City of Heroes Walkthrough

Our guide to City of Heroes has everything you need to know to build up the ideal hero, such as descriptions of every hero power and its relative effectiveness. We've also got tips on adventuring through Paragon City, with summaries of each major area.

by

By Stratos Group
Design by Marty Smith

City of Heroes has had one of the most successful launches in massively-multiplayer history, with over 100,000 subscribers signing on within the first two weeks after the game hit the shelves. Its appeal isn't difficult to comprehend, as it features a world based on comic book mythology, complete with a powerful character generator and no-nonsense, all-action gameplay. It's not a stretch to call City of Heroes the MMO game for people who hate MMO games.

Of course, if you just intend to jump into City of Heroes unprepared, you may find yourself in over your head, as there are literally hundreds of possible character designs, thanks to COH's system of primary and secondary powers. Your ability to mix and match power sets, plus custom-design your hero's look, will make it easy for you to make a character that stands out from the crowd--or make the 100th Wolverine clone on your server. It's up to you.

Luckily, GameSpot's game guide to City of Heroes is here to help steer you through the tough decisions ahead. In addition to a thorough rundown on all of the game's archetypes, origins, and powers, we'll give you a detailed look at how enhancements work to boost your hero's powers, a summary of each of the zones in the game, with maps, tips on how to solo or play on a team, as well as the most comprehensive guide to key-mapping you're liable to find anywhere. Whether you've been blessed with the power of a thousand suns, were enhanced by a benevolent alien race, or just got a load of radioactive waste dumped on your head, your superhero journey begins here.

Chapter 1: Hero Management

Planning for a Successful Career

Before you can enter Paragon City, you'll first need to create your hero. Most of the nuts-and-bolts decisions come when you choose from your character archetype and power sets (which are covered in their own chapters elsewhere), but there are a few, mostly aesthetic choices that must also be made.

The first choice you need to make, even before choosing an archetype, is between the five origins of your hero: Science, Mutation, Technology, Magic, and Natural. This origin describes the kind of event that gave your character his or her super-powers. Your origin has very little effect on City of Heroes' gameplay; it only determines which type of high-level enhancements you can use. Only Magic characters can use single-origin Magic enhancements, for instance. Since every origin has its own shops and has access to each specific sort of enhancement, this isn't something you need to fret over. If there's an origin that matches the concept that you've chosen for your character, choose that; if not, pick any of them and move on.

The next choice you're required to make is between the five archetypes. Unlike the origins, these archetypes do define how you play the game. The character creation screen has short descriptions of each of these archetypes, as does the game's manual; for more detailed descriptions of each archetype's powers and abilities, check Chapter 2.

Next up is your primary and secondary power sets and your initial two powers. Most of the power sets for your archetype will be vaguely similar to one another, but will have different powers and different graphical effects. Again, you can browse through all of the power descriptions in the character creation screen, or scan through Chapter 2 to get an overview of each power set.

The randomize button does produce some...interesting results.

After all of this comes the choice of character model. You can choose a Female, Male, or Huge model, and size it to your liking. This is a purely aesthetic choice, and doesn't affect your gameplay experience. Next up is the incredibly powerful costume creation tool. As has been said before, you're going to get out of this what you put into it, so take a little time to fiddle around with the options here to design a character that you're not going to mind looking at for a few hundred hours worth of play time. If you can't decide on a look, the randomize tool is a great way to jumpstart your imagination. It does, however, produce some hideously garish color combinations, so if you don't want to inadvertently blind your teammates, you'll be wise to tweak the results a bit before finalizing them. And don't forget that vertical lines have a slimming effect.

The final step in the process is picking a name for your character. And, just so we're clear, CaptainAmericca, Iron Mann, Spiiiderman, and the like are great ways to earn a good mocking in-game. Be original. It can be fun to model your hero after a popular comic book character, but you shouldn't expect his or her name to still be available when you go to choose one, and while being Batman171 may be a suitable name for your AOL account, it won't fly in City of Heroes.

Using Inspirations and Enhancements

One of the love-it-or-hate-it aspects of City of Heroes is the way that it eschews the use of a traditional inventory and the ability to upgrade your character's equipment--you won't find any swords +1 in this game. Instead, the items that drop from enemies come in the form of inspirations (think potions) and enhancements, which are plugged directly into your character's powers to, well, enhance them.

Inspirations

Inspirations, as mentioned, are comparable to potions in a game like Diablo. They provide some kind of effect that's instantaneously applied to your character when used, such as a burst of health. Some of these have a one-shot effect that takes effect immediately, while some will give your character a short-term buff that will last for a minute or so.

At the beginning of the game, your character can only hold three inspirations at a time; as you level up, however, you'll gain more space to hold inspirations, until you finally obtain a full 20 slots for them at level 40. These slots will quickly fill up as you run around attempting missions, as enemies commonly drop inspirations when defeated. In addition to finding inspirations, you can buy them from many of the contacts and stores that you run across.

There isn't much strategy involved in the use of inspirations; use them when you need them. To save yourself a smidgen of time during battle, you'll probably want to activate any of the buffing inspirations before you head into the fray; activating an inspiration takes a bit of time, and will delay your next action by a few moments, so it's not something you want to have to remember to do in an emergency. Best just to plan ahead, based on the level and number of your opponents. Another thing to consider is that inspirations can't be used if your character is knocked down, stunned, asleep, etc. You can't predict when your character is going to be afflicted by one of these special forms of attack, but they do occur fairly regularly when you face boss-level enemies, so use your inspirations before engaging these foes in combat.

You can't hold nearly as many inspirations as you're likely to come across while playing; inspirations drop much more often than enhancements do, so you're likely going to have a full suite after ripping through a few hordes of enemies. If you fill yourself up with inspirations, you may want to take a moment to trade away some that you don't need, or simply activate the ones that aren't of much use to you, in order to free up space. Controllers, for instance, have little need for damage-boosting inspirations; you should give these away or attempt to trade them for endurance-boosting inspirations, which will be much more useful to you.

There are seven types of inspirations in City of Heroes, each of which comes in three varieties of escalating power. The higher the level of enemies that you're going up against, the more efficient the inspirations that they drop. Each of the inspirations has its own logo; more powerful inspirations can be distinguished from their weaker versions by the size of the logo. The better the inspiration, the bigger the icon will be.

Health

Health inspirations take effect as soon as you activate them, giving you an immediate shot of extra hit points. These appear as green crosses in your inspiration window.

Respite: Heals you for 25% of your maximum hit points.
Dramatic Improvement: Heals you for 50% of your maximum hit points.
Resurgence: Heals you for 75% of your maximum hit points.

Endurance

Endurance inspirations are another immediate-effect boost, but in this instance, it's your endurance that gets a boost.

Catch a Breath: Recovers 25% of your maximum endurance.
Take a Breather: Recovers 50% of your maximum endurance.
Second Wind: Recovers 75% of your maximum endurance.

Damage

Damage enhancements last for thirty seconds, and multiply all the damage that you deal during that timeframe. Note that fractional damage is rounded down, so you likely won't see a huge improvement in things like damage-over-time effects that deal a small amount of damage over a length of time. When you have a damage inspiration active, it's best to whip out your big-gun powers and use those.

Enrage: Increases all of your damage by 25%.
Focused Rage: Increases all of your damage by 50%.
Righteous Rage: Increases all of your damage by 75%.

Defense

Using a defense inspiration will increase your raw Defense score for a short amount of time. Keep in mind that Defense doesn't decrease the amount of damage that you take; it merely lets you avoid incoming attacks more often than you normally would. This makes defense inspirations valuable when you're facing off against monsters of a higher level than you; a boost to your defense can help counteract the natural accuracy bonus that your foes get in these situations. Like damage enhancements, these last for thirty seconds only.

Luck: Increases your defense by 25%.
Good Luck: Increases your defense by 50%.
Phenomenal Luck: Increases your defense by 75%.

Accuracy

As with defense inspirations, Accuracy inspirations are best used before engaging enemies of higher level than your character, due to the fact that you'll be operating with an accuracy penalty during encounters of that nature. Your attacks in City of Heroes are already less precise than in most MMORPGs, so you'll want to have every possible advantage when you go for the big experience score. These inspirations last for 30 seconds.

Insight: Increases your accuracy by 25%.
Keen Insight: Increases your accuracy by 50%.
Uncanny Insight: Increases your accuracy by 75%.

Resistance

Many bosses and lieutenants in the game possess attacks that can immobilize you, hold you, disorient you, or put you to sleep. The resistance inspirations help give you a bit of a boost when it comes to warding off the ill effects of these attacks; you'll still occasionally be hit by them, even with an inspiration active, but you'll greatly increase your chances of avoiding them. Unfortunately, this inspiration seems to drop a fair bit less often than do the first five on this list, so you'll want to hold onto these guys until you scout out a group that you know your party is going to have trouble with.

Discipline: Slightly increases your resistance for 30 seconds.
Strength of Will: Moderately increases your resistance for 60 seconds.
Iron Will: Greatly increases your resistance for 120 seconds.

Resurrection

The rarest and most expensive of all the inspirations, resurrection inspirations can bring you back from the dead when your hero falls in battle. This will save you from either having to wait for one of your teammates to resurrect you, or from having to jump back to the hospital to be resurrected there. Unfortunately, you'll be left dazed for ten seconds or so after you use a resurrection inspiration, so you'll want to wait for your teammates to clear out the area around your body before you activate one of these, or you'll likely be killed again before you can regain control of your character. As the game progresses, the Defenders and Controllers in your team will be more likely to have resurrection spells, so these will become slightly less of a must-have, but anyone who attempts to do interior missions by themselves will want to have a resurrection inspiration around as a just-in-case measure.

Awakens can be bought in many stores, although they cost around five times as much influence as do the other inspirations. You can also find them on defeated foes, but they drop much less often than do the less-powerful inspirations that are available.

Awaken: Restores you to life with 25% of your maximum hit points.
Bounce Back: Restores you to life with 50% of your maximum hit points.
Restoration: Restores you to life with 75% of your maximum hit points.

Enhancements

Whereas inspirations are one-use, discardable powerups, enhancements are the closest thing to equipment that you'll find in City of Heroes. The analogy isn't a very good one, though, since you don't equip enhancements, but rather plug them directly into the powers that you've obtained to make them more effective.

Using Enhancements

As you obtain enhancements (which, like inspirations, can be found on enemies or bought from stores or contacts), you'll want to constantly check your enhancement screen to see whether or not you've picked up any that are of use to you. Although there are quite a few different kinds of enhancements in the game, any given power will only be able to use a few different types of enhancements. You can check on whether or not an enhancement is usable by clicking it and Holding the button down; any powers in which it can be used will be highlighted, while those to which it's inapplicable will become grayed out. If you want to place an enhancement into a power, just drag it to an open slot and set it in. If you want to replace an enhancement that you've already placed with another, you can drag the new one over the old; you'll be asked if you want to replace the old enhancement. Enhancements can't be removed from a power; they can be replaced by new enhancements, but anything you replace will be destroyed in the process.

You'll notice that you gain additional enhancement slots as you proceed in level. For much of the game, you'll gain two additional slots upon obtaining an odd-numbered level; you can add these to any of the powers you've obtained thus far. You should obviously prioritize adding slots to the powers that you use most often, but this can be overdone, especially for powers that can only use a small number of enhancements. A power can have as many as six different enhancement slots, but you'll rarely want to sink this number of slots into a single power, unless it's something with a wide variety of effects that you use often.

There are a total of 28 different types of enhancements in City of Heroes. You can check what kinds of enhancements any given power will accept by right-clicking on it in your enhancement screen, and you should definitely do this before you buy enhancements for a new power. Sometimes it's obvious that a power will accept a certain type of enhancement, but it can also be tricky to tell whether or not your new power Holds or merely Immobilizes a foe, for example; if you buy the wrong type of enhancement, you'll have to sell it back to the store at a quarter of the price you paid for it. So plan ahead!

How Enhancements Work

As you find new enhancements, you'll note that they appear with multi-colored numbers beneath their icon; these numbers and colors indicate how effective an enhancement will be for a character of a certain level.

You can only slot enhancements that have values of three above or three below your current level. For example, a level 15 character can only use enhancements of level 12 to level 18; any enhancements that he finds that don't fall within this range will appear with red numbers, and will either have to be sold, discarded, or kept until he reaches a level where he can actually use the enhancement.

For this hypothetical hero, enhancements of levels 12-14 will appear with yellow numbers. Since this character has reached a level of potential power that these enhancements aren't capable of unlocking, they won't be as efficient for him as they would be for a lower-level character.

Enhancements of level 15 that this character picks up will have white numbers; these operate normally.

Any enhancements of levels 16-18 that this character runs across will appear with green numbers, to indicate that they're allowing him to unlock areas of skill that are just a bit beyond what he's used to. These lend the hero a bit more punch than enhancements of his level or lower.

We'll discuss the raw data of the effect of enhancements later on, but all you really need to know is that any enhancement is better than having no enhancement, and a white or green enhancement is better than a yellow enhancement, except in the case of enhancements with different origins.

Enhancement Origins

Enhancements not only come in different levels, but they also come in different origins. If you recall, during the character creation process, you were asked to choose from among one of five different origins; the impact this choice has on the game is negligible, save for the fact that it will determine which shops you'll need to buy enhancements from as you reach the higher levels.

Generic Enhancements: The first type of enhancement is training, or generic, enhancements. These have the smallest impact on the effectiveness of a power, and are distinguishable from the other two types of enhancements via the white border that surrounds them. You will find these throughout your career, but will rely on them most during the early portions of the game.

Dual-Origin Enhancements: The next type of enhancement is the dual-origin enhancement. These come in five varieties, each of which can only be used by a character that has one of the two origins of the enhancement. For example, if your character has the Technology origin, and comes across a Natural/Magic enhancement, you won't be able to use it. These DO enhancements, as they're called, are quite valuable, due to the fact that they are twice as effective as generic enhancements.

Although you won't come across DO enhancement drops until your character is consistently defeating enemies in the late teen levels, since they exist in levels 15 and upwards, you can buy DO enhancements and use them as early as level 12. This makes your character's twelfth level something of an event, if you actually managed to save up enough influence to buy a few DO enhancements as soon as you level. Each level 15 DO enhancement will set you back around 3,500 to 5,000 influence, though, so you'll definitely want to pinch your pennies during the early portions of your character's career.

DO enhancements are distinguished from generic enhancements by the ornate art on the border, representing their dual genesis. The left half of the border will represent one of the origins (a gear for Technology, a spark of electricity for Science, and so on), while the right half will represent the other.

Single-Origin Enhancements:

The third and most powerful kind of enhancement is the single-origin, or SO enhancement. SO enhancements are doubly as effective as DO enhancements, and fully four times more powerful than generic enhancements. They're also monstrously expensive, costing around three times as much as a DO enhancement of the same level.

SO enhancements come, as the name would imply, in five varieties, one for each unique character origin. Your character will only be able to use SO enhancements that match his or her origins, which, combined with these enhancement's power and rarity, make these highly valuable as trade items when you reach security levels of 30 and higher.

Combining Enhancements

In addition to finding, buying, and adding them to slots, enhancements can be combined with each other to increase their power. The main caveat is that you can only combine enhancements if one of them has already been locked into a power, but this still lets you use some of the lower-level enhancements that you would otherwise have to discard or sell.

Your enhancement screen will eventually grow quite chaotic, especially after you start finding dual-origin enhancements.

To combine enhancements, first select the already-placed enhancement that you'd like to upgrade. A sub-window will appear, showing the other enhancements on the power and the enhancements in your inventory. Any enhancements that are valid targets for combination will automatically be highlighted. (You can only choose an enhancement of the same sort as the enhancement you're trying to improve; a Damage enhancement can only be combined with another Damage enhancement, and so on.) If you drag one of the highlighted enhancements to the empty slot, you'll get a readout indicating the chances of a successful combination. This chance is based on the levels of the two enhancements; it's 100% if they're of the same level, but it drops off by five percent for each level of difference between them. Since you'll usually be carousing around killing enemies of a similar level to you, this probability will rarely drop below 80%.

If your combination is successful, then the higher of the two enhancements is increased by one effective level. For example, if you combined a level 16 Damage enhancement in a power with a level 14 power from your inventory, the enhancement would then read as being 16+. If you then combined it with another Damage enhancement, it would become 16++. Each plus indicates that that power's effective level is one higher than the number; i.e. a 16++ would effectively be a level 18 for the enhancement's purposes.

There are a few more things to consider when combining enhancements. The first is that you never risk losing the higher-level enhancement when you combine two of them. If you were attempting to combine a level 12 enhancement with a level 18 enhancement from your inventory, for example, and were unsuccessful, the game would automatically delete the level 12 enhancement and replace it with the level 18. (If this combination had been successful, it would've become an 18+ enhancement.) The second is that an enhancement can only have two pluses behind its number; beyond that, it can't be combined with any enhancement smaller than itself. Thus, a 16++ enhancement (which the game registers as an 18) can't be combined with a level 17 or lower enhancement. If you combined it with an 18, you'd have a 100% chance of coming out with an 18+ enhancement.

Generic, DO, and SO enhancements cannot be combined with each other. Combinations can only occur within a particular type of enhancements: generics can only be combined with generics, DOs with DOs, and SOs with SOs.

The Nuts and Bolts

The sections above described how enhancements work in general, and are all you really need to know to play the game. If you're interested in the raw data concerning enhancements, read on.

To begin with, there are actually two kinds of enhancements: one group of four enhancements that are subject to small bonuses, and everything else. Which is to say, most of the enhancements in the game are subject to a certain set of percentages when they calculate their effects, but four in particular (damage resist, defense buff, range, and cone range) have separate percentages that reduce their effectiveness. Apparently this is to prevent any defense-upping powers from becoming godlike when enhanced enough.

The bulk of the enhancements enhance the power by a set percentage. If an enhancement is of the same level as your character, these percentages are:

Generic: 8.3%
DO: 16.6%
SO: 33.3%

The four less effective enhancements have a separate set of percentages:

Generic: 5.0%
DO: 10.0%
SO: 20.0%

Again, these percentages are based on an enhancement matching your character's level. For enhancements (or combined enhancements) that have an effective level higher than your security level, you'll need to multiply these percentages by 1.05 for each additional level to figure out what the actual percentage is. e.g., a DO enhancement that is two levels above your security would give you a benefit of 16.6% times 1.10, for a result of 18.26%, making it ten percent more efficient than normal.

If, on the other hand, an enhancement has an effective level below that of your security level, you'll need to multiply it by 0.9 per level to calculate how much less efficient it is. For example, an SO enhancement that's operating at three levels below your security level would be operating at 33.3% times 0.7, resulting in a 23.3% boost, meaning that it's operating at 70% of its potential efficiency.

In plain English, this means that enhancements become five percent more efficient for each level they are above your security level, while they become ten percent less efficient for each level below. (The same calculations hold true for the four minor enhancements.) This increase and decrease in efficiency isn't something you really need to worry about until the late game, however. In the early portions of the game, most of the numbers involved with your power's calculations will be fairly small, and since enhancements work on percentages, the effects of enhancements will likewise be fairly small. Even late in the game, when you have a bevy of SO enhancements on your powers, you'll probably only want to buy new SO enhancements to replace generic or DO enhancements, not to combine with SO enhancements you've already slotted, unless they're a level or two beneath your security level. Even with SO enhancements, an extra plus behind an enhancement's level will only reflect an increase in efficiency on the order of two or three percent. If you can upgrade an enhancement more than three levels, though, you'll probably want to consider doing so.

To give you an idea of the relative efficacy of lower-level and higher-level enhancements, take a look at this info. These are the ranges of the percent increase from each type of enhancement, from three levels below your character to three levels above.

Generic: 5.8% - 9.6%
DO: 11.6% - 19.1%
SO: 23.31% - 38.3%

And for the four less effective enhancements:

Generic: 3.5% - 5.8%
DO: 7.0% - 11.5%
SO: 14.0% - 23.0%

As a final note, it appears that, even when the calculations would call for a gain of less than one whole number to a power's effectiveness (as when you add a damage enhancement with an eight percent boost to an attack power that only deals ten damage), the game will automatically give you at least that first point. Additional enhancements won't help you unless they bump you up to another whole number.

Chapter 2: Powers for Fun and Profit

Blaster Powers

Primary

Blaster primary powers are generally a mix of long-range single target and long-range area-of-effect attacks (attacks that affect all of the villains in within a radius or cone-shaped area). You'll typically find both a fast, low damage attack and a slower, moderate damage attack amongst the first powers you have available. These will become your standard combat powers throughout your career. It is worth noting that the various power sets lend themselves to different play styles. Some are better suited to solo play, some for large groups, and some for small groups. Think about your decision--you can certainly play mismatched styles, but it will be more difficult.

Assault Rifle

The Assault Rifle power set can be a mixed bag. It has the potential to be one of the most powerful, damaging Blaster power sets, but it requires a great deal of skill to use effectively. The powers give a fantastic range of abilities. There are long-range attacks, cone attacks, area-of-effect attacks, and lots of effects. These powers are accurate--all of them get at least a 5% bonus to accuracy.

There are, however, some drawbacks. You don't get Aim, a power that all other Blasters have. Lots of area-of-effect attacks sound great, but in the hands of a rash or unskilled player can cause lots of deaths. The potential for damage is there, but that means that the villains might be coming after you instead of the Tankers! A skillful player, one who knows when to attack a single target and when to use area-of-effect attacks, and who knows how to avoid having every opponent focus on him can make Assault Rifle the most effective of all the Blaster powers.

Burst and Slug are your primary attacks. Burst is fast and cheap, while Slug is slow and powerful with a 25% chance of knocking your enemy down. Both have good range and strike only a single foe. Sniper Rifle is one of the best pulling powers out there, as its amazing range means that you will be able to avoid the rest of the villains while you pull, and your team will be able to get in several good ranged hits before your target shows up. M30 Grenade doesn't do a lot of damage, but it knocks down foes 50% of the time. This makes it a good weapon for getting the attention of a group of villains. Beanbag disorients a foe for quite a while, but it is slow to recharge, so it should be used strategically. Use it against that really tough Lieutenant or Boss early in the fight to keep them out of combat until their underlings are dead. Flamethrower can really pour on the damage, especially considering that it is a cone attack. It can pour on so much that you may find the entire group of villains have decided you are the biggest threat, so be careful. Use Ignite in a doorway or hall before pulling to damage all of the villains who respond. Your final power, Full Auto, doesn't have the impressive damage that most 'last resort' attacks do, but its cone shaped attack area and long range means that you will do a good bit of damage to a whole lot of enemies. It is a good sacrifice attack when things are going badly, as it takes a lot of endurance to use.

Electrical Blast

This is a good, solid set of general powers. There are Immobilization powers, long-range attacks, and area-of-effect attacks. The damage is decent, and the endurance cost isn't bad. Most of the attacks have the additional benefit of draining your target's endurance. This isn't all that effective against the rank and file scum in the streets, but if you drain a boss villain's endurance, you take all of the teeth out of his attack.

Blaster primary powers, such as Zapp, are designed to do massive damage from a distance.

Charged Bolts and Lightning Bolt are your basic attacks. Charged Bolts are fast and cheap, and Lightning Bolt is slow and powerful, draining a decent amount of your opponent's endurance. Both do good damage, and they won't wipe out your endurance over the course of a fight. You will use them as your general fighting tools. Ball Lightning is your area-of-effect attack. It has a good range, and the damage it does is aided by a minor drain of the targets' endurance. These three are some of the first powers you will have access to, and with the right combination of enhancements, they will last you throughout your career.

Short Circuit, which drains the endurance of all nearby foes, is a great way to help the team when things start to go really bad. Zapp's massively long range and single-target damage makes it ideal for pulling foes. Voltaic Sentinel is almost like adding another member to your party, and Tesla Cage is an effective way to keep a foe in place while the Tankers and Scrappers finish him off. Thunderous Blast is a last resort--it can save the day, crippling that army of enemies that has your team surrounded, but it nearly wipes you out as well. You will be helpless after using it, so save it for emergencies.

Energy Blast

Energy Blast is another good, general power. It does good damage against foes, and almost all of the powers have a good chance for knockback--knocking a villain back and off his feet. Energy Blast is a bit weak when it comes to area-of-effect attacks. The ones you do have are cone rather than radius, and their range isn't all that impressive.

Use Power Bolt and Power Blast for most of your dirty work. They do good damage and have a small chance for a knockback. Power Burst is much the same, but with a higher cost, damage, and significant chance of knockback. It is expensive, so use it strategically. Energy Torrent is more of a defensive power. It has a cone-shaped area-of-effect attack with a high chance of knocking back a foe. Use it when the villains get too close, but don't expect to do much damage. Aim, like the same power from other sets, temporarily boosts your accuracy and damage. Use it sparingly, as it takes a very long time to recharge. Power push is a good way to knock a single foe back, and Nova is your last resort attack--it will devastate any nearby villains, but will leave you helpless.

Fire Blast

Fire Blast is another power set that requires a skilled hand and good timing. Much of the powers in the set don't do their damage all at once--they set their targets aflame, damaging them over time. In the end, the total damage that can be done by a fire Blaster can exceed that of any other power set, but a lack of direct damage attacks means that you won't be doing as much damage to each individual villain. Fire Blasters are truly meant to be team players, and, while it can be done, they will have a disadvantage when it comes to solo play.

Flares doesn't do much damage, but it is cheap. While it recharges amazingly quickly, this is offset by the long time it takes to actually throw one. You can set it to automatic if you want a little more oomph, but you are better off concentrating on your strength (area of effect) and using Fire Blast for single foes. Fire Blast is your main direct damage attack, and your typical pulling power early on. It has a decent range and cost, is very fast, and does adequate damage. Fireball is a decent early area-of-effect power. It doesn't have a huge area, but that is fine--it allows a careful Blaster to use it in situations where a larger-radius attack could be deadly to his team.

Rain of Fire is an exceptionally useful power, but it can be hard to use just right. It is an area-of-effect power that doesn't do much immediate damage (although it continues to damage foes within its large radius), but causes some villains to flee. This can get an overwhelmed party out of trouble by dispersing a too-large crowd, but can also be a pain if used on a group of enemies that don't pose much of a threat. If you have an ally that can root a group of enemies and keep them from fleeing, however, the damage caused by Rain of Fire can really stack up. It has a massive endurance drain, and takes so long to recharge that you will probably only get to use it once per fight. Just remember to use it as a tool and not as a general attack!

Breath of Fire is an unusually wide and long cone shaped area of effect attack that does excellent damage, but at a high cost and with a moderately long recharge. Use it on a group of nearby foes to pile on the damage, but watch out for their response. Aim increases your accuracy significantly, and gives a small bonus to damage. For the most efficient effect, use it just before you unleash a multi-power barrage on your foes. Blaze is an extremely effective single target power. It does significant damage, doesn't cost too much, and recharges fairly quickly. Unfortunately, it has such a short range that your target almost has to be in melee range for it to be useful. Save it for clean-up work at the end of a fight, or to lay the hurt on a stubborn boss. Blazing Bolt is your long-range single-target attack. It is ideal for pulling, and does a ton of damage at the same time. Lastly, we have Inferno. Like most top-tier powers, Inferno is designed to save your self and your team in an emergency. It does massive amounts of damage in an area around yourself, but saps your endurance and leaves you Stunned for a long time afterwards. Use it carefully--if it leaves any foes alive, you will be unable to defend yourself.

Ice Blast

The Ice Blaster has a good combination of powers that do a respectable amount of damage, and at the same time slow down their foes. They are a good choice for solo players, as their ability to root or slow foes will increase their combat effectiveness. In a group light on Controllers, an Ice Blaster can help keep enemies weak and out of the way.

Ice Bolt and Ice Blast are your primary combat powers. The prior is fast and cheap, doing only marginal damage, while the latter is slower and more powerful. Both slow your targets, and should serve you throughout your career. Frost Breath is a cone-shaped area-of-effect power, slowing and damaging foes in an area in front of you. It is expensive, though, and slow to recharge. Aim, as with other power sets, increases your accuracy and damage for a short while. It is slow to recharge, so use it early in a fight and hit your foes repeatedly before it wears off. Freeze Ray roots (Holds in place) a foe, allowing you to attack without fear of reprisal, or to attack an alternate target, saving the frozen villain until later.

Ice Storm is an efficient area-of-effect power. It doesn't do a lot of damage at once, but if you can slow or root your targets within Ice Storm's large radius, then the damage over time will add up. Be careful, as it can also convince your enemies to come after you. Bitter Ice Blast is a more powerful (and more expensive) version of Ice Blast, doing essentially the same thing. Bitter Freeze Ray, while much like Freeze Ray, adds noticeable damage to the root. It is worthwhile to have both root powers, enabling you to freeze two separate targets, or maintain the Hold on one target without interruption. Blizzard is your standard suicide attack. It does massive damage in a radius around you, but leaves you drained and Stunned afterward. Use it when things are going badly, or when you want to finish off a large group of badly-injured foes at once.

Secondary

Blasters survive by avoiding close combat. If you are finding yourself in melee combat very often, then you are probably doing something wrong. A great many of the Blaster secondary powers, however, are designed for close combat. Take those specialized secondary powers that don't rely on your proximity to the enemy (such as roots, buffs, and so on), and use the points you save for some extra pool powers. It is still a good idea to have one or two of these close-range powers--one fast melee attack or one good 'emergencies only' area of effect attack for the instances when you find yourself surrounded, but you certainly don't need them all.

You should also avoid the group of powers called PBAoE (Point Blank Area of Effect). These are those powers, like Lightning Field or Combustion, that do damage to all the enemies close to you at once--that is just asking for punishment; you aren't there to take them out up close, you are there to blow them to shreds from a distance. If you damage all of the enemies near you, then all of the enemies near you will turn and damage you, something that you probably won't survive.

Devices

Devices is one of the few secondary Blaster power sets that contains almost all useful powers. There is a good variety of effects available here, with offensive, defensive, buffs, and debuffs. This set is effective for solo play, as the variety of effects available can mimic the roles of some vital members of a group.

Web Grenade is a basic root power, and it does that job quite well, holding a foe in place while you take out his friend. Caltrops slow foes. While this doesn't seem that impressive at first, when used in a corridor or alley before pulling a group of villains, it can dramatically improve your team's chances by crippling all of your enemies before they arrive. Taser is the only melee-range attack amongst the devices set. It doesn't do much damage, but it does disorient a foe. Don't count on using it much, but it can save your spandex when things go bad. The Targeting Drone is fantastic. It floats along with you at minimal endurance cost, improving your accuracy. If you add accuracy enhancements to the drone, you won't need to add them directly to any of your other powers, freeing up two or more enhancement slots in each power you have--and that is a big deal.

Smoke Grenade is useful when taking on a group of enemies, as it will blind some, and lower the accuracy of all of the villains within its area of effect. While Cloaking Device isn't all that useful for its stealth capabilities, having it on gives you a big boost to your defenses. Combine a Cloaking Device with a Smoke Grenade and you will be almost unhittable! Trip Mine and Time Bomb do about the same thing--they make a big boom and hurt your foes. The Trip Mine is a bit more useful as it doesn't require precise timing. You do need to be sure to put it where foes will be, though. Putting a trip mine in a doorway, surrounded by Caltrops, then dropping a Smoke Grenade over the whole thing before pulling means that the villains will come into the fight slow, blind, and bleeding, just waiting for you to finish them off. Auto Turret sounds like a good idea, but the damage is poor and its hit points low. It is a momentary distraction, but not an effective combat device. Use the slot for something else.

Energy Manipulation

Energy Manipulation is a unique power set in that most of its useful powers don't affect the enemy at all; they affect you. Energy Manipulation has the usual assortment of melee strikes--Bonesmasher is a good one for emergencies. The rest are all self-buffs. Build-Up gives you a big bonus to damage, Conserve Power lowers the endurance cost of your attacks, Power Boost enhances your secondary effects--like knockback, slow, and so forth. Boost Range does just that--increases the range of your other powers. Total Focus is effective as a panic strike, doing massive damage and Stunning your opponents.

Energy Manipulation is a tricky power set. It can be very effective under the right circumstances, but it can be useless in others. It is ideal for soloing characters, letting them do more with less, but note that it does not include any root powers. If you want to use this set for soloing, make sure that your primary power set has a good rooting power, like Freeze Ray.

Electricity Manipulation

Electricity Manipulation has several useful effects. Electric Fence is the power you will start the game with, and it is a fairly decent root, holding an enemy in place while draining both his health and endurance. Build-Up is the standard self-buff, raising your accuracy a bit and your damage a lot. The rest are all close-range; take one or two for emergencies, but unless you are planning on playing a Tanker, use your slots elsewhere. Thunder Strike and Power Sink aren't too bad.

A Build-Up will allow you to do significantly more damage with your next couple of attacks.

Fire Manipulation

Ring of Fire is a root power, immobilizing your target and doing a little bit of damage over time. Fire Sword is a good choice as your Token Melee Power ™, doing a bit of damage without draining your endurance. Fire Sword Circle and Combustion do roughly the same thing--cause damage to all nearby foes. Combustion has a bit better range, and Fire Sword Circle does more damage. This is more or less irrelevant, though, as any time you find yourself that close to your foes, you won't be wanting to attract the attention of all of them at once. Blazing Aura is just more of the same, irritating your foes into attacking you. Skip these. Consume can be useful in a long fight, sucking the life from nearby foes and using it to restore your endurance. While this runs the risk of getting a group on your back, it is better than running dry and dropping out of hover into their midst without endurance. Hot Feet and burn are double-edged swords. They are area-of-effect powers, centered on you. While they will slow your enemies or cause some of them to flee, they will also cause damage. Those that don't flee will, of course, turn around and pummel you senseless.

Ice Manipulation

The Ice Manipulation secondary power set has some of the best crowd control powers outside of the Controller sets. There are powers to slow or root either individuals or groups, as well as a couple of attacks. It is a good defensive power set, with lots of things that make it easier to keep foes at bay, or if things go badly, to flee.

Chilblain is your initial root power. It Immobilizes your foes and slows their attacks, giving you time to flee, finish off their friends, or just to take them on with less fear of reprisal. Frozen Fists and Ice Sword are your melee options. Of the two, Ice Sword is better for the rare emergency situations you might need it for. Freezing Touch, Chilling Embrace, and Frozen Aura all either slow or freeze your opponents, but they do it at point-blank range. Since you won't be spending much time at point-blank range, three such powers is a bit of an overkill. Of the three, Frozen Aura is the best for emergencies, but you won't get it until late in the game, so it might be more effective to get Chilling Embrace early. You would be better off ditching all three and choosing Shiver, a cone-shaped area-of-effect slowing power. With some slow enhancers, it can be used the same way if you find yourself too close to a bunch of foes, plus it has a massive range, allowing it to be used strategically in combat. Ice Patch is handy--it is an area-of-effect power centered on the location you are at when you activate it, but it stays put if you move. You can use it in a doorway before pulling enemies, or you can drop it in an alleyway or hall as you flee to shake your pursuers.

Controller Powers

Primary

Every controller has the ability to immobilize his or her enemies, whether through massive chunks of ice, giant blocks of stone, or outright mind control.

Controllers have very few hit points, and can't deal a lot of damage. They'd stink, if it wasn't for the fact that they have the ability to place numerous effects on your enemies; Controllers are the archetype that can put foes to sleep, Stun them, Hold them in place, knock them around, and so on. Other archetypes may have one or two abilities with these effects, but they're the whole raison d'etre for the Controller archetype: although you won't be actively hurting your enemies very much, you're going to be responsible for incapacitating groups of enemies in some manner, so that your teammates have an easier job finishing them off.

Due to the potentially debilitating effects that a Controller can affect upon his or her enemies, any power that you unlock that can affect multiple enemies will be operating on an automatic accuracy penalty, usually either negative ten or negative 20 percent.

Earth Control

Almost all of the powers that are available to an Earth Control specialist are intended to Hold your enemies in place. This can make it quite an effective power set for Controllers who intend to party up a lot, but very few of the powers deal any appreciable damage, so it's not appropriate for a soloing character. It's also worth pointing out that most of the powers here have extremely long recharge times, on the order of 45 seconds or more for the last six powers, in addition to sometimes hefty endurance costs. As you acquire more and more abilities, however, you'll be able to trap your enemies with several redundant area-of-effect powers, making you an incredibly potent crowd controller later in your career.

The difference between Stone Prison and Fossilize is that Stone Prison deals a smaller amount of damage, but automatically Immobilizes your opponent when it hits. A successful shot from Fossilize will deal greater damage, but has only a small chance of actually Holding your opponent in place. Both powers reduce the target's defense on a successful hit. Stone Cages is essentially an area-of-effect version of Stone Prison; it affects a large number of enemies in a wide area, but deals less damage than the single-target variant.

Quicksand is a useful power to have when your team has a few Blasters on it. When laid on an area, any enemies that pass through that area will be significantly slowed. Powers like this are essential during indoor missions, to break up enemy groups and to ensure that you can safely retreat if something goes awry.

If you ever get surrounded, Salt Crystals should give you (and your enemies) a chance to take a breather.

Salt Crystals is somewhat akin to Stone Cages, in that it affects a number of enemies, but deals no damage. However, instead of merely Immobilizing enemies (during which they can fire their ranged attacks at you), it puts them to sleep. They'll stay that way until someone attacks them, or the power wears off, but this effect is unfortunately centered on yourself, making it a difficult power to use to start off a fight. You will miss a few of the enemies, due to the 20% accuracy penalty, and those that are missed by the power will usually start attacking you right away. Use with caution.

Another variant on the area-of-effect Holding power is Stalagmites, which is a fair bit more powerful than Salt Crystals, when used properly. It's targeted at an enemy, and affects all nearby foes; if it hits a target, that villain will be Stunned for a short period of time. Stunning effects don't wear off when a villain is attacked; this power also deals a bit of damage. If you possess both Stalagmites and Salt Crystals, the former makes a good fight-starter, while the latter is a decent emergency power for when a group of enemies bypasses your frontline fighters.

Both Earthquake and Volcanic Gasses, like Quicksand, are placed onto a location, rather than cast directly onto enemies. Earthquake deals no damage, but reduces your enemies' defense and accuracy, and can also knock them down, while Volcanic Gasses has the potential to Hold your foes while dealing damage to them.

Animate Stone is the last power you'll obtain. To balance a Controller's lack of damaging effects and their inability to take much damage, you'll gain the ability to summon a helper creature that can attack your foes. In addition to damaging and distracting your enemies, your little golem can also knock them back or Stun them. The golem will stick around for quite a while, but you will probably need to heal it or have one of your teammates heal it when it's damaged. Any enhancements placed into this power are passed along to the summoned creature.

Fire Control

As with Earth Control, Fire Control specializes in Holding your enemies in place with Immobilize, Stun, and Hold effects, combined with generally minor damage.

Ring of Fire, Char, and Fire Cages are almost mirror images of the first three powers from the Earth Control set. Get Fire Cages as soon as you can to help Immobilize as many enemies as you can.

The Smoke power here is set on a location, and then proceeds to obscure the vision of each enemy within its radius, resulting in an accuracy reduction. This is a great power to use when you're traveling with a few fragile Blasters; just let your Tankers go in and get the enemies' attention, then lay down Smoke and let your Blasters hit their targets with everything they have.

Hot Feet is centered on yourself, thus making it more of an emergency power than anything else. When activated, it will both Slow any nearby enemies and make them run in Fear, thus giving your teammates a few good opportunities to attack said enemies as they flee, without fear of a counterattack. Cinders is an upgraded version of this; instead of Slow and Fear, it will attempt to Hold your enemies in place. The last targetable area-of-effect power here is Flashfire, which will Disorient your enemies while dealing a minor amount of damage to them.

Two location-targetable powers round out this set. Bonfire sets up an area of flame that repels any enemies that attempt to enter it, both with damage and with knockback. You can use this to give your Blasters and other fragile team members a place to do their work. Fire Imps is the summoning spell; this will bring forth a number of smaller minions, rather than one large, powerful servant.

Gravity Control

Gravity Control is a popular power set for Controllers who like to solo occasionally, as its powers give your more opportunities to deal damage to a single target. Unfortunately, this precision is counterbalanced by the fact that Gravity Control only has two area-of-effect powers, the first of which won't be available until you reach level eight. You also won't get the helpful minions that most of the other power sets do. On the plus side, most of the powers here have relatively short recharge times.

The first four powers here are all targetable towards single foes only. Crush will Slow and attempt to Immobilize the target; Lift will knock your target up into the air, dealing a fair amount of damage; Gravity Distortion will Slow and Hold the target; and Propel will generate a physical object (a car, a bench, a newspaper box, etc.) to throw at your target for knockback and damage. Of these, Gravity Distortion is likely the best bet for team-oriented Controllers, as it has an excellent chance of neutering a single target, while Propel and Lift will also be useful for Controllers that want to actually hurt something now and again.

Your first area-of-effect power is Crushing Field, which will Slow, damage, and attempt to Immobilize all enemies near your target. Unfortunately, befitting this power set's focus on single-target precision, the Immobilization effect won't always connect. The Holding effect of Gravity Distortion Field is guaranteed, however, but you'll need to wait until level 18 to access that power.

In addition to all the hostile powers, you do obtain two that you can use on your teammates. The first is Dimension Shift, which temporarily transports a single ally into a dimension that only slightly overlaps our own. Your teammate will be turned into a stealthy, translucent version of their former self, unable to be affected or affect anything around them until the power wears off. This has a number of uses, from giving a super-speed ally the ability to scout an entire level of an indoor mission with a minimum of risk, to removing an ally from combat when he or she is near death. It's important not to overuse this power, though, as there are few powers in the game that have a higher potential annoyance factor in parties.

The second friendly power is Fold Space, which is a mass-teleport power that will bring all nearby team members back to your location instantly. (And by nearby, we mean within a couple of miles of you.) This will teleport bodies, as well, so it makes for a decent means to avoid hospital trips if you have the ability to resurrect fallen allies, as well; just escape from a battle that's gone wrong, then get all of your remaining teammates in one fell swoop when you're in the clear. This is also helpful for consolidating a newly-formed team, as when you first invite new players into your group, they're liable to be spread all across the zone you're in.

The last power here is Wormhole, which Stuns and knocks back an enemy when used. What's more, it can actually teleport an enemy, letting the controller effectively eliminate that foe from the fight until your team is ready to track him down later on.

Ice Control

Ice Control is the third of the elemental control power sets, and shares many similarities with the Fire and Earth Control groups of powers. The special ability of the cold powers is to increase the recharge time of your enemies' attacks, meaning that when they're under the effect of one of these powers they'll attack less often than they normally do.

The first trilogy of powers should be familiar to you: one that Immobilizes a single enemy, Childlain; one that Holds an enemy, Block of Ice; and one that Immobilizes a group of enemies, Frostbite.

Arctic Air isn't a location power; instead, it's focused on you, and renders yourself and any nearby teammates harder to see, as well as increasing your defense. The defense bonus is what's really important here, so use your enhancements to boost this bonus as high as you can, and try to keep this power on as much as possible during fights. It's a toggle, with a relatively low endurance drain, so this shouldn't be too difficult.

Shiver is an area-of-effect spell that deals no damage, but affects all enemies in a fairly large cone-shaped area in front of you, slowing them significantly and reducing the recharge time on their powers. If you can manage to aim this around your Tankers and Scrappers, you should be able to relieve the load on your healing characters, as your melee characters won't be taking as much damage all at once.

Ice Slick is another movement-inhibiting location power; in this case, any enemies that wander into the area of effect will constantly fall over, as well as be slowed.

Your area of effect powers will be a great help to your team.

Flash Freeze and Glacier are the last area-of-effect powers that you'll obtain via Ice Control. Flash Freeze has the ability to put enemies to Sleep, but any of them that are subsequently attacked will be freed, so coordinate with your teammates to prevent any other area-of-effect powers from going off. Glacier is the better of the two powers, as it just outright Holds your enemies, which means that they won't be freed when attacked. In addition, they'll also be slowed after the Hold effect wears off, as well as be subjected to a recharge reduction on their powers. Unfortunately, Glacier is centered on you, not the target, so you'll need to get up close and personal to use it.

Last, but not least, you get Jack Frost, another summonable minion who can be healed and buffed.

Illusion Control

Illusion Control is the most unique of the Controller power sets. It offers you a good chance to solo, as some of the powers can deal a significant amount of damage, but also lets you work well in a group. Your main weakness is lack of crowd control; you have only one area-of-effect spell, so until you obtain your first summonable creatures at level 18, you're going to have to be content to lock down a single enemy at a time to help your team.

To begin with, Spectral Wounds offers a large amount of damage for a Controller attack, but most of the damage is a simple illusion, and will fade away within a short period of time. You'll need to press your attack to ensure that your target succumbs to his injuries before he recognizes that he's not even really hurt. The second power, Blind, can help in this regard, as it deals a fair amount of damage, and also makes it so that the enemy can't attack.

Deceive is a mind-control power; you can use it to turn an enemy against his friends. When your party comes up against a truly fearsome group of foes, you can use this to thin out the crowd a bit, but it does take quite a while for one enemy to kill another, and you won't get any experience from their kills. (You will get partial experience if you finish the monster off before your thrall kills it.)

Flash is the single area-of-effect power here, and a useful one it is. If you get close enough for this to affect a group of enemies (it's centered on your hero), most of the group will be blinded, a la Blind, but without the damage of that power.

Superior Invisibility and Group Invisibility are both stealth powers that will let you, or your team, sneak past enemies. If you're detected by an enemy and you or your team is attacked, these powers will give you a defense boost, so pop them with defense enhancers and use them before tough fights.

Your last three powers are all summoning powers. Phantom Army and Phantasm are the two real powerhouses here. Phantom Army summons a small group of phantom soldiers that will deal illusion damage to your enemies and distract them from the other big targets in your party. Since they're indestructible, feel free to send them in as advance troops before your Tankers and Scrappers enter the fray; they should be able to aggro most of the enemies and deal a fair amount of damage before they fade away. Phantasm is the typical healable/buffable summon, and is acquirable at the end of this power set.

Between these two powers is Spectral Terror. This totemic creation won't actually attack anything; it's merely a continuation of the power theme of creating a safe area for you to sit in. Other powers have knockback or repelling effects; Spectral Tower infuses any enemy that approaches the Terror with a good deal of Fear, which encourages them to run as quickly as possible.

Mind Control

If your superhero has been able to access that mysterious 90% of the brain's potential that goes unused in most mere mortals, he or she will have a bevy of powers that specialize in Holding your enemies and putting them to Sleep.

To begin with, you'll obtain Mesmerize, which deals damage before Sleeping your target, and Levitate, which is a replica of Gravity Control's Lift power. Your third power is probably going to be your mainstay, though, as Dominate will give you a decent chance to Hold your opponent, which renders him unable to attack you, and won't be broken when that opponent is attacked. Use this power on ranged attackers that are harassing weaker members of your party. Later on, you'll gain Total Domination, which is an area-of-effect version of this power.

Confuse, like Deceive of the Illusion Control group, will convince one of your enemies to start blasting his own allies. You can kill off more than a few enemies with this ability, but you don't gain any experience if you don't actually contribute to the kills yourself. The final power in this set is Mass Confusion, which is obviously an area-of-effect version of this power. Since your enemies can't be knocked out of the Confusion state when they're attacked, you can expect to have at least a few allies in every fight when you use Mass Confusion. If you're not looking to confuse everyone, you can use Mass Hypnosis instead, which is an area-of-effect sleep power, but you will need to be careful not to damage foes until you're ready to kill them off, as they can be awakened by incidental damage.

The Telekinesis power unfortunately doesn't let you spray your enemies with mind bullets; instead, it gives one of your teammates the power of flight. This is a toggle, so you can turn it on and off as you please, but it also means that you can only affect one teammate at a time. Use it to let one of your teammates get out of trouble, or to give one of your Blasters the option of flying about above the battlefield, hopefully out of range of enemy fire. It also works well when you have a party member that's been sidekicked and doesn't have his or her own travel power.

Lastly, Terrify is a cone-based power that will cause your enemies to flee if it hits them.

Secondary

The Controller secondary power sets are exactly the same as the Defender's primary power sets. See that section below for the rundown. Keep in mind that a secondary power set is less efficient than a primary power set, so you can expect your secondary powers to be around 20% less effective than when a Defender is using the same power, everything else being equal.

Defender Powers

Primary

Defenders are the buffing class. This means that their primary role within a group is to help increase their teammates' combat efficacy, via powers that increase those teammates' abilities, or heal them when they're wounded. Many of these powers will only be usable on teammates, so keep this in mind if you enjoy soloing.

Dark Miasma

The Dark Miasma power set draws upon the influence of the underworld in order to produce a wide variety of effects for your team. Defenders with the Dark Miasma powers are a bit more flexible than most.

Twilight Grasp is your basic group healing power, but you'll need to target an enemy before it can be used, as it effectively transfers life from your enemy to the party members standing near you. This isn't an ideal situation, as it makes after-fight healing impossible, but the power can still be useful during battles. Twilight Grasp also has a very long recharge time for a healing power, which further reduces its effectiveness.

Tar Patch can aid in an escape, or in managing a group of foes, as it summons a large pool of tar onto the ground which will slow down any enemy entering it. Darkest Night also affects a group of enemies, and is a toggle, which means that you can activate it while targeting a weak enemy and reap the benefits until that enemy dies. When activated, all foes within the radius of effect will deal less damage.

Howling Twilight is one of the weirdest resurrection spells in the game, as it can affect multiple teammates, but, like Twilight Grasp, requires the presence of enemies to use. This can sometimes put you in the awkward situation of having to aggro enemies and herd them back to the body of a fallen foe, but also has the potential of letting you resurrect your teammate with full health, if you can manage to target enough enemies.

Shadow Fall can help your team out of a tight spot, as it makes everyone nearby stealthy and harder to see. Evasion abilities aren't always useful, though, and the fact that this one reduces your movement speed, but not that of your allies, means that you'll be falling behind unless your team stays coordinated in its movements.

Fearsome Stare is a good reset button in a combat gone wrong, as it forces enemies to run away. In general, if your team isn't getting in over their heads by aggroing multiple high-level enemy groups, you shouldn't need to use this power, so it's unfortunately too situational to be very valuable. Petrifying Gaze, on the other hand, can be quite useful in locking down enemy lieutenants and other tough enemies, as it Holds a single target in place, so that they cannot attack or move.

If your group wants to engage a few higher-level enemies, you can use Black Hole to help even the odds, as it takes a few enemies and temporarily removes them from the fight by making them ethereal. They can't attack or be attacked until the power wears off, thus effectively splitting a single fight into two smaller fights (assuming you can kill off anyone not affected by the Black Hole before its effects wear off).

Finally, you can summon a Dark Servant to further aid your party in particularly hectic battles. This infernal creation cannot move, but can use all of the powers in the Dark Miasma power set, independently of yourself (save for the Dark Servant power itself); as such, it's essentially like taking control of a high-level enemy for its duration.

Empathy

Empathy is one of the most basic, and most useful, of the Defender's primary power sets. Although every hero is capable of healing him or herself via Inspirations, and many of the other primary power sets for the Defender have an ability that lets you heal your teammates, the Empathy set has been designed from the ground up to make your character the most effective Healer possible. It gives you answers to all of the kinds of damage your team can take, and makes for a great power set for anyone who enjoys playing a support-style character. Most of the skills are only targetable on other players, though, so this isn't a great set for someone who likes to solo.

Healing Aura is one of the most useful healing powers you'll ever acquire..

Healing Aura and Heal Other are your initial choices in this group. Healing Aura is generally the best choice at level one, as it's one of the few powers in this group that you can use to heal yourself. It can also heal any teammates that are standing near your character, although its range and raw healing power are fairly limited. Heal Other, as the name implies, only works on a single ally (you can't target yourself with it, in other words), but will usually heal for more than double the amount of Healing Aura. These powers, used in tandem, will be vital to any good Healer character. Absorb Pain is the last of the straight healing powers in this set; it forces you to trade a bit of your own life to heal one of your teammates. You'll heal around four times as much health as you wind up taking from yourself, and you're able to heal around three times as much health as you would with Heal Other. The catch is that, for around 10 seconds, you're unable to regain health via any means, so this obviously is not a power that you want to use when you've aggroed a powerful enemy. Heal Other will always be your primary healing power, but if one of your melee teammates has bitten off more than they can chew, Absorb Pain is a great way to give them an emergency health infusion.

Resurrect is a useful power, especially when you start venturing into Hazard Zones at level seven and above, as these zones don't have hospitals. It is interruptible, though, and will leave your target woozy for a few seconds. The most important effect, that of bringing a character back from the dead, can be replicated simply by giving them an Awaken inspiration, so feel free to skip to a more powerful skill and get this one later on, if you wish.

Your next two powers are single-ally buffs. Clear Mind will let you free a single ally from the effects of Disorient, Hold, Immobilize, or Sleep effects, and will give that ally a lingering resistance to those types of effects to boot. Fortitude is the more powerful buff, though, as it will add a ton of damage to the targeted ally's attacks, as well as give that ally a bonus to his or her defensive stats. Use this on your team's primary melee attacker.

Recovery Aura and Regeneration Aura are fantastic skills that should reduce the amount of downtime your team is forced to sit through, as well as save you from having to heal the marginal members of your party. These are area-of-effect powers that are centered on your character, and have a very short range, so you'll want to make sure that your teammates are nearby before you activate them. The recharge delay on these powers is among the longest in the game, so you won't be able to quickly recast them if someone misses out, but they'll have an incredibly beneficial effect on your entire team when activated.

Lastly, Adrenaline Boost will let one of your teammates use their powers without needing to expend endurance for a short while, but will Stun your character; you obviously won't be able to do anything during the duration of this Stunning effect, so be sure everyone is at full health before you activate this power. This is best used on a character with a lot of high-endurance abilities, such as a Blaster or Controller.

Force Field

Your Force Field powers, as the name implies, focus mainly on protecting your teammates and yourself from damage. You don't gain any abilities to heal with this power set, but in an ideal situation, that won't matter, as you should be able to eliminate most damage before it happens. There are also quite a few powers that focus on knocking your enemies down or away from yourself, which can help break up large groups of foes.

To begin with, Personal Force Field is a great way to help yourself out when you've managed to aggro a few too many enemies. The defensive boost that it offers you is immense, although this is balanced by the high cost of the power and the large accuracy penalty you'll incur while it's active. If you think you might be using this effect fairly often, you might want to pick a secondary power set with the Aim ability, to offset that accuracy penalty.

You should do your best to keep a Deflection Shield active on all of your melee teammates, whenever possible, as this will ease the amount of damage that they take from most of their melee enemies. Insulation Shield works the same way, save for the fact that it works on elemental sources of damage (fire, cold, energy, etc.) instead of physical damage.

Your Force Bolt power is a means to an end, not a method for killing enemies; it deals very little damage, but has a great chance to knock back your target when it connects. Use it in support of a team member who's taking a pounding, especially a Blaster who's drawn aggro, or a melee member who has too many enemies on him or her. Don't use it on the enemy that a Tanker or Scrapper is currently targeting, though; nothing will annoy a melee teammate more than having to run and catch someone they were about to kill.

Detention Shield is a less-powerful variant of the Black Hole power from the Dark Miasma power set. Instead of eliminating a few opponents from a fight, it'll only take down one at a time, and won't work on bosses. Thus, you'll want to make sure that you use it on the most powerful lieutenant that you can find. This power can make the dual-boss packs a bit more manageable for your team, especially at lower levels, as it'll help nerf the lieutenants in said packs.

Dispersion Bubble is really the centerpiece of the set, as it'll envelop yourself and any nearby teammates with a pan-defensive shield of energy that'll help protect all of you from most forms of damage. You'll want to load this one out with defense enhancements to maximize the benefit. The main drawback is that you'll have to make sure that you're close enough to your melee teammates for the field to enclose them.

You can find yourself quickly drained of endurance if you keep Repulsion Field on during a battle; this knocks back enemies that attempt to close in on you, but each enemy will further tax your endurance reserves, on top of the constant endurance drain of keeping the power active. If you want to knock back a few enemies, Repulsion Bomb is more useful, but can only be used on an ally; any foes near that ally will find themselves violently repelled and damaged. Use this on a severely wounded enemy to give your Healers time to use their powers.

Lastly, Force Bubble will be a tremendously useful ability when you finally manage to unlock it. When activated, it'll prevent any enemies from getting within fifty feet of your character. They'll still be able to use their ranged attacks, but these will be subject to a severe accuracy penalty. Thus, you can use this power to create a safe haven for your Blasters, Controllers, and Healers, and let your Scrappers and Defenders fight the enemies on the edge of the field. If you notice that one of your melee teammates needs a rest, move the field to encompass them and their melee opponents will have to flip back to their ranged attacks before they can harm him or her.

Kinetics

Kinetics is the art of absorbing energy from your enemies and transferring it to your teammates and yourself. You start off with Transfusion, which actually drains your target's endurance and converts it into vitality for your allies; since most enemies are dead well before they use up all of their endurance, you shouldn't have any shortage of targets for this. Siphon Power works to drain an enemy's damage capabilities and transfer them to yourself.

Siphon Speed won't have much of an effect on your target, save for slowing him down, but it can be useful in the early game, before you have a travel power, or acquire Inertial Reduction.

When you're in a support role, don't hesitate to use Increase Density on your Tankers, which effectively shoves them further into their role of damage absorber, as it allows them to resist most forms of damage more easily. It will slow them down terribly, but most Tankers will be accessing their self-immobilization powers at this point anyway. You'll also be close enough to acquiring Speed Boost to possibly cancel out the slowdown effects, anyway.

Inertial Reduction is one of this set's key abilities, not because it has a huge impact on combat, but because it will let you skip investing in a travel power. You can use this on yourself and your party to give your team a quasi-Super Jump ability which will let you evade tough enemies or just run like heck if you need to. This is great for keeping your team grouped together when you're traveling to a distant mission entrance.

You will want to grab Transference as soon as it comes along, as it'll let you steal Endurance from your enemies and give it to your teammates. Fulcrum Shift has a similar effect, except that it transfers raw power to your party; your enemies will do less damage while your group does more. This works on a fairly small sphere around a single enemy, so you'll need to tell everyone whom your target is and give them time to gather around it before you activate this power.

Radiation Emission

If your hero obtained his or her powers through exposure to radiation, you can channel the force of the atom to fuel your crime-fighting abilities. Radiation being what it is, these powers are difficult to target on specific allies and foes, resulting in a power set full of area-of-effect powers.

Radiation Emission is another variant on the healing area-of-effect power. Use it, love it, pack any healing enhancements you get into it.

Radiation Infection isn't very useful when it's targeted on a solo enemy. Try to use it when there are a bunch of foes around.

Both Radiation Infection and Enervating Field are toggled onto an enemy, then affect all enemies around your target until that target dies or you decide to switch off the power. Radiation Infection affects your foes' accuracy and defense, while Enervating Field reduces the damage that they can inflict. On the flipside of these powers, you can use Accelerate Metabolism on yourself to boost the damage and resistances of all nearby teammates, but be forewarned that the recharge rate of this power is extremely long. It's best to save it until you encounter an extremely difficult set of foes.

Mutation is another twist on the generic resurrection spell, as it brings a single teammate back to life, but with an incredible array of buffs to his or her damage and accuracy. This new-found power will only last a few seconds, though, and when it wears off, the target can expect to be Stunned for awhile.

The rest of the powers in this set are all targeted towards a single enemy, but will affect any enemies nearby that target. Lingering Radiation affects all of your foes' movement and attack speeds, while Choking Cloud will let you break up enemy groups by Holding roughly half of them in place for a short duration, then flipping to the other half of the enemies and Holding them.

The uber-powers in this set are Fallout, which deals an incredible amount of energy damage to foes in a small radius, and EM Pulse, which will leave you disoriented, but which also Stuns and Holds most of the enemies in a fairly large radius of effect. Both of these powers have extremely long recharge rates, however, so be prepared to shell out for recharge-reduction enhancements.

Storm Summoning

The power of nature is at your beck-and-call when you choose to be a Storm Summoner. Many of these powers don't directly harm your opponents or buff your teammates, but instead have less tangible effects that require some creativity to make use of.

Things start out well with the Gale power; cone-based powers aren't usually available this early in a power set, but then, Storm Summoning is a fairly unique collection of powers. Gale knocks back enemies within a cone in front of your character, and will usually deal a small amount of damage. This can help you out when attempting crowd control in your earliest parties. This power is followed up by O2 Boost, which is your typical single-ally healing power.

Snow Storm is an area-of-effect spell that needs to be centered on a single target, but when it's activated, all nearby enemies will take a small amount of damage and will have their movement and attack speed slowed for a few seconds. Another toggling power is Steamy Mist, which affects a wide array of defensive buffs on yourself and nearby party members. Most notably, your resistance to fire, ice, and energy damage will be boosted quite a bit, making this a great tool to use when fighting elemental enemies.

The rest of the powers in this set are all offensively-minded and influence enemies in an area of effect. You'll start out with Freezing Rain, which does a bit of damage to enemies which come underneath the cloud, as well as slowing them and reducing their defense. Next up is Hurricane, which acts somewhat like the Force Bubble power, in that it repels nearby enemies and reduces their accuracy when they attempt to fire at you. You'll want to make sure that Hurricane is inactive before you activate Thunderclap, however, as the latter power won't have much of an effect due to the fact that its area of use overlaps with that of Hurricane. If no enemies can get near you, then they obviously won't be hurt by Thunderclap's Stunning effect.

Lastly, Tornado and Lightning Storm can both effectively break up groups of enemies near your character, via their panic-inducing effects. Tornado deals the lesser damage of the two powers, but can disorient and reduce the defense of enemies that it hits, while Lightning Storm is more focused on damaging and knocking down your enemies.

Secondary

Dark Blast

The Dark Blast powers fit in well with a defensive Defender archetype, as most of the powers will reduce the accuracy of your targets with a successful hit. Although this accuracy reduction is generally short-lived, it will definitely help reduce the amount of damage that you and your teammates take.

Dark Blast and Gloom are your basic attacks. Gloom deals a bit more damage over time, and Immobilizes your target for a couple of seconds after it hits. Moonbeam is your sniper attack; use this to pull or to deal heavy damage to a single opponent.

A successful launching of the Dark Pit power will send your foes reeling.

Dark Pit is a great way to help your team with crowd control, as it disorients all enemies within a small radius of the foe that you target. This attack has a pretty severe accuracy penalty, though, so you'll want to plop down a few accuracy enhancements before you make heavy use of it. Tenebrous Tentacles is a similar power, save for the fact that it Immobilizes your enemies rather than disorienting them. Immobilizing isn't quite as useful, as your enemies can still use their ranged attacks, but you'll have the added benefit of dealing a bit of damage over time.

Night Fall and Torrent are two more similar powers; they're both cone-based, both deal a small amount of damage, and both decrease their target's accuracy. Torrent, however, also has a chance to knock back your enemies, and has an increased arc of effect, making it the superior choice.

Life Drain is a great way to heal yourself, whether or not you have Empathy as a primary power set. This only targets a single enemy, but will transfer some of that target's health to yourself. Finally, Blackstar is your emergency power; it'll hit all of the enemies within a short radius of yourself for huge amounts of smashing and negative energy damage, but will leave you Stunned for quite awhile. Pick your moment carefully when using this power.

Electrical Blast

See Blaster Powers--Primary for a rundown on this power.

Energy Blast

See Blaster Powers--Primary for a rundown on this power.

Psychic Blast

"Your mind is an open book to me!" Wait, wrong game.... Anyway, the Psychic Blast powers focus on confusing your targets, which is generally portrayed as a reduction in their attack speed. What's notable here is that only three of the powers in this set can affect multiple targets, and most of them deal little damage, which means that this set can be difficult to solo with as a Defender. Your attacks will have longer ranges on the whole than those of other Blast power sets, though.

Mental Blast and Psionic Lance are your basic attack and sniper attack, respectively. Use these on any foes that are targeting your party's Tanker or Scrapper. Subdue can also deal a bit of damage, and has the added effect of Immobilizing your opponents for a short while.

Your first area-of-effect power is Psychic Scream, which deals a small amount of damage to a number of foes in an area, and reduces their attack speed. You don't want to open a fight with this attack; let your party members get aggro before unleashing it.

Telekinetic Blast and Will Domination are two more ranged attacks that deal psionic damage; Telekinetic Blast throws in a large amount of knockback, while Will Domination will often put your target to sleep. These should be used on the most powerful opponents that your group is facing. The last single-target power in this set is Scramble Thoughts, which is virtually guaranteed to Stun your target when it hits, although it only does a minor amount of damage.

Psionic Tornado and Psychic Wail are the final two powers that affect multiple opponents. Tornado is intended to severely reduce the attack speed of a group of enemies, so focus on one that's near the center of a cluster of foes before unleashing it; it's accompanied by only light damage, but has a chance to knock your foes up into the air when it hits. Psychic Wail is your typical high-damage-but-you're-Stunned effect to round out the power set.

Radiation Blast

The levels of radiation that gave you your powers will probably prevent you from ever having children or even knowing the love of a woman. A life of sadness and bitter frustration awaits you...but hey, you can still beat people up and lower their defense rating with your ranged attacks!

Neutrino Bolt, X-Ray Beam, and Proton Volley are your typical ranged attacks. Know them, love them, but don't neglect Irradiation, which will severely reduce the defense of any enemies near your character, thus letting you get their poundage in more efficiently. Electron Haze does much the same thing, save for its small chance at knockback and higher damage.

Aim should be a familiar power if you've played a Blaster; use it to virtually guarantee that your next attack will land successfully, and to add a bit of damage to said attack.

You're going to have to get extremely close to your target to use Cosmic Burst, but it does a great job of reducing your foe's defense, and also does a fair amount of damage. Use this after Aiming to knock your most powerful enemy down a peg or two, and set him up for your Scrappers and Blasters.

Neutron Bomb is your generic high-damage area-of-effect power, and Atomic Blast rounds out the group with another high-endurance, leaves-you-Stunned effect.

Scrapper Powers

Primary

As a Scrapper, you're going to be expected to be the precision instrument of your team. You can't engage six enemies at once and survive, like a Tanker, or deal a load of damage over a large area, like a Blaster, but you're the best at engaging the toughest enemy in the area and taking him down with single-target strikes. As such, most of your powers from your primary power set will consist of attacks that deal a lot of damage to a single target, with perhaps one or two short-range area-of-effect powers thrown in for variety.

Broadsword

Most Scrapper powers aren't overtly flashy, but they get the job done in the end.

Broadsword skills focus on reducing a target's defense, thus increasing the amount of damage that it will take on subsequent attacks. All of these attacks also have a small accuracy bonus, thus reducing the chances of a whiff. And it needn't be mentioned that a Broadsword just looks cool.

Hack and Slash are your basic attacks, so boost them with extra enhancement slots as you level up. You'll be using them quite often.

Slice is your first area-of-effect power, and hits everything in a wide cone in front of your character. Since we're talking about a sword, the range is only five feet or so, but you can use this to further whittle away at a group of enemies that've engaged you at point-blank. You can match it with Whirling Sword later on, which is essentially the same thing, save for the fact that it'll attack everything in a 360-degree arc around your character, and will give them a bit of damage over time.

Build Up should be used before any attack that you desperately need to hit and deal damage with, as it increases your accuracy as well as gives you a big boost to the damage that you deal.

You'll find Taunt, or some variant of it, in each of the Scrapper Primary power sets. It's best used to draw in an enemy that one of your weaker teammates has aggroed, to protect them from taking too much damage.

Lastly, Disembowel and Head Splitter are your massive-damage powers, that can also knock your opponents around to take them out of a fight for a few seconds. Since you should be on the most powerful enemy around, use these whenever they recharge, but be careful of your Endurance, as Head Splitter is the most expensive power you have.

Claws

The Claws powers are generally very low in their recharge time, which lets you attack more often than Scrappers who've focused in other Primary power sets, but will often result in you burning through your endurance more quickly than your other party members. You'll need to remember to pace yourself during combat, or use the Catch A Breath inspiration to gain back endurance when you run down.

Swipe, Strike, and Slash are all good low-level attacks; Slash also reduces your target's defense for a short period of time, so you may want to use it before any other attacks. Soon after you obtain these attacks, you'll unlock Spin, which is the first area-of-effect power. This power is ranged so that you can hit enemies a little bit beyond the normal melee range, but it's expensive.

One of the Claw set's unique features is a ranged attack, Focus, which can deal lethal damage over a fair range, and also has a chance to knock down your target. If you're taking a breather, or notice that one of your friends is in trouble, you can use this to target an enemy that's out of range of your melee attacks.

Eviscerate and Shockwave are your uber powers; both of them affect enemies in a cone in front of your character, and Shockwave can even knock back enemies, which makes it a fantastic reset-button in a combat gone bad, or when you notice that your health is edging towards the lower end of the bar.

Dark Melee

Like most Dark power sets (Dark Blast, Dark Miasma, etc.), the powers usually result in an accuracy reduction for your opponent. As you obtain the higher-level powers, you'll also nab a few self-buffs, which make this class useful for those of you who like to solo.

Shadow Punch, Smite, and Shadow Maul are your usual assortment of low-level damaging attacks, with Touch of Fear appearing a bit later; this last power can help you deal with a second tough enemy by instilling him with fear and greatly reducing his accuracy. If you get swamped by a group of mobs, you might want to use Touch on the hardest enemy and use the time before it runs out to clear out a couple of minions.

Siphon Life, Dark Consumption, and Soul Drain are your self-buffs. Siphon Life can transfer life from a single target to you, at a significant endurance cost, while Dark Consumption will help you regain endurance by stealing it from all nearby foes. Dark Consumption has a massive recharge time, so you won't be able to use this combo very often, but Siphon Life alone will help ease the burden on your Healers during the heavy firefights, and also effectively transforms each Catch A Breath inspiration you receive into a Respite; just use it and activate Siphon Life to get the same overall effect. Soul Drain transfers raw strength from nearby enemies to you, increasing the damage that you deal and your accuracy. It also has a lengthy recharge time, so use it only when you have a significant number of targets near your character.

Midnight Grasp is the last power here, and will Immobilize and do damage over time to an enemy that you hit with it.

Katana

The Katana power set is virtually identical to the Broadsword power set--both sets use the exact same set of powers, save for the fact that the Katana's powers recharge a bit more quickly. Unfortunately, you'll also burn more endurance over time when using the Katana powers. Martial Arts

If you want to get really up close and personal with your enemies, Martial Arts is the power set for you. You'll only get a single area-of-effect power here; everything else requires you to focus on a single target. These attacks are powerful, and are very accurate, but require a lot of endurance to use.

Thunder Kick and Storm Kick are your basic attacks. Although Storm Kick is listed as being damage-over-time, this isn't quite true; although it does consist of many light attacks instead of a single massive blow, the damage ends when the animation concludes. In other words, you can't use this and another power to pile on multiple damage at the same time.

Cobra Strike deals very little damage, but will give you a good shot at disorienting your target for a short amount of time. Thunder Kick and Cobra Strike work well together, as they both give you a shot at Stunning a foe; use them back-to-back to render insensate any single tough foe during a fight.

The Crane Kick is one of the set's premium damage-dealers; it combines a large amount of smashing damage with a good chance to knock down your target. This is where you'll want to sink most of your accuracy and damage enhancements when you unlock it. The Crippling Axe Kick is somewhat less useful, as it does minor damage, and only slows and Holds an enemy. Although they'll attack less often, they'll still be able to use their ranged attacks if you move out of melee range.

The set's only area-of-effect power is Dragon's Tail, which damages and has a chance to knock back every enemy within a few feet of your character. You can use it to clear out the riff-raff before concentrating on the biggest dog on the block.

Finally, your Eagle's Claw attack is used for your heaviest hitting. Like Thunder Kick and Cobra Strike, it has a chance to disorient your target, so you can use these three attacks on the same foe over and over again to keep it in a perpetual state of Stunnedness. Spines

Spiny-origined superheroes are best suited for working in large teams, as few of the attacks deal damage comparable to the other primary power sets. To make up for this, you'll have more area-of-effect powers, letting you more easily deal with crowds of enemies and support your teammates that become overwhelmed. Many of your attacks are also able to slow your opponents, which reduces their movement and attack speed; slowing a large number of opponents can be a huge advantage in a chaotic fight.

Secondary

Your secondary power set as a Scrapper will be focused on the defensive aspect of combat; you'll find powers here that will increase your defense and resistance to the various forms of attack. A couple of the power sets will even let you heal yourself, which is tremendously helpful for players that enjoy soloing.

Dark Armor

Dark Armor is one of those power sets that becomes better as you increase your level. Well, technically speaking, that's true of every power set, but here especially you'll find that the later powers offer much more utility than the earliest ones do. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it's a secondary power set, you won't be able to obtain the later powers until late in your career, but if you can stick it out until then, you should find yourself able to solo with relative ease due to the healing powers here.

At the earliest levels, though, you'll be able to obtain three different shields: Dark Embrace (protects you from smashing, lethal, and negative energy damage); Murky Cloud (resists fire, cold, energy, and negative energy); and Obsidian Shield (resists psionic energy, Stun, and sleep effects). These shields are mutually exclusive, e.g., you won't be able to activate more than one at a time, but this shouldn't be a problem if you adapt to what you're being attacked with. Another toggleable low-level ability is Death Shroud, which constantly hurts all enemies around you, but drains your endurance quite quickly when activated.

When Dark Regeneration becomes available to you, pick it and start boosting it with Heal and/or Endurance Reduction enhancements. Although it will require nearly half a bar of endurance to activate, Dark Regeneration will let you suck in energy from all nearby enemies; the more enemies, the more life you gain. You may have to use an endurance inspiration to use it during a fight, but it should usually top off your health if you time it right.

Cloak of Darkness acts as a supplement to your travel powers, since it activates a stealth effect which makes your character difficult to see. You can use this in mission maps to scout a map for your team and alert your party as to where the toughest enemies are. This power is followed up by Cloak of Fear, which is also a decent way to avoid damage, as it has a good chance of inflicting panic on any enemies that get close to you, which causes them to run away. They'll still be able to fire their ranged attacks at you when they exit the cloak's radius, but this can help reduce the number of attackers that are pounding on you at any given time. Oppressive Gloom acts similarly, although it actually just Stuns your opponents. Be careful, though, as it will steadily siphon your life away when activated.

Lastly, Soul Transfer is a great self-resurrection. Unlike most resurrection powers, you'll want to use this one in the middle of a crowd, as it absorbs life and endurance from nearby enemies and tranfers it to you as it brings you back from the dead.

Invulnerability

See Tanker Primary abilities for the run down on this power set.

Regeneration

If you're uninterested in damage-resistance powers, and just want to ensure that your character has a minimum of downtime between fights, then Regeneration is probably for you. While you'll have virtually no way to avoid or reduce the amount of damage that you take, you'll make up for this by being able to heal yourself at will, and thus act independently of your team's Healers.

You'll be able to obtain two automatic powers at early levels: Fast Healing and Quick Recovery. These boost your regeneration rate in health and endurance, respectively, and should be the focus of your first few enhancement slot additions. These aren't going to save your life in the middle of combat, but will definitely help you stay alive longer than a character that's regenerating normally. If you do find yourself needing a quick boost of health, Reconstruction will serve that role for most of your career. It has a much longer recharge rate than do the healing powers of a character with the Empathy power set, though, so save it until you really need it.

Resist Disorientation is the first toggleable ability in the set; for the cost of a minor endurance drain, you'll be virtually guaranteed to avoid any Stun effects that come your way. Many of the bosses in the game have the ability to Stun your character, so this is a great thing to have active in mission Zones. Another good resistance ability, though not a toggle, is Integration, which lets you better combat foes with knockback, Stun, Hold, Immobilize, or sleep effects. This includes, roughly speaking, every foe in the game, so try to get some recharge reduction enhancements on this power.

Dull Pain is also available in the Invulnerable power set; when activated, you'll boost your total health, and get a large heal. This power can take over five minutes to recharge, though, so it's obviously best saved for dire emergencies. Instant Healing is a better choice for between-fights healing, as it will boost your healing rate quite a bit, and acts on a toggle. Instant Healing can also let you act as something of a quasi-Tanker when that role is going unfilled in your party; you'll be taking a lot of damage, but you should be able to regenerate and heal yourself of quite a bit of it, while your Blasters and other Scrappers knock your enemies out.

The last two powers here also have extremely long recharge timers. That isn't so important in the case of Revive; if you're in such dire straights that you find yourself needing to bring yourself back from the dead, you'll probably want to take a breather anyway. The recharge time is also part of Moment of Glory's drawback; although it can only be activated once every five minutes or so, this power will render you virtually invulnerable for a few moments. The drawback is that you won't regain any health, and will be reduced to almost zero hit points after it wears off. You'll need to make sure you withdraw back to your Healer before you're killed off by a single lucky strike.

Super Reflexes

Super Reflexes is an interesting power set. It doesn't offer you any ability to heal yourself, nor will it let you reduce the amount of damage you take from any kind of source. What it attempts to do is let your character avoid attacks altoghether, by going straight to the source and directly raising your defensive capabilities. Luckily, many of the powers in this set are passive, always-on abilities, meaning that there's very little of the micromanagement that can sometimes result from having two power sets worth of clickable and toggleable abilities.

Your first two powers, however, are toggles: Focused Fighting will increase your ability to dodge melee attacks, while Focused Senses will let you better dodge bullets and other ranged attacks. The Agile power replicates the ability of Focused Senses, but is a passive skill, thus making it a more likely candidate for extra enhancement slots. Dodge is the passive companion of Focused Fighting, but won't be available until your character hits the teen levels, so you'll have to deal with the early toggleable power until you acquire it.

When dealing with bosses, lieutenants, and other characters likely to have a special attack, Practiced Brawler will let you avoid many of the worst, as it gives you a better chance to avoid being affected by knockback, Stun, Hold, Immobilize, and sleep effects.

To reflect your increased reflexes, Quickness acts as a permanent haste power, letting you attack and move more quickly. This can make an improvement in primary power sets with slow recharge times, like Broadsword, although the tangible benefits are minor, due to it being an automatic power.

Lucky and Evasion both give you a decent chance to evade the harmful consequences of being caught in an area-of-effect blast. Lucky is permanent, while Evasion is a toggle; used together, and boosed with enhancements, you should be able to avoid a good number of the worst area-of-effect attacks that your party will see.

If you can survive until you're able to acquire Elude, you should find yourself able to evade most attacks that come your way, as it boosts your defense against melee, ranged, and area-of-effect attacks to a very high degree. The unfortunate drawback is that you can't attack enemies or help your friends out, rendering this almost exclusively an escape or scouting power.

Tanker Powers

Primary

Tankers are defensive units; their purpose is to get hit so the rest of the team doesn't. For this reason, most of a Tanker's primary powers deal with defense.

Fiery Aura

Fiery Aura powers are the most offensive set available to Tankers, but that means that they are also the least defensive. They let you do a good bit more damage than other Tankers, but keep in mind that Tankers aren't built for damage to begin with. Fiery Aura also sucks up your endurance, something you don't have a lot of to begin with. This is somewhat compensated for by some powers that will let you restore your health and endurance, something other Tankers lack.

Blazing Aura does a bit of damage to villains in melee range. It is handy, especially early on, but becomes less valuable in later levels, so don't invest too much into it. Fire Shield is your primary early defensive power, protecting you from blows, blades and bullets. You will want to keep it on while fighting throughout your career. Healing Flames works well, and is vital with the lack of defensive powers in this set. Give it as many healing enhancements as you can. Temperature Protection and Plasma Shield are also vital--they are your only other truly defensive powers. Consume is a mixed bag. The endurance drain that comes with the Fiery Aura powers means that you will really need a method to restore your endurance, which is exactly what Consume does. Unfortunately, it only works well if you are surrounded by foes, and that happens at the beginning of a fight, not at the end when you need the boost. Take it, but don't become too reliant on it. Burn can be handy for getting out of a tight spot, or for booby-trapping a checkpoint.

Whether Fiery Embrace is worth the slots depends on how you are developing your character. If you are creating your Tanker to do lots of damage, and you take Fiery Melee, then it is invaluable. If you are playing defensively, or want to take a non-fire secondary power, then avoid it. Rise of the Pheonix can be useful, but only in certain situations. It raises you from the dead and Stuns nearby foes, but you can't attack or recover endurance. That means that if you are alone, you are meat. If you are with a team at that level, then there will almost certainly be somebody with you that can do a better job of bringing you back to life.

Ice Armor

A good defensive set, Ice Armor has a combination of resistances and enemy debuffs. It is effective for both group and solo play.

Ice Armor has four separate defensive skills--Frozen Armor protects against physical damage, Wet Ice protects from immobilization, Hold, and disorientation effects, Glacial Armor keeps energy and negative energy attacks away, and Hibernate makes you immune to everything while you quickly heal, but you are unable to move or act while it is active. All four powers are effective, and all four are vital to a Tanker. Be aware, however, that only one of them can be used at a time. It is important that you know which one protects from what so that you can change to the appropriate armor for each fight.

Ice Armor is typical of Tanker primary powers, giving good defense, but cost a good bit of endurance.

Hoarfrost has two uses--first of all, it can be used before a fight to increase your maximum hit points. It can also be used if you are injured to heal yourself. It takes a long time to recharge, but is nonetheless invaluable. Use it strategically--when you are facing a boss, or when the alternative is death. Chilling Embrace is very effective, especially for a solo player. It is a toggle power, so it stays on as long as you like, slowing all nearby enemies significantly. It doesn't cost much endurance, and with a couple of cost enhancers, can be left on during most fights. Permafrost should be part of every Ice Armor Tanker's repertoire. It gives you a defense bonus against both cold and fire, and is always on with no endurance cost. Energy Absorption is also useful, especially in a big fight. It costs a ton, but if you set it off in the midst of a large group of foes, it will greatly improve your defenses while sucking up the villains' endurance.

Invulnerability

Invulnerability is probably the least flashy of the Tanker defensive power sets, but has tons of potential. For one thing, it has four very effective defensive skills, all of which are automatic. That means that they are always on--they don't go away when you are Stunned, and they cost you no endurance, leaving it free to use on other powers. You are, however, a bit weak against rooting powers (sleep, Immobilization, etc) and psionics.

Resist Physical Damage, Resist Elements, Resist Energies and Tough Hide are your four auto defensive powers. Get them as soon as you can, pump them full of enhancements, and you will have a massive defense with no endurance cost. Temporary Invulnerability give you a big boost against physical damage, especially with the right enhancements. Dull Pain can either heal you if you are injured, or increase your maximum hit points if you are not. It comes in handy when soloing, against bosses, or in really tough fights. Invincibility is a toggle power that makes you harder to hit. Combining Invincibility with either Temporary Invulnerability or Unyielding Stance and your auto defenses can make you powerful indeed! Unstoppable is just that.

Unyielding Stance is a power that can be a blessing or a curse. It gives you good resistance to all of the nasty stuff you can't defend against with your other powers (sleep, Hold, knockback, Stun, disorient), but locks you in place so that you can't move. It is worth taking and adding a couple of damage resistances enhancements to, but be aware of its limitations. It is extremely valuable against tough bosses in a team fight. Taunt the boss to keep him focuses on you, then activate Unyielding Stance. Pummel him to keep him tied up while the rest of the team cleans up his minions.

Stone Armor

Stone Armor is a lot like Ice Armor--tons of powerful armors that can't be used at the same time. It offers a very strong defense, but not much of an offensive boost.

The five armors are Rock Armor (physical attacks), Brimstone Armor (fire and cold), Mineral Armor (psionics), Crystal Armor (energy and negative energy), and Granite Armor (slows you and lowers your accuracy, but makes you almost invulnerable). Take all five, boost them as much as possible with enhancements, and learn what each one does so that you will be able to switch to the right one for each fight. Stone Skin is an always-on power that will increase your resistance to physical attacks even more.

Earth's Embrace is another iteration of the Tanker's healing power. It is slow to recharge, but can either heal a large number of your hit points, or temporarily increase your maximum hit points, giving you an edge in a tough fight. Rooted sticks you to the ground--you can't be knocked back, disoriented, or Held, but you can't move, either. Root yourself next to a boss or a lieutenant and keep him tied up for your team.

Secondary

Tanker secondary powers are designed to complement their defense-heavy primaries. Most of the powers are designed to irritate your foes and keep them focused on you. This is done by taunting them or damaging them. Just remember--the best, most offensive Tanker will never be the offensive equal of a mediocre Scrapper or Blaster. Also keep in mind that at later levels, a team-oriented Tanker will have to lay off of the attacks to save his endurance for defensive skills. In any case, Tanker attacks will always benefit from endurance cost-reducing enhancements; anything that saves endurance for your defenses is a plus.

Most of the power sets have Build Up. Build Up gives you a slight boost to accuracy and a big bonus to damage. Use it before a series of attacks to take maximum advantage of its bonus. All of the sets have Taunt. Taunt allows you to attract the attention of a single opponent. This can be used to pull a single enemy toward you or to pull his attacks off of a teammate and onto you. See the tactics sections for more detail on using Taunt.

Battle Axe

Battle Axe lets you do tons of damage when you hit, but the endurance cost and recharge time between attacks is significant. You also have a chance knock back your foes with almost every hit, keeping them from attacking for a few seconds.

Gash and Chop are your two basic attacks. Pump them full of accuracy enhancers and chop your way to glory. Beheader does massive damage, but costs a ton and is slow to recharge. Save it until you need it to win. Swoop and Cleave are similar--they do massive amounts of damage to a single foe and have an excellent chance of knocking foes back. You can probably get away with taking just one and boosting it with accuracy, recharge, and endurance reduction enhancers. Whirling Axe and Pendulum are both area-of-effect attacks. Whirling Axe is centered on you, and Pendulum works in a cone. Both have a good chance of knocking back foes.

Energy Melee

Energy Melee is a fairly typical Tanker attack set. Most of the powers are fairly average as far as damage/recharge/cost goes, although most of them can disorient foes, a very useful capability.

Barrage and Energy Punch are your basic fast/medium attacks that you will be using throughout your career. Bone Smasher is a more powerful attack that has a very high chance of disorienting a foe. Whirling Hands is your only area-of-effect attack, affecting all foes nearby with moderate damage and a chance of disorientation. Stun does just that--it Stuns a foe every time. Use it against lieutenants and bosses to keep them out of the fight while you kill their underlings. Energy Transfer is a bad idea; it takes from your hit points to add to your damage. Tankers, once again, are there to absorb damage, not deal it, and this power does just the opposite. Use the slot for something else. Total Focus is dangerous. It utterly devastates a foe, but leaves you helpless. It might be useful as an emergency power, but be very careful with it.

Fiery Melee

Fiery Melee has more going for it than is immediately apparent. The initial hit damage is less than other melee sets, but the attacks also set your foes aflame, doing additional damage over time. With a few strategically-placed damage enhancements, Fiery Melee can hold its own with the other power sets. On the other hand, Fiery Melee has one huge disadvantage. Ice Melee slows targets, Battle Axe knocks them to the ground, Super Strength disorients them. Fiery Melee, however, is the only secondary Tanker power set without extra effects to weaken your attackers. This makes it less attractive for a team-oriented, defensive Tanker, and doesn't keep you as safe while soloing.

You have your three basic attacks (Scorch, Fire Sword, and Greater Fire Sword), plus Combustion, Breath of Fire, and Fire Sword Circle for area of effect. Add some damage and cost enhancements to these to make them more effective. Whether you take all five depends on your plans--if you still plan to fight defensively, any four would probably suit you better, saving the extra slot for a defensive pool power. Incinerate doesn't do much damage on the initial hit, but does a ton of damage over time. It is fairly useful if used against a boss early in a fight, but less effective against regular villains.

Ice Melee

Ice Melee is a fairly average secondary power set. It does decent damage, has a moderate cost, and a typical recharge rate. It does, however have the advantage of slowing your targets, which is of great value if you are fighting defensively or solo.

Frozen Fists, Ice Sword, and Greater Ice Sword are your basic melee attacks. Give them some accuracy and damage enhancers, or even a slow enhancement or two if you have the slots. Frost is your first area-of-effect power (cone-based), and it does both minor damage and significantly slows your targets. Be aware, though, that it is one of most short-ranged cone powers in the game. Ice patch is handy. It is an area-of-effect slow that begins centered under your feet. You can, however, move once you have activated and it will remain where you were standing. It can be used in a choke point to slow down your foes. Freezing Touch freezes a single foe in place. It is a good melee root for solo players, but less useful in a team environment. Frozen Aura is more useful as a root, as it freezes all nearby foes, not just one. Unlike Freezing Touch, though, villains rooted with Frozen Aura will be freed if they are disturbed.

Stone Melee

Stone Melee is slow but powerful, with a combination of disorient and knockback effects. Recharge enhancements should be used along with your accuracy and damage if you choose Stone Melee. Stone Fist and Stone Mallet are your two basic melee attacks. You pick up your next, powerful melee strike, Heavy Mallet, much earlier than you would in most power sets. This third powerful but expensive attack can be added to your repertoire to help offset the slow recharge of your other attacks.

Fault and Tremor do very similar things with an identical area-of-effect range, so you can probably get by taking only one. Fault may knock down or Stun foes near you, while Tremor does a bit of damage and has a higher chance of knocking your enemies back. Hurl Boulder is one of the few true ranged attacks available to Tankers. It looks cool, but if you are pulling with Taunt, then you won't have a lot of use for it. Your last power, Seismic Smash does significant damage to a single foe and has a good chance of knocking him unconscious for a few seconds. It is expensive, and recharges slowly, so be sure to use sparingly.

Super Strength

Super Strength doesn't have the flash and glitz of the elemental powers, but it can still do damage. Each blow does less than most of the other sets, but the powers have the fastest recharge of any of them. You may do a third less damage, but you will hit three times in while your Battle Axe friend only hits once. A mix of knockback and disorient effects just adds to the fun.

Super Strength doesn't do a much damage as its counterparts, but the attacks make up for it with their speed.

Jab is your quick melee attack, and Punch is your slower, more powerful strike. Punch will frequently knock back your enemies. Haymaker and Knockout Blow are more of the same. Unless you plan on doing a lot of soloing, you will only need a couple of these attacks. Rage adds tons of damage, but leaves you weak after it wears off. Since you probably aren't there for doing damage, it is best ignored. If you do take it, save it for the times that you are on the verge of losing the fight. Hand Clap and Foot Stamp both have a good chance of knocking foes back. Hand Clap adds a Stun, while Foot Stamp does damage. Take one of them, but you don't really need both. Hurl throws an object at an opponent, doing good damage and with a chance of knocking them back. Take it if you want it, but ranged attacks won't be all that useful for a Tanker.

War Mace

War Mace is a fairly high-damage weapon, with a variety of knockback and disorient effects. The basic attacks are Bash (quick and cheap), Pulverize (moderate speed, damage and cost), and Jawbreaker (high damage, knockback, but slow and expensive). Clobber is another melee attack, although it Stuns a single enemy rather than causing a lot of damage. Whirling Mace and Crowd Control are area-of-effect attacks. Crowd Control, however, is cone-shaped and has a very, very short range. Shatter is your high-end, single foe attack. It does a ton of damage, and almost always knocks a foe back.

Movement Pool Powers

Flight

The flight pool of powers is probably the flashiest way of getting around, and it allows you to go literally anywhere. There are, however, some drawbacks to flight. The first is speed--until at least level 14, you won't have any real advantages when it comes to getting around. Scrappers and Tankers who function by being close to enemies won't find much advantage in being able to hover above their them, making one of the group's main powers rather ineffective. Other classes for whom direct contact with the enemy is a bad idea, however, will benefit immensely from the ability to float in the air out of the range of fists and clubs.

Use Hover to stay out of the attack range of melee opponents.
Hover

Hover is your basic flight skill, but don't think of it as an efficient means of getting around. It is the slowest movement skill; when you first get it, walking pedestrians will pass right by you. You can, with a bit of patience, get to otherwise hard-to-reach areas, like rooftops or safe places to rest, but sprinting will always get you where you are going faster. It does get faster with time and the proper enhancements; by the time you have had it for a couple of levels, you will be able to make your way to the roof of a building faster than you could via fire escapes.

What Hover is, however, is a tool. It will let you 'stick' in the air indefinitely, as the endurance drain is insignificant. You can use it to hover between rooftops, to get someplace safe to heal, or to suspend yourself out of the melee range of your enemies. You can also use Hover to save yourself from a nasty fall by toggling it on near the ground. Be careful, though, as it takes some time to slow down once you have toggled it on.

The first thing you will want to do to properly use Hover is to bind it to a key that you can hit easily, something adjacent to your movement keys. The command "/bind X powexec_name Hover" where X is the key you want it bound to will do the trick. Hover is so slow that if you start from the ground, you won't get to a safe height before the fight is over. Instead, run and make your best jump--off of a nearby car or desk, if possible, and toggle Hover on at the same time. Hover should kick in just as you reach the apex of the jump. It will take some practice to get the timing just right, but once you do, you will be able to almost instantly go from ground level to an ideal altitude, out of your enemies' reach and ready to attack.

One particularly nasty Hover trick is to hover near the edge of a rooftop on which several extremely tough enemies are standing. Pull them all, and then move back. They should all drop to the street far below. Toggle off Hover and let yourself drop, turning it back on just in time to stop at combat range, and take out your enemies, already badly injured from the fall.

Air Superiority

Air Superiority is a great power, but only in certain circumstances. It is a melee attack that knocks flying enemies to the ground. This can come in handy if you have a bunch of melee heroes waiting for you on the ground, but the majority of the characters that will be in the air with flying enemies will be doing their best to keep their distance from them, not closing for melee hits. It can be taken as your initial power from the flight category, so it could be used effectively as a secondary ability for a character with Leaping, letting a Scrapper or Tanker hop up and knock a flier down for some punishment.

Fly

Fly is the essential travel power of this set. It looks and feels just like Hover, except that it is much, much faster. Fly costs a good bit of endurance, enough to drain you, but not too quickly. If you take it at level 14 and turn off your other powers; you can fly between 1.5 and 2 miles in a straight line before running out of endurance. Unlike Hover, Fly does not boost your defense. It also gives you a big penalty to accuracy. Fly is for getting from place to place, not for fighting.

For the most efficient use of Fly, bind it to an easily-accessible key, leaving Hover bound as well. You want to be able to toggle between them with a single keystroke. This will allow you to fly toward an enemy and immediately switch to Hover to fight, then switch back if you want to flee. You can also zip along through the sky with Fly and toggle Hover on for a minute or so to recharge your endurance. Toggling between Hover and Fly doesn't change your position at all--it just changes your speed and bonuses.

When you were using Hover as your primary means of getting to high places, you probably boosted it with a couple of flight speed enhancements. Once you receive Fly, however, you will be using it, not Hover, for getting around. Hover will be used to keep you safe in combat, so replace those flight speed enhancements with defensive enhancements.

Group Fly

Group Fly can be useful, but only under very specific circumstances. If you need to flee with a group across a long high-danger Zone, it will come in handy. Most of the time, however, your team will have their own travel powers that are more efficient and will serve them just as well. Take it if you like, but don't invest too much in it.

Leaping

Jump Kick

As with most of the other power pool attacks, Jump Kick is something of a filler power. It's not going to be a replacement for any of the attacks from your primary power set, but can act as a low-endurance attack when you're waiting for your other basic attacks to recharge. It does have the added benefit of giving you a decent chance of knockback.

Combat Jumping

Combat Jumping is fairly effective right off the bat. Not only do you get the ability to jump higher and fall further, you receive an immediate bonus to your defense, all without too much of an endurance drain. The jump itself can get you out of trouble quickly by letting you leap out of combat, then over a tall obstacle that your foes will have to go around.

Combat Jumping is an effective means of local transport. While your overground movement speed won't be much faster than Sprinting, you can jump over many objects that you had to go around before. You can also scale most buildings with Combat Jumping. Face a building with windows or indentations on the side, then hold down jump and tap your forward movement key repeatedly. You will jump from window sill to window sill. By tapping the forward key instead of holding it, you will able to go right around air conditioners, ledges, and other obstacles. This method of climbing is extremely fast, and is a good way to get out of harm's way.

Combat Jumping also gives you excellent control of your movement while in the air. By combining this with some of the other techniques described above, you can pull off all sorts of maneuvers. You can ascend buildings by jumping back and forth between two of them, zigzagging to the top. To get on a tall object with no ledges, jump-climb a tall building nearby and leap off halfway up, controlling your jump so that you land on top of your target. You can also descend a tall building by jumping down toward the wall of an adjacent building, hitting a window sill to stop your descent momentarily, then repeating the process until you get down.

Super Jump

When compared to the other travel powers, Super Jump has a lot to recommend it. It's the third-fastest power, with Speed and Teleport coming in ahead, but given that you can go over most obstacles with ease, you'll likely get to where you're going much more quickly than your Super Speed teammates, who'll have to constantly navigate around buildings and walls. It also drains much less endurance than Flight or Teleporting will, letting you activate it when you need to escape without having to worry about being too tired to use it.

Super Jump can let you achieve some very impressive altitudes!

Super Jump will let you cover around 120 yards per leap when you first unlock it; you can increase this number by adding Jump enhancements to the power, which is about the only thing that really has any effect on it. You'll gain about the same amount of vertical distance off the ground at the apex of your jump, which will let you easily bypass most obstacles and buildings in your path.

The main drawback to Super Jump is that you do have to hit the ground every once in a while, if only to take off again. (Holding down your spacebar will let you immediately relaunch yourself into the air.) Unfortunately, this will occasionally draw the ire of any nearby enemies, and you generally won't be able to jump away before they use their ranged weapons on you. For this reason, you'll need to be extra cautious when jumping around in hazard Zones, or in city Zones that have enemies more than a few levels above you.

Acrobatics

Acrobatics is a toggleable power, which, while active, will protect you from Knockback and Holding effects. This isn't 100% resistance, though, so you may find yourself falling prey to these effects when you come across an enemy Boss or any enemy a few levels higher than you. You'll have to gauge for yourself whether or not a good chance of being protected from Hold is worth spending a power slot on (Knockback being more annoying than debilitating in most circumstances). It can be a worthwhile sacrifice for some melee heroes who don't have a good defense against these powers--such as those with the Invulnerability power set. Otherwise, you may be better off just holding onto a Discipline or Will inspiration until you face off against bosses, and use this power slot on something that will be more universally useful.

Speed

As should be self-evident, Speed is the power pool that will turn your hero into a human racecar, able to outrun trains and the like. On the whole, these powers don't offer much to ranged characters, but can be appropriate for Scrappers and Tankers.

Flurry

Flurry is effectively useless for most characters, although if you're a Scrapper or Tanker, it may be useful as a replacement for the Brawl attack. It deals an insignificant amount of damage, but has a chance to Stun your opponent.

Hasten

Hasten lets you quickly recharge your powers for a short while after you activate it. This doesn't reduce the endurance cost of those powers, however, so you can easily find yourself exhausting your endurance if you send out attacks like a machinegun. At the end of the power's duration, you'll also take a large endurance penalty, so you'll want to have a few endurance inspirations in your inventory in case you can't take down your target. Hasten also has an extremely long recharge time of its own, on the order of five minutes or so, so you'll need to save this one for emergencies.

Super Speed

Super Speed is one of the flashiest-looking travel powers in Paragon city, but whether this translates into actual utility will depend on the player. Although you'll zip around at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, you unfortunately won't get the vertical movement abilities that the other three travel powers get, which means that you'll still have to look for the nearest stairs whenever you hit an inopportune wall. (Unless, of course, you decide to pick up another travel power in addition to this one.) You'll also be hit with a massive accuracy debuff when you have Super Speed activated, but this is counterbalanced somewhat by the fact that your defense against attacks will be correspondingly increased, giving you a good chance to avoid random attacks from the grunts you'll inevitably run into on the street.

In all, Super Speed is probably more style than substance, especially when you first come into "bumpy" Zones like Boomtown or (especially) Faultline. If you plan on doing a lot of solo traveling, your best bet is still one of the other three travel powers, but if your supergroup has plenty of people with Team Teleport, Telekinesis, and the like in it, you may not have to worry so much about your inability to get above the action.

Whirlwind

This final speed power is custom-designed for melee heroes, as it only affects enemies within a very small radius around your character. When activated (and, as a toggle, it can be shut off at any time) it attempts to hit everyone within five feet of you with a knockback effect. This is a decent way to prevent incoming damage before it can happen, especially for Tankers, as it drains endurance rapidly.

Teleportation

On the whole, the powers in the Teleportation power pool generally come with a bit more utility than do those of the other transportation pools. Although you'll have to obtain at least one of the first two powers if you want to access Teleport, you may find both of them useful enough to pick up, especially if you do a lot of teaming. Controllers and Defenders are thus both well-suited to picking up Teleportation as a power pool.

Recall Friend

There are few powers more consistently handy outside of battle than Recall Friend. Its utility is fairly clear; if you're near the entrance to a mission, you can teleport all of your team members there from across the map, which makes consolidating teams after a bunch of invites have been sent out a piece of cake. Inside a mission, you can also use it to withdraw a scout your team has sent ahead to map out a level if he or she accidentally manages to pick up a bunch of aggro. Lastly, when your team has retreated from a tough fight, you can use it to teleport any fallen heroes among your party so that they can be resurrected in an area that's already been cleared of enemies.

Teleport Foe

So far as pulling powers go, Teleport Foe is one of the best, although whether or not it's worth sacrificing a power selection for is another matter. It acts in an identical manner to Recall Friend, save that it can only target an enemy that you have within line of sight. Since the enemies in City of Heroes are all in dire need of cataract surgery, you won't have to worry overmuch about them seeing you until you get right on top of them, so you should have plenty of opportunities to use this to pull on interior missions, or when soloing outdoors. Most boss-level enemies are immune to this power, however, so don't get too frisky with it.

Teleport

Teleport is the quickest transportation power, albeit the one that will burn most of your endurance in the process. Using it will, obviously enough, teleport your character to the point at which you've targeted. The range on this isn't unlimited, so most long-distance traveling will require you to use multiple Teleports, and at 15% of your endurance a shot, you can expect to get tired fairly quickly, so you'll want to spend some influence on endurance reduction enhancements for this if you use it often. You can also outfit this with range enhancements, but since range is one of those enhancements that gives you a smaller boost than normal, it's best to stick with endurance reduction at first.

If you do pick up the Teleport power, then it's definitely worth your while to bind it to a key, like so:

/bind lshift+lbutton "powexec_name Teleport"

With this bind, you'll be able to activate your teleportation ability without having to select it from your quickbar over and over again. Simply hold down the left-shift button, then left-click on where you want to teleport to, and voila. This can work wonders if you're attempting to escape from a messy combat situation.

Team Teleport

Team Teleport is essentially Teleport, save that any teammate standing near you when you pick your destination will get sucked along and pop out with you. This sounds like a great deal, but the endurance cost will prevent you from using this as a true travel power, at least in large groups, since each additional person you teleport will further drain your endurance. You can try to use this to escape from a combat gone wrong, but be sure that all of your teammates are near you, or else you'll be leaving people behind and splitting your party in two.

Other Pool Powers

Concealment

The Concealment pool has several powers with the same general effect--they make you harder for the enemy to notice. The can be useful, but only under the right circumstances. Stealth, the basic power, makes you harder to hit, but makes you move much more slowly than normal. Invisibility makes you, again, hard to see, but leaves you unable to attack. Phase Shift makes you invisible and invulnerable, but you cannot use powers on enemies, and you cannot Rest. These powers are good for scouting out an area (something that is rarely necessary) or for a quick escape. There are other powers that are good for escape that have more general utility than Concealment. While Concealment has some minor benefits, your slots are probably better spent elsewhere.

Fighting

The Fighting pool has two attack powers and two defensive powers, all designed for close combat. The attack powers aren't all that amazing, as most heroes who spend any time at all in combat will have more than enough powers available from their regular pools. Boxing is a good alternative to Brawl if you are using that power a great deal, doing a bit more damage, but without much more cost. Picking one of the attack powers can also be a way to add an emergency attack power to a hero who doesn't have such powers in their pool (such as some Defenders or Controllers).

The real benefit of the Fighting pool comes in its defensive powers. For very little cost, Tough and Weave can give a significant bonus to your defenses, especially if you add a few enhancement slots. These are great for a purely defensive Tanker who has saved some extra slots by skipping attacks, or for a Scrapper who wants to solo a lot.

Fitness

Fitness has two pairs of powers. The first two, Swift and Hurdle, increase your running or jump speed, respectively, by a little bit. The difference isn't major, but it is noticeable. If you later take a similar power such as Combat Jumping, you will find that the bonuses stack. If you are only going to choose one of the two, however, you might be better off taking the opposite--if you are planning on taking Leaping, choose Swift, and if you are planning on Speed, take Hurdle. Doing so will take the edge off of your weakness rather giving an insignificant boost to one of your strengths. There is nothing worse than being super-speedy, but still not jumping high enough to get over that wall!

The second pair of powers are absolutely fantastic, especially if you devote a few enhancement slots to them. Health speeds up your healing rate, and Stamina speeds up your endurance recovery. These are always-on effects, and cost you no endurance to use. If properly enhanced, the benefits can be remarkable. This is especially beneficial for players who plan to play solo, as the biggest hassle of going it alone is sitting around waiting to heal. No solo Tanker should ever be without these!

Leadership

The Leadership pool has several powers with similar effects. They create point-blank area-of-effect boosts to damage, accuracy, or defense. That means that when you have these active, all teammates that are near you (as well as you yourself) receive the bonus. The cost is low, so it isn't hard to keep them toggled on. The only drawback is that the bonus isn't huge--if you are playing with a small group of people, you would be better off to use the endurance for an attack or two. If, however, you are playing with a really big group, the bonuses start to add up. It is also worth mentioning that multiple heroes using this power at the same time will cause the effects to stack. Consider taking Leadership if you plan on playing with a large group most of the time, but avoid it otherwise.

Medicine

The Medicine pool comprises several healing skills. Aid Other and Aid Self are basic heals. They do the job, but are not substitutes for regular healing powers. They take longer to use, are interrupted if you are hit during the four or five second healing process, and require that all parties hold still until the healing is done. They can be quite effective as a skill to use outside of combat to lessen downtime. They can both be used in combat in a pinch, but it takes timing and skill, and the effects won't be as strong as any of the regular healing powers. Resuscitate is a basic revive power, bringing a dead hero back to life. Like most such powers, it is best saved until after combat. Stimulant frees a hero (not yourself) from various disabling effects, but again, it is tough to use in combat.

This power pool can be quite useful, either as a supplement for a regular Healer, a set of 'in emergencies' powers, or for a solo player wanting to decrease the time he spends healing. Just understand that it will not turn you into a team Healer.

Presence

The Presence power pool has two pairs of powers that serve to affect enemies in combat, either causing them to attack or flee. The first pair, Challenge and Provoke, are both variations of Taunt (see the Tanker strategies for specifics on using them). They induce 'artificial damage' on an enemy to get him to attack you. If you already have Taunt, you have absolutely no need for Challenge, as it is simply a lesser form of the same thing. If you do not have access to Taunt, and have no other pulling powers (unlikely), Challenge can serve. Provoke works just like Taunt, except that it is an-area-of effect ability centered on you. It is absolutely vital for any Tanker that wants to play on a team, but a bit dangerous for anybody else.

The second pair of powers cause an enemy to flee in fear. Intimidate works on a single villain, while Invoke Panic is a point-blank area-of-effect, working on all foes near you. They can be handy as a form of crowd control, but only if used properly (in other words, don't send the enemies your team is trying to kill running unless you are nearing defeat). These abilities can be handy for a solo player who must function without a Controller. They will get a solo Scrapper out of a dangerous situation, or keep enemies away from a solitary Blaster.

Chapter 3: Going it Alone--Solo Tactics

Blaster

Blasters have one benefit over many of the other archetypes when it comes to soloing: the things that make for an effective solo Blaster are the same things that make him effective on a team. A fully efficient solo Blaster isn't all that different from an ideal team blaster, and a balanced, middle of the road character can do both quite well.

Your advantages and weaknesses remain the same when you go it alone. You are still capable of dealing massive amounts of damage, and you are still fragile as a flower when it comes to taking hits. To succeed, you will need to do your basic job (dealing damage) while avoiding taking as much as possible. If you can manage to stay well out of melee range, you will do fine.

Staying out of melee range, though, is the hard part. The simplest technique for staying out of contact is called kiting. When you fly a kite, you sprint around with the kite trailing behind you; that is exactly what happens when you kite an enemy. You run away and they follow. You pause to throw out a couple of ranged blasts, then run again until they recharge. Be careful not to run too far or without watching, or you may run into a new group of enemies. This technique is simple enough, and you will be doing it a lot early in the game, but it will not be as effective at higher levels when your enemies learn to shoot, run, fly, and root you in place.

Use a power like Electric Fence to 'root' your foes, allowing you to finish them off at range.

The second technique is called rooting. A 'root' is a power that keeps your enemy rooted in place. Electric Fence, Freeze Ray and Web Grenade are all root powers. The idea is simple--root your enemy and blast him from a distance. Where things get complicated is when your enemy has friends, and your enemy almost always has friends. There are several ways to approach this problem by rooting. The simplest is to root one enemy (preferably one you relies on melee for its biggest damage), and then blast the heck out of his friend before he gets to you. This doesn't work as well with larger groups of villains, but it is a start. The most effective technique is to blend rooting and kiting. Root one enemy, and then kite his friends around nearby. When your root power recharges, root another enemy and continue to kite the rest. It takes a while, but you can take out a good sized group this way if you are careful. While this technique is better than kiting alone, it too will begin to fail you as you rise in levels, and when you venture into Hazard Zones.

The best way of keeping yourself alive long enough to blast is with travel powers. Speed works, as does Leaping, but they have the same risks as kiting does in dangerous Zones (it is easy to run into additional enemies). Teleport works well, too--you can attack your enemies, blast them until they get close, then teleport someplace further away and repeat the process. The most effective travel power for solo blasting is Flight. Not only do you get a nice defensive bonus from Hover, you can simply go straight up and stay there while your victims mill around beneath you. Just be ready to root any flying enemies!

Most of the time, you will end up combining two or more of the above techniques. You might, for example, come up on a group of three enemies. Root the toughest, then kite the other two until you are out of the first's range. Jump up and Hover and take out the two weaker enemies, by which time the first will have shaken the root and come running up.

Power choice isn't that vital, as long as you ensure that you have at least one rooting power. As with a team blaster, avoid area-of-effect attacks that are centered on yourself, and avoid anything that requires that a target be within melee range. When assigning enhancements, your number one priority should be on accuracy. Damage and power drain are irrelevant if you can't hit what you're blasting.

Controller

Don't.

Ok, well, you shouldn't, at any rate. It's a spectacularly bad idea for people who think they might ever want to solo to become a Controller, as this class possesses so little health, and has such poor damage output, that you'll easily be taking ten times longer than a Blaster or Scrapper to kill any given foe. Your primary powers, with rare exceptions, are intended only to load up your opponents with negative effects, like Immobilization, damage reduction, or whatever; almost none of them will actually deal any appreciable damage against an opponent of the same level as yourself. Your secondary power sets are even less help, as they are all intended to buff your teammates, and will rarely have any effect on either your enemies or yourself.

The Controller class has been designed from the ground up to assist a team of players as they go about their business. All of your powers are intended to fit into this role, and going solo is about as far away as you can get from this objective.

Defender

Defenders are most like Blasters when it comes to soloing, in that they deal most of their damage from a distance, and are thus fairly capable of pulling single enemies out of groups with their sniper powers and engaging them solo. All of the tactics outlined for Blasters apply to Controllers, since most of their secondary power sets are the same or similar to a Blaster's primary power sets. Unfortunately, the very fact that they're secondary sets means that they will by definition be less powerful and effective than when a Blaster uses them, which means that, all other things being equal, a Defender will deal less damage with a power than a Blaster will. In fact, in the power sets that overlap between the Defender and the Blaster (Electrical Blast and Energy Blast), a Defender will do around 65% of the damage that a Blaster would.

This is unfortunate, but unavoidable; that's just the way the game is played. There isn't really much you can do with your enhancements to change it, either; you'll probably already be loading out your offensive powers with all the damage and accuracy enhancements you get. Since your primary power sets are all buffs, it's not a matter of shifting emphasis to your damage-dealing powers; they use completely different sets of enhancements, in most cases. Later on, if you find yourself soloing more often than joining parties, you can spend your money on the expensive dual-origin and single-origin enhancements for your offensive powers, and use your found enhancements on your buffs, but if you're doing this for a Defender, you might want to just start over as a Blaster, since that's obviously going to be a better fit for your style of play.

Due to the fact that most of the buffs from a Defender's primary power set can only be used on an ally, not yourself; you're effectively eliminating half of your available powers when you choose to fly solo. It's still doable, if you're careful, but it isn't really the strength of the class.

Scrapper

Scrappers are perhaps the class that's best suited to the requirements of successful soloing. With a decent amount of hit points and excellent offensive output, Scrappers can dish out the hurt on enemies quite well as a solo artist, and, like Blasters, can switch back and forth from teams to solo work without much in the way of special planning or enhancement modification. The weakness of the Scrapper that doesn't always appear when you're in a team will definitely become apparent when you attempt to solo for long periods of time, however. This weakness is plainly put: Scrappers aren't very versatile.

Scrappers are designed to deal massive damage to a single target, which is well and good in a team, where your Tankers should be keeping the attention of most of the targets so that you can focus on one at a time. Unfortunately, as you'll note, most enemies in the game come in groups, and despite your best efforts at intimidation, you're going to find it fairly difficult to convince these groups to stand back and watch while you pound the snot out of their weakest members mano-a-mano. The lack of ranged pulling powers for most Scrappers will often put you into situations where you have to engage every enemy in a group without being able to break said group up. Thus, soloing as a Scrapper means taking on groups of three or four enemies at a time, and hopefully surviving to tell the tale.

You'll have to be careful as a solo Scrapper not to engage too many enemies at once.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, Scrappers are designed to deal damage, and thus don't possess the kind of crowd control powers that Controllers or even Blasters possess. The best you can hope for from your primary powers as far as added effects go is either a knockdown with some of your late-game powers, or reducing your opponents' accuracy or defense or what have you, depending on the primary power set that you've chosen. You'll almost never be able to truly incapacitate any of your foes, save via killing them, so successful soloing as a Scrapper is often determined by your ability to judge which groups of enemies are out of your league, and your ability to resist going for the "big score," no matter how tempting it may be. Although that group of two bosses and four lieutenants at a level matching your own looks like big experience, you will die if you attempt to engage them. Trust us on this.

Speaking in incredibly general terms, a solo Scrapper should be able to take on a group of same-level enemies if they consist of a lieutenant and two minions, or as many as five minions, and survive with enough life to make regenerating for the next fight a relatively painless procedure. The groups of a boss and two lieutenants that occasionally pop up on the street should be avoided unless they're two or three levels below you. You'll have to adjust this rough formula for yourself; it mostly depends on your choice of secondary power set. Invulnerability and Regeneration both give you self-heal power in the first three choices, while with Dark Armor you'll have to wait until unlocking your fifth power to be able to heal yourself. Super Reflexes doesn't give you any power that will let you heal yourself, making it a poor choice for Scrappers that wish to solo to fill up the dead time between teams. On the other hand, Fast Healing and Reconstruction make Regeneration an incredibly useful power set for solo Scrappers.

(It's also worth noting that you'll likely become more efficient as you advance far enough to buy and use dual-origin (at level 12) and single-origin (at level 17, though good luck obtaining one that early) enhancements. As you upgrade your powers, and obtain new ones, you may want to try being a bit more bold on your solo adventures.)

Although you can't pull enemies like a character with a ranged attack, Scrappers can still attempt to perform hit-and-runs on groups of enemies, by floating in, taking down one or two members of the group, then activating your travel power or Sprint and quickly retreating. The efficacy of this technique usually depends on the power and type of enemy you choose to confront. Hellions, Skulls, and other street gangs can generally be taken on without too much trouble, but groups of high-damage opponents like the Vahzilok get exponentially more dangerous with each additional foe.

Tanker

Tankers are not the most efficient of archetypes for solo players. Tankers are made to take damage while other players lay down the hurt, and this will slow you down when you play alone. This is offset by the fact that Tankers rarely need to play alone unless they really want to; there is always a group willing to take on a skilled Tanker.

Your biggest problem is that your attacks are not very efficient. Your typical mid-level attacks do about the same as a Scrapper's beginning attacks. Your offensive moves cost more endurance, and tend to recharge slowly. What that boils down to is that it takes you much longer to actually kill your foes than it does for most other classes. Your hit points and defenses mean that you can survive the longer fights, balancing this out. It also means that you will have a lot of downtime, waiting for your hit points and endurance to restore themselves. Slow fights and lots of down time makes for slow leveling.

There are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself, but be warned: the more efficient you make soloing, the less efficient you will make team play. Effective solo Tankers have completely different powers and enhancement slots than a good team player. It is certainly possible to have blend of the two that works in either situation, but you won't be quite as efficient at either.

The first thing to consider is defense. Tankers have tons of defense, naturally. While a team Tanker will focus on defense almost entirely, solo Tankers need to save some power slots, enhancement slots, and some of their endurance for causing damage. Choose a power set that has lots of zero-endurance automatic defenses (Invulnerability is good). Zero endurance means that you will still have enough juice to actually hurt your foes. Automatic means that you won't be helpless when you are Stunned, as toggled powers all turn themselves off when this happens. If you do take toggled powers, be sure to learn which ones do what so you can have only the necessary shield on when you wade in.

Next, look at offense. A purely team-focused Tanker might take only one or two attacks, as he isn't there for doing damage. A balanced Tanker should have two or three, but focus their enhancements in defense. A Tanker planning on a mostly solo career, however, still shouldn't have more than a few attacks. Brawl is free--that's one. Get your power's two basic attacks, plus either a high-damage attack, or an area-of-effect power that comes with special effects (Stun, disorient, freeze, etc). You still don't need every attack available--getting that many spreads your enhancements way too thin, and will just sap your endurance too fast.

For other powers, choose a good travel power, preferably Combat Jumping, which comes with a defensive bonus. Take the Fitness pool as well. Swift or Hurdle might be nice, but the higher-level Fitness powers, Health and Stamina, will dramatically decrease your downtime, and make your life much, much easier. Taunt is still important--you will need it to pull foes and to call them back if they run, but a purely solo Tanker won't have much use for Provoke.

Once you have chosen your powers, think about your enhancement slots. You need to seriously boost your offenses if you are going to be able to take out enemies, but you shouldn't neglect your defenses, either. When soloing with a Tanker, it is important that you use the best enhancements you can lay your hands on, upgrading them whenever you can.

Use your offensive enhancements to remove the weaknesses of your attacks, not to enhance their strengths. Slow, high-damage attack powers, like Battle Axe or Stone Melee already do tons of damage. Boost them with Accuracy enhancements. The extra damage you get by not missing with your infrequent attacks is more significant than that you would get from 8% more damage. If your attacks are fast, but without much damage (like Super Strength), then missing isn't as much of a tragedy. Speeding them up more would be a waste as well. Add just one or two accuracy enhancements, and make the rest damage. Naturally, it doesn't hurt to add a single endurance cost reducer to each attack, but don't go overboard.

When you get into combat, be smart. Pull carefully with Taunt, getting rid of minions one by one before going after a boss. Remember that you can make ranged attackers come right up to you by Taunting them and stepping out of sight behind a box or around a corner. Once you are actually in combat, attack the enemies that cause status effects (like Stun or sleep) first. Once they are down, go for the toughest enemies next. Finish off the weaklings (who probably won't be that dangerous to you with your defenses up) last.

Keep plenty of health, endurance, and resurrection inspirations ready on hand, and actually use them. If your inspiration slots are full, you aren't using enough! If you find yourself in a fight you aren't certain you can win, run. You will gain experience faster by healing and trying a different approach than you will by dying and incurring debt. If you know you are going to die, and can't get away, then try to run back the way you came, dying out of sight of your enemies' original position. With luck, they will go back, letting you use an inspiration to resurrect yourself safely.

Chapter 4: All for One--Team Tactics

Teaming Up--Basic Team Tactics

Playing as a team can be a mixed bag. A poor team can spin their wheels for hours, and not do anything but get each other killed. A good, balanced team, though, with a skilled leader, can perform amazing feats. A skilled team that works together can wipe out hordes of enemies that the individual members normally wouldn't even think about fighting, or can play street-sweeper, clearing massive numbers of enemies and really raking in the experience.

Finding or Forming a Team

Finding a team seems simple, but there are a few hints to make it easier. The first thing to do is to open your Team window (click on Team above the chat box) and click on Seek Team. This lists your character as looking for a team. Next, broadcast a message. The broadcast channel is technically the correct place for doing so, but it has become acceptable to use the request channel as well. You need to inform people that you are looking for a team, as well as exactly what you are. To make it easy, bind a key (P in the example below) with something like: /bind p "$archetype of Security Level $level seeking a team!" Don't make it too long, or people won't read it--and your origin isn't all that important; leave it out (see the appendix for more details on binding). Go fight solo, and, while you do, broadcast this message perhaps once every five minutes. Don't do it more often--people spamming the channels won't get picked for teams.

If you don't get an invitation, look around. Try clicking on the 'Find Members' button on the team screen. If there are several players around your level looking for teams, consider starting your own team. Note that while you can freely send invitations to people looking for teams, it is rather bad manners to send an invitation to somebody that is not. If you want them on your team, send them a /tell instead. Try to create a balanced team. An 'ideal' team has at least one Tanker to take the hits, a Defender to heal the Tanker, and a Controller to keep the extra villains at bay. Add in a mix of Scrappers and Blasters--at least one or two--to lay on the damage. Depending on where you're fighting, you may want more members, or you may not. More members let you fight more efficiently, but if you are fighting villains that five people can handle easily, having eight just dilutes the experience rewards.

Defining the Roles

One of the first things that any group needs to do is to define the roles of its members, and to clarify its basic strategies.

Basic team strategy works this way. One person 'pulls,' getting the attention of the enemies. The Controller uses sleep/freeze/Stun or similar powers to Hold most of them in place. The Tanker moves in and uses Taunt/Provoke to keep the attention of those that the Controller missed. The Tanker stays in the midst of the action, ensuring that all of the villains are attacking him and him alone. The Blasters and Scrappers lay down the hurt--it is their job to kill the enemies that the Tanker is keeping busy. The Controller/Defender heals the party as they get hurt, focusing on the Tanker, and the Defender does what he can to bolster the party. Done this way, a huge mass of strong enemies can be distilled into experience and enhancements in mere seconds.

Using the basic strategy is ideal, but situations in the field are rarely ideal. That is where it becomes important to define the roles of team members carefully. The most common problem is that one or more of the archetypes are not present in your team. If you don't have a Tanker, then the Controller will have to focus on crowd control, keeping the bad guys in place. Without a Controller, the Tanker will have to keep track of the entire horde, meaning that he will need more healing attention. If neither Controller nor Tanker is available, a Scrapper will have to suffice, and the group will have to be more cautious with its pulls.

Two specific roles that must be defined are the puller and the Master Assist (MA). Unless you are fighting baddies that con blue or green to the whole party, there should always be one, and only one puller. Multiple people pulling at once is a very, very common way to get the team wiped out. Designate a single person--usually a Blaster with a sniper power (like Zapp, Sniper Rifle, or Blazing Bolt, although regular single-target powers work in a pinch), or a Tanker using Taunt. That person will move toward the enemies, select the next target, and attack them. For more detailed advice on how to pull, see the section below. Remember--correct pulling is vital to surviving a dangerous situation!

The last thing to make clear is when a member has a beneficial special power that requires special tactics. Making sure this happens is the responsibility of the person who has the power. State to the entire team exactly what your power is, and exactly how they need to adapt to your power. An example would be Smoke. Smoke is a power that blinds an entire group of enemies. They will stand there and ignore the party. A puller can pull enemies out of a Smoked group of strong enemies one by one while the others stand there blind, not moving. You can certainly see the benefits of such a power! Unfortunately, one area-of-effect power--be it range, point blank, cone, whatever, will wake all of the enemies up at once. If somebody has a power like Smoke, then, they need to tell the team, "I have Smoke. I can keep all of the enemies in place, but do not use any area of effect powers or they will wake up." Don't assume the team knows--and make sure you tell people who join the team later, as well.

Targeting Made Easy--Master Assist

Master Assist can be a very, very handy tool. The idea behind it is that if you target another player instead of an enemy, your attacks will automatically be directed to that player's target. If, for example, you have three Blasters and a Tanker, and all of the Blasters target the Tanker rather than villains, any powers the Blasters use will be directed at the Tanker's target. This allows a large, diverse group to concentrate their firepower, taking out powerful enemies quickly. Without it, each member will tend to fire at the enemy that they consider the greatest threat, resulting in chaos instead of clean, quick kills.

Choosing the MA can be tricky. Controllers are a bad choice--they will often be switching their target to non-combatant enemies to hold them back. Defenders, too, are a bad choice, as they often won't be targeting the bad guys at all during a fight. A skilled Blaster can do the trick, as they are focusing on the enemies. Keep in mind, though, that some Blasters change targets from time to time to take out an attacker that is getting too close, or to use a root power.

The best choices for the MA are usually Tankers and Scrappers. Scrappers are right there in the midst of the fight, and their main job is to inflict damage. Inflicting damage is relatively easy, meaning that they have time to keep track of what is going on and change targets when necessary. Using MA on a Tanker, on the other hand, has the advantage that you will always be targeting the enemy that he is Taunting; this makes it much easier for him to keep control of the enemy horde. The only problem is that he sometimes switches targets to call back a villain that has wandered off. As long as you have a capable Tanker who knows to switch right back to the main target, this shouldn't be a problem.

Pulling for Dummies

The idea of pulling is simple. You attack an enemy, and he attacks you back. You back up, and he follows. When you back up far enough, you will have 'pulled' him to your group.

Why Pull?

Why not just go to the enemies and fight them where they're at? It is important to understand why enemies attack to realize why pulling is so vital. An enemy will attack if 1) they are damaged, 2) a nearby friend takes damage, or 3) a hero gets close to them. Each hero has an invisible aggro (short for 'aggression/aggressive') Zone around them; when an enemy is inside of this Zone, they aggro (attack) the hero. Each attack also has a type of Zone--when an attack strikes an enemy, other enemies within this Zone will respond as well. The Zone around a hero is much, much larger than the Zone around an attack. Sniper attacks and Taunt have very, very small Zones, meaning that only the enemies very close to an attacked friend will respond with him. Tankers have the largest aggro Zones of any hero--if anything wanders anywhere close to a Tanker, it will attack him!

The benefit of pulling is that it uses one of these low-response attacks to separate out a few enemies from a group. If you see a group of ten very tough enemies down the hall, a skilled puller can often use a sniper attack to get just two or three to respond, allowing the team to take on these difficult targets a few at a time instead of all at once.

How to Pull

The first step in successful pulling is choosing the right target. Pick one that has wandered off on his own.

If your team has designated you at the puller, you will first need to select an enemy to attack. Your goal when fighting strong enemies is to attempt the pull on the one bad guy that will bring the fewest friends with him when he responds. Look closely at the group of enemies you will be attacking. If you are in an open area where you can move around, you will want to find a small bunch of enemies separated a little from the main horde. If you are in a building with no room to maneuver, you may have to wait a bit until the villains move around and create one of these clumps. Always try to select minions before lieutenants or bosses, as bosses tend to bring the whole group with them regardless. Your target will be the member of the little separated clump that is closest to you.

If you have a Controller who has Stunned the entire group of enemies, then your targets will be easier--choose the closest enemy that is not Stunned.

One you have selected your target, get ready to attack. The best pulling powers are either a Tanker's Taunt (especially with a range enhancement), or a Blaster's sniper power. If you have neither, then a regular, single attack will suffice. Never pull with an area-of-effect power; not only will you bring them all, they will all attack you! Fire off your power from as far away as you can. The very instant it goes off, back up. You want the enemies to come as far from the main enemy group as possible before your team attacks, and that means backing up--preferably around a corner. If an enemy stops and responds with a ranged attack himself, get out of sight. He will move forward until he can see you again.

This sounds complicated, it is true, but like any art, it becomes almost instinctive once you get good at it. Keep in mind that no matter how good the puller, no matter how appropriate the power, sometimes things go badly and the entire horde will come pouring down. Being careful will minimize this, but just be aware that it happens to everybody from time to time. A very important thing to keep in mind is that when a pull goes bad, it will stay bad. If you try a pull on one villain and the whole group comes, you will no longer be able to separate out individuals from that group; the entire group will always respond together from that point on.

Supporting the Puller--How Not to Spoil a Pull

It is incredibly easy for a reckless hero to spoil a perfect pull, bringing a mass of enemies down on the party. The first mistake is to get too close. Let the pulled villain come to you! Melee heroes have a disturbing tendency to rush forward and attack as soon as the villain clears his enemies. That means that the entire team will have to fight closer to the enemy horde, which is a recipe for disaster; remember that a Tanker's aggro Zone is huge, and that some Blaster powers can bring in other enemies from a long ways away. Some Blasters have an equally irritating habit of firing their powers too soon. If the enemy can get closer before you attack, by all means let him!

If you are pulling a particularly strong enemy, then the best place for the team is completely out of sight around a corner. The puller can make his move, run back around the corner, and lead the villain right into the midst of the party.

On Being a Leader

The leader of a team is the first person on the team list, easily recognized by the star next to their name. You will eventually end up leading a team. If you form a team yourself, you'll be the leader. If you join a team and the leader quits, the next person down automatically becomes the leader.

When to Lead

Leadership in City of Heroes, just like in real life, is one of the toughest spots to successfully fill. In addition to all of your regular combat duties, you have to keep the team together.

It will be up to you to make sure that roles are assigned. You designate the MA. You designate the puller. Don't be arbitrary; if one person says that they aren't good at pulling, and there is another option, listen to them.

Another duty will generally be to decide the team's direction and select the current mission. You will normally lead the team physically from place to place. Remember when doing so that you are leading, not racing. If two people have Super Speed, don't go over walls that require Fly. Turn around from time to time to make sure that nobody is falling behind; slow down or wait if they are.

Choosing which missions to take is sometimes tricky. Ask the group what they want, first. In general, door missions (where you go inside a building) are the most entertaining. Hunting missions ('Kill ten Skulls in Atlas Park') are both the least rewarding and the least fun, but tend to build up and clog up your free mission slots. If you see that several people have hunting missions all in the same Zone, go ahead and do them. This will open several more mission slots for the team's next Contacts run. Street sweeping can lead to the best experience. Street sweeping means hunting in the streets without a mission.

Contrary to popular opinion, street sweeping's best experience does not come from finding and killing reds and purples - it comes from mowing down hordes of enemies without stopping. Each group you are with will have a 'sweet spot,' and successful street sweeping comes from finding this sweet spot. Go out and kill some villains, paying attention to the level displayed in the target window. If you get through it unscathed, go find some a level or so higher and repeat the process. Eventually you will come to villains that you can kill, but require lots of recovery time afterward before you can fight again. The sweet spot is to hunt in an area of town where enemies are one or two levels below this. For example, if you are killing 12s with no trouble, go find some 14s. No problem? Try some 15s--tough, but you don't have to rest. Try 16s; you survive, but have rest after each fight. In this example, your sweet spot would be villains of the 14th and 15th level. Find an area where they spawn regularly and hunt there for the best experience in the game. Hazard Zones are particularly effective street sweeping areas. You might get better experience for a purple boss, yes, but if you have to spend two minutes looking for him and one resting afterward, you end up getting much less over time.

Here is one big secret to successful leadership: You are the leader, but the team belongs to everybody. The only real 'power' that comes with the role of leader comes from the goodwill of the team, derived from the need to have a person to make the decisions. If you act like a jerk or a tyrant, you will find yourself leading an empty team. If everybody wants to hunt the streets and you want to do door missions, listen to the team. If one person says that they are not good a certain task, listen to them.

Most of the time, the decisions you make as the team leader are going to be obvious. Assigning roles is usually pretty simple. The time that being a leader becomes trying is if you have a team member that is obnoxious or reckless. Be polite--if he is, for example, a Scrapper that runs up to pulled villains too early, tell him nicely to wait until they get to the team. If he keeps doing it, warn him more firmly. If he refuses to listen, however, you have to be willing to kick him from the team before he ruins the experience for everybody.

Here, though, is where the hard part comes in. If you ignore reckless players, if you refuse to specify strategies for a particular fight, then the team will fall into chaos, nothing will get done, and everyone will likely end up in the hospital. If, on the other hand, you rule with an iron fist, laying down the law and berating people for each and every mistake, the team will abandon you and probably won't want to group with you in the future. It is a tough line to walk. The best advice is simply to follow the team's lead. If they know what they are doing, then step back and let them do it--keep your mouth shut. If they are inexperienced, teach, and be patient--don't expect them to play like veterans (of course you could always point them to this fabulous guide...).

When Not to Lead

You're the boss, right? You know all the secrets--you're in charge, right? Wrong--you are just another player who happens to be first on the list. You make the decisions only because somebody has to, and playing rock/paper/scissors at every intersection is tiresome.

The best quality of a good leader is that he knows when not to lead. Experienced players don't need to have every fight choreographed. If your team knows what they are doing, then let them do it, only stepping in to call for a rest or when a particularly tough upcoming fight needs some direction.

Likewise, physically leading the team through the Zone is great, but if you don't know the Zone, its hazards, and its shortcuts, then let somebody else lead the team through the streets.

Another pit lots of leaders fall into is not knowing which fights to just 'turn the troops loose' on. If you are fighting a warehouse full of oranges and reds, then you need careful, skillful planning. If you are outside mowing down hordes of blues, though, don't try and make everyone use MA and good pulling--you'll just annoy them. Just let the team wade in and get dirty.

Remember, the best leaders know to shut up except when they are really needed--follow this philosophy, and you will find that people are more likely to listen when you do speak up.

Archetype Tactics

Blaster

Blasters have the distinction of being one of the easiest archetypes to play in a group. Most of the time, all you have to do is stay out of the way and lay down the hurt. Blasters can, however, be one of the most dangerous archetypes to a team if they are played wrong. There are lots of 'do nots' for playing a Blaster in a team.

First of all, you have the best range, and it is tempting to start blasting your enemies the instant you see them. Do Not! Unless you are the designated puller (the person in charge of choosing a target and getting their attention), you should wait until the enemy is as close to the group as possible before doing anything at all. If an enemy is running toward the group and is near other enemies, even enemies that you cannot see, they will ignore him and let him go by. If, however, an enemy is hit by a blast of energy near any of his friends, they will all come running to help him. Now, instead of fighting a couple of villains, you are fighting a dozen.

Blaster Rule #1: Don't attack too early.

Next, Blasters have those fantastic area-of-effect powers. They can attack all of the enemies nearby, all at once. Fantastic, right? Do Not! The situations in which you can safely use that area-of-effect power are much rarer than most people realize. If you are working with a Tanker, then using an area-of-effect attack on enemies that have not been provoked means that he will have to struggle to keep them from killing you. If you have a Controller that is holding most of the enemies at bay, then hitting them with an area-of-effect power will wake them all right back up again. Finally, you don't have control over exactly what is hit by an area-of-effect power. If you use it anywhere near a door, corner, or side corridor, you may find that the 'area' extends beyond your sight. In other words, if you use your area-of-effect attack on that solitary Cog near a door, you may also hit half a dozen enemies on the other side of the door that you did not see. The only--only--only time it is safe to use area-of-effect powers is when you know where each and every enemy is, there is no possibility that they might break away from whatever is Holding them (be it Provoke or a Controller), and there is nowhere that extra enemies might be hiding. That is exceedingly rare. Area-of-effect powers are the number one cause of wiped out teams. Use them with care.

Blaster Rule #2: Be careful with area of effect.

Finally, we have all those nifty special effect powers. Roots, fear, and so forth can be wonderfully effective powers, but pay attention to what the team is doing and learn to use them at the right time. A root (a power that holds an enemy in place) can really save the day if you call too many enemies, or if you need to back off a bit. If an enemy comes for you and you need to get back to attack range, it can hold him in place until you can finish him off. If, however, you have a Tanker taunt-pulling enemies out of a horde and bringing them to the group, rooting them is the last thing you want to do. If the group is bringing the enemies close, let them--you don't want the melee folks to have to get closer to the horde!

Be cautious with area of effect (AoE) spells, as sometimes hitting all of the enemies is not a good idea.

Perhaps the best example of a misused power is Rain of Fire (and its cousin, Ice Storm). These area-of-effect, damaging powers have the benefit of instilling fear into any enemy hit. Take the standard precautions with area-of-effect spells--don't use it unless you know what you are going to hit, and unless you know that your enemies are all locked down. Unfortunately, many, many people use Rain of Fire as an initial attack. This has the effect of causing your enemies to flee for their lives. Now your team has to either chase them down one by one, or wait for them to come back. Useful, eh?

Blaster Rule #3: Use special effect powers appropriately.

As long as you follow those three basic rules, it will be tough to do much wrong. Follow your team's lead, target off the appropriate person, and do lots of damage. Throw out your special effect or area-of-effect powers when they will help, but not hinder your team.

Controller

As a Controller, you have two responsibilities: keep as many enemies as possible Paralyzed, Held, Immobilized, or what have you, so that they can't hurt your teammates; and to buff and heal your teammates with your secondary powers. The balance between these two tasks will obviously change depending on what kind of group you're in; if you have two Empathy Defenders hanging around, you obviously won't need to be responsible for healing, but if there aren't any Defenders at all, then your teammates will be looking to you for whatever meager healing powers you can shoot their way. For this reason, getting your secondary power set's healing power (assuming you didn't choose Force Field) should be one of the first things you do, assuming it's not available at level one.

As far as your primary controlling powers go, though, these can be broken down into a few different categories.

Single-Target Powers

First up is the single-target control power. There are quite a few of these; the first power that you obtain is almost definitely going to be something that Immobilizes a single target. These are safe powers that can be used repeatedly without having to worry about drawing too much aggro from an enemy group. They have a much better chance of actually connecting than do your area-of-effect powers, so you'll want to make sure that you use them on a target that is actually worth the attention. Their increased accuracy makes them a better bet than area-of-effect powers to use on boss-level enemies, but you can also use them on a target that's pounding away on another weak member of your party, such as a Blaster. In general, though, use these on the biggest threat, or on whomever among your enemies has the most powerful melee attack. Many of these powers still let your enemies use their ranged attacks, but these are generally much less damaging than their melee attacks, especially as you begin to face enemies in the upper teen levels.

Area-of-Effect (AOE) Powers

The second group of powers consists of area-of-effect control powers. These are usually targeted at a single enemy, but will affect every enemy near that target. At least, they'll affect every enemy in theory; these powers have built-in accuracy penalties to ensure that you can't use them to lock down everything in sight, so you shouldn't expect to turn the tide of a battle every time you use one of these. Used correctly, though, they can be tremendously helpful, but you'll want to do some rudimentary coordination with your group to figure out how to utilize them.

When you're one of the higher-level members of your team, and you're facing enemies a level or two beneath you, your accuracy penalty will usually be offset by the bonus you get from the level difference. Your enemies will also have a smaller chance to hit you, and will deal less damage, thus increasing your survivability. In these situations, you can feel free to be your team's pointman, running up to enemy groups, blasting them with your area-of-effect power, and then retreating back behind your group as they run in for the kill. You won't get every enemy in instances like these, even with your accuracy boost, and you will get the attention of every enemy within the area of effect of your power, so you may want to retreat back to where they can't use their ranged weapons on you. Your team will need to make sure to quickly draw the attention of the enemies in these situations.

If you're facing off against enemies of equal or higher level than you, however, you'll want to save your area-of-effect powers until the fight has already begun, and your Tankers and Scrappers have gotten the attention of everyone. You won't be able to hit everyone with your AOE powers, but those that you do connect with will either be incapacitated or be forced to use their ranged weapons. You'll still draw aggro by doing this, albeit less than when you use it at the beginning of the fight, so be careful.

Of course, you'll need to gauge the efficacy of these powers before using them repeatedly. They're generally the most expensive powers in your power set, and using them over and over on enemies a few levels above you will likely drain your endurance to no particular benefit.

Self-Targeted Powers

Most power sets have a power or two that are centered on yourself, and will affect any enemy standing near your location. While these powers are generally, well, powerful, and can have some neat effects, they're dangerous to use due to the facts that, ipso facto, you're going to have to get close to your enemies to use them, and that you're generally going to be the most fragile member of your party.

As with AOE powers, self-targeted powers have an accuracy penalty, making the tactical situation similar. If you can sprint into a group of low-level enemies and get off a self-targeted power, you can generally get out with only minor damage, due to the fact that these powers usually prevent any enemy affected from attacking at all. When taking on higher-level enemies, though, they're best saved for after your team has already engaged a sizable group of foes. If no enemies have targeted you for the beatdown, you can sidle up to one of your Tankers, let off your power, and retreat back a ways to enjoy the show.

Location Powers

Location-based powers are fantastic for slowing up many opponents at once, without the accuracy penalty of an area-of-effect power.

Location-targeted powers, such as Quicksand, Smoke, and Ice Slick, are safe to use before a battle, as they don't target any enemies, and are instead plopped on the ground, and thus won't draw aggro to you. These are fantastic to use at choke points, such as narrow hallways, but you usually won't have to worry about precise placement so long as you lay it down roughly between you and the group of foes that you're about to face off against. These work especially well when you have a few Blasters in your team, as most location powers will Slow your enemies, or knock them down, as they attempt to run in and use their melee attacks, thus letting your ranged teammates get in a few free shots and have an added degree of control over the battle. Your melee teammates aren't affected by location powers, so they'll be able to freely travel over them.

Summoning Powers

Most of the Controller primary power sets will have one or two summoning abilities, which let you create a minion from the ether to serve you for a while. While these pets can be quite powerful, and act autonomously, you have to be sure that you don't value them more than your teammates. Save your buffs and heals for your living friends, and let your pet do what it can on its own. If you have a spare moment to heal it, do so, but that should be a lower-priority task than helping out your real teammates.

Defender

As a Defender, you're called upon to buff and protect your teammates from the damage and special effects that they'll be taking from the enemies that you encounter. Although your secondary powers can be used for offensive output, and many of your primary powers can debuff your enemies, you'll only be doing around two-thirds of the pure damage that a Blaster of comparable level will be capable of, so you shouldn't think of yourself as being a frontline enemy-taker-outer.

In point of fact, the amount of endurance that you burn through by buffing and healing your teammates will increase with each additional party member that you have, so you'll have to keep track of your endurance during each fight to gauge how often you run dry, and adjust your tactics accordingly. This is especially true of Empathy Defenders, who can expect to constantly be using the Heal Other and Healing Aura powers, but most of the other primary power sets have healing powers as well, which you never want to be too tired to use. Although it may seem like a good idea to fire off a few offensive powers at the beginning of a fight, staying power is what you should really be focusing on, as there's nothing that'll ensure a party member's death more than going to hit your healing power and hearing the telltale BONK of an endurance drain. The time it takes to use an endurance inspiration and retry the power is often going to be longer than it'll take for your party member to get polished off. So, in most cases, it's best to just hang back and exclusively use your healing powers, depending on your group makeup. If you have useful debuffing primary powers, throw those into the mix as well, especially if you're not the primary Healer.

If you have a targeted healing power, you're going to want to make sure that you've made the effort to bind it to a key somewhere near your movement keys. Reducing the amount of clicks that it takes to activate your healing powers is a very good thing. You'll still need to keep a close eye on your team window, to monitor your teammates' health; what you may not know is that you can click directly on your teammates' names in this window to automatically target them. This is really the only way to use targeted heals and buffs, as manually selecting them in the game world is very slow and it'll often be difficult to actually pick out the teammate in peril amongst all the other targets, especially if there are enemies between the two of you.

If you have Healing Aura or a similar self-centered healing power, you'll probably want to stay near the front lines during battles.

Luckily, because so many of a Defender's powers are targeted towards your allies, you will often be picking up the least amount of hostile fire during the course of a battle. Healing and buffing do catch the attention of your enemies, especially when you let loose multiple powers in a short period of time. So long as you're careful with your offensive powers, you should be able to get through most fights without getting any aggro. Even when your teammates are at full health, though, don't feel compelled to join in the fighting; your fortune can shift quite rapidly in any given fight, so don't burn through your endurance or attempt to flex your sub-par offensive abilities when it isn't appropriate.

Scrapper

Of all of the character archetypes in City of Heroes, the Blaster and the Scrapper are the ones best suited to actually killing enemies. Since combat is the heart of the game (as well as pretty much every other organ, considering it's all you do), you can expect to be killing a heck of a lot of enemies in your career. Whether you're flying solo or working in a team, your objectives will usually be the same: find the biggest, baddest enemy in the area and hit him until he keels over. Of course, there are a few differences between engaging enemies by yourself and being a member of a party, but, well, that's why we're writing this section, now isn't it?

Know Your Role

When fighting solo, you don't have anyone to worry about but yourself, which collapses your decision tree down to the primal option of fight vs. flight: you can either attack, or retreat, and your decision will affect only yourself. In a team, however, your movements and decisions will affect everyone around you; if you decide to retreat from a fight, the enemies that were previously engaging you could decide to gang up on the nearest Controller, say. However, as a melee character, and one that can't take as much damage as a Tanker, you'll probably be more at risk of dying than anyone in your party.

This is still less true than it would be when fighting solo, however. Since you'll hopefully have an array of other archetypes in your team, you should be able to pin down only one or two enemies at a time, while the other members of your party deal with their own threats. Given that you're generally going to be taking on the biggest threats, though, while leaving the minions to party members with area-of-effect attacks, or for the cleanup operations, you're still going to have to keep an eye on your health meter. With any luck, the fact that you're only taking on one or two enemies at a time should prevent you from seeing the huge, instantaneous health losses that ensue when you aggro all of the enemies at once, but you should still be ready to heal yourself with your powers or inspirations if the entire team seems to be taking heavy fire.

In the end, the goal of a Scrapper is solely to eliminate opponents. If you find that you're consistently needing to withdraw from battle to retreat or help a teammate that has bitten off more than he or she can chew, don't hesitate to request that an additional Tanker or Scrapper be added to your party to make things easier for you. A Scrapper's job is particularly difficult when you're the only melee character in your party, so do your best to avoid this kind of situation.

Tanker

The Tanker is one of the hardest archetypes to play correctly in a team. If he is used skillfully, however, he can have a dramatic effect on the team's ability to succeed. In order to be effective, you need to look at what your class is and is not.

What a Tanker is

Many people design their Tankers using the huge character model. The bulging muscles can be deceptive, though--Tankers are not designed for hurting the enemy. If you take nothing else out of this section, remember that. Your offensive skills are your secondary powers, and are second-rate at that. They don't do much damage, and you won't have the endurance necessary for a sustained attack. The most efficient Tanker won't do as much damage as a single mediocre Blaster. If your character image involves wading in and dishing out tons of melee damage, you want to play a Scrapper, not a Tanker.

So what, then, do Tankers have going for them? Tankers have tons of defensive skills, and they have huge pools of hit points. That means that they can take damage that would kill a Blaster or Defender several times over and still not be in danger. In a team setting, you have weak, easy to kill blasters doing the most damage. You have fragile Controllers twisting your enemies' minds, and you have delicate Defenders trying to boost your team a bit. If left alone to do their work, they can make short work of a horde of villains; if the enemy wades in amongst them, though, they will be killed, and quickly. In order to survive long enough to do their job, other classes need be free of attackers. That is the Tanker's primary purpose in a team. That is what you must focus on to succeed--keeping the classes that do the real damage safe. The Tanker does this by ensuring that each and every enemy attacks him, and only him. The Tanker's job is to take damage so that other archetypes do not.

Getting Attacked

There are three basic ways to get attacked in City of Heroes. Plain 'aggro' (short for aggressive) means that bad guys, by their nature, are just that--aggressive. If you get too close to them, they will attack you. They will generally focus on whoever it was that got within their 'aggro range' (the distance from them which, if entered, causes them to attack).

Villains will ignore the person who walked up to them, though, if somebody else starts hurting them. Damage, then, is the second way of getting attacked. If you are hitting an enemy more than another teammate is, doing more damage, then the poor villain will attack you, going after the biggest threat to his safety.

The third way of getting attacked is with the twin powers of Taunt/Provoke. These powers override everything and cause the target to turn and attack whoever used the Taunt/Provoke power for a set period of time, regardless of who is damaging them.

Of the three ways of getting attacked, the first is irrelevant. A good group will never fight challenging opponents by getting too close to them. A skilled team will be the ones in control, not the villains. The second method, damage, is not an effective way for Tankers to ensure that they are the ones getting attacked; we simply can not out-damage our teammates. The third method, Taunt/Provoke, then, is the Tanker's specialty, and the means by which he does his job.

Taunt and Provoke

Every Tanker secondary power set has Taunt, and it will become available to you at 4th level. Provoke is in the Presence power pool, available beginning at level 6 (although you may want to take your travel power first). Buff them up with some taunt duration enhancements, and possibly a range enhancement or two. Some people will tell you that you only need one of the two powers--Taunt or Provoke. Don't listen to them. The powers are different, and have different applications.

Taunt is a single-target power that forces an enemy to attack you. It lasts roughly twice as long as Provoke (20-30 seconds), after which the taunted enemy reverts to attacking whoever is hurting him the most (starting off with a clean slate). It also has a much longer range than Provoke, which makes it an effective tool for pulling (getting an idle enemy to come and attack you).

Provoke is an area-of-effect power that causes all nearby enemies to turn and attack you. It has a very short range (less than ¼ of Taunt's range), and a fairly short duration (10-15 seconds).

When you are amongst a group of fighting enemies, Provoke is the superior power--one use and all of them will turn and attack you. It is much, much easier than using Taunt on them one by one. There are times, however, when Provoke is a bad idea. If you are fighting in one spot, and a single enemy charges out towards your Defender, you do not want to charge over, bringing all of your Provoked villains with you, to use provoke on that one enemy. Use the longer range of Taunt and stay where you are!

If you are fighting in the midst of a large group of foes, and a Controller uses a power like Flash Freeze, it will instantly freeze all of your foes, keeping them out of the fight until they are attacked--but guess what? If you use provoke, you will wake them all right back up again, wasting your Controller and irritating your team. Taunt, affecting only a single target, won't have this effect.

One trick to be aware of is that, once Taunted, an enemy will attack only the Tanker. If the Tanker goes out of that enemy's sight, the enemy will go looking for him rather than switching to a new target. If you are having problems with ranged attackers stopping too far out of melee range, Taunt them, and then step completely out of their sight. Step behind a crate, around a corner, or anywhere that they can't see you. They will come charging right up to you, letting you take them out far from their friends.

As you can see, having both powers, and knowing when to use which one, is vital to being an effective Tanker.

Tankers and Offense

In a team setting, your main purpose is your defensive abilities and your Taunt/Provoke. Since you are next to your enemy, however, you'd might as well do a bit of damage. There is another side to this--most Tanker attacks have a miniature version of Taunt built right into them. A Tanker hitting a foe tends to draw their attacks for a few seconds.

Don't waste too much effort on offense, though. Some of the most effective defensive Tankers never have more than a few basic attacks--Brawl and one or two others. You can take every attack in the book, but you still won't be doing as much damage as a below-average Scrapper. As you rise in levels, you will also find that your more powerful attacks sap your endurance, and that endurance is needed to fuel your defenses.

Unless your team is seriously light on Blasters and Scrappers, fight as though every drop of endurance counts (it does), putting Brawl on automatic (Hold control and click its icon in the power tray), then attacking manually with one other weak attack power. Have a second, more powerful attack, preferably something with effects that Stun or Disorient your foes, but save it for when it is really, truly needed.

Putting it all Together

Once you have your Tanker, have all of your defensive powers pumped up with defensive enhancements, have a few basic attacks, and have your Taunt/Provoke ready, find a group. There are two basic ways to operate as a Tanker in a group.

The first is used about 90% of the time. You will be facing a group of enemies of roughly similar level, possibly with one or two lieutenants (low-level bosses). Wait until the official team puller does his thing. Don't charge straight in if you can't see what is around you--Tankers have a larger 'aggro radius' then other archetypes, meaning that if you run past a second group on your way to the target, you will end up pulling them into the fight as well.

Once it is safe, move up into melee range. Don't go too far--you don't want to run faster than your Healer can fly!

If there are lieutenants, focus on them first, taunting one and hitting the other, then switching. If controllers aren't using a breakable mez (a power that Stuns enemies, but which is cancelled when the enemy is attacked), then use Provoke. Stay in the middle of things. Look around. If you see any enemy that is not attacking you, step up and hit or Taunt him. In a nutshell--you want to make certain that every enemy that is not Stunned is attacking you. If one is not, go get him. If you see an enemy run toward your group, turn and Taunt him to keep him on you. If everybody is still focused on you, toss off an extra Taunt or two at the lieutenants, and keep the Provokes coming.

Only when each and every enemy is focused only on you do you want to worry about actively fighting back. Even then, keep your eyes open for enemies drifting away, and don't squander your endurance. Most of the time, the Blasters and Scrappers will have wiped out most of the villain group by the time you get the chance to fight back. Don't worry though--the fact that they succeeded means that you were doing your job!

The second way of operating is to focus on a single, powerful enemy. Bosses often have some nasty, nasty powers that represent more of a threat to your team than the underlings they are surrounded by. If you try to pull in all the underlings and the boss at the same time, you will often find yourself Stunned, frozen, Disoriented, and temporarily out of the fight before you can do much to stop the minions and boss from overrunning your team.

If you walk into a room and see a powerful, nasty boss surrounded by low-level minions, stop and let your team know to take out the minions first. You can go in and focus only on the boss. Use a defensive inspiration, move in, and Taunt the boss, hitting him with Brawl and your secondary attack, and keep Taunting. With lots of Taunting, the boss will keep attacking on you, even if you are Stunned. The idea is to keep the boss completely out of the fight until the rest of your team clears up the lower-level minions. Then they can turn and quickly finish him off without being swarmed by underlings.

Chapter 5: Welcome to Paragon City

The Lay of the Land

Regardless of which Zone you enter, there are a few things that you will always find. First of all, Zones are divided up into neighborhoods. Each neighborhood often has a different combination of enemies that make their home within it. In some cases the terrain changes from neighborhood to neighborhood, but not always. You can see neighborhoods on the minimap by clicking on one of the white-blue dots (or by just turning on the 'names' toggle in the corner). When you cross from one neighborhood to another in-game, the name of the neighborhood you are entering will be displayed on the screen, and a short selection of music will play.

The next thing that you will notice is threat areas. These areas generally, but not always, coincide with neighborhoods. If you open your map (once you have explored a bit), you will see that some areas are outlined in green, others in yellow, and still others in orange or red. This is a general measure of how powerful the things in that area are relative to the Zone, not to your level. In other words, if you are in a level that has villains ranging from level 10 up to level 16, you could expect to find 10s and 11s in the green areas, and 15s or 16s in the red areas. It is important to pay attention to these divisions; you can be hunting along one side of a street, mopping up enemies, and step across the street into another area and find enemies that will mop you up!

In a typical level, the areas will get progressively harder as you advance. You will find the green areas near the entrance from a lower-level Zone, yellows next to the green, and red at the far end. Don't become too complacent, though, as there are exceptions to this rule, Zone that have red right next to the green (and right next to the entrance).

Hero in a Strange Land--the 'Newbie' Zones

The first few Zones you will fight in are fairly tame compared to what you will encounter as you advance in levels. These three City Zones and one Hazard Zone are there to help you learn the game. They are your chance to learn your powers, your limitations, and to develop those tactics that will allow you to survive in the much more dangerous areas that await you later in your career.

Atlas Park

Atlas Park.

So you told the nice detective that you wanted to work with Miss Liberty and you found yourself standing outside of City Hall in Atlas wondering what to do. Atlas Park (just like Galaxy City) is a place where it is hard to do anything wrong. The reason you are here is to learn the game, and Atlas Park makes it easy for you.

Whether you are just getting started, or if you rode the tram in from another Zone, you will find yourself in Atlas Plaza, right in the middle of town. Miss Liberty is here; just look for the crowd of heroes. Miss Liberty is a Trainer, a person to whom you speak when you have gained enough experience to raise your level. Near Miss Liberty you will find two heroes dressed in red and white spandex. These Superpowered Field Trainers are the stores at which you can buy and sell enhancements. Nearby, behind the statue of Atlas, is City Hall. If you started your career here in Atlas Park, then your Contacts (the people who give you missions) will be inside.

Getting Around

It isn't hard to find the trainer in Atlas Park; just look for the horde o' heroes.

Atlas Park is a great place for learning the tricks of getting around. Tall skyscrapers, grassy parks with placid lakes, small buildings, busy highways, and massive warehouses--Atlas Park has them all. Despite this, most of your travel will be on foot, at street level. Few of the buildings have fire escapes to climb, and even if they did, they are interspersed with larger buildings, making rooftop travel pointless.

Enemies

The first missions you will get from your contact will be either door or hunting missions. Door missions are easy to figure out--you just follow the waypoint on your compass until you arrive at a door. Hunting missions, such as 'Destroy 10 Clockworks' can be a bit more difficult if you don't know where to look.

Atlas Park makes it fairly easy on you, as there are only two groups of villains active in the area. The Hellions are a street gang that can be found throughout Atlas Park. They are generally on ground level, and have names like Blood Brother Slammer, Fallen, or Damned. They usually run in packs of mixed ranged and melee fighters. Clockworks are gold colored robots with names like 'Sprocket' or 'Prototype Oscilator.' They can be found anywhere, but are most commonly encountered amongst the warehouses in the Argosy Industrial neighborhood on the west side of town. They are frequently seen on the tops of buildings, looking for scrap metal.

Galaxy City

Galaxy City.

Galaxy City is the game's other entry-level Zone. It's more or less identical to Atlas Park, in that it has one city-center Zone, where Back Alley Brawler presides over all the newbie heroes, training them and making sure that their skills are up to snuff. The exterior of the initial building is a bit less crowded than in Atlas Park, however, due to the fact that the Superpowered Field Trainer has set up shop inside the Freedom Corps headquarters. This unfortunately means that you'll have to head through the doors every time you wish to sell off enhancements, but it does help to prevent those framerate-choking superhero get-togethers that you sometimes see around Miss Liberty in Atlas Park. As with Atlas Park, your first Contacts will be inside the building here, so head in and get your career underway.

Getting Around

Galaxy City is a bit more level than Atlas Park, meaning that even more of your travel will consist of sprinting around on the streets. There aren't any thrilling obstacles or barriers to your progress, so you should be able to proceed in a more-or-less straight line to wherever your destination may be.

Enemies

As with Atlas Park, you're going to find yourself fighting against only a couple of different enemy types. The Hellions plague Galaxy City as well, and can be found throughout the Zone. As you sprint along, try tapping the Tab button on occasion to lock onto any nearby enemies; there's a good chance that you'll spot a Hellion group every half-minute or so if you keep on moving. The other enemy gang is the Vahzilok. These zombified fighters are a fair bit more powerful than the Hellions, so you'll want to proceed with caution when you encounter them. They can also be found throughout Galaxy City, but are less frequently encountered in the low-level Zones around Freedom Park. Hit the red Zones in Gemini Park and Constellation Row if you need to hunt them down.

Back Alley Brawler is normally swamped, but here he only has half a dozen charges to look out for.

There are also a very small number of Skulls in this Zone, although you won't be able to consistently find them. If you need to hunt down this particular gang, you're better off hitting King's Row or Perez Park.

King's Row

Kings' Row.

King's Row will in all likelihood be the second Zone your character enters, after his or her starting Zone of Atlas Plaza or Galaxy Park. You won't want to just waltz in here when you feel like it, though; the enemies here will vary in level a bit more than in the two beginner Zones, so if you wander too far from the center of the map, you could find yourself facing off with enemies three or four levels higher than you. It's best to wait until one of your Contacts in your first Zone sends you on a mission to King's Row before hopping on one of the trams and heading out. This should happen sometime during your fifth level.

Although the Zone does have a certain centrality in its features, since the hospital, tram, and Trainer (Blue Steel at Freedom Plaza) are all located in the middle of the map, you probably won't be spending a whole lot of time in any one location, as your Contacts will tend to be spread out all across the map, which can be difficult to adjust to after all those visits to headquarters in your beginning Zone. You'll be faced with some long and fairly boring runs into red Zones when you first arrive, as you try to track down Contacts that are smack in the middle of enemies that you can't possibly fight. It's tedious, and a bit dangerous (be especially wary of groups of Vahziloks), but after your first few missions, you should find yourself branching out into multiple Contacts, which will allow you to pick and choose among several Contacts and missions at a time.

Another thing you'll have to adjust to is the lack of a store. There aren't any Superpowered Field Trainers out here that will be willing to buy your unusable enhancements or sell you new ones; you'll have to rely on your Contacts for this function. As Contacts generally have a less complete inventory than the Trainers in the initial Zones, and often won't buy back your found enhancements, you can expect to still make frequent trips back to Atlas Park or Galaxy City.

Getting Around

King's Row is a fairly typical environment of urban decay, with plenty of smallish apartment buildings, factories, and similar structures. One thing that distinguishes it from Galaxy City and Atlas Park is that many of the rooftops are accessible via fire escapes and by jumping from windowsill to windowsill, but this will hopefully not be necessary for you, as it's fairly tedious. There are enemies up on the rooftops, however, but if they're within range of a sniper attack, you can attempt to bring them down to street level by hitting them from the ground below. Otherwise, stick to the streets, and you shouldn't have any problems navigating the area.

Enemies

As with the beginning Zones, most of the enemies you'll encounter in King's Row come in the form of street gangsters (in this case, the Skulls) and the undead Vahziloks. The Vahzilok groups are especially deadly, and you should give them a wide berth if they're more than a level or two above yours. The zombie minions here have Zombie Vomit, which can burn you for a large initial damage and extra damage over time, and the crossbows on the Reapers will hurt even more. You can easily get knocked down to zero life within a few seconds of encountering one of these groups if you're not powerful enough to take them on, so be careful on your trips into red Zones.

The Clockwork robot enemies are the third most populous group in the area; they generally stick to the industrial areas, meaning that factories and power generators are your best bet for finding groups. They can be found most anywhere, however, but in the residential districts they'll be scarce, and will usually stick to the rooftops.

Two hunting missions that can give people fits are the Find Ten Circle of Thorns and Find Ten Lost missions that you'll probably have to take at some point. Both of these groups of enemies can be tough to find, if you don't know where to look.

Look for these green circles to find the Circle of Thorns. They're most often found on rooftops at night.

The key to finding the Circle of Thorns is to start looking around dusk; they don't appear during the daytime. At night, they'll appear on the rooftops of buildings, usually in The Gish or in High Park. When you get near their location, you should be able to easily spot the green clouds that emanate from their hideous rituals; use these to home in on them and bust up their party.

The Lost are consistently located on the street that runs along the southern wall of the Zone, on the south side of Industrial Avenue. The problem is that they're somewhat scarce, at least in proportion to the number of players that are going to be scattered around looking at them, so you may have a hard time getting ten kills in a reasonable amount of time. You can also check out the Royal Refinery and High Park areas to find these guys. You'll know where they've been by looking for the small wooden boxes that they preach from on the sidewalks.

Both the Lost mission, and the one for the Circle of Thorns, are easiest to polish off if you form a temporary team for the express purpose of hunting down these guys. If you broadcast or request help or an appeal to form a team, you can spread out and kill by yourselves, if necessary, as each kill from a team member counts for each member in the group, no matter where they are in the Zone.

Lastly, you will find a few members of the Troll gang scattered around this Zone, mostly in the High Park area. These are the advance scouts for a gang of drug-altered beasts from the Skyway City Zone, and are tough melee fighters, but you should be able to handle them if you get up around level eight or nine.

Perez Park

Perez Park.

Perez Park will be your first Hazard Zone. Hazard Zones are those areas of the city that are not under city control, and that the police have just fenced in rather than try to retake. The enemies that you will encounter aren't really all that much more dangerous than in the nearby Zones. What makes a Hazard Zone hazardous is how you encounter them. Instead of having Hellions show up in groups of three or four, they show up in groups of ten of fifteen. Instead of having a group of enemies every block, you will encounter them every few yards. These places are ideal for a team to go hunting, but deadly for solo players. You have to be at least level 7 to enter Perez Park.

There are no amenities here, either; no Trainer, no stores, and no hospital. If you die, you will find yourself back in the last Zone you were in that had a hospital.

Getting Around

Perez Park has two vastly different areas--inside the wall, and outside the wall.

The majority of Perez Park is exactly what its name suggests--a wild area full of trees, green grass, quiet streams, and villains. The park itself is fenced in; the area outside of the fence is urban, with tall buildings, roads, and sidewalks.

Getting around outside is not hard. There is one road that goes most of the way around the park. Along the outside will be either variety of buildings or the perimeter wall. It is hard to get lost in a city with only one street, but be careful--hordes of enemies wait around every corner. Go slow and keep your eyes open.

Getting around inside the park is much more difficult. The area around the gates is relatively tame, and there is a long river that runs north and south through the entire park. The river is one of the park's secrets. If you stay right in the middle of the river you will be relatively safe from attack, and you can find the wall (and thus, the exit) by following it one way or the other. The woods that fill the majority of the park, however, are a nightmare when it comes to navigation. They are pitch black, filled with villains, and to make it worse--they are a maze. You can sometimes circle around and around your destination without ever seeming to get to it. There is no trick for getting around inside the woods in Perez Park. Just be careful and keep trying until you get where you are going.

If you develop the ability to jump high or fly, you can land on top of the trees themselves for a shortcut from one side of the park to the other, but you won't be able to get inside the woods themselves until you return to ground level.

Enemies

Perez Park is packed full of enemies. Outside the park itself is where you'll find the Skulls and Hellions. The area between the park wall and the Zone wall is divided roughly in half. To the west you have the Boneyard, the Skulls' turf, and to the east is Hell's Highway, home of the Hellions. If you are looking for the undead Vahzilok, look in the Bettis Hills area. Check inside the park wall, but outside of the forest itself. The Circle of Thorns can be found anywhere in Perez Park, but if you are in a hurry, check along the river. The Hydra are a unique group of enemies encountered in Everett Lake. They are much stronger than other enemies encountered in Perez Park, so watch yourself.

As for the rest--Clockworks, Hellions, Skulls, Vahzilok, Circle of Thorns, and The Lost can be found scattered throughout the park's wandering paths. Just remember that you will encounter some new sorts of enemies here, bosses that you haven't seen before. Taking out a party of familiar enemies becomes much more difficult with a boss throwing powers at you.

There's No Place Like Home--the City Zones

The City Zones comprise the heart of Paragon City. They are the thriving business districts, the residential neighborhoods, and the serene parks. They are the tamest of all the types of Zones, although they are by no means safe. The villains in city Zones tend to show up in small groups, and are usually fairly distant from one another, making combat safer than in the more dangerous Zones.

City Zones also have all of the amenities that a burgeoning hero might need. They have hospitals, giving you a place to respawn should you find yourself out of health. They have Trainers ready to help you reach the next level. Most of them have one or more shops where you can buy or sell enhancements. City Zones are where you will make your home between forays into the wilder parts of Paragon City.

Brickstown

Brickstown.

Brickstown, along with Founders' Falls, is one of the elite city Zones for high-level play, and is also one of the smallest Zones in the game. The area is dominated by the imposing building called the Ziggurat; this structure acts as a prison for the superhuman criminals of Paragon City, but isn't quite as airtight as its designers intended. A good deal of the prisoner population has managed to sneak out of the building, and now roam the streets of Brickstown, where they vie for dominance with 5th Column, the Freakshow, and members of Crey.

Neighborhoods

If you're looking for low-level encounters, you'll want to stick to the northwest quadrant of the Zone, where enemies level 32 and lower reside in the Mashu Bridge, Crescent, Prison Power Station, and Abyss Towers neighborhoods. The real jewel of street hunting here is the Seven Gates district along the western side of the Zone, as it features densely packed groups of gangsters and monsters into a relatively level, easy-to-navigate set of city streets. It, like the Chasm, sees enemies of levels 30 to 35, so be careful if you're on the lower end of that spectrum.

The Ziggurat at night is especially imposing.

The elite hunting Zones here are the Ziggurat itself and the Dark Waters area to its east. In traversing the Dark Waters area, you'll come across enemies up to level 35, while the Ziggurat neighborhood will possess a few enemies that go all the way up to level 38.

Shops

1. Sarafina (Sarafina is found standing underneath the awning of a building to the northeast of the hospital. She sells level 30, 35, and 40 Magic SO enhancements, but only after you have gone on a mission for her.)
2. Holsten Armitage (This time-travelling scientist will sell level 30, 35, and 40 Science SO enhancements to you. You can find him beneath some girders outside a warehouse to the east of the Ziggurat.)

Founders' Falls

Founders' Falls.

Founders' Falls is the highest-level city Zone in the game, filled with Devouring Earth, 5th Column, Crey, Circle of Thorns, and even a few Rikti. These enemies run from 31st level all the way up to 40th. Founders Falls has the look and feel of a Mediterranean harbor, with canals, columned squares, and treacherous cliffs.

Neighborhoods

Williams Square is near the entrance. Inside the columned square is the local Trainer, and the outside is surrounded with level 31 to 33 5th Circle troops. The rocky cliffs of Louis Forest to the west is packed full of Circle of Thorns and Devouring Earth, most of them in the 35 to 37 range. The green hills and steep embankments in Hutchinson Park in the southwest might seem like a good place for sightseeing, but the place is filled with Devouring Earth creatures, the weakest of which are level 37 and the strongest topping out at 40th level! Blackstone Hills to the southeast and east of the Zone are almost identical, with 37th up through 40th level Devouring Earth.

Founders' Falls has some of the nastiest villains you will have met to date.

The tall residences of The Gaspee hide the corruption of Crey and Circle of Thorns. Ranging from 37th up through 40th level, they will provide quite a challenge--if you survive. Stone bridges arc at intervals across the waterway that gives The Red River its name. Be on the lookout here for more Crey and Circle of Thorns, although they aren't as bad here as in the Gaspee. Expect these foes to be in the 34th to 36th level range. You can also find Nemesis here, but they are very, very rare. Look for them on rooftops at night. Liberty Town seems tame compared to the rest of Founders' Falls, with enemies from 31st up to 36th level. You will find plenty of 5th Column here, but keep an eye out for periodic groups of Rikti.

Shops

1. Penny Preston (Standing at the end of the pier, Penny sells level 30, 35, and 40 Mutant SO enhancements, but only after you have gone on a mission for her.)
2. Agent Six (Hidden in an underground waterway, Agent Six will sell level 30, 35, and 40 S0 Natural enhancements.)
3. Mark IV (Waiting quietly between two statues, Mark IV is a merchant dealing in level 30, 35, and 40 SO Technology enhancements.)

Independence Port

Independence Port.

Independence Port is similar to Talos Island, save for the fact that the enemies are slightly tougher. It shares that Zone's distinguishing feature: lots and lots of water. This shouldn't prevent you from using your travel powers to good effect, but characters with Super Speed may have trouble finding their way directly to their targets, especially if they lie on the other side of the water.

Although the port's designers appear to have forgotten one critical thing--a port needs to be open to water, yet Independence Port is completely landlocked--there are quite a few gangs that want to exert control over the area. The 5th Column, the Family, and the Tsoo are the primary gangs here, although you will run across members of the Freakshow gang, along with a few Devouring Earth, particularly on Power Island. Power Island is also the home to the entrance to the Terra Volta trial Zone, although you'll need to be level 23 to enter.

Neighborhoods

Encounters in Independence Port grow progressively more difficult as you head from the northern end of the area to the south. In the northeast, Wave Landing, Crey Cove, and Bell Point serve as good introductory areas, as Family, 5th Column, and Tsoo gangs are frequently found from level 22 to level 24. Industry Pier, Patriot Wharf, and Steel Pier feature the same gangs, save that they get a small bump in levels, and will top out at level 26.

Don't head to Power Island unless you're ready for a series of tough battles.

If you're interested in varying up your encounters a bit, Valor Bridge will occasionally see Freakshow spawns, in addition to the other, more numerous gangs, and you'll find that Power Island itself is overrun by the powerful Devouring Earth gang, making it a good spot for adventurers who've bypassed their 25th level.

It's in the south that heroes in their high 20's will want to spend their time, as both Liberty Quay and Justice Quay are populated by gangsters of levels 27 to 29. Tread with caution here.

Shops

1. BiotechniX (Level 25 and 30 DO Mutation/Magic, DO Mutation/Science, and SO Mutation enhancements)
2. Deimos Innovations (Level 25 and 30 DO Science/Mutation, DO Science/Technology, and SO Science enhancements)
3. Future Dynamics (Level 25 and 30 DO Natural/Magic, DO Natural/Technology, and SO Natural enhancements)
4. Tabith Fabish (Level 25 and 30 DO Magic/Natural, DO Magic/Mutation, and SO Magic enhancements)
5. Freedom Corps Special Forces Training (Level 25 and 30 Training, DO Mutation/Magic, DO Natural/Technology, DO Science/Technology, DO Science/Mutation, and DO Natural/Magic)
6. Exarch Industries (Level 25 and 30 DO Technology/Natural, DO Technology/Science, and SO Technology enhancements)

Skyway City

Skyway City.

Skyway City isn't quite as urbane as the name may make it sound. In point of fact, it's something like a more dangerous King's Row, in that it mostly consists of run-down apartments, seedy-looking parking complexes, and way more highways and streets than any city Zone really needs. It's been many years since this neighborhood was the jewel of Paragon City (well, of its many construction contractors, at any rate), and it's fallen on hard times. Nowadays you're more likely to run across drug-dealing Trolls as you are honest citizens as you make your way around.

If you're ready for a bit more of a challenge than what Steel Canyon can provide, than Skyway City may be right for you, as the enemies herein range from level 10 to level 19. You may want to hold off entering Skyway until you access a travel power at level 14, however, as there are many elevation shifts and large walls that block easy sprinting. You'll mostly be facing off against Clockwork and Trolls, although there are a few Lost in the southern part of the Zone.

Neighborhoods

You'll likely first enter Skyway through the tram that feeds out onto Aerie Plaze, which is lightly populated with low-level Trolls, especially towards the bottom of the area. From there, if you're interested in more level 10ish encounters, the Astral District to the west is the place to hit, as it incorporates enemies from level 10 to level 13.

The median challenges here are provided by Vista Plaza and the Gruff, both of which will serve up plenty of Trolls and Clockworks in the mid-teen levels. These groups will spawn quite densely, particularly in the Gruff area, which makes it a great place to run the streets with a team, if you're looking for experience.

The roughest areas of the Zone are in the south, where high-level Lost, as well as the crème de la crème of the Trolls and Clockwork are camped out. The appropriately named Land of the Lost is where you'll find most of the Lost enemies, but all of the groups can be found in either of these neighborhoods.

Ah, modern architecture: efficient and beauty-free.

Shops

Skyway City has a suite of shops that's identical to the ones found in Steel Canyon. See the screenshot for the exact locations of each shop.

1. Orion Labs (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Science/Technology and DO Science/Mutation enhancements)
2. Cooke's Electronics (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Technology/Science and DO Technology/Natural enhancements)
3. Pandora's Box (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Magic/Mutation and DO Magic/Natural enhancements)
4. Freedom Corps Basic Training (Level 15 and 20 Training enhancements only, but they pay the best prices you can get for selling your enhancements)
5. Image, Inc. (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Natural/Technology and DO Natural/Magic enhancements)
6. Subgenetics (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Mutation/Magic and DO Mutation/Science enhancements)

Steel Canyon

Steel Canyon.

Steel Canyon is a large metropolitan area, and probably one of the first places you will go after graduating from the newbie Zones. The Villains in the area range from level 10 up through about 16. You will find Vahzilok, Outcasts, Family, Tsoo, Clockwork, Circle of Thorns, 5th Column, and Trolls doing their dastardly deeds amongst Steel Canyon's skyscrapers. The villains are generally weaker to the south, getting stronger as you move north. Be cautious, however, as you will often find a high-level enemy mixed in with the rubble. Villain groups are fairly well spread out here, and a cautious sprinter can cross the city without too much trouble. Watch out for Shockers and Bricks--they pack more punch than you might think. Steel Canyon also sports a full set of shops.

Neighborhoods

Steel Canyon is a bustling, active metropolis, but don't expect to see too many villains atop the skyscrapers.

The Yellow Line tram and the entrance from Atlas Park will both bring you into Bronze Way, and it will probably be the first place you will hunt in Steel Canyon. Lots of low- to mid-level Outcasts, 5th Column can be found here, plus lots of Circle of Thorns on the tall roofs. The Copper District further north is more of the same, but the villains are a bit tougher. The rocky hill known as Gimry Ridge is a haven for Circle of Thorns, although all sorts of villains can be found in the adjoining areas.

Blyde Square, the huge central region, offers almost all of the enemies you can find, most of them in the 12-13 range, although more powerful Tsoo are sometimes seen here. The Fool's Gold District is a dangerous place with lots of mid-level Outcasts and Trolls, as well as a few Vahzilok and Clockworks. Platinum Lake is an upper-mid level area--most of the assorted baddies here are in the 12-14 range, but it is not at all uncommon to see some level 16s mixed in with them.

Far to the north is where things get tough. Silver Lake to the northwest is like a microcosm of Steel Canyon--you can find almost any group here from level 10 up through 16, as well as easy access to the Green Line tram system that will take you to some of the higher-level city Zones. Royal Overlook is the toughest area in the Zone. You will come up against Clockworks, Outcasts, and 5th Column here, as well as a few others, but be careful--most of the enemies here are level 15 or 16, with a few 14s thrown in for fun.

Shops

Steel Canyon has a full set of shops for your enhancement-procuring pleasure. See the screenshot for the exact locations of each shop.

1. Orion Labs (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Science/Technology and DO Science/Mutation enhancements)
2. Cooke's Electronics (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Technology/Science and DO Technology/Natural enhancements)
3. Pandora's Box (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Magic/Mutation and DO Magic/Natural enhancements)
4. Freedom Corps Basic Training (Level 15 and 20 Training enhancements only, but they pay the best prices you can get for selling your enhancements)
5. Image, Inc. (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Natural/Technology and DO Natural/Magic enhancements)
6. Subgenetics (Level 15 and 20 Training, DO Mutation/Magic and DO Mutation/Science enhancements)

Talos Island

Talos Island.

Talos Island is an interesting Zone. The main island is covered with towering skyscrapers, while the outlying areas are a combination of sandy reefs and rocky islands separated by vast expanses of open water. It is a massive area, the largest city Zone you will visit, and is the home to Warriors, Tsoo, Circle of Thorns, Banished Pantheon, Devouring Earth, and Freakshow. These myriad enemies range anywhere from level 20 up to 27. Things are spread out, but not too much, making it an ideal place for street-sweeping gameplay.

Neighborhoods

Scylla Island in the north has some of the worst that this Zone has to offer. Devouring Earth and Circle of Thorns dot the island, most of them in the level 26-27 range. Cyrce Island nearby is a bit more tame, but not by much. Circle of Thorns are still the main enemies you will face, but in the 23-25 level range. Further south is Ithaca Island. Look for more Circle of Thorns mages, this time a bit lower; 20th- and 22nd-level villains make their home here.

Talos Island is dotted with small islands like these.

The Serpent's Teeth in the northwest is filled with nothing but high-level Devouring Earth. Helen Point, just to the south, is likewise dedicated, this time to 20th- through 22nd-level Tsoo. The entire southern part of the map is comprised of the Argo Highway. In the westernmost reaches of Argo Highway you will find low- and mid-level Warriors and Circle of Thorns. As you work your way east you will also encounter similarly powerful Freakshow, with Banished Pantheon being added a little further along. Eleusis to the east is another refuge for mid- and high-level Devouring Earth.

The urbanized central island itself is composed of four distinct neighborhoods. New Thebes is the tamest area in town (relatively speaking) with level 20, 21, and 22 villains--mostly Warriors and Freakshow--scattered here and there. New Troy is where you will find the Zone Trainer, the Green Line tram, and the hospital; it is also where you will find an assortment of low- and mid-level Warriors, Freakshow, and Tsoo mixed in with each other. Nearby New Corinth is similar, although a bit more Tsoo-heavy. Finally we come to New Sparta. Like most of the island, it is full of Tsoo, Warriors, and Freakshow (mostly Tsoo), but here they are in the 25th- to 27th-level range.

Shops

1. BiotechniX (Level 25 and 30 DO Mutation/Magic, DO Mutation/Science, and SO Mutation enhancements)
2. Deimos Innovations (Level 25 and 30 DO Science/Mutation, DO Science/Technology, and SO Science enhancements)
3. Future Dynamics (Level 25 and 30 DO Natural/Magic, DO Natural/Technology, and SO Natural enhancements)
4. Tabith Fabish (Level 25 and 30 DO Magic/Natural, DO Magic/Mutation, and SO Magic enhancements)
5. Freedom Corps Special Forces Training (Level 25 and 30 Training, DO Mutation/Magic, DO Natural/Technology, DO Science/Technology, DO Science/Mutation, and DO Natural/Magic)
6. Exarch Industries (Level 25 and 30 DO Technology/Natural, DO Technology/Science, and SO Technology enhancements)

No Hero's Land--the Hazard Zones

In most places in Paragon City, the police hold sway. There are patrols keeping the villains on the streets from growing too strong or running too wild. There are some areas, though, in which the police do not have any power. The villain threat from these areas was so great that the city fell back on a strategy of containment--fence these neighborhoods in and concentrate on keeping the menace inside from spreading to the rest of the city. Inside these fenced-off areas, the criminal element goes about their business unchecked, growing stronger than in other places in the city.

Hazard Zones don't have the services you can find in a City Zone. There are no Trainers or shops, so you will have to travel to another Zone to take care of business. There are also no hospitals; if you die, you will be transported back to the last Zone you were in that did have one.

There is a reason they are called Hazard Zones--expect to meet your old enemies in massive groups.

The villains in Hazard Zones are about the same strength as those you would expect to find in City Zones of a similar level, but they come in greater numbers. In a city Zone, you might find groups of three or four villains; in a Hazard Zone, expect groups of a dozen or more. They also spawn close together, meaning that if you run from one group, or fire off a power without checking your target, you may end up fighting two groups at once.

Boomtown (M)

The devestated visage of Boomtown masks the presence of numerous groups of enemies.

Boomtown was the site of one of the more savage attacks of the Rikti invasion. Although previously it was as prosperous and bright as Steel Canyon is now, it was reduced to rubble during the fighting, and now many of the buildings are toppled and the streets are filled with detritus. There's also trash of the living sort, as well; Clockwork, Trolls, Outcasts, and other enemy groups are densely packed into this Zone, making it a great place to run the streets in a group and get experience.

Boomtown will be the second hazard Zone you have access to; it becomes available to your character when you hit level 11, and the enemies herein range in level from 11 all the way up to 20.

Neighborhoods

You begin your Boomtown career in The Fuse, which hosts the three main gangs as well as a few Vahziloks, ranging in level from 11 to 13. Venturing out of The Fuse in any direction will open you up to enemies up to level 17, with Lost starting to be found in Powderkeg, and 5th Column troops showing up in both Powderkeg and Primer.

The high-end red Zones are Grenadier Village and The Cannonade. Both feature enemies ranging from level 14 to level 20, with the best assortment of enemies being found in The Cannonade. Grenadier Village only has Lost, Outcasts, and Clockwork populating it, but you'll also stumble across Babbage, the unique enemy of the Zone, if you wander around in this neighborhood long enough.

Crey's Folly (M)

When you're ready for a serious challenge, Crey's Folly is the place to be. This ultimate hazard Zone is the playground of choice for heroes of levels 30 and above, but you don't want to be here unless you're looking for a fight.

Crey's Folly is superficially similar to other water-filled areas, like Independence Port and Talos Island, but the Rikti invasion has left the water here... different. Whatever the Rikti did to the area, it has, as an unintentional (or perhaps intentional) side effect, turned the bay area into a breeding ground for the Devouring Earth monsters. Their ability to pop up from beneath the waves leaves you with few truly safe areas in which to catch a breather, so tread carefully when adventuring here.

In addition to the watery hazards, the land areas of Crey's Folly are overrun with enemies as well. Many different sorts of enemies will be found ashore, but Crey's Folly is notable for its high number of Rikti enemies. You should have a bit of an idea of what the Rikti are capable of from your adventures in Terra Volta, but you'll still need to be on your toes, as they, and the other gangs, are of higher levels than what you're probably used to.

Neighborhoods

The Crey Factories, and the Paragon Waterworks just to the west, are the low-level neighborhoods in this Zone. They'll give you enemies ranging in level from 31 to 36, with the Crey, Freakshow, Devouring Earth, Rikti, and Nemesis gangs all having a good shot at appearing. Unfortunately, each neighborhood in this Zone will have at least four of these gangs showing up in it, so you'll find it fairly difficult to exclusively hunt just one type of enemy; you'll need to be prepared for multifarious battle tactics on the part of your foes. You'll thus want to be in a well-balanced team, hopefully with one or two Controllers capable of knocking flying enemies to the ground.

The Blight, Tangle Town, and Portal Industries will be your intermediate challenges in this Zone, as they'll feature level 34 to 36 enemies. You won't want to venture further west unless you're confident in your team's abilities, as Carnival Town and The Circus both contain enemies that extend from level 37 to 39.

At the extreme northwestern corner of this Zone, you'll notice an entrance to the Rikti Crash Site Zone. As of this writing, this Zone is inaccessible; it's due to be enabled in the first major update to the game, which will probably be available by the time you read this. As the level cap is due to the be raised from 40 to 50 with the same update, it's a sure bet that this will be a Hazard or Trial Zone for characters of level 40 and higher.

Dark Astoria (D)

Dark Astoria is a section of the city that has fallen upon dark times. As part of a bizarre ritual, the Banished Pantheon sacrificed the entire population of the area. The dark magics that permeate this city leave it enshrouded in a perpetual fog. Banished Pantheon, Tsoo, and Circle of Thorns from level 21 all the way up to level 29 call Dark Astoria their home.

Neighborhoods

Romero Heights near the entrance and Rami Arcade to the south are nearly identical. They Hold the weakest opponents in the Zone, with Banished Pantheon, Tsoo, and Thornies from 21st up to 26th level. Most of the rest of the neighborhoods in the Zone--Barca Plaza, Toffet Terrace, and Didos View, are likewise similar. All are filled with the same three groups of villains, this time starting at 24th level and running to 26th. The northeastern corner of Dark Astoria is Moth Cemetery. Be careful here; the only villains you will meet are Banished Pantheon, but they are 27th to 29th level, and are packed more closely together. Adamastor, a level 29 Banished Pantheon archvillain wanders Moth Cemetery as well, so be on the lookout.

A Test of your Mettle--The Trial Zones

Trial Zones are a unique type of Zone. The majority of each Trial Zone functions just like a Hazard Zone; it is full of huge packs of villains. Each Trial Zone also has, as you may have guessed, a trial. This is a special type of mission that can be taken at any time, although most of them have requirements, such as a certain number of heroes over a certain level, sometimes all in the same super group. The trials take place in a special area, either a fenced-off portion of the Zone, or inside a building. They are exceptionally difficult tasks, some designed for groups of several dozen high-level heroes to tackle together. The rewards are rumored to be equal to the risks.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing the trials themselves have not yet been implemented by the developers. You are free to hunt in the Trial Zones themselves. They function just like Hazard Zones, and you may even get missions in them. When the trials are finally implemented, there will likely be some special place--perhaps a terminal--which you will interact with to begin the trial.

Eden (D)

Eden used to be a residential paradise before the Devouring Earth decided to teach the inhabitants that it isn't nice to mess around with Mother Nature. Now the majority of the Zone is ruins with nature slowly creeping in to reclaim its lost lands. The center of the Zone, the area known as The Serpentine, is a dark forest with maze-like corridors. In the westernmost end of the Zone is The Hive (not to be confused with the Zone of the same name), a massive mound of earth swarming with enemies. The entire Zone is packed full of Devouring Earth, with a few Nemesis and Crey for good measure. They start off at level 33 near the entrance from Founders' Falls, steadily increasing as you travel west until you reach The Hive, where most of the enemies will be in the 38-39 range.

Faultline (D)

Faultline is an area of Paragon City that fell to earthquakes. It was once a tall urban center, with massive skyscrapers and concrete sidewalks, but it now lies in ruins. The earthquake opened up massive cracks in the earth. Parts of the area remain untouched, while others have sunken deep into the ground. If you expect to be able to get around in Faultline, you will need at least one travel power. You will also need a great deal of caution, as Faultline is packed full of Clockworks, Vahzilok, and Circle of Thorns in the level 14 to 20 range, generally getting stronger the further south you travel. You must be level 14 to enter Faultline.

The Hive (M)

When you're ready for the ultimate challenge in City of Heroes, the Hive awaits. This Trial Zone is found on the western end of the Eden Zone, which alone will make it impossible to access unless you're able to bypass the many high-level enemies there. Once you enter the Hive, however, the challenge level ramps up even more, as you're faced off with high-level (40 to 42) Devouring Earth enemies.

Sewer Network (M)

Paragon City has an extensive network of sewers which are accessible via tunnels located in Atlas Park, Boomtown, Steel Canyon, King's Row, and Skyway City. The uppermost levels of the sewers have been taken over by groups of low-level Outcast and Lost, making it a decent place for heroes of fifth through seventh levels to gain experience. What most Paragonians don't know is that their sewer system was built on top of another, older network of sewers. The second level of the sewers has been sealed off for decades, but the Freedom Corps has recently decided to allow high-level heroes (levels 36 and up) to enter these ancient waterways to explore and report back on any unusual occurances.

If you're at or above the requisite level, you can access the second level of the sewers via steel doors near the normal entrances to the first level. E.g., when you enter the tunnels that take you from Skyway City to the first sewer level, you should find a doorway in the first room you find yourself in that'll take you further down. You probably won't want to enter here without a decent team, however, as there you'll come across dense spawns of Hydra Men, Warriors, and Rikti. The King's Row and Atlas Park entrances host the lower-level enemies (35 and up), while the Steel Canyon and Boomtown entrances, as well as the center of the map, will feature enemies that will hit level 40.

Terra Volta (D)

Terra Volta is the area surrounding the Terra Volta Reactor, the massive power plant that provides Paragon City's electricity. It is a dense industrial area, with its most distinguishing feature being Gordon Trench, a deep trough through the center of town. It is deep enough that you will have trouble getting out of it without some sort of travel power, and it is filled with level 28 to 29 villains. The remainder of the Zone is filled with Rikti, Freakshow, Sky Raiders, Nemesis, and Devouring Earth. In the northern part of the Zone, you can expect them in the 23rd- through 25th-level range. As you move further south, their levels steadily increase, with the southern red areas boasting level 28 to 29 villains. You must be level 23 to enter Terra Volta.

Appendix 1--Binding and Macros

Binding

What is a Command?

A command is an action in the game. Turning one a power is a command; so is targeting an enemy. A battlecry is two commands--one for the point emote, one for the phrase itself. Commands are activated in-game by typing them into the chat window behind a slash (/), which is why they are often called 'slash commands.' A simple example would be quitting the game. Instead of going through the menu, you could use a slash command, typing '/quit' into the chat box. Some commands require additional information. Executing a specific power, for instance, uses the slash command '/powexec_auto [name]'. Not only do you have to put in the slash command, you have to specify the name. The slash command for turning on the Hover power, then, would be '/powexec_auto hover'.

How to Bind

This seems like an awful lot of work just to turn on Hover when you can just stick it in the first slot and hit the 1 key. It becomes fabulously useful, though, when you learn the art of binding. Binding is the act of assigning one or more commands to a key. Telling City of Heroes to activate your Hover power when you press the G key would be an example of a bind. Binding is done with a slash command of its own--/bind [key] "[command]". In the example above, you could enter the command window and type '/bind g "powexec_name hover', telling the game to "bind to the G key the command powexec_name hover" (Note that you remove the slash itself from commands when you are binding them--only the first command in a line should ever have a slash.) Now whenever you hit the G key, you will hover. You can then take the Hover power icon completely out of your tray, making room for your combat powers, and yet still activate it at will.

You can bind commands to almost any keyboard key, or any keyboard key in combination with either shift, alt, or control key. To bind to a shifted key, use a '+'. For example, '/bind rshift+g "powexec_name hover" would bind the command to right shift-G instead of just G. Note that the shift key must be listed first. A full list of all of the proper key names can be found at the end of this section.

Binding Multiple Commands

Not only can you bind single commands to keystrokes, you can bind multiple commands to a single key. Simply separate commands in a bind with $$. This can be used to combine a phrase with a power, using the example above: /bind g "powexec_name hover$$local Up I go!" (broken down into individual commands for clarity: | /bind g | "powexec_name hover | $$ | local Up I go! |" .) Now when you hit the G key, it would activate Hover and say "Up I go!" on the local channel. You should avoid having spaces around the '$$'. Use "powexec_name hover$$local Up I go!", not "powexec_name hover $$ local Up I go!", as the spaces will break some commands. Unfortunately, you can rarely bind multiple powers this way. Trying to bind two powers into one /bind will result in them trying to go off at the same time, and one of them failing.

Binding Variables

The next trick is adding personalized information to a bind, or more specifically, to something your character will say. There are several variables that you can use in a phrase.. They are:

$archetype: your character's archetype
$battlecry: your character's battlecry
$level: your character's current level
$name: your character's name
$origin: your character's origin
$target: the name of your current target

If you put $level in a phrase, for instance, it will automatically be replaced with your current level. For example, '/bind n "broadcast $level Tanker looking for a team!". This would send a broadcast with your current level and the fact that you are looking for a team. Another example, using everything we have covered so far would be '/bind m "local Hello, $target, I am $name, a Security Level $level $archetype.$$emote wave". If you click on another player (or a villain) and use this bind, it would say (for instance) "Hello, Drumfire, I am Due Process, a Security Level 11 Tanker." and play the 'wave' animation.

Saving and Managing Key Binds

It is possible to manually save and load sets of key binds. There are three commands here that allow you to do so. The first is '/bind_save'. This command creates a file called 'keybinds.txt' in your C: directory with all of your current binds in it. To load it, you simply use '/bind_load'. This is useful if you want to transfer your key binds between computers, or if you are making a new character and want to import your key binds.

Here is a brief excerpt of a keybinds.txt file:

T "toggle_enemy"
TAB "target_enemy_next"
CTRL+TAB "target_enemy_near"
SHIFT+TAB "target_enemy_prev"
W "emote point$$ local You are entitled to Due Process!"

Note that the '/bind' command does not appear, just the key to which it is bound and the command itself.

The third, and much more versatile command is '/bind_load_file [filename]. This will allow you to load a .txt file with a name you specify. That file has to be created by hand, following the format of keybinds.txt. By default it looks for this file in your C: directory, although you can add a path if you choose. For example, '/bind_load_file c:\binds\social.txt' would load the social.txt file. Here, though, is the secret--loading a file this way keeps your default key binds, and replaces only those in that text file. In other words, if you have only three keys remapped in 'social.txt' and load it up, those three keys will change, but the rest will stay the same. Also note that /bind_load_file is a slash command that can, itself, be bound to a key.

Let's put all of that together to show why it is useful. If you have a powerful character with lots of powers who likes to solo, you might very well bind many of your keys to combat commands. That doesn't leave much room for fun keys or commands you need as a team leader. If, on the other hand, you create three .txt files, one called 'combat.txt', one called 'leader.txt', and one called 'social.txt', then bind them to keys:

/bind numpad1 "/bind_load_file c:\binds\combat.txt"
/bind numpad2 "/bind_load_file c:\binds\leader.txt"
/bind numpad3 "/bind_load_file c:\binds\social.txt"

You would be able to have three complete sets of bound keys--one for ultra-efficient solo combat, one with orders for when you are the leader of a group, and one for sitting around shooting the breeze and role-playing with your Supergroup. You could then be able to switch between them with a single keystroke.

Macros

Macros, like binds, can be used to create a more complex version of the battle cry.

Macros are, for the most part, identical to binds. The language is a bit different. The base command is '/macro [name] [commands] ', and [name] can be anything you choose--it is, literally, a name for your macro. Instead of '/bind g "powexec_name hover"', for instance, you would use '/macro hov "powexec_name hover"'. The only real difference is that binds are associated with a keystroke, and macros create a new icon in your power tray that you can click, move around, and so on. This lets you create secondary trays full of specialized commands (for instance, a role-playing tray, or a tray for seeking a team) without using up your available keystrokes.

Bindable key names

Below are the names of the keys as they should be used when binding. When binding something to caps lock, for instance, you would use '/bind capital'

1 a-z
2 1-0
3 F1, F2, etc
4 up, down, left, right (arrow keys)
5 numpad1, numpad2, etc.
6 subtract (number pad - key)
7 multiply (number pad * key)
8 add (number pad + key)
9 divide (number pad / key)
10 backspace
11 tab
12 end
13 delete
14 scroll (scroll-lock)
15 home
16 tilde
17 pagedown
18 pageup
19 numlock
20 insert
21 capital (caps-lock)

Combination keys (used with other keys only)

lalt, ralt (left and right alt keys)
lcontrol, rcontrol (left and right control keys)
lshift, rshift (left and right shift keys)

Other keys. Note that while these are technically possible, they do not work reliably.

Mouse:

1 lbutton
2 rbutton
3 mbutton
4 button4

Joypad & joystick:

1 joypad_up
2 joypad_downv 3 joypad_left
4 joypad_right
5 joystick1_up
6 joystick1_down
7 joystick1_left
8 joystick1_right
9 joy1
10 joy2
11 joy3
12 joy4 (etc. Joypad/stick buttons.)

Hex Color Codes

A number of the slash commands listed below have places to specify colors. In some cases, the colors can be entered by name (IE, 'blue'), but in others you will have to use the hex code for that color. A few for some common colors are listed below, and a quick search of the Internet will give you access to thousands more.

Color Code 
Red #FF0000 
Orange #FFA500 
Yellow #FFFF00 
Green #008000 
Blue #0000FF 
Purple #800080 
Black #000000 
White #FFFFFF 
Gray #808080 

Slash Commands

Below is a list of all of the known slash commands in City of Heroes. Before you ask, there is no 'delay' or 'wait' command. All commands in a bind are performed in order, but with almost no delay between them. Note that some include brackets ( like '/afk [text]') This represents a place where you insert information, like speech or a name. Do not include the brackets themselves! If you see a pound sign (#), then you need to supply a number.

/afk [text]
Shows that you Away From Keyboard. It says 'AFK' over your head unless you insert text, in which case it shows that instead.

/alttray # (IE - alttray 1 or 0)
Opens (1) or closes (0) your second power tray.

/alttraysticky
Opens and closes the second power tray.

/auction [text]
Sends the included text on the request channel.

/autoreply
Replies to the last person who messaged you via tell.

/autorun # (1 or 0)
Toggles autorun on (1) or off (0).

/b [text]
Sends the included text on the broadcast channel.

/beginchat [text]
Puts your cursor in the chat window with the included text already typed.

/bind [key] [command]
Binds a key to a command. See above for details.

/bindlist
Gives a list of all bound keys.

/bind_load
Loads the default keybind list if you have saved it with /bind_save.

/bind_load_file [filename]
Loads a keybind list with the given filename. Looks in C: unless you include a path in the filename.

/bind_save
Saves a file of all of your keybinds into the root directory (C:).

/broadcast [text] (also /y, /yell)
Sends a message on the broadcast channel.

/bug [text]
Used to report a bug. Include a thorough description for the text.

/camdist #
Sets the camera a certain number of feet (#) from your character.

/camdistadjust
Adjusts the camera distance relative to the current camera distance. Reads mousewheel for input.

/camreset
Resets the camera to the default position.

/chat
Toggles the chat window on and off.

/chat_cycle
Cycles your current chat channel between all the options (broadcast, local, team, etc).

/chat_set [channel name or letter]
This command sets your current chat channel to whichever one you name (only the first letter is necessary).

/copychat_b #
Copies the number of lines you specify (#) from the bottom chat window to the Windows clipboard.

/copychat_t #
Copies the number of lines you specify (#) from the top chat window to the Windows clipboard.

/demote [rank]
Demotes the selected supergroup member to the specified rank.

/disable2D # (1 or 0)
Turns the interface on (0) or off (1).

/e [text] (also /em, /me, or /emote)
If the text is the name of an emote (see below) then it enacts that emote. If it is not, then the text appears in a thought bubble above your head.

/emaildelete #
Deletes the numbered email.

/emailheaders
Checks email.

/emailread #
Reads the numbered email.

/emailsend [name] [subject] [body text]
Sends an email message to the listed person.

/estrange [name] (also /unfriend)
Removes the listed player from your friends list.

/f [text]
Sends a message on the friends channel.

/findmember
Shows the list of people looking for teams.

/fl (also /friendlist)
Show your friends list.

/follow
Toggles follow mode.

/friend [name]
Adds the listed player to your friends list.

/g [text] (also /group)
Sends the associated text on the team channel.

/goto_tray #
Opens the specified power tray.

/hide [window] (also window_hide)
Closes the specified window (tray, chat, etc).

/i [name] (also /invite)
Invites the specified player to join your team.

/ignore [name]
Adds the specified player to your ignore list.

/ignorelist
Shows all of the names on your ignore list.

/inspexec_name [name]
Activates the inspiration specified.

/inspexec_slot #
Activates the specified inspiration slot in the bottom row.

/inspexec_tray # #
Activates the inspiration slot in the specified row and column.

/inspirationslot #
Activates the specified inspiration slot.

/k [name] (or /kick)
Kicks the specified player from your team.

/l [text] (also /local)
Sends the specified text on the local channel.

/leaveteam
Leaves your team.

/lookup # (1 or 0)
Points the camera up. 1 for on, 0 for off.

/lookdown # (1 or 0)
Points the camera down. 1 for on, 0 for off.

/macro [name] [commands]
Creates a macro in the first available slot. See above.

/macroslot # [name] [commands]
Creates a macro in the specified slot.

/manage
Opens the enhancements screen.

/map
Toggles the map.

/menu
Opens the menu.

/namecaptain
Sets the name for the captain rank of a super group.

/nameleader
Sets the name for the leader rank of a super group.

/namemember
Sets the name for the member rank of a super group.

/nav
Toggles the navigation (compass) window.

/netgraph # (1 or 0)
Turns on (1) or off (0) the network graph, showing your connection performance.

/next_tray
Advances your bottom power tray by one.

/next_tray_alt
Advances your top power tray by one.

/nop
No Operation. Bind this to a key to clear that key.

/p [name],
Send a message to only one player.

/petition
Sends a request to the game administrators. Use if you are completely stuck, fall off the world, have a specific cheating problem, or in other such situations.

/powexec_abort
Cancels your automatic and all queued powers.

/powexec_altslot #
Activates the specified power from the upper power tray.

/powexec_auto [name]
Toggles the automatic activation feature on the specified power.

/powexec_name [name]
Activates the specified power.

/powexec_slot #
Activates the power in the specified slot in the bottom tray.

/powexec_tray # #
Activates the power in the specified slot and tray.

/prev_tray
Change your top power tray to the previous one.

/prev_tray_alt
Change your bottom power tray to the previous one.

/promote [rank name]
Promotes selected player to the specified rank.

/quickchat
Opens the quickchat menu.

/quit
Quits the game.

/request [text] (also /req, /sell, /auction)
Sends the associated text on the request channel.

/say [text] (also /s)
Sends the given text on whichever channel you are currently using.

/screenshot
Takes a screenshot.

/screenshotui # (1 or 0)
Toggles whether the interface is included in screenshots (1 yes, 0 no).

/show [name] (also window_show)
Opens the specified window.

/sg [text] (also /supegroup)
Sends the included text on the supergroup channel.

/sg_accept
Accept an invitation to a supergroup.

/sg_decline
Decline an invitation to a supergroup.

/sgcreate
Create a supergroup.

/sgi [name] (also /sginvite)
Invite the specified player into your supergroup.

/sgk [name] (also /sgkick)
Removes the specified player from your supergroup.

/sgleave
Leaves your supergroup.

/sgsetmotd [text]
Defines the text as your supergroup's message of the day.

/sgsetmotto [text]
Defines the specified text as your supergroup's motto.

/showfps # (1 or 0)
Shows (1) or hides (0) your framerate.

/sidekick [name] (also /sk)
Invites the specified player to become your sidekick.

/sidekick_accept
Accept an invitation to become a player's sidekick.

/sidekick_decline
Decline an invitation to be become a player's sidekick.

/startchat
Puts your cursor in the chat box, ready to type.

/stuck
Tries to fix you if you are physically stuck in the terrain.

/t [name],[message] (also /tell, /private, /p, /whisper)
Sends a message to the specified player only.

/target
Toggles the target window.

/target_enemy_far
Target the furthest enemy.

/target_enemy_near
Target the nearest enemy.

/target_enemy_next
Target the next furthest enemy from you.

/target_enemy_prev
Target the next enemy that is closer than your current target.

/target_friend_far
Target the furthest player.

/target_friend_near
Targets the nearest player.

/Target_friend_next
Targets the next furthest player from your current target.

/target_friend_prev
Targets the next closest player from your current target.

/team_accept
Accepts an invitation to join a team.

/team_decline
Declines an invitation to join a team.

/team_select #
Selects the member of your team specified by number (/team_select 1 would select the leader, for instance).

/third # (1 or 0)
Switches between first- (0) and third- (1) person point of view.

/toggle [name] (also window_toggle)
Toggles whether the specified window is shown.

/toggle_enemy
Cycles through enemies.

/toggle_enemy_prev
Cycles backward through enemies.

/trade [name]
Sends a trade invitation to the specified player.

/trade_accept
Accepts a trade invitation.

/trade_decline
Declines a trade invitation.

/tray
Toggles the power trays.

/unignore [name]
Removes the specified player from your ignore list.

/unselect
Clears all selections.

/unsidekick (als /unsk)
Remove a sidekick, or remove yourself from being a sidekick.

/whoall
Lists all players in your Zone.

/window_color
Changes your window colors. Use hex code color names (IE - #FFFFFF is white).

/window_resetall
Restores all of your windows to their default settings.

/zoomin #
Zooms the camera in by the specified amount.

/zoomout #
Zooms the camera out by the specified amount.

Emotes

The thumbs-up is an emote, a physical animation you can have your character perform.

Emotes are special slash commands that make your character perform an animation, sometimes with an associated sound. Pointing, waving, and laughing are all examples of emotes. Some run through the animation and then stop, while others continue until you do something else. To use an emote, just type '/em [emote]'. To laugh, for example, you would type in '/em laugh'. It's as easy as that. Below is a list of the emotes available in City of Heroes.

akimbo
attack
bigwave
bow
burp
cheer
clap
cointoss (shows heads or tails above your character)
crossarms
dice (rolls one die, which appears over your head)
disagree
dontattack
explain
flex
flex1
flex2
flex3
hi
jumpingjacks
kata
laugh
lecture
lotus
newspaper
no
overhere
paper (Starts a game of rock/paper/scissors. Each person does one of the three emotes and they come up after a few seconds.)
point
praise
raisehand
roar
rock (see paper)
salute
scissors (see paper)
shrug
stop
tarzan
taunt
taunt1
taunt2
thumbsup
wavefist
whistle
yes
yoga

Suggested Binds & Macros

1. Bind very frequently-used powers to keyboard keys to clear space in your primary power tray. Movement powers are good candidates for this--sprint, hover, fly, and rest can take up most of a tray, but are used quite often.
2. Bind a phrase to powers to give your character some personality. /bind g "powexec_name hover $$ local Up I go!" is a good example. Be cautious about binding phrases to very commonly-used commands, though. A Tanker who binds a one-liner to his taunt will be throwing out his one-liner every five seconds during a big fight, irritating teammates and spamming the message window.
3. Bind your pulling power, along with an obvious phrase, to a key other than the one you normally use for that particular power in combat.
4. Create a longer battlecry than the standard one with a combination of an emote (/point and /attack work well) and a phrase.
5. Create a key with some variation of "Look out, a $target" to quickly alert your teammates when you have found a nasty enemy on a mission.

Adding Some Life to your Speech

Whenever you speak on any channel, you will get a word balloon over your head with whatever it was you said inside. There are several special modifiers to speech commands (/say, /local, /team, and so on) that allow you to modify this speech bubble. Most use either color names or hex color codes (samples given earlier in this section). The modifiers are listed below. The brackets (< >) are part of the modifier and must be included when it is added. XXXXXX represents a color, either color names or hex color codes (samples given earlier in this section).

<bgcolor XXXXXX>
This changes the background color of the speech balloon.

<border XXXXXX>
Changes the color of the border of the speech balloon.

<color XXXXXX>
Changes the color of the text itself within the speech balloon.

<scale #>
Use a number between .6 and 1.25 to make the text itself larger or smaller.

Several of these modifiers can be used within a single speech balloon. As an example, you could use these with /local like this: /local <scale 1.25> <color #FFFFFF> <bgcolor #000000> Hello, Citizen! This would have you say 'Hello, Citizen" on the local channel, but your speech balloon would be larger than normal, and black with white text. This is obviously a bit unwieldy for normal speech, but when use with /bind and /macro, it adds more flavor to your character--as long as it is used tastefully.

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