed amount of DP over a certain interval of time. For as long as they are deployed, they are a constant source of DP, regardless of the number of enemies on the battlefield.
These operators grant DP based on the number of enemies killed and can refund their cost when they retreat. They are an excellent option to block initial swarms of enemies before being replaced by better Defenders.
Defenders have high HP and armor, but a low damage output and a high DP cost. Although they are usually unsuitable for the early stages of a battle, they become necessary as opponents get stronger and can block up to 3 enemies at a time. There are two main types of Defenders:
These characters feature a variety of defense self-buffs and can withstand a lot of damage while blocking multiple enemies.
These characters recover HP in time, which makes them a great option in the absence of Medics.
Guards are your main source of melee physical DPS (with minor exceptions), but the class is overall highly versatile. Some Guards have a low deployment cost, which means that they can be used to block special enemies, while others can block more enemies or deal Arts damage. There are four types of Guards:
As the name suggests, these Guards have abilities that deal AoE damage and can clear larger waves quickly.
While most operators in this class can only block 1 enemy at a time, these Guards can block up to two.
These characters deal Arts damage, which makes them more suitable against heavily armored units.
Single-Target Physical Guards
These guards are the most typical and can deal massive physical DPS against high-HP enemies with no armor.
Snipers are your main source of ranged physical DPS and the only units that will prioritize aerial threats over other enemies. Since their damage is mostly physical, they will need support to finish off high-armor targets. Barring special operators (with unique, unclassified effects), there are three main Sniper subclasses:
These operators excel against aerial units such as drones. They usually have high attack speed and will prioritize air targets over all other enemies.
Although they might seem counterintuitive, these characters can deal massive amounts of damage to single targets, provided that you position them correctly.
These characters have abilities that deal AoE damage and can therefore be used to clear large waves of unarmored enemies.
Casters are your main source of ranged Arts DPS and are primarily used against bulky targets with heavy armor. Because their attacks are fairly slow, Rangers and Guards are more suitable choices against swarms of enemies with no armor. There are two main types of Casters:
These operators focus on one target at a time and should therefore be used against heavily armored bosses.
These characters cost more DP than ST-casters, but might become necessary during battles where you are being swarmed by large numbers of enemy units.
Medics cannot help you fight opponents, but they play the vital role of keeping your other operators alive. There are two main types of Medics:
These characters can only heal one operator at a time, but do so for exceptional amounts. They are best used in combination with tanky Defenders during battles where the latter are bound to take a lot of damage.
When positioned properly, these Medics will keep multiple operators alive at the same time, although their heals are not as strong as those of their ST counterparts.
Specialist operators are more situational than others, but they become indispensable during certain missions that require their unique skills. Although each specialist should be studied individually for a better effect, the class can be split into three rough sub-classes:
Fast-Redeploy or Assassin Specialists
These operators deal high DPS for a limited amount of time. Their reduced redeploy cooldown allows you to position them multiple times during the same battle, as assassins against special targets.
These characters have unique interactions with enemies in their range. Manticore, for example, can damage and slow all units in her range while avoiding most damage due to the fact that she is a low-priority target.
These operators can push or pull enemies around the map. They are based used in combination with special terrain like pits.
Support characters are just as versatile as specialists, but their focus is to buff friendly operators, debuff enemies, and/or summon other friendly units. Although some Supports can deal Arts damage using abilities, this is usually negligible. There are three Support subclasses:
These characters increase the stats and performance of other operators.
These operators place debuffs on all enemy units in range. The majority of Supports in this subclass will slow enemies down to give your other operators more time to deal damage.
Although they are not used often, summoners can call other friendly units to your aid. These “pets” take an active role in fighting the enemy and can increase your power in battles where the number of deployable characters is very limited.
A good starter “core” team should include 2 Vanguards, 2 Rangers, 2 Casters, 2 Medics, and 1-2 Defenders, but given the diversity of available characters, you’ll soon find yourself tweaking this combination for specific missions. Just remember that every operator is unique and that even 2- and 3-star characters can be useful under the right circumstances!