Believe it or not, many people only really took notice of Microsoft’s exclusive title, Gigantic, at E3 this year. I don’t blame them either. Aside from an incredibly alluring visual aesthetic, the PC and Xbox exclusive title didn’t have many details to find. It looks like a MOBA, played like a third-person action title and generally falls into the growing bracket of games that are all trying this at the same time. Thing is, Gigantic is far more than the sum of its parts.
Sitting down to see a live online session of the game, I didn’t have massive expectations. I’d previously commented on how striking the cel-shading and flat colours made the game on a visual platform, but nothing else about the game had caught my attention. Asking the small group of attendees to pick a character, we all unanimously decided on Tyto – the red robed character that has been somewhat of a poster child for the online game. He also has a little cat-like creature on his shoulder that can be used in battle – so that was just a bonus.
Gigantic is, essentially, a 5v5 PvP online multiplayer title, where characters each have an assortment of attacks that can upgrade and execute. Unlike traditional MOBA’s there’re no items purchases here – but rather intermittent, contextual upgrades that you can use to branch out your four abilities. These help you customise your selected character to suit the flow of the game, whether it be buffing health, attack or speed. The ultimate aim is to control specific parts of the map, called Bloomer Towers, in a bid to get you Guardian advancing forward towards the enemy’s one.
Once there, your Guardian attacks – leaving the opposing Guardian open to attack. Cause enough damage, and a wound is inflicted, with the first to three winning the match.
It’s standard fare in a sense, with immediately recognisable objectives and strategies at play here. The difference comes in the way Gigantic uses, and sometimes abuses, its diverse roster of weird and wonderful characters. Getting back to Tyto, he’s a fast, damage dealing miscreant that doesn’t take much to fall in battle. He does, however, excel at getting from A to B in a faster time than nearly anyone else, and watching the developers effortlessly guide him through a series of leaps and bounds across the vertically friendly map was a real treat.
Combat is fast and frantic, forcing you to make use of your positioning and accurate aim. Although you’re firing off pre-determined abilities, you still have to line them up and focus correctly, which cause a bit of disparity between controller and mouse controlled schemes. Gigantic will inform players of this, and PC players will only be able to join console games if all players opt-in – because otherwise the balance would be wildly all over the place.
The only gripe I had with the combat after the impressive showing was just how chaotic it all became thanks to the flurry of visual effects being thrown out. Gorgeous or not, combat was confusing to follow, although I do feel that partly down to not knowing character specific attacks and defences. It could ease up and make more sense the more you play, but having plumes of smoke cut by arcs of lightning in just one-on-one affairs seems rather excessive.
That aside though, Gigantic actually looks like a game I want to dive head first into. Although structurally similar to MOBA titles, the way the game deals with it’s fast and vibrant combat ensures short, frantic games that force you to juggle aggression and warranted caution in meaningful ways. There’s a beta launching this August for everyone to get their hands on it and hopefully break things in wonderful ways, so that the game launches in a playable, working state further down the line.
Right now, if you have the means to play, you should be looking forward to it too.
Last Updated: June 23, 2015