|System: Xbox One, PC|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Everyone had a MOBA at this year’s E3, and Microsoft’s was the recently revealed Gigantic. You’ll notice a lot of the classic MOBA trappings here, with one or two twists that set it off from the pack. It probably won’t be a killer app that will sell you the console, but since every platform needs its own MOBA these days, at least it will fill the quota.
The twist on Gigantic is that you aren’t trying to destroy a base. Instead, you are trying to destroy a “Guardian,” a humongous Shadow of the Colossus style monster that is the center of power for your team. You and four teammates will take on five opponents, attempting to kill anything that doesn’t share a color with your side. Getting kills earns your team power, and when your team has enough power, your gigantic Guardian gets up off its butt and attacks the other one. This causes it to reel in pain and fall to the ground, where its weak point is uncovered for a short while. This is the only time you can rush in and do damage to it.
Gigantic is played from a behind the back perspective instead of a top down perspective, which means you don’t really have a good feeling for what else is happening on the map. This is perhaps one of its biggest failings, as figuring out the right place to go and using your abilities can be near impossible. I kind of felt as if I was randomly going places killing whatever is near me.
This feeling of random uselessness was further felt when I was introduced to the game’s summoning system. You can summon NPCs into the field to attack your enemies, control areas, heal your party, and more. However, as I said before, I never really got a grasp of what was happening on the map and when. So summoning these NPCs felt more like a crap shoot than a planned attack. I never felt like I was losing anything for summoning an NPC, however. The game actively wants you to just fill the battlefield with chaos whenever you can.
If you aren’t a serious MOBA player, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Gigantic feels as if it is purposefully skewed toward the casual set. Maps are probably the biggest signifier of this casual mindset. As usual you get several different lanes to fool around with, but the middle lane is so much bigger than the side lanes. It’s less like there are three separate battles going on and more like there is one huge central battle, and two ways to sneak around the enemy and flank them. This makes it easy to get back to the action after you have died, and gives you very little time waiting between epic portions of the fight, but it also reduces the game to a more twitch-like shooter or action experience, rather than the precision dance of spacing and ability usage that MOBAs usually are.
Character abilities only reinforce this. Like most MOBAs, they are set on a cooldown, so you are supposed to use them at the most opportune time. However, cooldowns are relatively quick and abilities are very very powerful. This led me to a philosophy of spamming every ability I had as soon as I saw anything that moved, and it worked! I hammered on my controller’s buttons like an excited monkey and I usually came out of each confrontation ahead. The only thing I had to pay attention to was aiming.
Granted, I was playing a more straightforward ranged fighter. I’m sure healers, stealth style melee fighters, and other classes will eventually mix up the game a bit. I’m sure more diversity in character classes will also make battles feel more intricate.
But as it stands now, this feels a lot more like a third person shooter or action game than it does a MOBA, and maybe that’s the point. Maybe we are being tricked into playing a MOBA! Taking down guardians feels like some epic stage in a boss fight rather than a surgical strike at a base. Rushing into battle felt more like I had just respawned after a shooter, rather than the slow grind of picking up equipment and buffs that I would in a MOBA. Maybe this is just a MOBA for people who don’t like MOBAs?
If that’s the case, I’d say Gigantic does a good job. It successfully hides its MOBA premise behind a veil of action. It feels as if it is purposefully crafted to create these epic confrontations that feel huge in scale, even though they are functionally equivalent to, say, kiting an enemy tower. My important question is: who is going to purchase the game? If it’s meant to be a MOBA that appeals to people who don’t like MOBAs, but the people who it appeals to already know it’s a MOBA, wouldn’t that mean that, by definition, they would be predisposed to not pick up the game? Maybe the fact that it will be free-to-play will help? Or maybe it will take off more on Windows machines than on the Xbox One.
I don’t know. Gigantic is confusing, but at least it was fun. We will bring you more information about Gigantic as we near its Beta, scheduled for release in August.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: August 13, 2015