A Mild-Mannered Reporter: In the case of archetypes

I can't say I'm unhappy about the announcement of a new round of powerset proliferation in City of Heroes, but I can be a little upset about the timing. I mean, really, Paragon? You couldn't have waited until my ten-part series talking about the powers available to each archetype was a little more cold in the ground before shooting it to pieces? Would that have been such a tragedy? Now it's pre-obsoleted before I even had the chance to develop a profound dissatisfaction for it.

Oh, well. I might not be able to go back and edit all of the columns to accommodate all the upcoming changes (well, not credibly, anyway), but I can at least talk about the process and my thoughts behind the overall focus. And even if the columns won't quite stand the test of time, methodology matters, right? So let's get on with it and take a look back over the ten core archetypes, talk a little more about the epic archetypes, and even glance at the future of each given set.

The listing

Before I get into the meat of this column, I want to give everyone a chance to brush up on the previous parts of the series. And it's also nice to have a single reference point for the future. So here are the columns, in the order they were released for the most part:
The first column is out of order, as it was meant to expand upon the premise that the first four columns or so had already laid down as a framework. Reading in order is sometimes useful as I make references back to previous installments, but I'm not peeking over your shoulder to see how you want to read it.

Roles and goals

When I first started the series, I didn't actually have a goal. I know, that might sound bizarre, but I started out just wanting to try and present something approaching a guide for one of my favorite archetypes. And seeing as how I knew there were at least another nine columns in the same vein, I tried to make the format something that would work for all of the other archetypes as well.

The thing is, when you're first starting City of Heroes, it's easy to get really overwhelmed. In most games, you're choosing between a dozen or so classes. In CoH, you're choosing between ten classes, each with at least five primary sets and five secondary sets -- and you can't ever change those initial choices. You have a lot of possibilities staring you in the face, and even if you have an idea of what general sort of hero you want, there's a lot of space for any given character. (You want someone with a sword and a bad attitude, okay -- but there are four separate archetypes that can fit that character concept in, and you haven't even gotten in to the many secondary sets that could work with it.)

So the columns wound up working as a decent starting point. They focused a lot of the functionality of sets in parties, which upset some readers, largely because CoH is not the sort of game where you'll be kicked from a group because you're a Gravity/Weather Controller. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of other useful criteria to evaluate sets on, as I explained in the philosophy column. To make life at least moderately easier for people new to the game or the class, I felt it was best to stick with the stated role of each archetype.

But that's part of the game's charm. There are no "bad" powersets, just awkward combinations. And while you might want to start out playing a Kinetics/Radiation Defender to get a feel for how the sets work and what it's like playing a Defender, going crazy on bow-related powers for a later charac ter is both valid and nifty.

Epic archetypes

Longtime readers might well remember that I had an extensive look at Spiders way back in the early days of the column. I had mentioned possibly doing a similar series on Kheldians but never got much of a response on that either way, and I'll admit it hasn't been high on my own priority list. But since I've been enjoying the poll feature so much, I'm just going to throw out a poll right here and we can decide whether or not anyone really wants to see a space squid guide.


That poll closes on Sunday, by the by.

By and large, however, the epic archetypes don't fit in to the same mold as the other archetypes because they don't get a choice of powersets in the same fashion. You choose which powers your Kheldian picks up, sure, but you can't pick from several pools and have more than enough slots to get most everything you need as either archetype. Things are a bit more divided for Soldiers and Widows, but you still run in to the fundamental problem that any given EAT will be more like another incarnation of an EAT than any two random Scrappers.

Most of the advice I could or would give would just be to say which powers are useful and which ones aren't, and your choice is really not so broad that you can't figure most of that out on your own. Which rather cuts down on the utility of such a guide.

Plus, EATs don't have a distinct role in parties. An EAT is the glue that helps a group hang together, usually capable of fulfilling multiple roles and/or buffing the entire group merely by being there. It creates a very different dynamic and one that doesn't lend itself well to more specific rundowns.

All that having been said, we'll see what happens in that poll there.

And that's the archetype rag

Just as the subject says, that's the length and breadth of this little mini-series. I hope you've enjoyed it, and if you haven't, the feedback lines are open as always. For those of you who have forgotten, you can mail me at eliot@massively.com, or you can just leave a comment below -- I read both.

Next week, I'm feeling just a little self-indulgent, so I'm going to head off into some territory with questions you might have thought but didn't ask. The week after that, I'm going to take a close look at two groups you know are present in the game but probably don't even think about any longer.

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre unveils his secret identity in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles every Wednesday. Filled with all the news that's fit to analyze and all the muck that's fit to rake, this look at City of Heroes analyzes everything from the game's connection to its four-color roots to the latest changes in the game's mechanics.
This article was originally published on Massively.