It can often be quite hard to decide what to spend your Distinction certificates on. You may have the gnawing fear on the back of your mind that surely, if you spend them now, the very next available 6★ will be exactly that one you want, be it Eyjafjalla, SilverAsh or Saria. Spending for a 5★ is even harder because of this: no one wants to be that one player five Distinctions short of getting that top tier unit.
This article will focus on tiering the most valuable 5★ Operators that can be bought in the Distinction shop, whether now or in the future, as well as explanations on why and when you should buy them.
Before we begin...
I feel it’s important to make a couple of disclaimers in regards to certain decisions taken while making this tier list. Here goes!
First of all, remember to always keep your cool and be mindful of your expenses. Do not panic-buy immediately just because a 5★ you’ve been pining after has just become available. Instead, wait and plan ahead, and try to get the most information possible before you decide to use up your hard earned Distinctions. Will you have enough Distinctions left over to afford a 6★ should one you want come next? Will you be close enough that a few recruitments will get you there? If you are hesitant or in doubt, then default to saving for 6★.
Also, remember that Arknights banners always get revealed (whether through official or unofficial means) at least a day or two before the current one ends. Use the information you can gather from there to make an informed decision. Remember, you can guess which Operators will be in the shop based on the banner artwork! With a single exception, the Distinction Operators have always been the non-E2 6★, and the 5★ in the middle of their group!
Second, I feel it is important to mention that a couple months ago Texas would’ve been part of this tier list, possibly quite high as well. While she’s definitely still not the worst purchase, her newfound status as a welfare unit has made her much easier to acquire, so newer players should complete the needed Pinboard Missions to get her instead of using up their Distinctions.
Finally, as with every other tier list, this one represents purely the viewpoint/opinions of the writer, in this case an advanced endgame player with meta usage at the forefront.
5★ Distinction Store Tier List
If you ask any player what the best 5★ in the game is, it’s quite probable that they’ll mention this Abyssal Hunter. While her average DPS is nowhere near Blaze’s, Specter’s unique, very long lasting invincibility on her S2 paired with her archetypal Block-3 and decent damage make her a worthy investment for players of all game levels. She’s also an incredibly safe bet, as the chances she’ll get pushed out of the meta are close to zero.
This one probably won’t show up in the Distinction shop for a while, but watch out for when he does. If his status as a Standard Bearer Vanguard wasn’t enough to at least keep him in mind, his skillset is absolutely packed to the brim with insane support abilities that rival many 6★ Operators. He works best with units like Exusiai or Ash, but even without them, Elysium will kick your gameplay up a notch and open up a lot of squadbuilding strategies all by himself.
A very strong contender for the best Single Target/Physician Medic in the game, with great heals and even greater buffs that mesh well with many strong units and that you can bring anywhere at all. Warfarin is both a generalist Operator that can fit in any squad that needs healing and a specialized buffing Operator that can help crush the hardest content the game has to offer. What’s not to love here?
The craze about Shamare “the hidden 6★” may have died down since her release, but her usefulness sure hasn’t. To this day she’s still the preferred option for debuffing enemy Attack, and her kit is adept at enabling other Operators even in the harshest environments. Her DEF shred may not be the strongest, and neither is the Fragile effect of her Talent, but all that combined with Morti’s (her doll) range and strange yet purely positive SP quirks (like charging immediately on usage, or being kept between redeploys) make her an amazing addition to any roster looking to dabble in more than just high multipliers (when she’s able to come to the shop, at least!). She has a great base skill too!
Strong by herself, but also has amazing squad supporting abilities. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Liskarm breaks the mold of Normal/Protector Defenders by providing your team with the best SP Battery in the entire game if she can keep her talent going. She can enable quite a number of strategies with Operators that love to spam their skills as soon as they are ready, making her not only a great support for DPS units like Eyjafjalla and SilverAsh but also more tech-oriented ones such as Weedy.
You probably already know about this one and exactly why she’s in this tier list: it’s her Talent. A 30% Auto SP recovery buff is quite a nice tool to have access to, even if it’s not usually game changing. Apart from this, her S2, Enkephalin also acts as a pretty good source of burst healing, should you need one. Ptilopsis is an option worth considering even if you have Nightingale, though in that case you might want to hold on and think twice in case your Distinctions may be better spent on something game changing.
Very interesting and versatile option that most rosters could take advantage of. Her on-demand Stun comes very handy in all kinds of content, including Contingency Contract and similar events. While Projekt Red’s damage is nowhere close to Phantom’s, she’s still a very reliable option worth considering.
I have already talked at length about why Lappland isn’t what she used to be anymore in another article, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a purchase worth considering! Regardless of how useful her Silence currently is, she’s still the most consistent applier of the effect we have in the game. If you have Texas and Exusiai as well she makes for quite a good base worker as well!
If you are looking to step up your stall game, Manticore is probably one of the best options out there, even if you already have a raised Ethan. They complement each other quite well, in fact. Manticore gets some late game presence, and though she’s not really as widely used as the other members of this tier list, she still provides some very hard-to-replace support. Even with the release of the 6★ of her same archetype, Mizuki, she still excels at this unique stalling role.
I hesitate to recommend this Operator as a good Distinction store purchase. but it mostly comes down to the scarcity of her Pusher Specialist archetype. She is definitely nowhere near as good or versatile as Weedy is, but unlike Shaw she can actually reach Force 3 pushes, which opens up some advanced strategies. Think twice before purchasing FEater, just in case. If nothing else, though, she has a good base skill!
These units have extremely unique and specialized roles not found elsewhere, even in other rarities, but are not recommended purchases for players that aren’t already deep into the Arknights late game. Do not buy these units unless you already have practically everything you could ever want from the Distinction shop.
A fast redeploy-like Marksman Sniper with camouflage and DPS comparable to Platinum while her S2, Pegasian Sight, is active. April is a very unique and decently useful option for players looking to fill new niches, but she may not be so useful for players who don’t have a very well developed roster already.
Worse Projekt Red? Think again! While Sleep is often considered a worse alternative to other hindering status effects like Stun or Bind, it often ends up snaking its way into even the hardest kinds of content, such as Contingency Contract, where its technical nature shines more and enemies can be immunized against Stuns. And there’s simply no better Sleep applier than Kafka.