Player vs Player

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There are three types of PvP in CoX: the Arena, PvP Zones, and Base Raids. However, Base Raids have been non-functional since Issue 13.

PvP Zone Combat

Players can participate in one of four zones. All four zones have a level requirement to enter; the lowest being level 15. All contain various Badges, Temp Powers, Missions and mini-games designed to tempt PvE-oriented players into PvP land, or perhaps to give PvPers something to do while waiting for the enemy to show up. All zones also contain NPCs. Some are aligned to the Hero or Villain factions; others are neutral. Neutral and enemy NPCs can cause XP debt when defeating a player.

Three of the zones (Bloody Bay, Siren's Call and Recluse's Victory) allow PvP combat only between Heroes and Villains. In Warburg, you can fight players of your own faction, but still can only team with members of your own faction.

PvP Arena Combat

Main article: Battle Terminal

Arena battles are set up in advance by players for the format they choose in a controlled environment. There are many options: duels, two teams, multiple teams, large scale free-for-alls, various types of limits on levels, power use, classes and victory conditions. The Arena uses special maps which are chosen randomly for each match, or can be set by the participants.

Two common formats for Arena battles are 1v1 duels and 8v8 battles between Supergroups who focus on PVP. SG 8v8 battles usually feature a team of players with Level 50 builds specialized and drilled to complement each other. A typical SG match is best two-out-of-three 10-minute rounds.

PvP Builds

Players who enjoy PvP will typically play certain power sets and develop specialized builds with them to maximize their PvP advantage.

Characteristics of PvP builds

  • Specialize in their role: damage, disruption, or support
  • Single target attacks for damage dealers
  • Perception advantage (buffs for you and teammates, debuffs for foes)
  • Slotted Movement powers (the Leaping pool and Speed pool are very popular)
  • High To-Hit, Damage and Recharge
  • Fitness pool (some builds can forego it)
  • Escape powers such as Phase Shift or Hibernate

Characteristics of PvP Power Sets

A dedicated PvPer will often play a power set they find advantageous. For example, the Scrapper Broadsword or Fiery Melee sets are usually thought stronger choices than Dark Melee or Katana, and Regeneration better than Super Reflexes or Dark Armor. However, a skilled player can sometimes overcome the limitations of a suboptimal set that they play, though the Issue 13 rules changes eliminated some of this flexibility.

In any case, give careful thought to power sets and build before going to PvP, and especially before creating a character especially for PvP. Bear in mind also that dueling, team Arena, solo zone play, and team zone play all differ in what is most advantageous.

PVP Servers

While PVP can and does occur on any server, more PVP players means a better chance to get into a fight, if you're looking for one. There is no official position on this and some debate, but after the server transfers Freedom has emerged as the top live PvP server for holders of US accounts. Prior to Issue 13, Infinity was known as the arena server, while Freedom was more popular for zone PvP. In the wake of Issue 13, many PvPers either started over on or moved characters to Freedom.

PvP Gameplay Differences

PvP fights in City of Heroes follow an extensive set of changes and additions to the rules covering PvE gameplay.

Base Damage Resistance

Players receive bonus Damage Resistance simply for being in a PvP zone. The amount varies with AT. This is intended to make quick defeats less frequent. It is also intended to even out the survivability of all Archetypes, which is why the largest bonuses go to the Archetypes with the poorest natural ability to increase their own Resistance and Defense values.

This Resistance applies to all damage types, even Toxic and Psionic. It is factored into the character's total Resistances like any other buff, which means it can be reduced by PvP Diminishing Returns. (see below)

Archetype Resistance   Archetype Resistance
Blaster 40%   Brute 10%
Controller 40%   Corruptor 40%
Defender 40%   Dominator 40%
Scrapper 10%   Mastermind  0%
Tanker  0%   Stalker 10%
Kheldian 15%   Soldier of Arachnos 10%

Travel Suppression

In PvE, Travel Suppression always lasts 4 seconds, has no effect on teleportation, and is only triggered by attacking. In PvP, it lasts different amounts of time depending on what caused it, it disables all teleportation and portal-summoning powers, and it can be triggered by using attacks, by using some non-attacks, and by getting affected by enemy powers.

Diminishing Returns

In PvP, many character attributes are subject to Diminishing Returns. In general, a single buff will have near full effect, while additional buffs begin to offer less and less benefit. The specific numbers vary from attribute to attribute and from AT to AT. For instance, a Tanker's Resistance and Defense can be raised higher than a Blaster's.

The calculation is based on the sum of all buffs, so the order the buffs are applied does not matter.

Example: Under the old system, Aim + Build Up might provide a combined +67% ToHit buff, while under this system, that combo might provide only +49%.

Note from Castle: The Combat Attributes tool will not always report the results of Diminishing Returns accurately, at least initially. This is specifically true of Damage Buffs, which always display the Pre-Diminished value.

The exact formula used for DR has not been revealed to players. However, Arcanaville created a guide shortly after the release of Issue 13. According to Arcanaville's guide, the approximate formula for the PvP diminishing returns is:

FinalValue = OriginalValue * (1 - ABS(ATAN(A * OriginalValue)) * 2/pi * B)


  • FinalValue is the value of the buff after applying DR
  • OriginalValue is the value of the buff before applying DR
  • ABS(x) is the Absolute value function
  • ATAN(x) is the Arctan function
  • A and B are parameters set per Archetype, per Attribute, and per Aspect. This means that there can theoretically be several thousand diminishing returns curves. However, as noted in Arcanaville's guide, there are certain rules governing the values of A and B.

A and B default to 0.33 and 0.80 for most archetypes and attributes. However, the values can vary widely. For example, Damage Resistance uses 0.60/1.00 for most archetypes, while Tankers get 0.80/1.00 for their Damage Resistance curve. With OriginalValue as the x-axis and FinalValue as the y-axis, these three curves look like this:

Status Effect Protection

In PvP zones, effects that normally provide Protection against status effects provide Resistance instead. It is not possible to prevent effects like Holds and Immobilization in PvP – only shorten them. (Knockdown, Knockback, and Knockup are not included in this. Protection against these can still be found.)

Status Effect & Knockback Suppression

Every time a character recovers from a Hold, Immobilize, Disorient, Sleep, or Fear status, that character becomes immune to all five of those effects from other players for 15 seconds. Every time a character suffers a Knockdown, Knockback, or Knockup effect, that character becomes immune to all three of those effects from other players for 10 seconds. These two timers are independent. It should be noted that Confuse effects, while technically mezzes, are on a separate 15-second timer than the other mezzes listed above.

Healing Decay

Any time a character receives healing from any source, including Inspirations, that character suffers a +20% Resistance penalty to subsequent healing for 8 seconds. Each healing effect applies its own separate penalty, and they can stack up to 80%. Healing Resistance follows the same formula as Damage Resistance – X% resistance prevents X% of the heal amount.

Base Hit Chance

Main article: Attack Mechanics

Players are naturally harder to hit than computer-controlled enemies are. The base chance of hitting another player is 50% (before factoring in Enhancements and all the different buffs on both the attacker and the target). The base chance of hitting an equal-level computer controlled enemy – even in a PvP zone, and even if you're attacking a player's pets – is 75%.


Main article: Attack Mechanics

In PvP zones, many Defense-boosting powers, particularly those in the protective power sets of "non-squishy" ATs, also add a bonus to another stat called Elusivity. Elusivity's effects stack with Defense to make a character even harder to hit.

Stealth and Perception

Main article: Stealth and Perception

All players (as well as all critters) have two different Stealth totals: one that's used when players try to see them and one for when critters try. Stealth-buffing powers give different bonuses to each. Also, Stealth will prevent an enemy player from targeting you if you gain enough of it in the middle of a fight with him. This is different from PvE, where a critter that has aggro on you ignores Stealth and Perception and instead just knows exactly where you are until you lose aggro.

Individual Power Differences

Power effects can vary based on the character using it, or what it's used on, or what kind of zone it's used in. This feature is used heavily to balance powers differently for PvP and PvE. The following sections list some reliable generalizations, but they don't come close to accounting for all the differences. Almost any effect of any power may be different between PvP and PvE, sometimes so subtly that it's not even noticeable. One good place to see differences is to check and uncheck the PvP button in the power's own Detailed Info window.


In PvP, attack powers follow new guidelines regarding the relative amounts of damage done between different attacks within a power set, between different power sets for the same AT, and between different ATs. From Castle:

  • Powers now calculate damage based on their activation time, instead of their recharge. (This difference is sometimes striking. Attacks with unusually long activation times, like Flurry and Propel, deal two to three times their PvE damage, or more, when used against other players. AoE powers generally do far less damage than single-target ones.)
  • Lower activation time powers get a slight bonus to damage, due to chaining low damage powers being difficult in PvP.
  • Longer recharge time powers also get a slight damage bonus, so higher level powers with long recharge times deal extra damage.
  • Damage has been adjusted for all ATs, reducing the damage gap between each AT.


The strengths and durations of status effect-causing powers follow different, simpler, and more consistent rules in PvP.

  • Most status effects have a consistent base duration of 4 seconds for Controller and Dominator powers, and 2 seconds for all other ATs and for pool and temporary powers. These durations do not increase with level. The relevant status effects are Disorient, Sleep, Hold, Immobilize, Fear, and Confuse.
  • Untouchable and Intangible (i.e. "cage") powers have a fixed duration of 8 seconds for Controller and Dominator powers and 4 seconds for all other ATs. These durations do not increase with level.
  • The Dominator's Domination mode gives no bonus duration to status effects. Instead, it causes the them to apply for their full duration regardless of resistances.
  • Taunting powers have a consistent base duration of 6 seconds for Tanker sets, and 4 seconds for Scrapper, Brute, and pool sets. These durations do not increase with level.
  • Placating powers have a consistent base duration of 10 seconds for Stalker sets and 4 seconds for Soldiers of Arachnos sets. These durations do not increase with level.

PvP Zone or PvP Target?

Some powers operate in "PvP mode" any time they are used in a PvP zone. Others produce PvP effects only when used on players. The difference is important if you fight street spawns in PvP zones or you attack your opponent's pets. The first type of power causes PvP effects on those particular enemies, while the second does not. In fact, an AoE power of the second variety produces an appropriate mix of PvP and PvE effects if it hits a mixed crowd of targets.

Effects that Don't Change

Some power characteristics cannot be varied by the devs. You can safely expect these characteristics to stay the same between PvP and PvE:

  • Endurance Cost (although crashes and ongoing per-target losses can vary, since they are not costs)
  • Activation Time
  • Recharge Time
  • Interrupt Time
  • Inherent Accuracy Multiplier (although effects can have individual ToHit modifiers, or be autohit in PvE but not in PvP)
  • Attack Type Tags
  • Range
  • AoE type and size
  • max # of AoE targets


Badge time.png This section contains information that no longer applies to the current version of City of Heroes: Rebirth. The content provided may refer to City of Heroes Freedom.
It is provided for historical purposes.

Base Raids

Main Article: Base Raid

This is a battle, or a set of two battles, between two Supergroups, both of which have suitably equipped bases. The battles are set in the target SG's base, which may be fortified by special defenses used only in a raid.

At one point, the Devs planned to have raidable bases house one or more Items of Power, which could be stolen by a raiding group. However, as of this writing, the Cathedral of Pain Trial during which the IoPs are obtained is unavailable. Prior to Issue 13, base raids were just done for fun and bragging rights, however with the release of Issue 13 the base raid feature has been turned off.

PVPEC Tournaments

The PVPEC created two SG ladders, one each for Hero and Villain Supergroups. After an initial tournament to determine ranks, the SG ladder opened on August 3, 2007 with seven ranked SGs. Matches conducted within this system are usually called official matches and organized on the official PVP Arena board. Following the Issue 13 PvP changes, many of the ladder PvPers left the game and most of the PvP supergroups disbanded. A short-lived attempt was made to restart the ladder after Issue 14.

There was a small resurgence in the arena PvP community late in issue 16. During this period, the PvPEC, with the help of members of the PvP community, created The League - a point based team PvP tournament which spanned several months, and used modified rules from past PvP ladders. Six groups registered, each consisting of two teams: a D8 team, comprised of players that had been signed up on the team's roster; and a D6 team, a team comprised of players that were later drafted by the captains of the D8 team. D8 Teams played 8v8 matches against other D8 teams, while D6 teams played 6v6 matches against the other D6 teams. The League started on February 21, 2010, with the opening D8 round; and ended on May 16, 2010, with the D8 playoffs. The group "usedtobegood" won the tournament.

The League was the largest and most attended PvP event since the second TPvPL, drawing players from all servers, and even bringing many older PvPers back to the game. Following the success of the league, in issue 17, an attempt was made to restart the Test Server PvP ladder. The new ladder unofficially disbanded in little over a month.

External references