Obviously, any increase in variety is a good thing for the game. More available powers means more concepts can be brought to life. Even if it means a loss of exclusivity for the blue or red side, it's a net gain for the players as a whole.
From the PvP angle, however, it's a different story. There have been long-standing complaints that villains aren't given the benefits heroes are. Chief among these, perhaps, is the contrast between the hero Ancillary Pools and the villain Patron Pools; the former is what allows the heroes to combine Power Build Up with mezzes and debuffs among other things, while the latter are a rather bland and tragically unchangeable collection featuring no really outstanding powers, with the possible exception of Soul Storm.
Furthermore, the principal buffing set on the heroes' side – Empathy – is frequently improperly characterized as the 'healer' par excellence, but the buffs are what enable it to shine; nowhere more so than in PvP where a 'pocket empath' can buff a team into the stratosphere.
So who gets what? Let's find out, and let's try to remember that more is coming. Back Alley Brawler assures us there'll be more Powerset Proliferation in future issues, so even if we don't get what we'd have liked, it's not the end of the world.
New Primary - Psychic Blast
New Secondary - Mental Manipulation
This is the one that's really stirred up the PvP pigeons. Resisting Psychic damage is hard enough as it is, and Blasters tend to do rather well in PvP already. Small wonder the Devs are already issuing stern caveats: "the developers will be keeping a VERY close eye on this powerset." Mental Manipulation is the only unprecedented powerset and contains at least one entirely new power, we are told. It seems likely it'll be a mix of the powers from Psychic Assault with others from here and there, along with at least one hold.
New Primary - Electrical Blast
New Secondary - Storm Summoning
It was known that Storm was coming to the villains already, and frankly it's about time. It just screams 'chaos and villainy', as anyone who's fought the Tsoo or the Banished Pantheon will know. A lot of players will be disappointed at not getting Empathy here, but Storm at least makes sense thematically. Electrical Blast, however, is only justifiable on thematic grounds. What about Psychic Blast? This is another one for the PvPers to raise hell over, and one can see their point.
New Primary - Plant Control
New Secondary - Thermal Radiation
We knew Plant was coming; good news for all those would-be Druids out there. Thermal is much more of a surprise. Controllers have Empathy already, so why not give them one of the quirkier sets, such as Poison, rather than another set largely focused on team support? And the villains won't be happy at the heroes getting their Thermal if they don't get Empathy in return...
New Primary - Earth Control
New Secondary - Electricity Manipulation
Earth Control, while a solid and reliable powerset, is going to leave more than a few people disappointed. It was Illusion that many wanted, and from a personal perspective, we're a little sad that we won't be unloading psionic hell from the midst of a horde of Phantasms. Electricity Manipulation (Assault, surely?) coupled with the boosts offered when Domination is running could be fun, but it's thematically very weird, and it's not clear how it goes with Earth Control. It doesn't quite gel with any of the other Dominator primaries, either.
New Primary - Cold Domination
New Secondary - Ice Blast
Now this is the real deal. If you're a Defender player, it is time to rejoice exceedingly and with great gladness. Villains, once again, aren't going to be happy. The opportunities for good damage, severe debuffing and AoE immobilization (so sweet when you're casting rains) just got much broader. As a bonus, it not only makes perfect sense conceptually, it synergizes with currently available sets such as Storm and Dark. Cold as a primary, (leaving Frostwork aside) lacking heals as it does, should also help to broaden appreciation of Defenders beyond the 'healbot' stereotype.
New Secondary - Storm Summoning
Boo to the lack of any new primary, but then, Masterminds are a special case. Storm as the secondary, however, is a real blinder. Our money was firmly on Sonic, with a sneaking hope for Empathy. It's not that Storm is a bad set. It's an excellent offensive set, and a Mastermind who can keep foes at bay with Hurricane will be a happy Mastermind. The knockback can work to your advantage, too, if you know how to use it without annoying the team. It's just hard not to feel disappointed at the lack of some serious buffs for the villain side.
New Primary - Battle Axe
New Primary - War Mace
New Secondary - Super Reflexes
It was common knowledge as to what Brutes were getting for their primaries. It's no surprise to see weapons sets, and very welcome they are too. The secondary is going to leave players with a bit of a sense of deja vu, though. When Ice was scrapped as the +DEF powerset owing to issues with slowing attacks and Fury building, the Energy Aura powerset was introduced instead. Super Reflexes is arguably a bit too similar. It's also going to be cold comfort in PvP, where Defense based sets don't have too good a time of it villain-side.
New Primary - Electric Melee
New Secondary - Electric Armor
Is it us or is this flat-out baffling? Electric Melee, as a Brute set, was good at AoE damage; and Stalkers are much more about burst damage applied to one target. Electric Armor doesn't provide a self-heal and focuses on resisting damage instead of avoiding it. We won't be making any final judgments until we've seen the sets in action, but this could be the strangest powerset choice of the lot.
New Primary - Dark Armor
New Secondary - Dark Melee
So who else thought Tanks were going to be getting Electric Armor and Melee? Yup. Some of us even had characters planned, too. Dark Armor isn't what we would have picked as the first choice for Tankers. Okay, it does help resist that Psy damage, but Tankers aren't exactly known for their Stealth. Dark Melee, on the other hand, is obviously sweet. When your adversaries are swarming around you, a good AoE damage and self-buff is ideal.
New Primary - Fiery Melee
New Secondary - Fiery Aura
The AoEs. Oh my. How good is this going to be?
In conclusion, it looks like the Heroes mostly made out extremely well, while the Villains will be waiting at least another issue for the powersets many of them have been craving. Let's remember, though, that there was once a time when migrating powersets between ATs was anathema, so it's good to see this happening at all, even if the initial result isn't what some were hoping for.
Reading between the lines, it seems Matt "Positron" Miller's taking the helm was the crucial change that opened the way for Powerset Proliferation. Judging by the overwhelming player response, he's doing the right thing. Let's just hope the Villains see a lot more love in the next few months.