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Modern Force Fields Guide


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Force Fields for Defenders (and others)

I started putting this together after the September 2022 changes to Force Field, and played a couple of FF Defenders to 50 to test out the two main approaches. Force Fields was always one of my favourite powersets, and is even more so now with the improvements.


My approach to Defending
I always take a good number of attacks from my secondary and slot them. This does not compromise your ability to use your Primary. I believe every team member should contribute direct damage, as that is what leads to mission completion.
Even "half a Blaster" is better than none. 
Defenders have a great potential to be "Sentinels who buff" and build up their own defences, since they get the best bonuses from pool powers, equalled only by Tankers! (Any powerset can soft-cap their defences, FF makes it super easy though)
Leadership powers are highly recommended as extra team buffs.
Nukes and Aim are great to have, and to get them recharging as quickly as possible.


For me, the best thing in CoH is the widely varied support sets.

Whenever I get on a team or task force, I count the support sets (Defender, Corrupter, Controller, Mastermind, Arachnos) and feel joy over some broad categories. 
The big things you can bring to a team are
- Team safety (+Def, +Res, -To Hit, Heals, Mez protection) - Yay! Our green bars won't be moving much
- Team killing speed (-Res debuffs, +Recharge, +Damage, Mez Protection) - Yay! The enemies are going to melt in front of us
- End management (+End, +Recovery, end drain resistance) - Yay! Our blue bars won't be moving much

Where does Force Fields fit into that?


Force Fields overview
Safety 5/5 - its a top-tier defensive set
Killing Speed  3/5 - has decent -Res debuffs
End Management 2/5 - Insulation Shield adds big End Drain Resistance, which makes Penny Yin and Synapse much nicer for teammates
Ease of Use 5/5 (very easy to use well, leaving you lots of time to devote to your other powerset)


Defence buffs

Force Fields do one thing really well - add Defence to your allies so they don't get hit.
Enemies have a base 50% chance to hit you. You subtract your Defence from this and cap at 5%, and then multiply that by accuracy bonuses/level difference mulitpliers.
So 45% Defence lowers your chance of getting hit by an even con enemy from 50% to 5%!! It pretty much reduces all incoming damage (and other effects like debuffs and mez) by a factor of ten 

The following four powers, 3 slotted for Defence, will give your teammates close to the 45% soft-cap on a Defender (number shown are base values and fully slotted values for ally Defence buffs):
- Deflection Shield and Insulation Shield 15%/21% 
- Dispersion Bubble 10%/16%
- Leadership: Manouvers 3.5%/5.5%
That's +42.5% total defence once all are 3-slotted! As long as someone else is running Manouvers, or each teammate had Hover or Combat Jumping or something, you've put everyone at the defence soft cap. You can do this by Level 13 now.
In order to maintain this, you need to use two powers every four minutes!

Controllers, Corrupters and MMs get 75% of these values, so they add around 32% Defence to all teammates, which will still take many allies to the Defence cap.

If you really want to nudge everyone over the edge yourself as a Defender, grab Concealment: Grant Invisibility, an ally only buff that makes the target invisible and adds 2.5% Defence for 2 minutes. (This is also thematically on point if you want to be married to a silver fox scientist with a stretchy body, and have a kid brother who can set himself on fire! 🙂 )

In Incarnate content, NPC's base hit values are higher, so 59% is the soft cap for defence.


Other Force Multipliers for teams

As of September 2022, FF has been given some offensive debuffs. 
Force Bolt is a low damage attack that does hefty knockback. It now also does a Resistance debuff, so anyone hit by it takes 20% more damage for the next 30 seconds.
Force Bolt is low recharge, low damage, high accuracy and really needs very little slotting. Maybe KB -> KD, or a single end redux or acc?

Repulsion Bomb is a low damage knockdown AoE, which also does -Resistance now. 
It's a great power to proc out. It does knock up (so KB->KD not required) and can take:
- Force Feedback +Recharge
- Annihilation -Res proc
- Positron's Blast, Bombardment and Explosive Strike damage procs
- 1 accuracy is probably a good idea
These two are must-haves because of the -Res debuff they provide!


Other Force Field Powers
Personal Force Field (2/5) - It adds a lot to your defence, but, means you cant attack, and your ally buffs from Dispersion and Manouvers go down. You're better building for defence that works while you attack.
Detention Field (1/5) - very situational. It traps an enemy but makes them unhittable. This is very bad for almost all gameplay. (Great for Consiglieres with Singularity pets - Detention the Singularity and then kill the boss to make it disappear. But that's about it.)
Repulsion Field (3/5) - combines knockback on close enemies with a large scale Repel. Protects you from melee attacks really well and can be fun and useful for herding and positioning enemy groups. A KB->KD IO will turn off the repel, meaning anyone who comes into melee range gets repeatedly knocked up and down. If you're going for  a tanky build, this power can remove the need to get your Melee Defence up to the soft cap. Also vewry useful for a few situations like stopping 30 Fir Bolg getting through the gate, or planting a bomb in a Mothership Raid.
Damping Bubble (2/5) - static bubble that debuffs enemies and buffs allies inside it. Provides some Defence Debuff Resistance, which is nice (see below). The fact its static placement and longer recharge makes it better for AV fights than steamrollering missions. I've heard some people sing its praises, but I never felt it make a difference.


FF Defender Type 1: The Sentinel Who Buffs
You don't get all these bonuses yourself, because Deflection Shield and Insulation Shield are ally-only.
But it's not hard at all to get to 45% Defence yourself, since Defenders get the best Defence bonuses from pool powers,
equal to Tanks!
- Fighting: Tough, slotted with two unique +Def IOs (+6%) - needs Kick or Boxing to unlock
- Fighting: Weave, fully slotted for defence (5%/8%)
- Combat Jumping and/or Hover (2.5%/3% with one LotG unique or SO)
This (and Dispersion Field and Manouvers) gives you personally 38.5% Defence. Its not hard to get to 45% from there with a few set bonuses.
Gaussian's Synchronised Fire Control in Aim adds 2.5% to all positions.
Two Thunderstrikes, or the Defender ATIO sets will then cap your Ranged Defence

Unbreakable Guard (4 pieces) in Tough, Obliteration in PBAoEs help with Melee Defence


FF Defender 2: The Consummate Supporter
The solid defences you provide are much better than reactive healing, but aren't much use if a teammate is low on health and damage is still trickling through.
Medicine: Aid Other - can be very handy for spot-healing. Also unlocks Aid Self. Also breaks sleep, which your Dispersion Bubble does not protect against!
Sorcery: Spirit Ward - provides an extra layer of defence on an ally in the form of an Absorption Shield. I haven't experimented with this too much.
Teleport: Teleport Target - always a useful support power, could have some good applications with a Stealth power or "Tank Stealthing" with Personal Force Field. Always handy for rescuing dead teammates, or dealing with an enemy you've Force Bolted into a cave wall!


Healing IOs:
Defender's Bastion - Chance for Healing Aura. Put this set in a long recharge blast or snipe to provide regular healing pulses for yourself and allies nearby. This complements Force Fields really well.
Power Transfer - Chance to Heal. This can be slotted in an extra slot in Stamina to give you small frequent healing pulses to recover from the unlikely hit.


Endurance management:
Doing your job requires running two toggles (Dispersion Bubble and Manouvers) and attacking, which can drain your endurance. The usual tools for End management available to you are:
- extra slots in Stamina
- the Performance Shifter: Chance for +End Proc in Stamina (average return is better than an End Mod SO)
- Recovery Serum from the P2W Vendor
- Epic powers like Conserve Power, Power Sink, Consume
- The Atlas Medallion accolade for more Endurance (and Portal Jockey later)
- Leadership: Victory Rush (not fantastic in my experience)


When Defence breaks down...
You don't get to turn your team into completely indestructible gods ALL the time. The following enemy factions will cause problems:

1) Defence Debuffs
- Circle of Thorns Earth Thorn Caster. They drop Quicksand, which has a big -Def debuff and doesn't need to hit. Only appear at levels 35-39
- Arachnos Spider Mistress Lieutenants do a psychic cone attack that drops Defence quite harshly

- Clamor in Penny Yin (and Dreck) use Radiation Blast attacks with -Def

- Gamma Tanks in Crey use Radiation Melee attacks with -Def

Damping Bubble will mitigate some of this by providing Defence Debuff Resistance to you and your team


2) To Hit Buffs
- Nemesis Lieutenants (except Snipers/Tirralieurs) do Vengeance when they die, giving all nearby allies +30% To Hit! One application is bad, but this stacks!! Defeat them last, and try not to pull multiple groups
- Devouring Earth Quartz Lieutenants drop little Quartz emanators that give every ally +100% To Hit!! (You read that right) One little emanator will completely neutralise your powerset, so try to mez the Guardians immediately*, and target and destroy any emanators quickly (or just rely on AoE to do that). 
*Note that Fungi Lieutenants drop mushrooms that make nearby DE immune to mez, so this tactic has its limits in large groups.

Damping Bubble does not help here

Blast Powers
You can now skip your Tier 1 power as a Defender, which is usually a good thing. I usually aim to have Tier 2, Tier 3 and Snipe blasts, two AoE's, the nuke and Aim.
Attacks with IO's: 3 Damage, one acc, one end redux, on recharge roughly in that order
Blasts: Thunderstrikes help you cap ranged Defence with some other nice bonuses
Snipe: Thunderstrike or Sting of the Manticore.
AoE attacks: Good place for the Defender special IOs.
Aim: Slot a Gaussian's Synchronised Fire Control: Chance to Build Up. This takes Aim from +50% damage to +130% most of the time (since it has around 90% chance to proc), giving your Nuke much more power!
Slotting the full set gives you +2.5% Defence to Melee, Ranged and Area, which is great of you're chasing the defence softcap
Nuke: Obliteration is a great set here. With IOs 3 slot damage, then recharge. Has very high base accuracy. Use Bombardment for ranged Nukes?


Power Boost/Build Up and Epics
Defenders and Corrupters get Power Build Up in Power Mastery (+98%/+78% to Defence Buffs)
Controllers get Power boost in Primal Forces Mastery (+122% to Defence Buffs)
These are short lived buffs like Aim/Build Up that increase buff strengths and heals. If you activate these before Deflection Shield and Insulation Shield, those bubbles will stay buffed for their entire lifetime!
So this increases ally buffs by:

Defenders: 98% * 15%  = 14.5%      = 57% Total
Corrupters: 78% * 11.25% = 8.8%    = 41% Total
Controllers: 122% * 11.25% = 13.7% = 46% Total

This pushes a FF Defender into capping against Incarnate content, and a Controller into capping against normal content!

If you go this route, be aware that re-applying Insulation Shield or Deflection Shield after Power Build Up/Power Boost has worn off will result in the boosted shields being replaced with un-boosted shields. My preferred method is to hit Power Build Up when it recharges, and only ever apply shields immediately after.


FF/Energy Defender example build
1   Deflection Shield (3 slot Def)
1   Power Blast (5 or 6 slot)
2   Repulsion Bolt ( 1 slot Accuracy)
4   Energy Torrent ( 5 or 6 slot)
6   Insulation Shield ( 3 slot Def)
8   Manouvers ( 4 slot, 3 Def + End redux)
10  Power Burst ( 5 or 6 slot)
12  Dispersion Bubble ( 4 slot, 3 Def + end redux)
14  Kick ( ignore)
16  Sniper Blast (5 or 6 slot)
18  Tough ( 2 slot for +Def IOs)
20  Aim ( GSFC: Build Up )
22  Force Bomb 
24  Weave ( 4 slot, 3 Def + end redux)
26  Hover/Combat Jumping
28  Explosive Blast
30  Nova (5 or 6 slot)
32  Fly/Superjump/Hasten

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8 hours ago, MonteCarla said:

- Fighting: Tough, slotted with two unique +Def IOs (+6%) - needs Kick or Boxing to unlock
- Fighting: Weave, fully slotted for defence (5%/8%)


Fighting is a poor choice on most FF fenders.


1) set IO builds easily softcap without weave.

2) SO builds struggle to afford the endurance cost.


Dispersion bubble, maneuvers, either CJ or hover, both 3% uniques, and agility core paragon bring you to about 32.5% def to all.


6x gaussians makes that 35%, so we only need 10% more def.


The ATIO sets offer 5% ranged and 5% aoe defense bringing us to 40%. The remaining amount is easily made up, for example 6x t-strikes 2x botzs for another 5% ranged def.


9 hours ago, MonteCarla said:

Blasts: Thunderstrikes help you cap ranged Defence with some other nice bonuses


If you plan on capping aoe def in addition to ranged, a set of winter's bite can be more valuable (especially since aoe def is generally rarer).


6x t-strikes is 3.75% ranged def.

6x winter's bite is 2.5% ranged and 2.5% aoe def, a total of 5%.


The tradeoff is that winter's bite does not have the acc but with the added slot-efficiency this can be made up elsewhere and still result in a net gain.


9 hours ago, MonteCarla said:

Defenders and Corrupters get Power Build Up in Power Mastery (+98%/+78% to Defence Buffs)


For fenders/corrs the power boost in soul mastery is generally better:

  • Lesser recharge resulting in higher uptime.
  • Soul mastery has more valuable powers such as an epic toggle with exotic resists and soul drain (albeit weaker than the one in dark mastery).



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All good points, Zect. Thanks!


I skipped fighting on my "Consumate Supporter" character but took it on my "Sentinel who Buffs" partly to get to high def values quicker. Without Fighting I'd have had to wait until the late 30's early 40s to slot the two Unique IOs. But I agree, its not worth it for an end-game build.


I hadn't looked too closely at the Winter's Bite set (or any Winter's sets). Huh, cool. Can't argue with that!


And yeah, Soul Mastery is a better choice for getting the Power Boosted shields up more often.


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