In Gigantic, developer Motiga has put together a MOBA that colors within the lines at the same time as it expands your expectations of the genre. An impressive roster of character types provide significant tactical depth, while your goals at large emphasize teamwork and tactful coordination of offense and defense. And the whole experience is wrapped up in a charming setting that blends Saturday morning cartoon art with comic book superhero personality.
What’s immediately noticeable is how familiar Gigantic feels. It's a fairly standard team shooter-styled MOBA. Matches pit teams of five players against one another in cramped battle arenas. Each of the two sides--House Aurion and House Devaedra--serve a Guardian, a big beastie that sits at the back of each map. Your objective is to power up your team's Guardian through killing enemies and summoning creatures at power circles to scoop up spawning power orbs (these summoned beasts serve as guards and healers, as well.)
Hitting 100 power points through the above activates your Guardian’s abilities so that it can fly across the map and briefly subdue its counterpart. At this point you converge on the scene of this wrestling match and blast the exposed nethers of the enemy Guardian enough to cause a wound. Do this three times and it's winner winner, chicken dinner.
What’s most enjoyable about Gigantic is the wealth of wacky characters you can choose from to wage the mano-a-mano Guardian slugfests. It’s like the protagonists of nearly two dozen fictional franchises escaped from their respective universes and wound up here. This lineup is what makes the game so distinctive among the MOBA crowd, even if Gigantic isn't all that innovative when it comes to mechanics and features.
Each of Gigantic's 19 characters come with a unique look and set of skills that can be classified for their primary talents. But like the overall game, characters are more than the sums of their parts. They feel like heroes with real identities--catchphrases and all. Xenobia is a witch who helps control the map by casting spells that drain enemy health and slow movement. Elfin Zandora totes a massive sword and is a legitimate tank, but also a leader who buffs ally damage, movement speed, and health regeneration. Beckett is a steampunk shooter with a jetpack who can either snipe foes or blow them up with grenades and bombs. And that’s just a handful of highlights from a lineup where every character is distinctively weird.
Additional character skills and and gathered Focus (a resource) add even more customization options. Skills come as you level up, allowing you to enhance existing abilities with more power, damage, and range, and also alter specialities. Beckett, for instance, starts as a lightweight run-and-gunner but can be leveled into something of a tank with devastating cannon attacks. Focus increases every time you hit an enemy, take damage, or die, and can then be expended all at once in a blow-the-doors-off attack or as a buff that turns summoned creatures into more powerful adult counterparts.
Such a varied lineup allows for a lot of experimentation with play styles. You can seemingly explore new ideas for ages, seeing what works for you and what doesn’t, all while consistently enjoying Gigantic's infectious personality. Having access to such different characters also bolsters teamwork during matches, because abilities accentuate one another in many ways. Get into a match with experienced players and the smart design reveals itself quickly, with players using characters for their intended skills and taking assault, support, and control roles.
Gigantic may not exactly be wildly innovative, but its likable characters and tactical depth are impressive enough to make an old formula feel almost fresh again.
All of the above qualities give matches an intense back-and-forth flow. It’s imperative to gauge when it’s a good time to go on offense and when it’s best to and defend against an enemy onslaught. Map design focuses on outdoor arenas with plenty of room to take cover, retreat, sneak up on foes, or go for higher ground. Being able to score points through killing foes and grabbing power orbs opens up matches as well, making most of them close affairs and forcing you to think even more tactically. Get too caught up in shooting and slashing and you can find yourself losing even with an impressive body count.
The free core game includes a significant amount of content, featuring a handful of rotating characters from the full roster. You can grind your way to the crowns and rubies needed to purchase new characters, creatures, and so on, or you can take a shortcut and pay to unlock the goodies right away. Either way is quite doable. Of course, you can skip pretty much all of this with a one-time buy of the Ultimate Pack for $30 / £24.
Fortune cards can cut the time commitment as well. Draw them daily to activate challenges that provide rewards in the form of the in-game currencies. Many of these are focused on achieving objectives with specific characters, too, providing even more incentive to experiment with the roster.
But with all the character classes and customization in play, the battlefield can become too chaotic at times. All of it combined can be tough to follow, especially in the early stages when you’re with a group of newcomers and every one is sorting out how each fighter plays. Melee combat is also a bit more confusing than it should be, due to splashy graphical effects and motion blur that make it tough to track where you and your foes are in close quarters.
A more minor gripe is the absence of weight behind weapons. Hammering someone with a huge fist, twirling around a man-sized sword, or even firing a hand cannon should come with more “oomph.” As the game currently is, there is no real difference in feel whether you’re a lithe character with a blade or a hulk toting a gun. Kills are a little less satisfying than they could be.
Gigantic may not exactly be wildly innovative, but its likable characters and tactical depth are impressive enough to make an old formula feel fresh again. These key core elements, plus the vital ingredient of a healthy fan base that guarantees you’ll pretty much always be able to find a match, make the game stand out, even among the crowded free-to-play MOBA genre.