The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre is the industry’s new MMO. The sprawling success of League of Legends and DotA 2 have inspired a new world of gaming; a crowded world pretty uninviting to newcomers. It seems every other day a new MOBA-style game is jumping to grab my attention, and I’m so glad Gigantic did.
Gigantic is a free-to-play “shooter MOBA” developed for Xbox One and PC by the team over at Motiga. Stepping behind the keyboard, the team’s eager coaches guided us through the diverse roster of 16 heroes, each with their own personality and play style. My time was spent with a dragon sorcerer named Charnok, though my teammates and enemies were a variety of caped swordsmen, dark summoners, and precision snipers. The battlefield is constantly graced with so many different abilities and styles that each match becomes a unique sequence of colorful mayhem.
Our demo game took place in a multileveled canyon, a team of five heroes at each end and six capture points in-between. The level, while linear overall, is full of chained platforms and branching caverns, opening the doors for some intense showdowns and crafty getaways.
These heroes fight for their guardian, a massive five-story beast awaiting in their base. Much like the titans in Smite, a team achieves victory when the enemy guardian is dead. One of Gigantic‘s largest accomplishments, though, is making these colossi living, skirmishing parts of the action.
Teams strengthen their guardian by killing enemies or capturing objectives. At full charge, their guardian rampages down the field, attacking enemies and eventually toppling the opposing guardian. The rampaging team must then unleash enough damage the exposed beast to cause a wound, all while the defending team strives to kill the invaders and generate a shield for their titan.
Two wounds on either guardian triggers the Clash, a climactic battle between the two champions in the center of the field. Each team must then scamper around these towering powers, killing to strengthen their guardian and land the final wound.
The movement of the guardians and the ultimate Clash work to create a feeling of evolution and climax for each match. Not only that, but it’s fairly impossible for the battle to become stale and immobile while a giant Naga is running around dowsing your team in poison. The battle shifts constantly as these behemoths lay waste to the field and actively move the center of battle.
Enough on guardians, though. We should probably discuss the summoning circles scattered through the map. Once controlled, a player summons an ally to aid in either vision, healing, or reducing enemy damage. Depending on how you judge the flow of battle, your position, and team compositions, your summoning choice can be tactically genius or completely spontaneous. Follow your heart.
My only negative experience was a moment where my character rocket jumped upwards and, due to some collision coding still in the works, fused completely with my guardian. I was inside him. Seeing through the polygons of his face. He and I became one. I loved it.
We can talk refreshing gameplay and crisp graphics, but when it comes to Gigantic, fun is the defining feature. Our demo group demanded an encore once the match ended, and the thought of yet another round is on my mind even as I walk the crowded convention floor filled with outstanding titles.
It’s easy to be cynical when it comes to new MOBA-esque games hoping to break into a scene facing heavy saturation and polarization. Gigantic is the biggest hopeful I’ve seen to date. The creative team likes to avoid characterizing their lively title as a MOBA. I am by and large tied to the term because ‘lively, shootery, magic-y, good-time fun’ isn’t a genre tag. Gigantic‘s effervescent presence at PAX Prime wasn’t undeserved, and we genuinely can’t wait to jump in again.