Hands On with Gigantic at PAX Prime
Every so often you will come across a game that absolutely captivates you and begs to be played. There are so many different things that attracts a player to a game, whether it is the art style, genre, concept or as simple as the way it plays. This Saturday morning at PAX I had one of the moments when I was able to get hands on with the new game being developed by Motiga. Gigantic, from the moment I sat down in front of the PC, just had me enthralled.
Gigantic is a 5v5 Team-Action game of Heroes that fight against each other for the chance to take down the “Gigantic” Guardian of the other team. There are a number of interesting mechanics that make this challenging while still being extremely fasted paced and fun. This isn't anything like League of Legends or DOTA, so don't call it a "MOBA". The Guardians are so large and powerful that they can’t be damaged until your Guardian builds up enough power to travel across the map and engage the enemy Guardian and start knocking them down. This gives your team a small window of opportunity to attack the Guardian directly assuming you can get through the defenses of the other team. Battles go back and forth very quickly as you try and build up your Guardian's power bar while preventing the other team from building up theirs.
The are a number of ways to gain power above just killing the enemy players. You can also summon creatures at points upon the map giving you control and also the benefit of the abilities those creatures bring to the battle space. You can also attack the enemies' Guardian base and steal the power directly by hitting the Guardian at close range. This makes for very interesting gameplay as you try and coordinate with your team to achieve a full power bar, give your Guardian time to travel across the map while staying alive to be on hand to damage the Guardian and eventually kill it for the victory.
However there is another twist that is refreshing in the way Motiga is controlling the length of play. To ensure games don’t have the potential to drag on, after a certain amount of time the Guardians decide that they want to be a bit more involved in the fight and initiate a clash. Once in the clash you can no longer summon creatures and you have to move to a different area on the map that is much smaller, allowing for much faster combat and the ability to cause your guardians to clash much quicker. What I found refreshing was the fact that a team that was doing very poorly in map control and power building in the early game can come back and dominate a clash and steal the win.
The art style for the game is whimsical and fun set in an immersive third person view. As soon as you see the Heroes you can get a sense of personality in them: they're fun and deadly at the same time. It also gives you a perspective as to what the Heroes may be capable of just from looking at their visual design. The map is large but not excessively so with a three dimensional battle space. Paths that lead to high ground or passages that short-cut you around areas (but may also lead you into danger) lend very well to the progression of the battle and the coordination of Hero abilities. However don’t get too comfortable with your path because once a Guardian gets powered up and charges across the map things get damaged. Your favorite sniping platform may have been knocked down and is sitting in the river later in a fight.
Character progress is triggered by levels you earn from gaining experience. Each level you earn a point to spend which augments your abilities or base stats. Currently most abilities have 2-3 modification options and you can spend your points at anytime as you earn them. Want to do 10% more damage when you crit? Spend a point. Or maybe you want your ranged shot to now add a burn DOT on hit - spend a point. Be mindful, you will not earn enough points to unlock everything, so learning your hero, its abilities and how to customize them to your liking each fight will become a determining factor that also needs to be fluid based on the composition or your team and the enemies team. This hero progress model and the way the abilities work makes it extremely easy to learn to play but difficult to master.
While Gigantic is just entering its very early alpha phase, it is looking very solid and I can’t wait to see how it continues to build on itself. I can’t believe how excited I am for a game that doesn’t have crafting and is only PVP, but it is that fun and I am really anxious to see more.