The influence of multiplayer online battle arenas (or MOBAs – like League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients) is very clear by now. In fact, it’s such a major player in games at this state that we’re already seeing spinoffs, in much the same way that other game genres added RPG elements. Gigantic is one of these spinoffs. Hailed as a free-to-play shooter-MOBA, it mixes elements of both, with some unique new twists – and a great art style – to create something grander than the sum of its parts.
At E3 2015 we got the chance to try out Gigantic for a few rounds of mayhem. Developer Motiga blends third-person shooter gameplay with MOBA elements, in a game that’s ultimately about giant monster battles. Each team is backed up by a Guardian, a massive, mythical, god-like beast like a gryphon or a naga. These Guardians are the key to winning: As your five-player team racks up kills, you power up your Guardian. Once powered up, your Guardian charges forward across the playing field to beat up your enemy’s. You can help by shooting the enemy Guardian in the heart while he’s down, and you should; defeating the other team’s Guardian is the only real way to win the match.
The art style is one of the things that sticks out the most. Bright, cel-shaded characters and environments pop onscreen, and the character design is diverse and charismatic. Picking a character was one of the hardest challenges, especially since your team can’t double up on characters (which is good, as each character provides unique skills and strengths to round out your team).
There’s a lot going on in Gigantic, though the five-on-five matches don’t have that same hectic, overwhelming feel of traditional MOBAs. (In that sense it feels more like a class-based shooter.) Each character has a Right Trigger attack that can be fired off nearly constantly, while other attacks have various degrees of cooldown time. During the round you earn experience for everything you and your teammates do, and as you level up you can assign skill points to your abilities to make them stronger.
While the giant Guardian thing felt like it had the potential to be confusing, we were pleased to see that it plays out pretty much automatically. Your Guardian talks to you throughout the match to update you on his state, and when he’s charged up he just goes for it. You do need to be paying attention, which means you don’t waste opportunities to go for the rival Guardian’s heart. But this isn’t a game where you’re going to let the whole team down for not being in the exact right spot at the exact right time – which we learned by being in the wrong spot pretty often, and still managing to help our team to victory.
Like the best MOBAs out there, as we mentioned above Gigantic is free to play, and comes with the entire cast of characters. Motiga hinted at the possibility of new costumes for the characters than can be purchased. On top of that, Gigantic features cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10, so you and your PC-gamer buddy can go toe to toe from your preferred platform.
Gigantic starts its closed beta for North American and European servers in August, with a retail release planned for later in the year. You can sign up for the beta on the official website: www.gogigantic.com/beta.