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Arknights Operator Tier List

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Introduction

  • Tier lists for Arknights are difficult to create, as many Operators have very specific situations in which they excel to such a degree that they would be an amazing pick for a certain map but worthless in another. No Tier List can perfectly compare all Operators in all situations: Tier Lists are not a substitute for game knowledge! That being said, there are bad Operators and exceptional Operators, and some Operators are better than others and will make it easier for players to succeed. 
  • This tier list compares units at their full possible development with end-game content in mind.  Evaluation and ranking is based on the strength/potential of the Operator to have an overall meaningful impact on the game, across all the different modes and content, and is based on data, empirical evidence, and opinions.  
  • New Players should NOT use this list for operator development priority for early-mid gameplay. Instead, new Players looking for early game development priority help should use the [New Player Tier List] instead. Some higher rarity operators (especially 5 stars) are not worth their E2 or mastery development costs for most players because they become obsolete when better 6 Stars are obtained.  Lower rarity Operators have cheaper development costs and so can be more efficient to develop for early game even though the higher rarity operators have higher full development potential.
  • For ease of use and understandability, Operators are grouped by their Class Archetypes.  Filters are provided to allow easy selection of desired Classes and Archetypes.  Advanced Filters are provided to more easily compare Operators by the utility they provide. For more detailed information about Classes and Archetypes, refer to the guide here:
  • With enough skill, any Operator can contribute to a squad for clearing "normal" reward-giving content. so players need not be afraid to develop Operators they want to use even if they aren't highly ranked for the meta.
  • This Tier List is not written by a single person. Instead, it is a combined effort by multiple GP collaborators, most of which are endgame players with extensively developed rosters that write guides for the website, such as operator reviews or Contingency Contract homework documents.   There is a channel in the GamePress Discord where players can share their voice. Tier Lists are based on data, empirical evidence, and opinions.  Opinions are subjective.  Feel free to share yours.
  • Updates to the tier list are done slowly and gradually, and only when new Operators are added to global.  We typically only review/evaluate a few Archetypes/Operators at a time.  We do this because gathering/discussing opinions from multiple contributors can take a lot of time, and discussions are often not as clear-cut as “just move X up/down a tier”.  Trying to re-evaluate everything in the Tier List every update is just not feasible nor productive.  There will always be updates and changes moving forward as we get to them, and as the game evolves.

Legend

These Operators can be good early-game investments for players that lack their top end-game replacements. Remember that low rarity Operators are sometimes stronger than higher rarity Operators when they are both at equal development levels.
Blue Borders represent Operators especially worth considering for Promotion to Elite 2 (E2). For more details on why, and which to promote first, check out the Elite 2 Priorities Guide!

YES!: I need you NOW - With these Operators, you will feel the difference of their E2 gains immediately. New doors of power will open, the sun will rise in radiance, and you will fall deeper in love. These Operators tend to be the best immediate “Return on Investment” of the Promotion materials.
Mastery: Masters of Specialization - These are Operators that see their most noticeable gains from increasing the Mastery (Specialization) of their Skills. Since this process is quite expensive in itself, further investment is required to bring out the best in these Operators. For a discussion on which Skill Specializations/Masteries to focus on, check out the Elite 2 Priorities Guide.
STATS: Beat them with the Stat Stick - These are the Operators you promote primarily for the stats they can gain at the higher levels enabled by E2. These Operators typically do their job fine at E1. Promotion makes them better, of course, but is not critical for their performance.
Specialty: Because Niche is Nice - These are Operators that provide niche utility, have unique roles, or are commonly used in some specific end-game strategies or situations.
Click on the blue "?" box in the lower right-hand corner to see an Evaluation Summary and Overview/Analysis of the Operator.
Operators with a Red star on the lower right corner are LIMITED Operators (only available during certain banners / campaigns).
Tier Meaning
EX The truly elite. The best of the best.
S A highly effective Operator in their role, one of the best available.
A Extremely proficient Operator in their role.
B The Operator is very good at their role, and can complete the duties of their role competently.
C A sufficient Operator for performing their role, even if not always the best option.
D If other options are unavailable, they will generally satisfy the need for a niche.

Latest Additions/Changes

01/13/2023: EX Tier Added. We felt like we needed an additional Tier to differentiate power level, especially among 6 Stars.  It feels like there are a small group of Operators that are clearly a step above all the others, and represent a best-of-the-best level that our current scale wasn't able to represent.  And there are more coming on the horizon.  This also gives us  more room to differentiate Operators within the A+ through S+ range. We have never been fans of adding higher Tiers, and have resisted temptation to do it for a long time.  We think adding too many S++...+++... type rankings tends to be a lazy way to avoid tough ranking questions, and can quickly become meaningless.  However, although the game has done a good job of avoiding it up to now, the powercreep IS real, and CN has seen an influx of units that truly do push the power ceiling, so we felt like the time was right to bite the bullet and implement a necessary evil.

12/28/2021: Advanced filters added!

12/20/21: Introduction And Archetype Philosophy Update

When this Tier List was first created in 2019, it prioritized comparisons within Archetypes.  This made more sense at the time, since there were less Operators in the game that tended to have abilities/roles consistent within the Archetype, and the only content that existed was normal story and event stages (for example, Contingency Contract didn't exist).  With the addition of more and more operators with abilities and roles that overalapped with Operators of other Archetypes, and with more types of content that demanded more out of the Operators, the comparing of Operators only within Archetype had less and less value.

In June of 2021 we started to update rankings to transition away from comparing Operators only within Archetype, and to attempt to create rankings that applied over the breadth of all Operators.  We believe we have progressed to the point now that we can eliminate the caveats of Archetype prioritization.  Keep in mind that maintaining the Tier List is a constantly ongoing activity that will continue to be done over time.

Summary of the updated philosophy:

  • This Tier List organizes Operators by Class Archetypes in order to make the list easier to search, filter, understand, and compare.  This does not mean that comparisons are only being done within Archetypes.  Evaluation and ranking is based on the strength/potential of the Operator to have an overall meaningful impact on the game.  Thus, we consider and compare operators that provide similar roles/functions even if they don't share the same Archetype, and attempt to assign rankings suitable to comparison over Operators of ALL Archetypes.
  • Advanced Filters are provided to more easily compare Operators that provide similar specific utility or function.

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The Introduction section has ben updated.

Rank Movements

01/13/2023: Ideal City

EX Tier

  • Pozëmka - Great damage, map control, and versatility, all while keeping herself completely safe. She literally has it all, and is one of the best DPS units in the game.

S+ Tier

  • Gavial the Invincible - A strong laneholder with nice support options that shines in particular events and scenarios. Unlike most top laneholders, Gavial works best when operating as part of a team to fill in a DPS cycle, and because she often needs healing support
  • Cantabile - the DP generation of a Flagbearer, the combat capability of a Pioneer, and the utility of an Executor. Extremely versatile and strong for all kinds of content. Needs to attack to generate DP, but that's rarely a problem

A- Tier

  • Minimalist - His archetype is an odd choice for his kit. His consistency is relatively unique for 4 and 5*, but the payoff of will be much greater using a more burst oriented Mech Accord like Rockrock, Kjera, or Click.
Other Movements

UP to EX

  • Ch'en the Holungday
  • Surtr
  • Ling

UP to S+

  • Nightingale
  • Saileach
  • Elysium
  • Suzuran
  • Gnosis

DOWN to S

  • Blaze: Has been steadily falling off since her glory days of release as other strong(er) laneholders have been added to the game. The appearance of an overall higher impact Operator in the same Archetype reminded us it was probably past time to start adjusting her placement.

Tier List

Filter Tier

EX
S+
S
S-
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
E+
E
E-
X

Filter Rarity

Filter by Class or Archetype

Boomstick / Spreadshooter
Close Range / Heavyshooter
Anti-Air / Marksman
Heavyweight / Besieger
AoE / Artilleryman
Aftershock / Flinger
Long-Range / Deadeye
Arts Fighter
Brawler / Fighter
Ranged / Lord
AoE / Centurion
Duelist / Dreadnought
Dualstrike / Swordmaster
Reaper Guard
Support / Instructor
Enmity / Musha
Liberator Guard
Summoner
Slower / Decel Binder
Aura / Bard
Debuffer / Hexer
Buffer / Abjurer
Artificer
Agent
Flagbearer / Standard Bearer
DP-On-Kill / Charger
Skill-DP / Pioneer
Summoner / Tactician
ST / Medic
AoE / Multi-target Medic
Wide-Range / Therapist
Wandering Medic
Incantation
Healing / Guardian
Enmity / Juggernaut
Fortress
Normal / Protector
Duelist
Arts Protector
ST / Core Caster
Burninator / Blast Caster
Drone / Mech-Accord
Chain Caster
AoE / Splash Caster
Modal / Phalanx Caster
Charge / Mystic Caster
Pusher / Push Stroker
Substitute / Dollkeeper
Puller / Hookmaster
Fast-Redeploy / Executor
Sacrificial Specialist
DP-Drain / Merchant
Ambusher
Trapmaster
Advanced Filters

Caster AoE / Splash Caster

S-
Explanation
A+
Explanation
A
Explanation
B+
Explanation
Explanation
C+
Explanation
Explanation
C
Explanation
D
Explanation

Caster Burninator / Blast Caster

S+
Explanation
B
Explanation

Caster Chain Caster

S
Explanation
A
Explanation
C+
Explanation

Caster Charge / Mystic Caster

A+
Explanation
B-
Explanation
Explanation

Caster Drone / Mech-Accord

S+
Explanation
A+
Explanation
Explanation
A
Explanation
A-
Explanation

Caster Modal / Phalanx Caster

A+
Explanation
A
Explanation
Explanation

Caster ST / Core Caster

S+
Explanation
S-
Explanation
A
Explanation
Explanation
B
Explanation
C+
Explanation
C
Explanation
Explanation
D
Explanation

Defender Arts Protector

A-
Explanation
B+
Explanation
B
Explanation
Explanation

Defender Duelist

A+
Explanation
B-
Explanation

Defender Enmity / Juggernaut

S+
Explanation
B
Explanation

Defender Fortress

S+
Explanation
A
Explanation

Defender Healing / Guardian

S+
Explanation
S-
Explanation
A+
Explanation
B+
Explanation
B
Explanation
C
Explanation

Defender Normal / Protector

S-
Explanation
Explanation
A+
Explanation
A
Explanation
A-
Explanation
Explanation
Explanation
Explanation
B+
Explanation
B-
Explanation
C
Explanation
Explanation
D+
Explanation

Guard AoE / Centurion

S+
Explanation
S
Explanation
Explanation
A
Explanation
B
Explanation
Explanation
C
Explanation

Guard Arts Fighter

EX
Explanation
A+
Explanation
B+
Explanation
Explanation
B
Explanation

Guard Brawler / Fighter

S+
Explanation
A-
Explanation
Explanation
B-
Explanation
C
Explanation

Guard Dualstrike / Swordmaster

S
Explanation
S-
Explanation
A+
Explanation
A
Explanation
A-
Explanation

Guard Duelist / Dreadnought

S+
Explanation
S-
Explanation
B+
Explanation
B
Explanation
Explanation
B-
Explanation
Explanation
C
Explanation

Guard Enmity / Musha

A+
Explanation
A-
Explanation
Explanation

Guard Liberator Guard

A+
Explanation

Guard Ranged / Lord

S+
Explanation
Explanation
A+
Explanation
A-
Explanation
Explanation
C
Explanation
C-
Explanation

Guard Reaper Guard

S-
Explanation

Guard Support / Instructor

S-
Explanation
B-
Explanation
C
Explanation
C-
Explanation

Medic AoE / Multi-target Medic

S+
Explanation
S
Explanation
A
Explanation
A-
Explanation

Medic Incantation

A
Explanation

Medic ST / Medic

S+
Explanation
S
Explanation
A+
Explanation
Explanation
A
Explanation
A-
Explanation
B+
Explanation