Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Austin Wood

Dev of open-world RPG hiding a whole base builder is "impressed" by games like Factorio and Satisfactory, but says Arknights: Endfield "will be quite different"

Arknights Endfield.

The technical test for Arknights: Endfield, an upcoming spinoff of massively popular tower defense gacha game Arknights, caught me off guard. It's an open-world RPG with tactical action combat that felt snappy on PC (it's also coming to PS5 and mobile), but this is not the part that tripped me up. It's also an unexpectedly engrossing base builder in the same vein as industrial hits like Factorio and Satisfactory, and even given the broad strokes strategy footprint of Arknights itself, this came as a complete surprise. Arknights: Endfield will be free-to-play when it eventually launches, and it genuinely feels like two games in one so far. 

Publisher Gryphline has been pretty quiet about Endfield since that technical test, though it did separately find the time to release the equally surprising sci-fantasy RPG Ex Astris, a rare and darn fun $10 premium mobile game. As we await the next test period and still-unannounced release date, I reached out to the studio to ask about what makes Endfield tick, how it's building on the foundations of Arknights proper, and whether we should call this thing an RPG, a base builder, or something else entirely. (For the record, I also asked about monetization and how it compares to Arknights, but Gryphline didn't provide an answer as the game is still in flux.)

Responses lightly edited for clarity and length.

(Image credit: Hypergryph)

GamesRadar+: What motivated you to add an in-depth base builder mode to what already seems like an expansive RPG?

Arknights: Endfield dev team: Our core creative team had a strong vision even during early brainstorming about how we should make Arknights: Endfield. We want the gameplay to stand out and feature its own special charms. That's why the time we spent exploring and experimenting with the Arknights: Endfield's gameplay was just as long as that for Arknights.

We believe that the base builder mode in the current Arknights: Endfield build is a gameplay system that deserves deep engagement. It’s our belief that players will receive a stronger sense of accomplishment as they get deeper and master a core gameplay mechanic.

Although such gameplay designs may be risky, we think they're definitely worth a try. After all, players are always looking for new and different types of gaming experiences and a lot of them will get tired of repetitive content. There will come a time when players run out of content or get tired of the gameplay. These are challenges all game developers have to face, but we think taking on such game design challenges is exciting and fun.

And if we succeed in making something awesome, we hope players will get a special joy from Arknights: Endfield they won't get from in other games. This is something we’re still figuring out. Furthermore, the base builder mode itself overlaps with our earliest world-building designs, and this only strengthened our resolve to get this mode into Arknights: Endfield.

What's been the greatest challenge in turning the Arknights universe into a world of this scale with action combat?

In terms of genre, Arknights: Endfield is quite different compared to Arknights. We have a new approach to artistic presentation, which means, we are having to develop it using different technologies, pipelines, and designs. Though this has proved to be quite a challenge for us, we’re pretty excited that we can finally interpret our original universe in an all-new perspective.

(Image credit: Hypergryph)

Was the focus on more strategic combat that's less action-heavy an extension of Arknights being known for strategic gameplay? 

There's some truth to that. The complete Arknights: Endfield experience includes factory management and base building. Gameplay would focus more on tactics and strategies without being too demanding on combat actions and reflexes. We hope this design can improve the overall gameplay consistency.

It’s important to keep in mind that Arknights: Endfield is currently under development and what we see in the current build does not represent the final gaming experience.

The closest comparison in my mind is the factory sim Factorio. Were you taking inspiration from any particular games with the industrial side of the game? Do you see games like Factorio, or perhaps PC-focused base builders like Satisfactory or Astroneer, as direct competitors?

Factorio and Satisfactory are both well-known for their automation and simulation management, while Astroneer emphasizes terraforming and survival exploration.These titles already offer gameplay experiences that are distinct from one another. They are influential and enlightening, which give promise that more titles of the genre will appear in the future. 

Though we're impressed by these amazing works, Arknights: Endfield will be quite different. Our gameplay features more combat, RPG elements, and adventuring. In Arknights: Endfield, factory management and base building serve roles in supporting character progression, narration, and world exploration.

(Image credit: Hypergryph)

Do you see this game as more of an open-world RPG, or mostly a factory sim and base builder? How do you expect most players to divide their time between these two gameplay modes?

A persistent world might be more fitting for Arknights: Endfield. The core gameplay of Arknights: Endfield leans towards an RPG in a persistent world. The game has a lot of narrative elements and we focus heavily on immersive experiences in character progression and adventure. Role playing is an essential experience for our game. 

Factory elements will serve to support this main theme as an extremely important system in supporting and diversifying the Arknights: Endfield experience. Some players may not be familiar with factory building or are not fans of this specific genre. Thus, we are hoping to introduce this game mode at a comfortable pace. The last thing we want is to have a sudden difficulty spike that dissuades our players from mastering the factory sim. Our aim is to have players slowly learn, master, and fall in love with the Arknights: Endfield factory-play as they explore the world and make new discoveries. 

As for players' time commitment, we are trying to achieve a 50:50 ratio between the RPG elements and the factory portion. But players are free to adjust this ratio for their own Arknights: Endfield experience.

What would you call this side of the game, actually: a base builder, a factory sim, or something else? 

The thing is, since we’re still under development, we have the opportunity to change things, so we don’t want to get in a situation where we’re now forced to make that part of Arknights: Endfield a base builder or factory sim, and so on. Or, have players expect one thing and get another.

(Image credit: Hypergryph)

I'm also wondering about the benefits of having a nicely made and efficient base at the end game. What are the long-term advantages of really mastering how to manage those resources?

First, having an efficient base can quickly satisfy demands for certain in-game resources. Such bases are capable of supplying players with progression, adventure, or factory building items more quickly. Players will need to build up their bases if they want better items as well.

We strongly encourage every Arknights: Endfield player to have a go at building their bases. Our general approach to designing the Arknights: Endfield factory sim is to avoid making it too difficult or demanding to master. It is our sincere wish that most players will make the attempt and learn how to build a base capable of supplying their basic resource needs in the game.

Nevertheless, we're still fine-tuning the proportion and impact of base-manufactured progression items. Since Arknights: Endfield is still under development, we can't really describe our work accurately. So we may have to wait for a future build for the exact details.

What sort of content will you be adding via post-launch support? I'm assuming new characters and gear, new areas to explore, and more elements for the base building side. What will be the cadence or schedule for those updates? 

Updates will come with a variety of content and characters are core to the Arknights: Endfield experience. General essentials will include new maps, stories, and characters. Gameplay systems may also get certain updates as well.

As Arknights: Endfield expands with new maps, base building may receive things like new products, formulas, and facilities. It is still too early to give an exact picture for the cadence and schedule of future updates. We are making plans but they’re not ready to disclose yet. A future build may be where our players can try these things out, once we have something solid.

One thing I didn't get a feel for in the technical test was the grind to obtain and upgrade new characters, especially at end game levels. In this regard, how does Arknights: Endfield compare to the original Arknights?

We are still working on this and making changes as we go. This aspect of Arknights: Endfield has not been fully showcased since we're still in the testing phase. Some of the things you see in the demo are placeholder mechanics that do not represent the finalized build.

An incredible roguelike and fighting game pushed one of the biggest companies in vtubing to make its own game publisher, and now hololive's buried in over 50 ideas.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.