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

    
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You made it sing, all right.

The fun thing about City of Heroes is… well, there are lots of fun things. But one of the fun things is that the game is set up so that even the worst picks a player can make can still usually wind up being viable. The old joke went that you could make a secondary set that actively lowered your defenses, did no damage, and capped off by just killing you… and people would still figure out how to build it in such a way that you could solo groups at +1/x2.

But the purpose of these guides isn’t to tell people about that; it’s to give people who have no idea what the various archetypes are about some idea of what each one will feel like in play. Last week, we took a look at the heroic archetypes (and Sentinels, because they fit in nicely there); this week, it’s time to go for the villainous ones. Even though these days everything can be heroic or villainous. You know how it is.

Brutes

Despite the name, Brutes aren’t really mindless hitting machines; instead, they’re like more momentum-based Scrappers. While they sit somewhere between Scrappers and Tankers in terms of durability, they have the benefit of their Fury bar, building up and boosting damage the longer the Brute smashes away at targets with reckless abandon.

Advantages: Generally speaking, if you’re rolling a melee character, odds are good that you want to just go to down smashing things. And that’s what Brutes are all about, getting more potent the more things get smashed and the more relentless your playstyle. It’s a glorious thing when you find your Fury bar maxing out and you start pinging ahead to just keep up the damage dealt.

Disadvantages: The momentum of a Brute is so intoxicating that it’s really easy to find yourself in over your head by having rushed ahead faster than you really should have. Meanwhile, being more cautious means that you’re also getting stuck with lesser damage dealt, making it hard to get back up to speed. Also, as with the other melee archetypes, you’re out of luck when it comes to dealing damage at range.

bang

Corruptors

A dark mirror to Defenders, Corruptors are ranged damage dealers with support backup, thereby also nicely filling the niche that Blasters traditionally do… except with a secondary that’s more likely to be useful than risky melee powers you likely won’t need. You also get to start dealing critical hits at range once your enemies start losing health, so mobs that are dying tend to die faster.

Advantages: You’ve got nasty ranged powers and you get more powerful as things are dying. Plus, your secondary set is actually complimentary to your primary powers. That’s all good, isn’t it?

Disadvantages: Well… here’s the thing. Corruptors don’t actually hit as hard as Blasters do, and they don’t have the dedicated support bonuses that Defenders do. You’re trading some damage and some support here, and the net result is a bit of a hybrid of both. It’s a good pick for party play, but you might sometimes feel like the jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

Dominators

While Controllers plink away with weaker attacks and a pet, Dominators hold the enemy and then unleash melee wrath. Yes, this is a wholly different experience simply with the loss of your pet and the presence of a damage-based secondary. You still have all of the control effects of Controllers, but now you can actually hurt things!

Advantages: You still have all of the control effects of Controllers, but now you can actually hurt things. Was that somehow vague the first time? What could possibly go wrong?

Disadvantages: Oh, right, something could get resisted. Controllers have those layers of safety with holds and defensive powers and pets. Dominators have holds and… well, then we’re down to being a much-less-dangerous Blaster trying to kill things before they kill you. There’s a reason why you build up to a stronger control casting as your inherent power.

Vorp?

Masterminds

Right, forget all of your other pet classes; this is a pet class. By the higher levels Masterminds have a whole roaming army following them, complete with support powers to back up the rest of the team and the pets and a few ranged attacks. It’s a really cool Archetype inherently, and it gets even more cool watching them work with a group.

Advantages: For one thing, it does away with the usual hands-off nature of pet classes; managing your full squad requires quite a bit of work, along with the use of your secondary powers and a few attacks of your own. It’s also an Archetype as at home with a group as solo, since in a group you’re like a healer with a pet army. Also, hey, it’s just cool.

Disadvantages: I don’t really feel that Masterminds are complex in the usual meaning, but they are definitely involved. You have a number of moving pieces to keep going at any given moment, and for new players it can be overwhelming. You also only have a handful of different powersets to choose from, and because your pets and their buffs take up so many of your slot picks, early on it can feel pretty dull to be the human in the party while your pets do most of the actual fighting. Plus, groupmates can sometimes become annoyed when your pets are clogging up the landscape (and the doors).

Stalkers

Oh, Stalkers, you can join the club with Tankers in terms of Archetypes that never really wound up as relevant as intended. The idea of Stalkers is solid enough, though; it’s the squishiest of the melee options, but you also get to stealth up to people and directly stab their faces off, giving no thought to how impossible that is from a physics perspective. Ker-face-stab!

Advantages: If you really like playing the hide-and-backstab sort of character in MMOs, Stalkers fill that niche in a way nothing else does. They really are the stealthiest archetype, and they have pretty great burst potential for taking down tough enemies before the rest of your group has even engaged.

Disadvantages: Well… CoH isn’t a game about bursting down tough enemies. There are tough enemies, but they always have backup. In groups, you want to have everyone crushing large groups, and when solo, that squishiness will really hamstring you. Thus, they’re another archetype that I wouldn’t ever really recommend to a brand-new player; you have to know what you’re doing and why you’re making a Stalker.

Where the 'hood at.

Arachnos Soldiers

Funnily enough, Bree says she associates me with this particular archetype, despite the fact that they’re not anywhere close to my most-played archetype. But I do love spiders, and for good cause. Someone once described Soldiers as being Scrappers with a dash of Blaster, and that’s pretty much accurate.

Advantages: You get access to ranged abilities and melee along with defensive tools, and the result is that you can focus on going mostly ranged, mostly melee, a combination of both, or even on more esoteric tricks. There are many fun options when it comes to your power selection, whether you want more ranged stuff via Crab Spider or more melee stealthing via Bane Spider.

Disadvantages: Aside from Bane Spiders being a bit underwhelming, the biggest problem a Soldier has is that you’re not really built for one thing, and that shows. Yes, you can make an all-ranged Soldier build, but you’re not going to be good at that as dedicated ranged archetypes. You’re useful in a group, and your hybrid nature is fun to play, but “Scrapper but with range” is really where your design stops.

Arachnos Widows

Continuing the theme of the above, Widows have an interesting mesh of different abilities. Either they’re Stalkers with range and control, or they’re Dominators with melee and defense. That might seem like an odd combination, but much as with Soldiers the idea is that you get to do a lot of things pretty well rather than doing one thing very well and another thing decently.

Advantages: If it isn’t obvious, Widows as ersatz Stalkers are probably a bit better all around than pure Stalkers, with less burst but more overall utility, in short. But more than that, Widows have similar advantages to Soldiers with a more esoteric setup, and since multiple builds can be a thing you can have a character who focuses more on stalking and killing one day and more on control the next.

Disadvantages: And, just as above, your biggest downside is that while you can be a mini-control character, you’re never going to be a Controller or Dominator. You can do more, but no one thing you do as well. Which can be an asset, in the long run, but in a party full of control you can feel like your holds just don’t cut it.

Hopefully this guide (and our Blueside guide) will help new players at least come to grips with what the heck can be done and why. There’s a lot more going on with powersets, like how the right builds can make Blasters almost into control characters… but the point is figuring out what the heck you can play. Pick the archetype that sounds appealing to you and go enjoy yourself. The game is really fun, you guys.

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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Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

One thing to mention about Brutes and Masterminds.

Brutes are not Tanks, and typically cannot withstand an alpha strike from a large number of enemies, without having a few good buffs on them (there are exceptions to this). However, once that alpha strike is over, the Brute can then pick up enough aggro easily enough, since they are fine at withstanding sustained damage.

The Mastermind, however, with pets set to Defensive, can easily shrug off an alpha strike, making them ideal to run in just before the Brute. Once you are attacked, your pets go crazy-go-nuts on your enemies. For a little more fun, if you pick up Provoke from the Presence Pool, then you’re guaranteed to always have enemies attacking you, and keeping your pets upset at them. Note: When your pets are aggroed while in Defensive, they’ll attack anything, not just the enemies attacking you (this includes objects in Mayhem missions), so knowing when to flip back and forth between Defensive and telling your pets to focus an enemy is a good skill to have.

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Laughing_Alex

If you change the attack command aggressive to be defensive(its a configurable micro) you can make them focus fire AND stay in defensive and protect you.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

I can’t believe I forgot that you could change that. I feel so… I’ve slept a few times since then. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking with it! :)

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Doubleplusgood

You should also mention that Stalkers don’t just stealth. They are completely invisible and cannot be detected until you attack. You can walk right up to enemies and they will not aggro. It is fun to see circle of thorns reading books, council sitting on boxes, Tsoo meditating, and then sneak attack! You can even open doors and somehow the enemy does not notice. This allows the stalker to speed to the end of some content that would take others much longer. And for soloing there is always the difficulty slider which you can lower to make content easier.

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DargorV .

All I remember is anything with pets and healing just plows thro content

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Ian Wells

I have my self a Necro/Pain Mastermind, and its pretty fun. The only problem I run into is that a lot of enemies have “weak” skills that have a lasting AoE effect. Against most archetypes, the damage is like pins and needles vs what ever you can do. For a MM, however? Two enemies with long lasting fire AoEs in the same room is gonna make roll your eyes as you hammer that Follow button and hope your pets actually listen this time.

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Nabe

Never played CoH, I intend to give it a go at some point now once the dust has settled and it’s clear what kinda servers are sticking around (and when I’m not involved in playing anything else) … I think after reading both articles controllers maybe sounded the most interesting, but it’s hard to gauge just from reading stuff … I remember downloading that PINE tool or something just to see what kinda stuff you could make and was totally lost with all the different bits and bobs you could put together, so at least I know a bit more now about what’s going on.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Hooboy… yeah, you wouldn’t want to just jump right into builds with CoH. Your powers leveling up and learning your class are never going to look like your final build anyway.

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Laughing_Alex

Hikari says it best. Com tends to surprise players with how things play out. It takes experience to be able to make a toon and know how it’ll likely play out beforehand, and even then vets like me make mistakes often. I once made a fire/kin corruptor and had a char that had very different io needs to be effectice than I expected.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Brute is one of my favorite ATs. I can DPS, Tank or Off-Tank in small or large groups.

The biggest drawback of playing a Brute vs a Tank is the lack of Punchvoke which can cause large mob agro to be very daunting. I wouldn’t recommend being the main tank as a Brute if you’re new. However, once you’ve gotten a handle on using your taunt aura and direct taunt to maximum effect, I’d recommend playing a Brute over Tank most of the time.

Corruptors are actually an evolution of a player concept. The Offender (yes, it should probably be Offensour or something, but Offender sounds cooler with the emphasis on “Off”). Before there was a CoV, players would use certain Defender powersets (like Dark Miasma combined with Dark or Rad blast) to make a primarily offensive set. People who were used to playing Offenders found a new home in Corruptors with all the bonuses lending themselves to how they were already playing.

Both of these obviously are more advanced techniques, but really, most of CoV was designed for more advanced tactics. The fact that no AT has a defensive primary is proof of that.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

There are tough enemies, but they always have backup.

I’ve been running on a Stalker for the last couple of days and one thing I’ve noticed is that CoH has surprisingly sophisticated enemy AI and aggro mechanics. If I take out the guy standing at the back of a group while his buddies are looking the other way then the others often won’t aggro on me until he’s already down… or at all if I’m quick enough. If you want to get your Batman on then Stalker is the way to go.

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ogged451

the biggest problem a Soldier has is that you’re not really built for one thing

YES, Soldiers, especially Crabs, are built for ONE thing, and that thing is “being totally awesome”.

Once the Homecoming servers settled a bit, I made the grave mistake of pulling my old Crab build from the library and recreating the guy in every detail.
Now, whenever I try “to alt”, there’s this nagging feeling that my Crab is just .. superior in every way to everything else. I mean, the guy has capped defenses, resists on the north side of 50%, all the ranged AoE you want, five pets, a heal, 20% defenses for the team, no endurance problems, an AOE attack chain of two easy to use targeted AoEs plus a really large cone.

The guy can farm, do missions, go and take one half of the BAF levels by himself, yadda dadda …

And the best thing… my guy has more arms than yours !

Spoiler
(unless you’re a Crab too)

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Bryan Correll

And if you get Leviathan Mastery (Captain Mako patron powers) then you can have toxic grenade + bile spray, one of the nastiest attack combos around.

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Matthew Oates

I don’t suppose you could *link* or share that build? I’ve been thinking about making one of these bad boys for a long time :)

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ogged451

I hope posting this links here works …

http://www.cohplanner.com/mids/download.php?uc=1632&c=739&a=1478&f=HEX&dc=78DA65944B4F135114C7EFB4536B4B79F4CD53A058CBABA5155077842012E5210682C64D33D2096DD2B4CD4C4964E95750031A5DFADCB800111FB830F153A80B70AFE063A7584FE7FC4BAB9DB4F99D7BDEF79E993B7DFDACE3D9C48D1121F9C6D28AAEC74735653199C9EAF1B96C3A915235EB8C925FD694B45908619B5FD17525D3B170C64AABE0FFAE7A644C53AEC5E772A984AA9594C1794D49655299A5F884925852F3FF3A958CCEF399A4AAA9997CA4243866B3D974644A557264AE2F2D28464FA672B5C6FA5C6A299927ABDD58CDE55435E11BCFA516230BE3A3F3547F391D9F56F4BCAAAD3452BB31FABB44E9295844D8444A599822E000538E8231E6917744B72CD66B284C326225E127A18D6C27CD86CF16D924B69924AF64E88E1E08C3A779927D7C746666C49BE1E3F0309D64B320DE025B1D6C750D4C1F59ADE8DDBA210C5DC326F882E9DA025F323D3B5CFB15F567437E1BF27B90DF87FCC533AA611FB9E6367A5E6536AE817798CD77997E6AA8967B32D57EE0F36AFD087E62BEA6DAF59C57D477725F4D0427F6E21C64BF6343E030788AD9711ADCE59A6F289F9BF359DC0F607BC8EC7C043E069F30BB9E32B729D68B5EBC61EE6583747EECDB1FE5B3E88A8183CCE343E03053A27D3771FFA2A9408F784E595A5823B7CCC2FB22F3C40C380D4E32CD94A50D53694385102A86D0894C3EEDF069C7E442985C0F26B749B50338CDC08EC978EB7A3E83FBBCF3DEEFE00FF027F32DC506111B446CFF2EB8C73EFDDF9861E40823879FA2BA11DBFD0BB6DFCC8103F00F5860C6044F3140FBEAC3D7D0D7C79388815E4284F34A917BFCF5C5EE335D1417C504A3789B5AE5C3AF9A7EC569F45669A2559A589566B04A3354A599940F6F81C2549575568691341276636B10C53D1B115FEC87F78490F0FEED957592B480BBE30231248BAF95FEDDECBF5FD699A5353E55FB4DF016D3B1CA1C7113D0ED25BBD1A7215FAE90AF54C8572BE4F2F33EC0B76751DBE529677479CBF27645A57577D9FF2F4E711B67

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ogged451

caveats :
– this is a level 50 build and without Cardiac, life is pain
– open it in Pine, not Mids, because Mids doesn’t reflect the I24 beta changes which made IO sets have lots of resists
– the actual real life version of this has almost all of the IOs at “+5”, because Enhancement Boosters are dirt cheap on Homecoming, this is not represented in the link

oh and if the system purges the lenghty link because it looks like spam, I’ll try to put it on dropbox tomorrow.

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Crowe

now I really want to play mine up. My daughter wants to duo though so I have it waiting on her.