In terms of fads, I feel like this has been the year of team-based FPS with many titles coming out during the year and each with its own specific focus and mechanics. It’s a genre I was glad to see get some much needed iteration and polish, however, many games seem to fall in the realm of familiarity. I feel like I’ve already experienced what some of these games have to offer and unfortunately Gigantic falls into this category for me.
It’s not exactly that Gigantic is mediocre, but it just doesn’t excel at anything in particular to really set itself apart. It has some elements that are well designed, others that are iterated on well to form something reasonably unique and the general gameplay is enjoyable, but it’s not enough to keep me constantly engaged and exhilarated. Currently, there isn’t enough to keep me coming back.
Guardians and Gameplay
I generally do like the design behind Gigantic and its team-based arena combat. While it initially feels rather overwhelming, the game mechanics can be picked up rather quickly once you take the time to complete the tutorial. Each match is a battle between the two ancient guardians that you support by providing energy through your actions. Get enough energy and your guardian goes on a rampage to attack the opposing teams’ Guardian, pinning them down for your team to attack. Once you do enough damage to a downed Guardian then your team wins.
The main element that supports this is the control of certain points around the map that let you summon monsters to protect the area. These are spaced around the map, mostly to the sides and usually one central point. There is also a range of creatures you can summon around specific roles like Healing, damage, and support that can help immensely in battle and over the course of the match. However,there is a certain balance when it comes to summoning; they may provide decent buffs or damage, but the enemy gets energy from killing them. So there is strategy when it comes to what to summon, when to summon it, and where certain monsters should be placed.
The maps so far seem rather well-designed with the various paths to travel along towards your objective, the various corners waiting for an ambush, as well as the way they play around with height. There are many spaces along the map where you are able to survey important places and choke points, but there are also ledges and valleys you are able to hide within or sneak along in order to get behind the enemy. I think utilizing the terrain effectively within these maps is probably one of the more important strategic elements that contribute to a victory.
Unfortunately, it’s just a design that seems rather removed from the intent when in the middle of play. It’s a battle that revolves around these giant beasts yet while combating against the enemy team and contesting points it is easy to forget about it. You become so focused on those map objectives, and what is visually near you, that you lose track of the points marker and, even at times, miss those vital cues when the guardian beasts are battling. Most team battle style games have you fighting over, on, or directly towards an object, and while the various map elements and enemy kills play into it, the overall objective feels a little too detached from play.
Colorful and Creative Characters
The Characters in Gigantic are colorful, detailed and amazing. I pretty much love them all, not just for their skill selection but because of how unique they feel within both the context of this world and compared with other games. It’s rather refreshing to find a game that so readily avoids the many rather overused tropes when it comes to character design. I managed to get attached to a few of these characters in just a short amount of time because of how well designed they are.
The designs just vary so wildly but in a good way. The stealthy stag sharpshooter, a blind behemoth, or maybe a small girl with a large sword summoning ancient ancestors. Because of this, it is rather easy to recognize the characters right away when in combat and even from across the map. You know what to expect and account for, and you see team call-outs being more precise because of it. Sometimes, it can be hard to pick people out, especially smaller characters in the map as the stylized and colorful designs can help them blend into the surroundings, but mostly it is a design choice that helps the overall experience immensely.
However, I do feel like the skill selection and overall combat mechanics don’t quite live up to the rest of the character design. So many of the characters feel a little too similar in combat, such as those who use energy weapons or the Snipers. There are secondary skills that make them stand apart a little, but the basic attacks are overwhelmingly average for the most part. Your skills are upgraded over a match to provide new buffs, utility and damage, which provides choice as well as strategy as to how you build your character for each match. Unfortunately, the nuances of this system often gets lost in battle. Debuffs like weaken and cracked armor obviously have an effect, but that effect is hard to judge when enemies are moving around and skill effects are flying across the screen. Status effects just aren’t displayed very well and I would like to see the animations and effects of skills change more, based on the options you pick as well.
My main problem right now is with the melee characters and the zoomed in field of view you have. I found it rather difficult to track enemies effectively when in close combat as there is often so much going on with so many movement and evasive abilities that each character has access too. People can move around rather quickly in general, and the constant darting around, over and through you, makes it far harder to stick to an enemy and attack. It was a little confusing and frustrating, and a design that I feel gives more of an advantage to ranged characters.
Issues and Appeal
Overall, it is a decent competitive game, and a reasonably fun one at that, but I just don’t know if that is enough to set it apart from others in the crowded field of MOBA hybrid games. It doesn’t drastically change from the experiences we know and have played before enough. It’s comparable to a lot of other games out there and currently feels unpolished, especially the UI.
I also worry about the future of Gigantic and the post release support it might get. There have been numerous struggles at Motiga with financing and layoffs over the last 2 years and it’s a little harder to feel invested in a game if you’re unsure of its future. They are getting support from Perfect World Entertainment now, which may help ease that financial burden.
The other problem I have with Gigantic is the weird population split it is creating that could have an effect on the available player base. They have made a deal with Microsoft for Gigantic to be cross play between Windows 10 and Xbox, which is fantastic, but those playing through Arc are seemingly omitted. That kind of restriction seems silly considering that you are splitting people on the same platform. After finding this out, I’m left wondering if my long wait times were because of this split and if it’s something that will cause players to abandon the game.
Although it might not be for me, it is going to be free-to-play on release and I would consider it worth a look if you enjoy team-based FPS and MOBA style games. Gigantic is currently in Closed beta with sign-ups available for those interested.Related: Closed Beta, F2P, Gigantic, MOBA, Motiga, Perfect World Entertainment, Preview, PvP, Shooter