Before Gigantic I’d never played a MOBA before, so the whole concept has been fairly fresh to me from the get go. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard it’s not as complicated as other releases in the genre and offered something that was a bit more accessible than the norm – especially for anyone who is experienced with third person action titles – so it seemed the perfect fit for me to start off with. I’ve found it to be just that; Gigantic is very easy to pick up and play, whilst the enjoyable action-focused elements of the game make it a lot of fun too. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s the sort of title I could easily see myself playing for a long, long time.
In Gigantic players face off in two teams of five, with each team given a, uh-hum, ‘gigantic’ Guardian to defend. The goal is to defeat the opposing team’s Guardian, something which is done by accumulating Power by killing your opponents or their summoned monsters. Once you’ve attained enough Power, your Guardian will launch an assault on its rival and open an opportunity for you to attack. If you’re successful you’ll wound the enemy Guardian; wound it three times in a match and you’ll be victorious. It’s a simple set up, but one that makes for some hectic yet tactical battles.
Besides unleashing a string of attacks on your opponents, you’re able to summon monsters to help you out on the battlefield. These monsters play a vital role, with each one offering one of three different abilities: the ability to heal, to reveal enemy locations, or to simply defend areas you control on the map. You can only summon monsters at specific locations, so it’s important you beat your opponents to the mark and get them in quickly. There’s an emphasis on defending your monsters too, especially since your enemies will earn power by wiping them out.
When a team eventually accumulates full Power, they get to unleash an attack on the opposing Guardian. It’s these moments that will make or break a match – if you’re attacking the Guardian you’ve got to make sure you’re dishing out as much damage as you can as you’ve only got a short time span where it’s vulnerable, whilst if you’re defending there’s a huge focus on having to deal with your opponents as quickly as possible. It can turn into an all out slugfest with all tactical thought thrown out of the window if you’re not careful, but if a team is well coordinated and knows exactly what they’re doing it can be the difference between a Guardian getting wounded or not.
That’s pretty much how a match plays out, with each one following the phases of a Guardian being wounded until it’s eventually defeated. There’s a surprising amount of strategy to each battle; it’s easy to simply see the game playing like just a third person shooter at times thanks to its action-orientated focus, but with the varying skills that each character is equipped with and the different assists offer by the summoned monsters there’s often a lot to take into consideration. Take attacking enemy Guardians for example: if you’re playing as a support-focused character you’ll want to ensure that your strongest attacker is kept alive for maximum damage to be unleashed, so you’ll need to defend them. Alternatively, if you’re playing as a damage dealing character, you might want to focus on taking out the Guardian instead and having your team mates play the supporting role. That’s just keeping it simple, but there’s a lot to take in. It at least means that no matches ever play out exactly the same though.
This element of strategy that’s attached to the game often means its best played with a coordinated team. In fact, most of my successes were found when playing with other players that were able to communicate with each other; you can plan things out together, work out which characters are best to use in each situation, and then counter anything the enemy throws at you. The game is at its very best when played with a well communicated team, with proper coordination complimenting each lengthy showdown you find yourself in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still possible to play well even when you’re on your own with strangers, but it’s certainly not as effective as when you’re working together in planned assaults.
There’s a heck of a strong variety of characters on offer in Gigantic, with each of the nineteen offering a completely different move set and way to play. You’ve got damage dealing up-close fighters like the sword wielding Ramsay and the acrobatic martial artist Wu, ranged fighters like the powerful sorcerer Charnok or the heavy artillery carrying HK-206, healers like the zany Uncle Sven and his miraculous potions, and utility characters like Aisling (who has the ghost of her father to support her) and Zandora who are effective at combat but also helping out other players on the battlefield. Each character doesn’t only feel completely different to play as but also have some fantastic designs, with each one featuring a distinct look that doesn’t only suit their play style but is great to gaze at in-game.
One of Gigantic’s problems is that it leaves it up to you to figure out how each character works, with no real form of specific tutorials that shows you the ins and outs of their moves. Whilst there is a training mode where you can test out their abilities, using them effectively and actually working out how to string their moves together in the heat of battle is left to the player. Whilst it adds a sense of discovery to the game and encourages you to give them all a try, it could be a little intimidating when heading to the battlefield. Gigantic is played with real life players who are often pretty experienced, so trying to learn how to use each character can be quite tricky when better players are always taking you out. Fortunately, you can take on bots and the free to play nature of the game means it’s easy to get practicing with some friends, but those who aren’t so experienced in character-focused games like this (such as myself) might find it difficult to get to grips with initially.
Given Gigantic’s free to play nature, you won’t have all characters unlocked from the get go. You’ll earn currency to purchase them by partaking in matches and completing the challenges that the game offers. Alternatively, you can buy currency or even purchase the ‘Ultimate Pack’ that unlocks all current and future characters immediately, giving you the chance to get right into the game with no grinding required. It depends on how much cash you have to spare, though it’s certainly easy enough to earn the currency needed to buy new characters to try out. Disappointingly, the cosmetic items like new skins were a little naff. Titles like Overwatch or League of Legends have offered some fantastic and well-varied looks for their characters in the past, but Gigantic focuses on boring palette swaps. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of varieties are added in the future, but for now they’re not really worth the investment.
One thing that Gigantic really has going for it is its vibrantly stunning art style, with the colourful cel shaded look offering some sublime eye candy in-game. Add to that the great design work on the characters and it’s easy to fall in love with the aesthetic. There’s a real sense of wonder to be found, whether its in the constant battling across the well designed environments or seeing the hulking beasts square off in their showdowns – Gigantic simply never failed to impress. It’s certainly one of the best looking multiplayer focused free to play titles I’ve played and thankfully it’s backed up with some highly enjoyable gameplay.
Gigantic’s action-focused twist on the MOBA genre makes for a very fun experience, with the game’s showdowns between the Guardians and battles that ensue with them offering hours upon hours of fun. There’s a surprising amount of strategy on offer in the game too, but thanks to the colourful and varied cast of characters you’ll never be short of ways to approach it.
That being said, the game doesn’t make it easy to get to learn these characters inside-out. I’ve put a ton of hours in already and despite taking on bots and playing with friends I’m still left learning. Gigantic certainly doesn’t hold you hand, nor does it make it easy for you if you’re not playing with a well coordinated team.
Still, whilst the experience might not be as enjoyable when you’re on your own, it’s an absolute blast when played with friends. It’s free to play too so there’s no risk in trying it out – just don’t be surprised if it completely hooks you in.
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Release Date: 20/07/2017
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PC