For a time, I didn't expect that I'd be able to play the final version of this game. It's been a long road for Motiga to release its first title, Gigantic. It's a road filled with publisher changes, platform changes, and layoffs, but here we are, with the game in full release. Was all the pain and heartache worth it?
Gigantic is the latest in a series of titles that all feel roughly the same. "Hero shooters", first or third-person games featuring a colorful cast of heroes like fighting games or multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) titles. Overwatch, Battleborn, and Paladins stand as example of the style, but to be honest, none of the games are quite the same outside of superficial measures.
Gigantic steps away from the pack simply be being third-person, while many of its competitors are first-person. The game is also built around a mechanic that gave it the name "Gigantic": the large Guardians that rest at either end of every playing field. Two teams of five players compete to hold various points around the map and kill the opposing force. Holding points nets your team energy. Once you achieve a certain energy threshold, your Guardian wakes up, travels across the map to the other team's Guardian and fights them. This massive fight opens up a weak point on the enemy Guardian that your team has to exploit. Do enough damage and you cause a wound. Do that three times and you win.
Those are the broad strokes, but there's more to it than that. At the control points, you summon creatures that can attack, defend, or heal, but summoning them requires the same energy your characters use to perform their Ultimate attacks. You can increase or shorten the time available to exploit a Guardian's weakness by killing members of the opposing team. There's some strategy here.
What stands out about Gigantic is the pacing. Gigantic is faster than most games of its type and the general flow of the match keeps combat focused on various points. Both teams are whipped about on the map over the course of a match. You see someone attacking one of your summoning points, that's where the major fight will happen. Guardian down? Everyone convergences on the site of that battle. Overall matches are 15-30 minute on average, but you're always moving from point to point, leading Gigantic feel a bit more brisk than other titles.
Gigantic launches with a roster of 19 heroes. I did an interview about the game's character designs way back in the day and my feelings haven't changed. Each and every character looks great, with a burst of personality and a clear combat silhouette. The animation and overall visual style is like something out of a cartoon. From the spritely wizard Mozu, to the hulking HK-206, the proper Xenobia, and the fabulous Zandora, each Gigantic hero clearly telegraphs their basic point within their character design. Knowing who's a tank versus a support class is easy at a glance.
Surprisingly, there's not a lot of overlap in regards to character abilities. Beckett and Imani are both characters based around ranged weapons, but Beckett relies on grenades and her jet pack to gain space, while Imani has her scoped bowgun and the ability hide with a smoke bomb. Tripp and Tyto the Swift are assassins, but Tripp is a single-target attacker able to get in-and-out of combat quickly, while Tyto can stand in a fight with his Blade Dance, using it to attack and deflect at the same time.
Like Gigantic's rough MOBA roots, each character can level during a match, allowing them to improve individual abilities on the fly. Each ability has a branching tree of different effects, letting you lean your character towards more attack, deferred bleed damage, improved health, and other options. This allows you have a certain degree of flexibility and adapt to the flow of the match, instead of being completely locked in one direction.
Gigantic is a free-to-play game, so you don't get every hero right off the bat. Certain heroes are a part of a free rotation that changes each week. Alternatively, you can buy the Starter Pack for $9.99 to unlock 8 heroes, or the $29.99 Ultimate Pack to unlock all current and future heroes for the life of the game. The latter is one of the better options for players and it's clear Motiga and publisher Perfect World Entertainment would like you to buy the Ultimate Pack.
If you skip either pack, their you have to subsist on the free heroes. Playing the game nets you in-game currency (Crowns), allowing you to buy heroes and cosmetic skins/weapons for those heroes. There's also a few cosmetic skins that can only be purchased via a second game currency (Rubies), which is only available via real money. I received an Ultimate Pack, so all of my heroes were unlocked, but the grind for further costumes didn't seem too punitive during my playtime.
To improve the gain of in-game currency, Motiga offers challenges via the Fortune Card system. You receive Fortune Cards by leveling characters or a daily login draw. Each card has a specific mission; i.e. "Killing 10 enemies as Imani" or "Do 2,000 damage to a Guardian". You can choose which cards are active ahead of a play session and completing the challenges offers additional Crowns and Experience. So, there's a bit of a grind, but it's not an onerous one and Motiga has obviously thought about smoothing the experiment.
If I have a major problem with Gigantic, it's a lack of variety. The mode of play I explained above? That's all the game has. You can go against another team of bots or players on one of three maps. There is no other alternate mode; no escort, no domination, no horde mode. Gigantic does one thing. It does it well, but the longevity is in pure competitive drive or unlocking more heroes and skins. Gigantic is a great experience in the play, but it's a shallow one at this point.
Which is to say, I enjoy Gigantic. Gigantic is a game I like playing and I'd recommend trying it at least. The fundamental gameplay is strong. Matches are fast and enjoyable. The characters are visually wonderful and mechanically distinct. But the overall experience just needs more. More Guardians, more maps, more modes. The heroes feel like they're in the right place, but the rest needs to be pumped up over time for Gigantic to truly stand tall among its competition.
The character designs are all winners and the animation is top-notch. Everything looks like a modern cartoon.
Gigantic is a game that looks and plays great. The cast of characters is colorful and lively, with each playing very differently. The core gameplay mode is fast, while still retaining a strong strategic layer. The problem is Gigantic is a shallow experience: one gameplay mode on three maps. The game may become broader eventually, but right now it needs more. That said, being free-to-play means it's still worth your time to try it.