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There are several different Archetypes (ATs) in City of Heroes. They are made for everything from support and healing to melee damage and devastating ranged attacks. Everyone can find an AT to suit their playing style. Below are some general statements about how the different ATs compare to one another. There are a few exceptions to these rules.
- Blasters are made for ranged fights and tend to stay at a distance due to their (generally) fragile nature. Blasters also get powerful, dangerous for them to use melee distance attacks in many secondaries.
- Tankers are meant to get hit in the face and laugh about it. They are by far the most durable AT in the game. Their attacks are in their secondary power and often stun or knock down opponents.
- Scrappers are meant to get in close and fight dirty. They can take damage better than blasters and deal damage better than tankers. Scrappers are usually the best AT for solo play.
- Controllers are arguably the most difficult basic AT to master. They specialize in crowd control and usually prevent damage to the group through holds, sleeps, and other disabling effects. Most controllers get, at high levels, the power to summon helpers called pets. Controllers get defender primaries as their secondary power sets.
- Defenders are the healers, buffers, and debuffers. (Buffs are beneficial powers that defenders can grant to other characters; debuffs are detrimental effects defenders place on the enemy. For example, a speed buff might make your team attack faster, or a slow debuff might make the opponent attack more slowly.) They make the team more difficult to kill by either preventing damage, or repairing it. Defenders get blaster primaries as their secondary power sets.
- Epic archetypes are special-purpose characters unique to the City of Heroes mythology, and are unlocked through various gameplay goals. Currently the epic archetypes are aliens called Kheldians, in two flavors: the Peacebringers and the Warshades.
All archetypes can their Power pools after level 6, while Ancillary pools are the power sets that are Archetype-specific and are only available after level 40. Only one ancillary pool can be selected, and Kheldians do not have access to ancillary pools.