Some novice players are confused by the combat system of City of Heroes, because powers don't work quite the same as similar aspects of other MMOGs. Powers are any sort of action that your character makes to significantly affect gameplay. They are to City of Heroes what skills and spells are to other MMOGs. What makes City of Heroes unique is that - unlike most other MMOGs - there is no "attack" or "autoattack" function; this is because all attacks are themselves powers!
To lend a more exciting, comic-book feel to combat, you do not merely attack; you choose a specific type of attack. After your attack, you choose another. Hence do you send each given attack for a dynamic battle, rather than the same generic attack over and over (with abilities mixed in).
Power descriptions in City of Heroes do not provide specific information, but instead generalize on the power's identity with relation to similar powers. As a result, any statistics in this guide, though generally true, may be inaccurate or rendered incorrect after a game patch.
- 1 Power sets
- 2 Other sets
- 3 Power Requirements
- 4 Assault sets
- 5 Buff sets
- 6 Control sets
- 7 Defense sets
- 8 Melee sets
- 9 Ranged sets
- 10 Summon sets
- 11 Support sets
- 12 Epic sets
All powers in the game are part of a power set. Such power sets include Super Strength, Flight, and Mind Control. There are four main types of power set.
Primary power sets
A hero's primary set is the defining set that the hero makes the most use of. There are nine powers in primary sets, of which either of the first two may be selected at character creation, with others becoming available as the hero gains levels.
Secondary power sets
The secondary set holds significant sway in a hero's style of play, though less so than the primary set. The secondary set also has nine powers, however, you are required to choose the first power in the set (instead of one of the first two) at character creation, and subsequent powers become available at higher levels than primary sets. Additionally, secondary powers are only 80% as effective as primary powers. For this reason, players that want to do one thing and do it very well will only get a few powers from their secondary set, while players that want a more dynamic and adaptive character will get many powers from their secondary set.
Power pool sets
The power pool has powers that any character, regardless of archetype, may have. It is organized into 10 sets of four powers each. Unlike other power sets, power pool sets have prerequisites in addition to minimum level. For instance, to get the third power in a pool set, you must have either of the first two powers, and to get the fourth power in the set, you must have any two of the other three powers. A hero may have powers from 0-4 pools; they are forbidden from having more than four power pools. This is probably to prevent a player from making a hero too weak, because pool powers are generally weaker than primary and even secondary powers.
Just as secondary powers are weaker, but important to round out a character, so are power pools even weaker, but with a huge potential to round out a character. Additionally, four of the power pools have a "travel power" which greatly increases a hero's movement speed when used, one of which nearly all heroes have. Many players even consider a travel power a necessity, to be obtained as early as possible.
Also note that most players refer to power pool sets as "pools". Although it is technically a misnomer, it is used more commonly and should be considered a synonym.
Ancillary pool sets
Ancillary pool sets are an addition to City of Heroes made after release. Like primary and secondary sets, ancillary pool sets are also dependent on the hero's archetype. They have four powers each, mostly out of primary and secondary sets not available to the given archetype, but some only found in tertiary sets. These are far more effective than powers from the power pool, and are powers that significantly counteract the archetype's shortcomings.
The ancillary power pools become available at level 41. They have the same limitations as the normal power pool regarding obtaining the third and fourth powers in the sets. Each hero may only have powers from one ancillary power pool, or may choose not to have any. The ancillary pool does not count against the 4-set maximum of the regular power pool, and similarly having four sets out of the regular power pool does not prevent one from obtaining an ancillary pool set.
There are two power sets which do not fit into the above categories.
The inherent set is a set of powers that the hero automatically has, without selecting them. These powers help the hero to perform in the early game, when it has few powers otherwise. Most heroes will find the inherent powers of very little use (but still some) as they expand their catalogue of powers.
With the exception of one power dependent on your archetype, the powers in the inherent set are the same for all characters on a game account. Through very rare circumstances, an account can gain inherent powers that most accounts don't have; these are then inherent for all heroes belonging to that account.
Temporary powers are powers that the hero can not count on having forever. These are often given as rewards for completing missions, but can be obtained in many ways. Depending on the power, the hero will lose it after one of the following:
- It has seen a specific amount of use.
- It has been in the possession of the hero for a certain amount of time played.
- It has been in the possession of the hero for a certain amount of real time (even if the player is offline).
The power's description should say how and after what degree a power will be lost.
Additionally, each hero receives a temporary power based on the hero's origin. It is more accurately an inherent power, but has been classified as temporary. This is most likely to prevent the power from receiving enhancements, but it should be noted that the powers originally were indeed temporary; heroes would lose them upon reaching level 10.
Aside from requirements regarding power pool sets given above, all powers have a minimum level. Until the hero has achieved the minimum level for a power, it cannot be chosen.
- Level 1 (creation): 1st and 2nd primary set powers, 1st secondary set power
- Level 2: 3rd primary set power, 2nd secondary set power
- Level 4: 3rd secondary set power
- Level 6: 4th primary set power, 1st and 2nd pool set powers
- Level 8: 5th primary set power
- Level 10: 4th secondary set power
- Level 12: 6th primary set power
- Level 14: 3rd pool set powers
- Level 16: 5th secondary set power
- Level 18: 7th primary set power
- Level 20: 6th secondary set power and 4th pool set powers
- Level 22: Additional power, but no new choices
- Level 24: Additional power, but no new choices
- Level 26: 8th primary set power
- Level 28: 7th secondary set power
- Level 30: Additional power, but no new choices
- Level 32: 9th primary set power
- Note that after this point, powers are no longer gained every even level.
- Level 35: 8th secondary set power
- Level 38: 9th secondary set power
- Level 41: Tertiary power pools open
- Level 44: Additional power
- Level 47: Additional power
- Level 49: Additional power
Assault sets combine ranged and melee attacks. Common to each set is a selection of fast-recharging ranged attacks, hard-hitting melee or short ranged attacks, a long ranged sniper attack, and a self buff of some sort.
Dominators select an Assault set as a secondary.
- Energy Assault: Dominators
- Fiery Assault: Dominators
- Ice Assault: Dominators
- Psionic Assault: Dominators
- Thorny Assault: Dominators
- Earth Assault: Dominators
- Electric Assault: Dominators
Buff sets contain the strongest buffs and debuffs in the game. There is a large variety of ways in which to enhance allies or weaken enemies. For instance, a player can drop the accuracy of a group of enemies to near zero, or recover life points that have been lost by the team. Consequently, each set specializes in a different thing, and plays differently than the rest.
Defenders select a Buff set as a primary set. Controllers, Corruptors, and Masterminds select a Buff set as a secondary.
- Cold Domination: Corruptors, Defenders, Controllers
- Dark Miasma: Corruptors, Defenders, Masterminds
- Empathy: Controllers, Defenders
- Force Fields: Controllers, Defenders, Masterminds
- Kinetics: Controllers, Corruptors, Defenders
- Pain Domination: Corruptors, Masterminds
- Poison: Masterminds
- Radiation Emission: Controllers, Corruptors, Defenders
- Sonic Resonance: Controllers, Corruptors, Defenders
- Storm Summoning: Controllers, Defenders, Corruptors, Masterminds
- Thermal Radiation: Corruptors, Controllers
- Traps: Corruptors, Masterminds, Defenders
- Trick Arrows: Controllers, Defenders, Masterminds, Corruptors
Control sets contain the strongest status effect inflicting powers in the game. These sets can often immobilize, disorient, hold, or put to sleep entire groups of enemies at a time. Control sets usually also contain a single pet with limited AI.
Controllers and Dominators select a Control set as a primary set.
- Earth Control: Controllers, Dominators
- Fire Control: Controllers, Dominators
- Gravity Control: Controllers, Dominators
- Ice Control: Controllers, Dominators
- Illusion Control: Controllers
- Mind Control: Controllers, Dominators
- Plant Control: Controllers, Dominators
- Electric Control (in development): Controllers, Dominators
Defense sets protect their users against personal harm. They generally raise the users' defense against taking damage, resistance to damage taken, and/or tolerance to status effects.
Tankers select a Defense set as a primary set. Brutes, Scrappers, and Stalkers select a Defense set as a secondary set.
- Dark Armor: Brutes, Scrappers, Stalkers, Tankers
- Electric Armor: Scrappers, Tankers, Brutes, Stalkers
- Energy Aura: Brutes, Stalkers
- Fiery Aura: Brutes, Tankers, Scrappers
- Ice Armor: Tankers
- Invulnerability: Brutes, Scrappers, Tankers
- Ninjitsu: Stalkers
- Regeneration: Scrappers, Stalkers
- Stone Armor: Brutes, Tankers
- Super Reflexes: Scrappers, Stalkers, Brutes
- Shield Defence: Scrappers, Tankers, Brutes
- Willpower: Scrappers, Tankers, Brutes, Stalkers
Melee sets have a variety of melee or short range attacks to deal damage up close. They also usually contain some minor utility powers, such as a self buff, a ranged taunt or placate, or a low damage attack that inflicts a status effect.
Brutes, Scrappers, and Stalkers select a Melee set as a primary set. Tankers select a Melee set as a secondary set.
- Battle Axe: Tankers, Brutes
- Broad Sword: Scrappers, Stalkers
- Claws: Scrappers, Stalkers, Brutes
- Dark Melee: Brutes, Scrappers, Stalkers, Tankers
- Dual Blades: Scrappers, Tankers, Brutes, Stalkers
- Electric Melee: Brutes, Stalkers, Scrappers, Tankers
- Energy Melee: Brutes, Stalkers, Tankers
- Fire Melee: Brutes, Tankers, Scrappers
- Ice Melee: Tankers
- Katana: Scrappers
- Kinetic Melee (in development): Scrappers, Tankers, Stalkers, Brutes
- Martial Arts: Scrappers, Stalkers
- Ninja Blade: Stalkers
- Spines: Scrappers, Stalkers
- Stone Melee: Brutes, Tankers
- Super Strength: Brutes, Tankers
- War Mace: Tankers, Brutes
Ranged sets have a variety of ranged attacks to deal damage from a distance. They also usually contain some minor utility powers, such as a self buff, a long range sniper attack, or a low damage attack that inflicts a status effect.
Blasters and Corruptors select a Ranged set as a primary set. Defenders select a Ranged set as a secondary set.
- Archery: Blasters, Defenders, Corrupters
- Assault Rifle: Blasters, Corruptors, Defenders
- Dark Blast: Corruptors, Defenders
- Dual Pistols: Blasters, Defenders, Corrupters
- Electric Blast: Blasters, Defenders, Corruptors
- Energy Blast: Blasters, Corruptors, Defenders
- Fire Blast: Blasters, Corruptors
- Ice Blast: Blasters, Corruptors, Defenders
- Psychic Blast: Defenders, Blasters, Corruptors
- Radiation Blast: Corruptors, Defenders, Blasters
- Sonic Attack: Blasters, Corruptors, Defenders
Summon sets allow Masterminds to summon up to six pets, with advanced control options. The sets also provide a selection of pet-only buffs, and three modest ranged attacks.
Masterminds select a Summon set as a primary set.
- Mercenaries: Masterminds
- Necromancy: Masterminds
- Ninjas: Masterminds
- Robotics: Masterminds
- Demon: Masterminds
- Thugs: Masterminds
Support sets assist Blasters in their capacity as ranged fighters. These sets usually contain immobilizing, slowing, or knockback powers to maintain range advantage, self buffs, and powerful melee attacks to punish enemies that come too close.
Blasters select a Support sets as a secondary set.
- Devices: Blasters
- Electricity Manipulation: Blasters
- Energy Manipulation: Blasters
- Fire Manipulation: Blasters
- Ice Manipulation: Blasters
- Mental Manipulation: Blasters
Epic ATs are limited to predetermined power sets, one primary and one secondary. These sets are larger than the standard primary and secondary sets to compensate for the inability to select different sets.
Peacebringers have the Luminous Blast set as a primary set, and the Luminous Aura set as a secondary set.
Warshades have the Umbral Blast set as a primary set, and the Umbral Aura set as a secondary set.