For the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to play Gigantic, a game that I have been anticipating for literally years. I can recall distinctly waiting in line at PAX East 2015 to try and get a chance to play. The line was long but the wait was so worth it. After that public showing, everything Gigantic-related became quiet for almost a year; I thought that the game was lost.
Boy, was I ever delightfully wrong. Gigantic saw its Steam release on July 19th and you’d best believe that I hit the install button with the fury of a thousand suns. What’s I dragged all of my friends into the game with me.
What is it?
Well that’s a tricky question. I asked the Gigantic community Discord what they would classify Gigantic as and could not get an answer. I can’t in good conscience call it a MOBA but it has too many mechanics to simply be called a hero shooter like Overwatch. Suffice to say, Gigantic plays like a third person shooter but maintains the static objectives that exist in a battle arena. You use your chosen hero to protect your team’s Guardian (a giant monster) by gathering power from the map and fighting enemies. Once you reach 100 power your Guardian rampages, charging across the map towards the enemy guardian, downing them and giving you an opportunity to to attack them for a few seconds. Deal enough damage in this time and you will get a wound on the enemy Guardian, first team to deal three wounds wins.
Who did I play:
The roster for the game is currently 19 heroes with more planned to be introduced each month. It is known that I immediately go for characters with strong support and healing abilities. So I of course started out playing Uncle Sven:
Armed with alchemical concoctions and a seemingly endless supply of exploding flasks, Uncle Sven’s lobbed projectiles can hit enemies over terrain and from unexpected places. Sven’s Acid Flask cracks enemy armor in an area, making them more susceptible to attacks while his Elastic Ooze creates a super-jump pad that massively boosts your upward mobility, making for some incredible plays and daring escapes possible from Sven and his team. His focus ability (similar to an ultimate in Overwatch), Chaos Quaff, humorously transforms enemies hit by its splash into snails for a short time. What really makes Sven stand out is that many of his upgraded abilities can be combined with his other abilities to make all sorts of crazy effects. This ranges from debuff Immunity zones, rings of fire, and even healing over time. Sven has utility in spades for those willing to fool around with his quirky projectiles.
I also picked up Mozu, the Wand Thief. This jumpy little goblin easily captured my heart with her goofy voice lines and frenetic style of casting. Her basic magic missile attacks fire rapidly after a short charge up and have some limited homing properties. Her Attractor Beam can cripple an enemy that gets too close to her. She can also easily go on the defensive, with her ability to summon deflecting magic vortexes and teleport with her Dimension Door. Of course all of this pales in comparison to her Death Ray focus attack - which is exactly as it sounds. (Video by Gamelandvn)
What’s great about it
The cast of characters in Gigantic is very colorful with their own highly specific styles of play. This can lead to some very humorous moments where styles clash and you have Xenobia (a purple sorceress with tentacles for legs) teamed up with Pakko (a fun loving yeti). The visual design in this game is one of the strongest attributes it has. Everything looks gorgeous even on the lowest settings (you know, where I run my videogames) the Guardians, the aforementioned giant monsters, are probably one of the highest examples of this they are awe inspiring, despite being called Bird Mom and Snake Daddy by the community.
The movement of this game is very elegant and every character, including the slow lumbering ones, have some sort of trick that let them get across the map quickly. But this also cuts both ways, each character has a stamina bar that is depleted by running, jumping, and dodging while in combat and once that is depleted until you catch a breather. And if that happens you’re pretty much a sitting duck unless your team is there to cover for you
Gigantic’s style of play, with the building power system combined with the wounding of Guardians, can get very tense. Both controlling the map with the help of your summoned creatures, and getting kills gives your Guardian power. This makes every decision you make, from chasing off opponents trying to get behind your lines to participating in team fights, matter. The decisions you make will make or break you and the game has an ever filling meter at the top of your screen showing just how well you are doing.
What needs improving:
This game, despite its long development time, still feels very unpolished. Which is reasonable as it was an ambitious project that pulled out of development hell. There are a lot of bugs and clipping issues. It really puts a damper on your enjoyment of the game when it will fail to load a map, or try to dump you back into the main menu in the middle of a game.
The bugs are fixable, however, there is another problem that is more troubling. In most MOBAs and in hero shooters there are a few designated characters to tank damage. In Gigantic there is a noticeable lack of tanks. Sure, there are characters that can take “a” hit but it is limited to just one: the Margrave. The rest still go down very quickly, simply because there is so much damage being thrown out constantly. Being a melee character without any sort of projectile deflection or stealth mechanic is a death sentence. Especially when you are in a solo queued match where communication is difficult
What did my friends think?
Impressions were mixed but we did manage to get games where we had a full roster of players all in voice. When we played together, the gameplay was delightful we had plans and our characters really shone out even with the crew’s lack of skill in a complicated game this was a very stark contrast to how the game can feel when you’re playing alone. What I thought would be a one or two night engagement with my friends actually turned into three nights. Then two weeks of regular play. Something about Gigantic has captured them. Which surprised them as well as me since I thought we would be playing Overwatch and League of Legends until the end of time.
What is the community like?
The game’s community has been very helpful to me as a new player. I joined the discord server shortly after installing and playing my first few games they have been nothing but enthusiastically helpful. If a bit elitist. Not only that but they eagerly rally around community events. Currently there is an event to get 2.1 Billion damage to guardians across all Gigantic players worldwide. Streams have picked up Gigantic eagerly and there is already a dedicated gigantic youtuber, FailcoPunch, who’s videos helped me much better understand the game. On top of the that the developers at Motiga put out events often with a new one almost every week.
Will it stick around?
Tough to say for certain. There really isn't anything that is quite like Gigantic out there, with its quirky gameplay and colorful characters its just not replaceable. My hope of hopes is that this game will endure, definitely not because I may have thrown some money into it. The game has potential. It will however need a dedicated community behind it to avoid being just a fluke.