Amazing story for a Gacha, F2P-friendly, accessible experience, great and caring devs
I picked up Arknights in early 2020, and it immediately became one of my most played games. I was, and always have been a, sucker for tower defense games; thus, with Arknights being an anime-style mobile tower defense game featuring many of my favorite VAs, it immediately stuck out to me.
First and foremost, the story is worth a lengthy review. While the first few chapters (notably, 1-3) start out quite slowly, and with some awkward or inconsistent moments in storytelling (quite noticeable in the case of W, an early story character and playable unit), the story evolves into something truly special after chapter 4. The characterization of Reunion (the primary enemy faction for chapters 1-8) was done incredibly well, giving us an enemy that, while antagonistic, is ultimately full of characters just as human and likeable as our own Operators. The atmosphere in later chapters is much better, and the ongoing 2nd arc of the game starting from chapter 9 has started on a high note with a lot of development, lore and story-gameplay integration. For players without the time and energy to skip the story, there are summaries of the stage available when skipping its story text, and you can easily go back to read what you missed at any time.
The playable units available in-game, called Operators, have some very unique and likeable personalities. Oripathy, the disease ravaging Arknights' fictional world called Terra, afflicts many of them, and grants them enhanced abilities. As death constantly looms over, and infected Operators faces discrimination and hardship over their condition, the writing reflects perfectly how each of them copes and their standpoints, as well as those of our Operators who are not infected themselves Gameplay reflects the Operators' abilities (to a certain extent), and newer Operators often have helpful abilities to conquer the most difficult stages which can also be quite fun to use. And while the strength in gameplay of some Operators in Arknights can suffer with age, the developers have gone out of their way to implement systems that can bring them back up to par. "Modules," supportive Operators who can supercharge skills, and intuitive map layouts all make for a experience friendly to anyone with even rudimentary experience playing tower defense games.
I can not attest to being fully "F2P." I have spent $4.99 on the monthly pack subscription, which rewards you with a bulk of in-game currency called Orundum, along with item that restore your stamina every day for a month. I have also spent cash on the cheapest $2.99 and $4.99 packs that grant chips and LMD, another form of in-game currency. Despite this, I can attest to the fact that this game is certainly very F2P-friendly; furthermore, it can be cleared without even using the Gacha system and only bringing along units obtainable from the free recruitment system. Many stages only require the usage of 3* or 4* Operators to be cleared with relative ease, and even the game's absolute hardest stages can be taken on with 4* Operators that have been promoted to Elite 2.
It is worth mentioning how attentive the developers have been to players' complaints and desires. There is a lot of love and care put into each story chapter, event, new Operator, new feature, and new gamemodes especially. Previous gamemodes that players have found to be fun overall, such as Integrated Strategies, a roguelike side-gamemode, have become permanent additions to the game at the community's behest. And when players are dissatisfied, they take care to rectify the problems being vocalized. I will certainly continue to support Arknights and its creators, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try a new gacha or tower defense game.