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What is the role of the City of Heroes Defender?
The official description of the Defender is:
The Defender is a long-range support specialist. This Archetype is effective with ranged attacks (though not quite on par with the Blaster), but the Defender's true worth shines in another area. Defenders are the premier helpers in the game - they are the best at strengthening their teammate's abilities (buffing) and weakening foes (debuffing). They aren't built for lengthy hand to hand combat, though they aren't fragile, either. The Defender needs to keep an eye both on his teammates and the enemy - in order to see which requires his powerful attention first!
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What Primary Powersets Are Available To Defenders?
For City of Heroes Defenders, the primary powerset is the support, buffing, and/or debuffing set. They are similar to controller secondaries but the defender versions have higher effect values.
Cold Domination - Cold domination has a variety of strong debuffs. They are not as good as radiation emission, however. This set also has a very rare maximum health buff that is quite good.
Dark Miasma - This set has good debuffs and a few powers that are almost controller like. It also has an excellent pet in the Dark Servant.
Empathy - This is the primary healing type set. It also has one of the best buffs in the entire game: Fortitude. The regeneration and recovery auras buff the whole group giving them excellent health and endurance recovery rates.
Force Field - This set focusses on protecting the entire team with defense based shields. This set also provides status protection to the controller and the controller's team.
Kinetics - This is the most purely offensive based set for the controller. It drains foes of their ability to deal damage while massively buffing the controller and its team. It can also boost speed, endurance regeneration, jump height, and more.
Radiation Emission - This is the best debuffing set in the game. Radiation can debuff regeneration, defense, to-hit, and damage resistance. When you can debuff these things, Arch Villains become significantly easier. A lot of end game content practically requires a radiation emission team member.
Sonic Resonance - This set is similar to force field but the "bubbles" protect via damage resistance rather than defense. This set also provides status protection to the controller and the controller's team.
Storm Summoning - This offensive/PvP based set is popular among soloists and PvPers but it is not group friendly.
Thermal Radiation - This was originally a villain corruptor set but was recently given to controllers. It is a hybrid of sonic resonance and empathy/
Trick Arrow - This is the most unique of the controller sets. It has a variety of debuffs that take a good deal of practice to use effectively.
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What Secondary Powersets Are Available to Defenders?
Defender secondaries provide offensive attacks. They are similar to blaster primary sets but the defender sets do less damage.
Archery - A very stylistic set with many utility powers, you have to really love the concept of archery to go with this set.Assault Rifle - At release this was an excellent set, but the heavy smash/lethal damage is highly resisted by foes. It has a combination of single target, cone area of effect, and stun attacks.
Dark Blast - This blast set has a number of damage over time and control type powers.
Electrical Blast - This set has decent single target attacks with one mediocre area of effect. Each attack has a bit of end drain, that sadly ends up being mostly irrelevant. A nice looking set.
Energy Blast - This set is very similar to electrical blast but it has slightly better area of effect damage. Unfortunately, the high amount of knockback in this set makes it very group unfriendly.
Ice Blast - Far and away the best single target set. It has a chain of single target ice attacks that animate rapidly and hit hard.
Psychic Blast - The exotic nature of psionic damage makes this set popular with PvPers.
Radiation Blast - This set has good single and area of effect attacks. They animate fast and have built in defense debuffs in every attack.
Sonic Attack - This is a damage and support set, as every attack debuffs the damage resistant of its victims.