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City of Heroes: I12 New Power Sets Pre-Evaluated

As I was saying a few entries ago, my City of Heroes/Villains MMORPG endeavors were derailed by the "powerset proliferation" coming in Issue 12 (probably a couple months away). Long story short, until I knew which new power sets those would be, there was no point to playing.

Today, I learned that the new power sets have been revealed. In this entry, I turn my practically obsessive-compulsive City of Heroes experienced eye on each.
  • Blasters, the purely offensive heroic powerhouse, get "Psychic Blast" and "Mental Manipulation."
  • Psychic Blast, formerly a Defender power set, is notable for many reasons: It does the rarely-resisted "psionic" damage. The attacks slow enemy recharge times. Many Psychic Blast powers also have a controlling secondary effect: immobilization, stunning, sleeping. Compared to Defenders, the debuff potency will probably by reduced 35%. Mental Manipulation does not exist yet. The existing "Mind Control" power set has effects that are potent enough that it is unlikely they would give Blasters much access to them. It's hard to say how this one will turn out, but I'm predicting low-magnitude, short duration holds, sleeps, and maybe a Telekinesis power and/or confuse effect. Both of the new Blaster power sets seem to introduce an unusually high amount of control effects for Blasters. A Psionic/Mental Blaster is likely the new "Blaproller" (Blaster/Controller) choice.
  • Corruptors, the villainous, damage-dealing, inverted Defenders, get Electrical Blast and Storm Summoning.
  • Electrical Blast, formerly for Defenders and Blasters, features entirely energy-based attacks that sap endurance and have a chance of giving some endurance to the caster. Storm Summoning is a fun set that grants a wide variety of effects across its nine powers. It's most notable for knocking foes around and summoning up a lightning storm to contribute formidably to damage. Electric Blast will probably not get much use because it really needs to be paired with an endurance draining secondary power set to be effective enough to be worth taking. Conversely, Storm Summoning may well become the Corruptor's second favorite secondary power set after Kinetics due to its nice mix of offensive and defensive capabilities.
  • Controllers, the heroic dedicated damage mitigation experts, get Plant Control and Thermal Radiation.
  • Plant Control was formerly a Dominator power. In the other Controller sets, at level 32 you either get an AOE Confuse you can throw every four minutes or a pet. Plant Control has a area-of-effect confuse that can be tossed every one minute and a very effective pet. It does not suffer any noticeable drawback for this privilege - it has pleanty of control power. Thermal Radiation is also a "do it all" set, but (unlike Plant Control) it takes a potency hit. Thermal Radiation has powers that emulate some of the best effects out of Sonic Resonance and Empathy, but either of the specialized sets would have more powers that would boost the potency of those effects further. Overall, Controllers are getting some awesome power sets in Issue 12. Plant Controllers, I fully expect, will either trigger a nerf or trigger a buff of Mind Control due to the effectiveness of having both a pet and Seeds of Confusion. Thermal Radiation is an excellent set for those who want to keep their team alive.
  • Dominators, the villainous, less-versatile but more damaging Controllers, get Earth Control and Electricity Manipulation.
  • Earth Control, one of the least played Controller sets, is the very best at locking down foes and preventing them from attacking. Electricity Manipulation, much like Energy Blast, focuses mostly draining endurance. It includes four effective melee attacks (but most skip one or two because that's generally more than is needed). Both power sets do better in Dominator hands than where they started. Earth Control is great defensively but, for a Controller, it's always had damage issues. In a Dominator's hands, that may change. Electricity Manipulation, if left in an unmodified form, will be unique among Dominators in that it swaps out ranged attacks for additional defenses. This is a good swap, as Dominators generally suffer from too many attacks and too little defense.
  • Defenders, the heroic jack-of-all-trades with a talent for buffing/debuffing, get Cold Domination and Ice Blast.
  • Cold Domination, formerly a Corruptor power set, focuses on shielding allies, debuffing foes, and even has a ranged heal thrown in. It will probably be about 20% more effective than it was for Corruptors, judging by the Darkest Night for both archetypes. Ice Blast, formerly a Blaster and Corruptor power set, is effective at mitigating damage by slowing the attack rate of foes attacked or even stacking a couple of hold powers. The debuffs will probably 35% more effective debuffing than is for Blasters, judging by Sonic Blast. Overall, two good sets for Defenders, as their buffing/debuffing potency boosts the effectiveness of both. Cold Domination may be a good pick for weather-control themed Defenders who don't want to knock around bad guys with certain Storm Summoning powers. Ice Blast, in the hands of a Defender, can likely slow entire groups of foes to neigh immobility.
  • Masterminds, the villains who uniquely utilize henchmen, get no new primary and only one secondary power set: Storm Summoning.
  • As I said before, Storm Summoning is a fun set that grants a wide variety of effects across its nine powers. It's most notable for knocking foes around and summoning up a lightning storm to contribute formidably to damage. It will probably be 40% less effective than Defenders, judging by comparing Dark Miasma effects. For Masterminds, Storm Summoning introduces a set that can perpetually knock foes off their feet. Lightning Storm alone could savage a group of enemies mercilessly as the henchmen carve them to ribbons. After the potency hit, I'm not sure this offers any better mitigation than existing Masterminds sets. Regardless, it'll be fun.
  • Brutes, the villainous Scrappers who become more dangerous the longer a battle lasts, get two primaries, Battle Axe and War Mace, and one secondary, Super Reflexes.
  • Battle Axe and War Mace are functionally the same power set with the only difference being Battle Axe does lethal damage and War Mace does the equally-resisted smashing damage. Entirely melee ranged, mostly single target attacks, one cone attack, and one PBAOE attack. Super Reflexes, from its origin with Scrappers, has always been a rather temperamental power set. It relies entirely on "defense," universally decreasing the odds you can get hit against any kind of aggressor. However, with eight must-have powers, builds that use Super Reflexes highly specialized, leaving little room for customization. Overall, pretty flat offerings for Brutes. Battle Axe and War Mace are great from a "character concept building" standpoint but both kind of boring sets, in my opinion. Defensively, Super Reflexes really doesn't introduce anything the Brute didn't already have with the Energy Aura. Offensively, Quickness and Elude would be nice on a Brute, getting them quickly around as they build up their Fury bars.
  • Scrappers, the heroic melee-range damage dealers supreme, get Fiery Melee and Fiery Aura.
  • Fiery Melee, formerly for Tanks and Brutes, will feature Damage Over Time as a secondary effect, leading to greater damage than the other sets if you don't mind waiting awhile. The AOE Taunt will probably be replaced with a Scrapper single-target equivalent. Fiery Aura, formerly a Brute and Tank set, is a resistance-based defensive set that has a few powers that allow the user to heal themselves and restore their endurance. It's crowned with "Rise of the Phoenix" which brings the hero back to life if defeated. Overall, these picks have the potential for getting heroes hot under the collar. Fiery Melee (by merit of the Fire secondary effect standard) should be the #1 power set for doing what Scrappers do: damage. Fiery Aura, on the other hand, is currently considered thoroughly "gimped" - it's very weak for a Tanker or Brute. Both sets carry taunt effects on their attacks, getting attention Scrappers probably don't want.
  • Stalkers, the villainous stealthy assassins, get Electric Melee and Electric Armor.
  • Electric Melee, formerly a Brute power set, will likely get adjusted to include the vital "assassin strike" and "placate" features that Stalker sets need. Its secondary effect not only drains endurance but prevents regeneration, making it an effective pick for confronting highly regenerative foes like heroes, archvillains, or giant monsters. As this is on nearly every power in the set, this will likely survive the transition to the Stalker. With its flashy red electric power effects, it's a very popular pick amongst Brutes. Electric Armor, also formerly a Brute power set, will need to be modified to include the vital "hide" secondary power set feature that Stalker sets need. It seems to be a resistance-based defense set with some capacity to drain and restore endurance, but something will be lost in the modification. Overall, Electric Melee may be popular with Stalkers due to the regeneration prevention, Lightning Clap stun mitigation, and flashy looks. Electric Armor, after tweaking, will probably be very similar to Energy Aura except be resistance instead of defense based.
  • Tankers, the heroes whose singular durability is unmatched, get Dark Armor and Dark Melee.
  • Dark Armor, formerly for Scrappers and adapted for Stalkers and Brutes, is a really unusual set for Tankers in that it has a lot more utility. It has a PBAOE damage toggle, crowd control toggles, and a PBAOE siphon heal. It has a lot of psionic resistance, which is usually the Tankers' Achilles Heel. Dark Melee, also formerly for Scrappers and adapted for Stalkers and Brutes, features an additional life-siphoning and endurance siphoning methods and even a single target fear attack. It's the most single-target based of Scrapper sets, but that fits right in with the Tanks' AOE-limited arsenal. Overall, some pretty weird sets for Tanks, because they feature a lot more utility than Tankers usually get. Dark Armor is a particularly weak tanking set, balanced around the idea of a PBAOE self-heal. However, it will at least be good for those who want to be able to tank Psionic foes.
Well, after seeing this, it looks like the only archetypes I'd be able to safely play prior to Issue 12 are Stalkers. For me, Dual Blades/Ninjitsu is easily a better choice of primary/secondary sets than anything Electric.

Dominators are another possibility, but I wonder if Electricity Manipulation is really worth taking instead of Fiery Assault. Fiery Assault is all about raw damage, which I believe Dominators need the most out of their secondary set. Plant Control, which they already have, is definitely the best primary for me for reasons I elaborated about under the Controller entry above.

Just about any other archetype has the possibility of having a superior new combination, both in fun and effectiveness. What I really aught to do is just slog through the last 10 levels with my Robotics/Traps Mastermind so I can try out the new villain epic archetypes when Issue 12 is released... but I'm bored of that guy.

Honestly, I'm considering giving City of Heroes the finger and giving EVE Online a serious try. I've got the client installed, but my old 15-day trial (barely used) is expired. I hesitate to actually plunk down money on an EvE subscription because I'd be surprised if the core game mechanic is as good as City of Heroes.

My reasoning is that EvE is more of a game that works externally, with a do-anything, economic, and otherwise open-ended virtual worldly focus. Such a focus usually neglects the internal workings of the game, leaving the individual activities a player may be tasked to do as not very engaging on their own.

My dream game is one that puts an internal focus first, meaning it's actually fun to play in the given moment. My dream game also needs an external focus so I can feel good about the time I invested. EVE Online may or may not be immediately fun to play, but their external focus would always assure you're in the middle of something truly epic.
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