I feel weird reviewing a beta but I suppose it’s a symptom of the times we game in. If you like free things, Kung Fu Panda and PVP you might like Gigantic; a MOBA that is in open beta for Xbox and PC. (Pours libations for Oogway) I’m not a MOBA player but I am a diehard PVPer. Gigantic was able to scratch my PVP itch and it did it with style.
It was surprisingly easy pick up and play. The keymap and UI are simple but effective. Around your reticule you have a health bar on the right and a stamina bar on the left. Left Click is ability one, Right Click is ability two, F is your power up or “focus” move (this move can be sacrificed to power up an NPC), Q is usually an escape or speed move and E is often a powerful move with a cooldown. WASD move you around and shift is your speed boost. Not every hero follows that set up exactly but most did. MMORPG players will be familiar with the moves and the mechanics behind them; aoe, heal, slow, buff, vanish, blink, DOT, debuff crit etc.
5 vs 5 battles take place on one of three maps that vary quite a bit but feel familiar to those of us that played PVP battlegrounds in games like WOW. On each end of the map is your almost unattackable NPC guardian. Each team is racing to power up their guardian at which time they take flight and pin their rival down leaving said rival open to attack. It usually takes several pinnings but the first one to kill the opposing guardian wins the match. These battles last around 15 - 30 minutes but will go longer on rare occasions.
There are also a few lesser NPC spawn points spread over the map. They factor into power ups and protection. You start every match at level one then level up as the game progresses. The cap is level ten and you get a point for every level. This allows you to spec your character’s abilities as the match wears on. It can be frantic but it adds some variety and meta to each hero.
Where Gigantic shines (outside of its fantastic art direction and matching audio) is with the holy trinity of PVP design; rock, paper, scissors aka Tank, DPS, Healer. There are ranged and melee versions of those and some heroes are more MMORPG familiar than others while a few play like traditional FPS characters. There are currently 17 characters with 3 more due before launch and many after. Each felt aesthetically unique and well animated while their abilities can feel familiar with some having overlap. The tanks and DPS felt on par with MMORPG versions while the healers were a bit under powered. Gigantic is a very offensive game meaning I found the most offensive spec to generally be the most useful one regardless of hero type.
It also prides itself on being super-fast and super twitch - never, stop, moving! So fast that I had to spec my heroes to compensate for my diminished skills and avoid playing a couple of them all together. I did this by finding heroes with aoe then specing it up. This allowed me rely less on aim. As long as I landed my attack near my opponents, specifically I aimed for their feet, I was able to do damage. Utilizing that strategy I never felt like I couldn't contribute to the fight.
The only real issue I had with Gigantic was map rotation. With only three maps I start to lose interest after a few rotations. As with FPS games the pattern of play on the maps gets stale as well. There isn’t a chat bar and frankly the game probably plays too fast for one, besides it would be hell to use with a Xbox controler. In the days of voice services it’s easily worked around anyway. You do have some basic commands to yell that show up in a chat bar just in case.
Gigantic is a free to play game with a cash shop in which you can buy currency to purchase characters or NPC’s to spawn. If you don’t want to pay for characters you can earn currency by playing the game as well but it takes quite a while to build it up.
This is beta so, as expected, there are some bugs. Most notably the que to get into a match seemed very random. At times it was instant, others it took forever with several dropped ques in between. A few times I got a glitch that booted me and handed me a punishment timer that would normally only happen if I quit a live match. A few characters have minor glitches as well but other than that beta was surprisingly clean. I imagine launch is near.
Like I said I don’t know MOBAs enough to know if this is a good one but I know PVP and fun and Gigantic had a bunch of both. It isn’t the kind of game I would spend consecutive hours playing but for those of us that want a quick PVP fix Gigantic scratches the itch. I’ve rarely seen a free to play game with such well-done character, aesthetics and gameplay.