Into the Super-Verse: What to pick for your Incarnate powers in City of Heroes

Hang on, I'm reading.

Last week in Into the Super-Verse, I offered a quick explanation for how you can get started with the process of sorting out the Incarnate powers in City of Heroes. This is all well and good, and hopefully it helped people. But just knowing the mechanics doesn’t necessarily help in contrast to, you know, what you should actually pick. There are a whole lot of powers just in the Alpha slot, after all, and if you want to enhance something like your range, it might not be clear what your best pick is going to be.

So today I’m going to go through some general-purpose guidance for what to pick for your slots. Keep in mind that none of this advice should be taken as an absolute law; it is not as if I’m going to pick the only viable power choices, and you can definitely take other options if you’d prefer. Rather, the goal here is to give general guidance so that you know ahead of time there are some sub-optimal picks.

my head hurts

Alpha slot

First and foremost, most of the time you are going to want to go Core Paragon for your choice; the bonuses are bigger and thus have a higher impact. Beyond that, however, you’re going to want to check a few basic boxes.

There are four generally better options: Agility, Intuition, Cardiac, and Musculature. If you have a bunch of powers to boost Recovery or you find yourself in need of a Defense boost, Agility is going to be your best option. If you don’t have much bonus Recovery but have a lot of toggles draining your Endurance and/or you want some extra damage resistance? Cardiac has your back. Intuition is obviously ideal for anyone with a control-focused powerset by powering up your holds, and all else being equal, Musculature is going to make you hit harder.

Your other four options are not awful, but they are strictly worse. Nerve makes you more accurate, but odds are high you’re soft-capped on Accuracy in a finished build anyway; even if you want more Defense to soft-cap, Agility is a better option. Vigor is strictly about improving direct healing, but direct heals in CoH aren’t often even the province of support archetypes. You can boost your recharge rate with Spiritual, but why not try for perma-Hasten with another useful Incarnate power (that we’ll get to shortly)? And the odds are good that if Cardiac doesn’t push you into a Resistance cap alongside improving your Endurance consumption, Resilient won’t help that much and has worse secondary buffs.

Since Intuition is purely for control options, you will usually pick between Agility, Cardiac, and Musculature. Mids is helpful to test which between Agility and Cardiac will help your costs more, but if you’re going for Defense, pick Agility; if you’re going for Resistance, pick Cardiac.

Judgement slot

The two best options here are Ion and Pyronic, full stop. Ion hits up to 40 targets and can either be a slight hold/disable or have a chance to deal extra damage, which can absolutely annihilate some groups, but it does have a brief wind-up time. Pyronic hits fewer but comes out faster, can either stun or burn targets, and has a nice range to it.

Mighty and Cryonic both have their place, to be fair. Mighty is useful if you’re already using PBAoE abilities, with either a nice firm knockup to disable enemies or a bonus damage effect like Ion. Cryonic, meanwhile, hits more targets than Pyronic but is a bit harder to aim because it’s a cone instead of a targeted AoE.

Rounding out the list, Vorpal and Void are both just kind of there. Their effects aren’t terrible, but they aren’t as good as the other options. Save them for specific characters which which they fit thematically, but otherwise pick something else.


Interface slot

This one’s pretty easy: Degenerative, Preemptive, Diamagnetic, and Reactive are your obvious choices. Please keep in mind that in all four cases, the damage-over-time option is not what you want (most enemies won’t last long enough for it to matter). Reactive improves the damage you do to a target steadily, Degenerative and Diamagnetic are good for making Archvillains less a chore to chew down (especially on teams or specs that don’t do as much damage), and Preemptive helps whittle down enemy endurance which functionally backs up hold effects. Think about it: Would you rather have a recharge debuff or just make sure your enemy cannot act? That’s what I thought.

Lore slot

It seriously doesn’t matter. Pick your favorite group and go. That’s not to say that you cannot optimize the DPS of these pets; you absolutely can. But given its 15-minute cooldown, you’re not going to be relying on this slot for a major component of your gameplay. It’s just too infrequent to have that much of an impact. Pick the enemy group you like and fire it off when it comes up, mostly during end missions of task forces and Hamidon raids.

Destiny slot

Ageless and Barrier are really the obvious choices here. It’s important to note that when you get to the highest tier of these abilities, while the buff effects will steadily wear off, the recharge time and total duration is two minutes across the board. That means that while your effects will be at a lowered potency toward the end of the recharge, they never have to completely wear off, and when you’re talking about an appreciable buff to defense and damage resistance or a flat recovery and recharge bonus, that is a big deal.

Equally important here is that the other choices are kind of garbage. Oh, I can buff everyone with status protection, thereby replicating the effect of a cheap small inspiration in the unlikely event that people aren’t already highly resistant to holds and such. A big heal? I just finished explaining how direct healing is not really a thing in this game. And then there’s a buff to healing received that doesn’t even heal anyone. It’s like the design for that ability wandered over from a different game altogether.

Hybrid slot

It’s weird that the Hybrid slot seems like the slot with at once the fewest choices (there are only four) and the largest number of meaningful choices. It’s not hard to pick your power. If you primarily deal damage, you want Assault, if you primarily exist as support you want Support, tanks want Melee and control-oriented characters want Control. But both branches actually have interesting choices to make along the way, which in and of itself is different.

As a general rule, Assault prefers the Radial side to Core, simply because Core is effectively mirrored by Kinetics as a powerset and so you might as well not duplicate that. Control, meanwhile, depends on whether or not you tend to do a lot of damage (go Radial) or have a lot of holds without many damage powers (go Core), and Support usually wants Radial but Core can be useful. Melee uses Radial if you have more trouble gaining threat and Core if you just need more durability once you’ve got it. They’re minor choices, but they are at least meaningfully different!

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.
Previous articleDonkey Crew sets Bellwright early access for April 23 – still no update for Last Oasis
Next articleFallout 76 kicks off free-play week in celebration of the Fallout TV show’s launch

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments