Character Contemplations 3: Assimilation (Kinetics/Psychic Blast Defender)

You will be assimilated The leader of my first City of Heroes supergroup wanted to try something different, a poor man’s version of what would come to be known as a superteam. “We should all make the same character, with the same look, and they can be like a Borg collective!” Hence the name and the green cyborg look. I was the only person around that night, so we and his wife gave it a shot. Not bad, not great at low levels. Then he swerved to a new theme and quit within a month.

Despite an inauspicious opening, I liked the character. Kinetics is not stellar at the lowest levels, and I forget how I muddled through them, but it soon picks up some rather nice buffs. Once I had Speed Boost, I was off and running. I spent most of the late game with my buddy Tank Unit (also since moved along, to Auto Assault, bless his soul), hitting Fulcrum Shift around his insane masses of Freakshow. Big buffs, big booms.

This character is everything you know about City of Heroes, only more, harder, faster. I love Kinetics.

Kinetics

I really love Kinetics. This is my favorite power set in the entire game. In addition to a level-capped Defender, I have another around level 20, a similar Corrupter, and a nearly level-capped Controller, plus miscellany. Kinetics goes well with almost everything, and everyone loves having you around.

In one sense, Kinetics has the best heal in the game. It is an AE heal with the highest value. Sadly, it is enemy-targeted, and the AE is around that target. This means you need a to-hit roll, and people need to stand in the danger zone to get healing. Also, if the target dies during the activation time, the heal is wasted.

This is the first part of a large lesson: with Kinetics, you are in the mix. It is very active, close range, with attention needed to timing and positioning. You never go half-AFK while pushing a button when a name hits the red. Half your abilities put you in melee range, so stay there and keep using them.

Transfusion, the heal, is paired with Transference, the endurance refill. Same thing, only it fills the blue bar. Congratulations, no meleer on your team has endurance issues. I still took Stamina just in case (and because I run toggles), but Kinetics keeps everyone going. A great thing is that it refills Blasters who lost all their endurance to nukes (or anyone after meeting a Sapper). If the Blaster can be convinced to stand next to a boss who survived the nuke, you can refill him for the follow-up violence.

Even better, Kinetics brings you Speed Boost. There are some people who do not like Speed Boost, and they are all evil communists who sacrifice puppies to their dark gods. Okay, there are a few map types and medical conditions for which Speed Boost is bad, bust its positives almost always outweigh the negatives.

Speed Boost is an ally buff with three effects: faster running, faster recharge, and faster endurance recovery. The running is the part that messes with people, but at low levels it gives your friends a movement power (while you trail behind them). Faster recharge and faster endurance are great, especially since heroes can get Speed Boost before Stamina. That Defender is effectively casting Stamina and Hasten on everyone, and it stacks with Stamina and Hasten. This is so good that, yes, the power gets two paragraphs to itself. There are entire supergroups based around this power.

Fulcrum Shift is the most awesome power in the world and it will change your life The other set-defining power is Fulcrum Shift. The entire game changes once you take this power, and it does that even without slotting because you cannot slot damage buff. This effect is simple, but the description is complex, so follow me here:

  1. You target an enemy and hit Fulcrum Shift
  2. Make a to-hit roll against that enemy and every enemy around him
  3. Every enemy you hit takes a debuff to its damage.
  4. Now every ally around those enemies gets a damage buff, for each enemy
  5. As a bonus, you and every ally around you gets a double-sized damage buff.

Follow all that? So if the Tanker has a full group of enemies clustered around him, run up next to them and Fulcrum Shift, and you will all be pushing against the damage cap (while he is taking less damage). And unlike most MMOs, you will be fighting large groups all the time. If you are in a team, you expect to have 10+ targets every single group. Fulcrum Shift comes back fast enough for it to be used every group, fast enough to overlap with itself from the previous casting.

With Speed Boost and Fulcrum Shift, you now have a team full of people moving and attacking very quickly, with nigh-endless endurance, at the damage cap. To heck with the Hulk, Bruce Banner can SMASH at that point. With Transfusion and Transference, you keep the blue and green bars full, too. And that is just half the set!

Early on, you get Fulcrum Shift’s single-target little brother, Siphon Power. It does not do a lot, but it is a nice little something in the early levels. In the late levels, it is mostly useful for debuffing archvillains. Keep using Fulcrum Shift and Siphon Power, and one Kinetics Defender can easily keep an AV at the damage minimum, even with the occasional miss.

Repel is an odd duck. It is a PBAE knockback toggle. It makes enemies bounce off you like popcorn. This is usually a bad thing, especially if you are staying in melee range. The meleers on your team will hate you, and you cannot heal yourself because the green aura is flying away from you. Occasionally it is great, when you need that quick knockdown or in PvP when the Stalker tries to hit an easy target. One of the great moments in my gaming life was using my Tactics-enhanced perception to watch a Stalker head my way in Bloody Bay, wait for him come in for Build Up-Assassin Strike, then BOING! I had to chase him down to finish him off, but it was worth it.

Your version of Speed Boost is Siphon Speed. Another buff with a to-hit roll, this time you are sucking speed from an enemy. You get +run and +recharge, he gets a penalty to both (no recovery boost). It is great as an early game movement power and always a good recharge boost. It is suicide to use as a sidekick trying to get between missions, as the targets around you will be very purple.

Kinetics’ other castable movement power is Inertial Reduction, which is fun. This is PBAE Super Jump, which affects you and everyone around you. It is a nice movement power, and it is fun to use in Atlas Park. Watch the newbies bounce like insane monkeys! As a bonus, it improves the handling of Fly.

You get one final buff, Increase Density. This is your status protection, with the rare protection against knockdown. It also protects against smashing and energy damage, which makes it the protection of choice against energy-blasting foes like Siege and his minions. Combine it with those damage debuffs to make archvillain nukes laughable. Unfortunately, it only lasts a minute, so it is mostly a “wake up” rather than a buff to be used in advance.

The swirlies mean your powers are working Have I made it adequately clear why I love this set? We play a game that is fast and dynamic, with lots of action and big explosions. Kinetics makes everything bigger, stronger, faster, MORE. You are active every second, throwing buffs and debuffs, watching for allies that need healing and enemies to use for that. You are in melee range, in the thick of things.

As a Kineticist, you are a great team player who can do a lot on your own. A standard solo spawn has three minions: there is your big damage buff, and you do not need to worry about your friends’ defeating your heal target. On a team, the buffs are bigger, and you can heal a bunch of people at once.

Your downside is that you cannot rez. Carry an Awaken or two.

Psychic Blast

Not the best thing in the world, not the worst. This set has its merits and a few things that work really well.

also I can kill you with my brain Your primary problem is a lack of damage, particularly AE. The idea is that psychic damage is the standard Achilles’ heel, so few will have defense against it. Therefore, you start with lower numbers so that it is not completely overpowered. Then you discover that far more enemies are psychic-resistant than others. You do well against tin can cyborgs, but you will meet many zombies, robots, and psychic carnies.

Your basic, required little blast used to be the worst attack in the game, with a long activation time and little damage. It is better now, but I am still in the habit of avoiding it. I also skipped Subdue with its chance to immobilize, but I hear good things about the Dominator version. I skipped the stun, which is probably nice but I prefer holds (to stack with Controllers on bosses) and I have other things to do during combat anyway. I also skipped the tornado, which throws enemies away from me while I am trying to use them as healing batteries.

Your great strength is single-target damage. Psychic gets an early snipe along with two big attacks around level 20. One has knockback and the other is a sleep, so those three will let you play with enemies indefinitely. Snipe to bring him in, knock him down, and put him to sleep while the attacks recharge. Minions will not survive that, and even bosses drop quickly with the nice damage Will Domination and Telekinetic Thrust have.

Psychic Scream: AE damage in a cone. I use it a lot. In teams, this is my main attack, since I am mostly using Kinetics. Throw an AE attack into the group of enemies and keep buffing/debuffing/healing.

And a nuke, as usual. I always take the nuke and use it whenever I can. Maybe that is just how we play. Psychic Wail has the benefit of a good stun as its secondary effect. Surviving targets wander around like drunks.

There will be few surviving targets, because I lead with Fulcrum Shift. Follow the Tanker in, Fulcrum Shift, nuke, pop a blue pill, finish refilling with Transference, heal if necessary, carry on. You get used to doing this.

Psychic Blast gives you many secondary effect options. You have several slows and at least a chance at three types of crowd control. Collectively, these mess with the enemy, and they must add nicely in PvP. In PvE, it is hard to see the effects much, but I trust that they are there. I am mostly using this for damage anyway.

If only you could see how far that little robot is flying Bonus fun with knockback

You have knockback in Repel and Telekinetic Thrust. Take Power Build Up, which improves your knockback effects. Take your level-capped Kineticist and go back to the low-level areas. Can you make an enemy soar for the length of a football field?

Pool Powers

I see Tactics as required. As a Defender, you get the highest values. More importantly, almost all your powers require a to-hit roll. Slotting more accuracy is a good thing, but Tactics will help. It will also help all your friends and let you see through stealth. Assault is the preferred lead-in, although there are occasions when Maneuvers could win. Rounding out the Leadership pool, Vengeance is fun, especially if you have friends who try to see just how much their buffs let them do.

I have Fitness, which could be optional with Transference. I do not have a movement pool, because I use Inertial Reduction and Siphon Speed.

I have that same epic pool, for Power Build Up and Total Focus. I took all four powers, but I should probably get rid of Conserve Power. It is ridiculous when I have all the other endurance boosters.

Playstyle

Hit everyone with Speed Boost, and we’re off. Leap into the enemies (the spawn or the herd) and hit Fulcrum Shift, healing the Tanker if necessary. Use Psychic Scream and/or Wail. Refill endurance. Clean up survivors with single-target attacks.

Against archvillains, hit all the debuff powers as quickly as possible. Transfusion also has a regeneration debuff, so it keeps the AV from healing. Drain his speed and damage while healing your friends. Toss attacks as possible and keep everyone Speed Boosted.

Remember to step into your throw.  Follow-through is important when you are tossing enemies off the screen. Your role changes a bit with team composition and targets. A Kinetics Defender brings heals, buffs, and damage to the team, so focus on whichever is most needed right now. Never stop using all three or you are selling yourself short.

Hey, this is about my character, why is it in the second person? Because you need to try this playstyle. If you want to see why City of Heroes is a different game from other MMOs, nothing will show you better than Kinetics. If you decide it is not your style, you will still want someone else on your team to have Kinetics, preferably a couple with it.

Other Build Notes

You must take Transfusion, Transference, Speed Boost, and Fulcrum Shift. The rest are optional, although mostly desirable. Repel is the most optional, and you can skip Inertial Reduction if you take another movement power. I tend to take Siphon Power early, respec out of it in mid levels, then take it again at the end when there are a lot of archvillains.

I do not have many damage slots, although I have more in a post-ED world. I rely on Fulcrum Shift for damage. Instead, I have extra recharge in my favorite attacks.

Secondary Options

There are several standard blasting options for a defender. Psychic is not one of them, but its single-target damage helps when soloing. Radiation is nice because it has a defense debuff, letting your other debuffs hit more easily. Electricity has the endurance drain, as do Transfusion and Transference; Short Circuit to empty the group, Transference to empty the boss, and keep the attacks going to keep everyone empty. Energy Blast is probably not for the best, since you do not want the knockback. Dark’s AE immobilize and disorient are nice for locking down your Fulcrum Shift targets, although that cuts into your damage.

Conclusion

This is easily one of my favorite characters, as should be obvious by now. Faster harder MORE now! Kinetics rocks. I think she solos pretty well, but I mostly use her on teams, as I have characters that solo very well (Frosta, Furious Badger).

This is me casting Inertial Reduction.  I am so out of here. I recommend making a character with Kinetics, be it a Defender, Controller, or Corrupter. Pick whatever other powers you want and go for it. The problem with non-Defenders is that you do not get Speed Boost until 20 or Fulcrum Shift until 38. A Defender gets them at 10 and 32, which makes a big difference in terms of hours played. While other people are burning out in the 30s as the levels slow down, you will still be flying with your new Fulcrum Shift. It really is a life-changing power that makes the later levels not just bearable but awesome.

: Zubon

Character Contemplations 1: Frosta
Character Contemplations 2: Zubon
Character Contemplations 3: Assimilation
Character Contemplations 4: De-Frosta
Character Contemplations 5: Fluffy Bunnies
Character Contemplations 6: Furious Badger
Character Contemplations 7: Sightblinder
Character Contemplations 8: Zapato Conqueso

4 thoughts on “Character Contemplations 3: Assimilation (Kinetics/Psychic Blast Defender)”

  1. I also highly recommend Kinetics. It brings the fun and is one of the few things that will actually make you feel like a superhero (when minions level on par with you). If you can find another Kinetics hero to work with, you’ll both jump for joy (speed boosted Kinetics heroes are incredible).

    The endurance recovery from Speed Boost is actually twice as effective as Stamina with the same slotting, and the recharge boost is nearly as good as Hasten.

    Many people hate Repel, but it’s situationally very powerful. Mass knockback to give leeway for an emergency heal is golden, and near corners it’s a very effective herding tool, setting up nicely for Fulcrum Shift.

    Siphon Speed is particularly nice in missions when combined with Hover. You get base Fly speed for very little endurance, and can keep yourself just above melee range, which keeps yourself close enough to benefit from your powers while herding any melee that targets you.

    I went with Ice Control as my primary, with the full intention of focusing on Kinetics. Ice Control has a lot of AoE soft control (Arctic Fog & Ice Patch) which make it easy to contain a group in a small area while debilitating them.

  2. I have been a world of warcraft gamer, but after view your post, I will give kinetics a try. Thanks for the write up

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