One area that can often be confusing for new City of Heroes players is the game’s many Archetype choices. Archetypes in City of Heroes are similar in some ways to classes in other games, but due to the freedom CoH offers, it’s best to think of them as a sort of framework for what powers you’ll have available to you.
Each of the game’s fourteen Archetypes are unique even in cases where they share the same sets of powers. While a Blaster might share the same primary power sets with a Corruptor, their unique mechanics and damage scaling are entirely different. For example, a Corruptor selecting Fire Blast would only deal ~75% of the damage a Blaster would with the same powers.
Last week we covered the game’s original five Archetypes and today we’re continuing this guide series with a look at the Archetypes introduced with the expansion City of Villains in 2005.
Before we dig in, it’s important to note that all non-Epic Archetypes can be played on either the Hero or Villain sides of the game.
Inherent Power – Scourge: Scourge is a mechanic that gives the Corruptor a chance to deal critical damage once an enemy is below 50% health. The chance of landing a critical hit scales as the target’s health decreases, up to the point where crits are guaranteed at 10% health or below. It’s a hard mechanic to gauge, but it has a significant impact on the Corruptor’s overall damage potential.
Primary Powerset: Ranged Attack
Secondary Powerset: Buff
The Corruptor is basically the Defender, only it trades somewhat less potent buffs/debuffs for significantly improved damage. Frankly, I don’t see much reason to roll a Defender with Corruptors in the game unless you really want to squeeze every ounce of your buff/debuff potential out of your character and only play in groups. In any other case, you should probably roll a Corruptor, even if you want to be able to help out your team.
Inherent Power – Assassination: The Stalker can enter “Hide” mode and always lands critical hits while in this mode. It also has access to an ‘Assassin’s Strike’ power that deals tremendous damage to its target when executed from Hide. Enemies who survive an AS from Hide may end up Terrorized, making it harder for them to retaliate for a while. Outside of Hide, Assassin’s Strike is a Superior damage attack.
Stalkers also have a 10% chance to land critical hits outside of Hide with an additional 3% for each member of your party (PvE only). The Stalker will have a higher chance of landing a crit on enemies afflicted by Sleep or Hold crowd control effects. Finally, each attack used in the Stalker’s primary powerset will grant a stack of Assassin’s Focus, giving your next Assassin’s Strike outside of Hide an additional 33% chance to crit (up to a stack of 3).
Primary Powerset: Melee Damage
Secondary Powerset: Defense
If you’re wondering why Stalkers have so much going on in their inherent, it wasn’t always this complicated. Paragon made significant changes over time to improve the Stalker as it was essentially a one trick pony, heavily reliant on using Assassin's Strike from Hide.
Fortunately, the Stalker is in a much better place now, as it can function perfectly fine outside of Hide. It’s squishier than all the other melee Archetypes, but it feels much more intuitive to play and can contribute quite well on teams. If you’re a fan of playing rogue type characters, the Stalker is a great choice for both team and solo play.
Inherent Power – Domination: Dominators fill their Domination bar by attacking enemies. Once the bar is near full (90% or so), the Dominator can enter Domination mode, refilling all of its Endurance, granting it protection to crowd control, and improving both the duration and strength of its own crowd control effects.
Domination mode lasts 90 seconds and recharges in 200 seconds, though this can be reduced through a variety of methods to the point where it is always available to be used when the bar is filled enough.
Primary Powerset: Control
Secondary Powerset: Assault
The Dominator is the Controller’s more aggressive cousin. It shares a Control primary with the Controller, but trades team support Buff powersets for ‘Assault’ powersets. Assault sets are a mishmash of ranged and melee attacks, allowing the Dominator some flexibility in how it wants to approach fighting. The Dominator’s base crowd control capabilities are not as potent as a Controller’s, but this can be matched or even exceeded when in Domination.
Domination is typically a high point players will build towards and then unleash, but it’s possible to achieve what is known as “Permadom” status and basically have Domination up all the time. Dominators are incredibly fun to play and work great in both solo and team play without Permadom, but for players who take things that far, the Dominator can often feel like a walking god.
If you like the idea of being able to dish out tons of crowd control and damage, the Dominator is a great Archetype to play.
Inherent Power – Fury: As the Brute attacks or is attacked (even if he misses or is missed) he’ll fill his Fury bar and gain increased damage as his bar increases. Fury decays rapidly, so the Brute must keep fighting to maintain high levels of damage.
The Brute also has access to a more narrow version of the Tanker’s Gauntlet Inherent, where each attack made against a target will come with an added Taunt effect.
Primary Powerset: Melee
Secondary Powerset: Defense
The Brute’s mantra is basically “Can’t stop, won’t stop”. If you’re not fighting, you’re losing Fury, and losing Fury is no good. At zero Fury, the Brute deals the same damage as a Tanker, so it’s important for it to stay in the fray to deal significant damage.
While at higher levels of Fury, the Brute will exceed the damage of a Scrapper, but this can be difficult to maintain. Fortunately, the Brute also has the highest damage cap in the game, so it can also be buffed by teammates and other sources to bring its damage capabilities to dizzying levels.
The Brute also has higher base HP than a Scrapper and Tanker caps for defense and damage resist. Keep in mind these are caps and not base values. The Brute’s defensive potential is high with buffs, but the Tanker will still be tougher by default.
If you like the idea of recklessly wading through foes in a mad dash to keep your rage going, then the frantic playstyle of the Brute is probably for you. It’s important to keep certain things in mind when creating a Brute character, when compared to say, a Scrapper. Since the Brute wants to constantly be fighting, establishing a solid attack chain early is key.
It’s also important to consider things that can create anti-synergy with the Fury mechanic. For example, lowering the attack rate of enemies surrounding you via Ice Armor or Dark Armor’s Cloak of Fear or Oppressive Gloom auras can make it harder to maintain Fury since enemies aren’t attacking you as often. You may also want to prioritize armor sets that give you solid Endurance management and passive recharge reduction, such as Electric Armor or Energy Aura. If you’re running an Endurance heavy primary powerset such as Titan Weapons along with an Endurance heavy secondary powerset like Dark Armor, you’re probably going to have a bad time as you’ll be struggling to maintain Fury.
Inherent Power – Supremacy: Supremacy grants the Mastermind’s pets a damage and accuracy buff as long as they are within 60’ of him and he isn’t only able to affect himself due to intangibility effects or abilities such as Personal Force Field. Supremacy also allows the Mastermind to split damage with his pets while pets are set to Defensive mode.
Primary Powerset: Pets
Secondary Powerset: Buff
The Mastermind is, in my opinion, the ultimate MMO pet class. Some wonky AI issues aside, the Mastermind is a pet class lover’s dream. Not only do you get to field pets in battle, but you get to bring a lot more into the fray than you’ll find in most MMOs. Each Mastermind comes with three minion class pets, two lieutenant class pets, and a boss class pet and they all have their own abilities. Some Mastermind powersets gain access to additional pets through unique abilities in their primary sets (such as the Thugs’ Gang War ability) and can even get another pet through their secondary powerset if they take Dark Miasma.
Taking full advantage of a Mastermind can be difficult, however. Pet AI can sometimes be frustrating and you’ll run into situations where your pets might run into melee too often (or hang back at a distance when they should be in melee), so some additional micromanagement may be necessary. There are some binds that help with this.
Masterminds are also great in solo play (you’re bringing your own team!) and can be useful in groups.
That’s it for part two of our guide to Archetypes! Next week we’ll take a look at the game’s Epic Archetypes.