Into the Super-verse: A quick-and-dirty guide to picking the right City of Heroes archetype – Blueside edition

    
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Well, we've got an idea.

What’s amazing about the unexpected City of Heroes revival (and does that ever feel good to type) isn’t just that old players are eager to go back, but that new players are seeking out the game. Sure, that’s not precisely stunning when the game has had years for fans to say how great it was and what a shame that it died, but it’s still pretty great to see. Unfortunately, it also means a certain degree of information over time has been lost, and that means some questions just do not have clear answers.

For example, the question of what Archetype you’ll actually enjoy playing.

We had this come up at work the other day, and while I am admittedly a bit rusty in the game I still remember the lineup of the game pretty well. Even with the addition of a new option, in fact! So if you’re unsure of which Archetype to pick, or just want to have a few giggles at familiar jokes, here’s the guide for you.

Blaster

Are you compelled to shoot? That’s kind of the Blaster’s whole thing, you see. Blasters are the heroic archetype best suited to ranged attacks with melee secondaries, with the ability to keep hitting things through control effects and a stacking damage boost as they keep pouring on the damage.

Advantages: Blasters hurt. Seriously, if you want to deal a lot of damage, even the more control-oriented powersets available to Blasters tend to do a lot of damage. (Yes, powerset matters; most powers have some sort of debuff attached to them, which means that you can make your debuff-styled powers more focused on controlling things.) You also have a tendency to hurt things at every range, which is nice.

Disadvantages: The first downside is that the melee and ranged powers never really help each other that much; you get some useful defensive options and buffs in your secondary, but you do have a distinct split between modes. The second is… well, you’re a glass cannon and tend to go down with one solid punch to the jaw. If you dislike “kill it before it kills me” as a playstyle, you’ll be miserable.

Vweep

Controller

At launch, Controllers were considered a bit of a pet class, but these days they’re more like a pseudo-pet class because, well, Masterminds exist. But regardless, Controllers combine their control sets (which disable targets) with their secondary support sets (which debuff enemies and buff or heal allies), along with a pet skill or two to bring out their personal minions of plants or stone or illusions.

Advantages: Like the Fall Out Boy song, you can be immortal. Nothing can move or attack you or breathe, and then you debuff it further with your secondaries, and then your pet kills it. You even hurt things more that you have locked down, which makes the whole thing even more support-oriented

Disadvantages: Hey, did you notice all the talk about damage dealt in there? No? That’s because you don’t deal much of it at all. You have an aura of absolute safety and then get to slowly plink away with the equivalent of thrown pebbles until the dang thing dies. It’s a great archetype if you want to pull everything, lock it all down, and then go make a sandwich while your pet slowly mops up, but “active” it is not.

Defender

This is not the healer archetype, but then again it sort of is. Unlike the many other support-sporting archetypes, Defenders even get an inherent power to make supporting a team easier as it gets weaker, and its healing and debuffing is the primary focus. On the other hand, hard heals aren’t as much of a thing in CoH; most of the time debuffing things into weakness and then throwing in ranged damage is your real goal.

Advantages: While you aren’t quite immortal, you do actually have a lot of defensive tricks, you’re useful in a group, and you have ranged damage to ensure that you can actually kill things. A lot of the Defender powersets are also really fun from a party support standpoint, since you’re not just pouring health into an ever-emptying bucket.

Disadvantages: It’s clear that Defenders are much more oriented toward party play than solo play (even if you do deal more damage alone!), and a lot of the fun stuff that they can do is also done by the more damage-oriented Corruptor without the party focus. You also do tend to be kind of fragile, even though your powers offer you ways of mitigating that fragility.

Now, this is important to state: I would also like more robots.

Scrapper

Be the best there is at what you do, bub. Scrappers are melee dervishes, focused on dealing a whole mess of damage while right in the thick of combat; they’re also capable off-tanks in group situations, with a suite of different powers that make them pretty survivable even on their own. There’s no other Archetype with the ability to land critical hits, either!

Advantages: If you want to play solo but want a more active playstyle instead of “I’ve pulled it all, now to make that sandwich,” Scrappers are your guys and gals. They’re right in the middle of surviving on the melee spectrum, and they’ve got high sustained damage with lots of defensive options as well.

Disadvantages: That “middle-of-the-road” approach is the biggest weakness of Scrappers, too; they lack the kinetic potency of Brutes, the defenses of Tankers, and the burst potential of Stalkers. You also have very little in the way of ranged attacks by default, so you can’t even plink at more distant targets.

Tanker

Gee, what do you think these folks do? They sit there and don’t get hurt, usually at the front of the party. That’s sort of their gimmick, hence the name. With defensive powers as their primary sets, Tankers are hard to kill but also capable of laying a solid beatdown on enemies that they’ve pulled.

Advantages: In a good party, nothing survives like a Tanker does, and you aren’t exactly there to just take licks because you can deliver quite a kicking along the way. You also have the easiest time holding everything in big pulls, as even your single-target attacks provoke enemies around you, which can make you desirable for rounding up large groups of mobs for your party to pick on.

Disadvantages: Here’s the thing… all that stuff I just wrote about holding threat? Nobody cares. The nature of big groups in CoH means that Tankers, Scrappers, and Brutes are all largely interchangeable as tanks, and once the party gets rolling, you will mostly watch tons of things go off and everyone will be healed and buffed to all hell even if you don’t hold threat. So in this late-stage version of City of Heroes, you might find yourself kind of left wondering why you’re playing this instead of just another Brute.

Warshade/Peacebringer

Reaction.Oh, who cares. Seriously, no one rolls one of these unless you specifically want to suck because they’re just not good and you only have one set of powers anyhow.

Advantages: On paper, these archetypes have a bunch! For one thing, you get more powerful based on the archetypes of other players in your party. You have two shapeshift forms, one of which allows you access to powerful ranged attacks and the other one turns you into a super-dense pocket tank. Your powers have a wide spread of different effects. What could go wrong?

Disadvantages: Oh, right, you take too much damage, your shapeshifted forms still need separate enhancements for their powers which force you to specialize pretty narrowly anyhow, you absolutely suck on your own because of that scaling buff thing, and you’re stupid and no one likes you. The only reason you play one of these is because you actually want to play the Garbage Archetypes. (Maybe the player devs on these rogue servers could make these characters worth playing…)

Sentinel

Hey, here’s one I haven’t actually played around with! Because it’s new with the player-built i25, you see; the whole point of Sentinel is that the nature of this game lends itself to new archetypes combining existing sets, like this one combining defensive powers and ranged attacks. Fortunately, the nature of the game means it’s also pretty easy to understand it!

Advantages: You can shoot everything from range, and when things actually reach you, your options aren’t limited to healing yourself or applying holds or being a Blaster who just says “lol” and then dies. You actually just get to stand back and keep shooting. It’s like a revolution in gameplay!

Disadvantages: Oh, wait, it’s also… a little boring? Like, don’t get me wrong, it works, but you have to specifically choose the right sets if you want your secondary to be doing much beyond keeping you alive here. There’s no control effects or team buffs or whatever, and unless you spec yourself well, in parties you are functionally a Blaster with no melee. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it does not exactly light anyone on fire.

…all right, Blasters literally light people on fire, but you understand the meaning.

Redside coming in the next edition! Yes, technically, in i25 you can roll originally heroic archetypes as villains and vice versa, but work with us on the theme here.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Eliot Lefebvre and Justin Olivetti covering superhero MMORPGs, past, present, and future! Come along on patrol as Into the Super-verse avenges the night and saves the world… one column at a time.

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Grave Knight

I wouldn’t say the downside of Peacebringers/Warshades is that they’re terrible, cause they’re not. It’s that there is just way to many things they can do and not enough Enhancement Slots to be good at everything. You have to really need to know how to spec yourself as a Kheldian otherwise you’ll just spread yourself too thin.

Also they’re no meant for solo play. It’s possible to do solo play as a Kheldian but your entire kit is meant to play with others.

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ogged451

That blanket statement about Peacebringers and Warshades … 🤦‍♂️
please inform yourself before you write such things.
Sure, they are slightly more complex and high-maintenance than other ATs but properly built and played they are totally awesome.
Speaking of, I guess my next alt will be that Warshade with capped resists and 32,5% all defenses which I have in my Mids library since 2012 😎

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traja

With the new Blaster secondary, Tactical Arrow, you can now build a purely ranged Blaster. It has a ranged immobilize, ranged hold, ranged AoE hold, and amazing self buffs. Also in the tailor screen you can choose the no redraw option for your secondary powers and combine it with any primary. Then just Hover in range and death becomes a rare event.

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Crowe

Yup, I ran a archery/tac arrow blaster up to 50 recently. I wanted to play a defender with trick arrow but not suffer the “65% of the blaster” damage reduction. So I specced heavy on the tac arrow during the levelling and later filled in the DPS powers. It was a smooth run, too.

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Yrys

Scrappers aren’t the only ones who can crit, actually. Paragon revamped stalkers at some point and they can also now crit.

https://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Stalker#Criticals

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Bruno Brito

Sentinel would be mostly a ranged Scrapper. I quite like it. Fits well with powered armor toons, or just people with grit.

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ogged451

The problem I have with the Sentinel is … that my Crab Spider does everything a Sentinel does, but just better.

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Dug From The Earth

Really, the only guide to picking a class/AT in CoX goes like this:

Want to tank big bad arch villians and world bosses?
– play Tanker

Want to solo huge groups of enemies 4 levels higher than you and earn tons of cash at level 50?
– play Brute

Want to be support/buffs/debuffs for a team?
– Play Defender or Corruptor

Want to bring amazing CC for your group?
– Play Controller or Dominator

Want to do great damage but be kinda squishy?
– Play Scrapper or Blaster or Stalker

Want to solo missions and story?
– Play a MasterMind

Want to be a special little muffin?
– Play a Sentinel

Forget you were playing a super hero game?
– Play a Warshade/Peacebringer/Arachnos

Given… all the ATs above how downsides… well, except Brutes. The above list is what they excel at, so pick from what you want to do in the game, and realize that if you try to do something outside of that, it probably wont be a super smooth experience.

Good, skilled players can narrow the margin on this, but its still by design.

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BalsBigBrother

I hate lists like this.

I realise I am new to this CoH thing but I would prefer to just play what I enjoy and do what I enjoy no matter what the meta says in regards to x does y the best.

From what I have seen in my brief exposure to the game it seems pretty much anything can work at any content. Sure as you mention some may do it quicker or have an easier time of it depending on the content but so what.

Play what you want and do what you enjoy, seems pretty simple to me.

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Dug From The Earth

You realize the flaw in your statement, right?

Someone like you, wouldnt go looking for a class guide.

Because some like you, is going to play what you enjoy how you enjoy it. As you said yourself.

That said… My list is in NO way meta. Meta is FOTM. Meta is the min/max of min/max. Also, in many cases, no matter how much you want something, if the game mechanics simply dont allow it, it wont happen.

For example, 90% of a controllers abilities CONTROL Doesnt matter if you like tanking, you arent going to tank things as a controller. If you get hit, you get crumpled. Thankfully, controlling things keeps you from getting hit. But that doesnt mean you are tanking things. It means you are controlling them. There is NO super unique build you can do that gives a controller the ability to be a Tank.

This is by design. Its not meta

As stated in another post here, controllers overall do weak damage… but there ARE very specific builds that allow them to do OK damage… meaning you can control and do OK damage. Its hard work, in no way Meta, but it can be done…. But guess what… you will STILL be seen as someone who CONTROLS things first, and damages things second. You will just be seen as doing better damage than controllers playing other builds.

My list is a simple, quick, list of the inherent intended design for each class. IE: when you are on the character creation screen, it even lists those things under the class descriptions. The only 2 where this isnt true in my list, are Brutes and Sentinels. Mostly because Sentinels werent fully designed by the original Devs, and brutes.. well, they are just great all around. Brutes CAN do great damage. Brutes CAN tank arch villians and world bosses, Brutes CAN solo great. Depending on how you build them. Maybe a Brute would fit your playstyle best, because you could play one how you like, without having to fit the player driven Meta.

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Roger Christie

Re controllers and damage, some of the power combos are pretty good at high levels. A lv 50 fire/fire controller is pretty much a living god.

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Dug From The Earth

And of course, someone who rolls a fire/fire controller to do good damage, or anything other than controlling stuff, at level 50, isnt going to read a guide like this :P

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nomadmorlock9

Clearly you are not the target audience.

Also explaining class mechanics is not stating min/max meta combinations. For that it would have to include specific power sets.

I personally look for basic guidance like this to save having to keep remaking a character because they will never play as I want.

I appreciate lists like this.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

The lines between tank/healer/support/dps have always been blurry in CoH, and any AT and powerset combination (with a very few exceptions) can solo perfectly well.

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Bryan Correll

Want to solo huge groups of enemies 4 levels higher than you and earn tons of cash at level 50 as long as you never stop fighting to take a breath.
– play Brute

Fixed

Also:

Want to do great damage but be kinda squishy?
– Play Scrapper

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IronSalamander8 .

Yeah, was going to say, Scrappers aren’t squishy. SR used to be when the RNG came calling but that was fixed. Heck, Regen used to be OP as heck but that also got fixed long ago.

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Matt Redding

Note to self: Elliot is completely unaware of how to do damage as a controller. Attempt to trick Elliot into rolling a Gravity controller with a secondary of Dark, Kinetics, or Radiation.

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Dug From The Earth

Even grav controllers are at the bottom of the tree for damage until higher levels.

And even then, its still just mid range. If you want damage, dont play a controller. Period.

Especially new players who would be looking for an AT guide.

As a side note, ANY level 50 AT, with the right mods and incarnates can solo, damage, and survive well. Ive seen an ele/ele Blaster of all things solo +4/8 level 50 missions.

But again, a guide like the above is geared at people who are probably just starting, and even as a grav controller, will probably bash their head in trying to kill a group of 5 enemies just because of how long it will take them at level 10, with training mods and only ONE power that does more than 2 damage.

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Matt Redding

Actually no. Controllers at low levels are actually total beasts. Their single target powers have innate accuracy bonuses and you can simply hit a typical target with your hold and then your immobilize and turn to the next one; 5 seconds later when the dots finish running, the first mob will be dead if a minion, possibly need 1 more hit if a lt. It starts to slow down after 10 and by 20 it’s clear damage is not your forte, but it’s actually a very easy low level experience. With grav having a bonus attack it’s quite easy to cycle through all 3 moves so the typical group of 3 minions or 1 lt and 2 minions you get soloing are a cakewalk. Inherent stamina makes it possible to throw out “expensive” anchors like radiation infection & enervating field to speed up the process. It’s not as fast as a blaster but it isn’t this tooth-pulling experience you’re assuming.

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Dug From The Earth

1. ALL characters have innate accuracy bonuses below level 15 (might actually be 20)

2. Lets compare powers via the hero designer tool that shows stats: (It seems like the tool is scaling the damage for ALL classes up equally here, but the math still works)

Ele Blaster – Charged Bolts – 62.5 damage (level 1 ability)
Fire Controller – Ring of Fire DoT – 33.6 damage (level 1 ability)
Grav Controller – Crush – 40.5 damage (level 1 ability)
Dual Blades Scrapper – Nimble Slash – 57.8 damage (level 1 ability)

3. No one is saying Controllers DONT do any damage. What is being said is that their damage is bottom of the charts, especially early on. As you can see in #2, they do pretty much HALF the damage of a damage class. Why? Because they make up for it with CC.

4. Doing HALF the damage means often DOUBLE the time to kill, which means combat takes TWICE as long on average. Especially considering the big lack of AoE attacks that damage classes often get. Combat taking twice as long means a longer time soloing things.

4a. More thought on this issue of Double time to kill. Since abilities have varying cooldowns, and since the first power for controllers is often a DoT (meaning it takes a solid 5 or 6 seconds to reach its max damage potential), it means combat could potentially take even LONGER than double the time.

If an enemy has 150 life, the Ele Blaster above would take roughly 10 seconds to defeat it with its level 1 power. 4 second cooldown, 1 second cast time.

-Attack 1 – 62 damage, 4 sec cooldown, Attack 2 – 1 sec cast – 62 damage, 4 sec cooldown, Attack 3 – 1 sec cast – 62 damage – target defeated

Given the SAME target, The Fire Controller would take roughly 28 seconds

– Attack 1 – 33 damage over 5 sec, (cooldown is up before DoT is done), Attack 2 – 1 sec cast – 33 damage over 5 sec, Attack 3 – 1 sec cast – 33 damage over 5 sec, attack 4 – 1 sec cast – 33 damage over 5 sec, Attack 5 – 1 sec cast – 33 damage over 5 sec – The last attack wouldnt need the full 5 sec however, since the target would die before the last tick of damage, so only 4 seconds on the last attack.

Thats nearly THREE TIMES as long for the controller to finish combat compared to the blaster using their level 1 abilities.

Now, given how ATs quickly acquire new powers, this helps shorten the time of combat… however, enemies quickly get stronger as well to slightly make up for this happening. The end result, Controllers WILL take noticeably longer that Damage classes in combat, specifically at levels below 32.

As I stated in another post, ANY character at 50 with proper mods and incarnates can do great damage and can even have decent survivability. But this is a LONG way away for most NEW players just starting out who are looking for a guide of “whats it going to be like for me RIGHT NOW and not just at end game.”

4b. We also have to take in mind how MODS work. They use % values that scale BETTER with larger base numbers.

IE: 10% bonus on 60 is going to be a bigger value than 10% bonus on 30. (6 vs 3).

Since damage classes have innately large base damage values, they are going to get overall better damage bonuses scaled from enhancement mods.

5. No one said Controllers are fun, complex AT’s with depth and lots of game play. All that is being said is that compared to DAMAGE classes, especially at low levels, they are at least twice as slow (sometimes more) at defeating enemies.

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Bree Royce

But I am, since I’m a troller main from way back. I read every word and pressed publish because he’s correct in general, which is what this article is meant to do. There are always exceptions to any rule, and the corner cases and endgame exceptions don’t define the way most combos for the AT work. :D

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Matt Redding

Getting serious here: I think he’s really overstating the issue with controller damage. Yes, it is very low, but it is not “you can only brawl” level, or as he said “plink away with thrown pebbles.” It’s enough damage to slowly solo. Especially if you are soloing you can just slot for damage. The description sounds like it is not possible. Obviously it was intended as glib remarks but I felt it went overboard into inaccuracy.

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Dug From The Earth

I dont know… at level 3, having your level 1 power hit for 2 damage a tic… certainly feels like “plinking away”

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Ian Wells

My alt is a Gravity/Kinetics Dominator with Fighting as their third set. He runs around, flinging people around and smacking them quite-literally-silly. Lots of fun and makes it feel like I am playing a hulking beef monster more than I am a CC spec.

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Natalyia

I was expecting the criticism of Kheldians to be their complexity, or the Quantum versions of opponents designed specifically to kill you, or the fact that they’re both uncanny alien beings possibly possessing humans, and may be responsible for the impending alien invasion headed to destroy the Earth…

But they’re not bad(tm). They can be fun. They’re not to everyone’s tastes however, and I certainly wouldn’t make my first character in City of Heroes a Kheldian.

As for Tankers? That ability to almost effortlessly snag aggro comes in really (really) handy for your team when things go awry. The steamroll-everything nature of the game leads players to up the difficulty, and there are occasional enemy factions that aren’t as easily steamrolled. When your team takes on more than it ought to have done, a good Tank can often salvage the situation where a team without one would have wiped.

But do give the poor alien parasites a break, eh Eliot? They’re just doing the best they can. :)

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Hikari Kenzaki

Okay… so Khelds are Eliot’s spot on the “show me where the mean Dev hurt you” doll.

A good Kheld player (of which I consider myself one) can be a monster that just destroys everything. Especially on a large team.

And just try PvPing vs a Peacebringer in the air. It won’t go well.

To be fair, they can be pretty aggravating to level. And the pre-nerf Qs were basically the Devs’ way of making your life hell

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Hikari Kenzaki

The Sentinel has become my streaming character. They aren’t really exciting and they don’t fill a role… like any role at all… in a team. But they do make a good team leader because they are comfortable anywhere your team needs help or support. Front of the line, in the back or soloing adds.

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Hikari Kenzaki

On the bonus, I didn’t have to say “What’s a healer?” To this article.

I mained a emp/rad/psy defender for the last 3 years of CoH and would never call her a healer.

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Belle Sorciere

Huh, I had much different experiences with Kheldians, and some of the things you said about them now aren’t true anymore. One example is that if the form and your human form share a power, an enhancement in one is an enhancement in both.

Peacebringers do well with permanent light form in the later game, and warshades are great with tri-form builds. They are more complex than the standard archetypes which makes it easy to get them wrong…which you did.