Hands-on Preview of Gigantic
While at PAX Prime I was invited to play Gigantic, which is a new competitive multiplayer game being developed by Motiga, a small Indie studio from Bellvue, WA. Gigantic offers 5v5 third person action with a twist. The twist you may ask, well rather than victory being determined by a set number of kills, or a timer, Gigantic relies on two massive AI controlled Guardians that must be conquered for a team to win. This ensures a high-level of teamwork, and deep strategies, so communication is the key to victory in all Gigantic matches. Lonewolfs need not apply, because personal kill counts and streaks mean nothing in this game, and a lone player stands no chance against the massive Guardians.
First and foremost, Gigantic is a beautiful looking PC title. It features an animated style with bright vibrant color tones to give each map a feeling of being alive. The game world reminds me of something you’d see in a top-notch animated film by the likes of Dreamworks, Disney, or Pixar. The same carries over to the design of the characters. Each of the twelve available combatants all feature distinct looks, and their appearances reflect their fighting capabilities. For example, the Margrave, who happens to be the character I played with, is a hulking tank that looks like a gorilla mated with an Uruk from the Lord of the Rings films. He’s ideal for taking a beating and dishing them out thanks to his imposing size and look, while a character like Tripp is much more nimble looking to compensate for her speed and stealth capabilities. All of the characters look awesome, and none of them resemble the next, so there’s variety in both their visuals and power sets.
At first glance some may mistake Gigantic for Orcs Must Die Unchained, because they do share a similar visual style, but that’s where the comparisons end. Rather than paving the way for AI controlled minions to enter the enemy’s portal to win, Gigantic players must work together to capture creature spawns throughout the map that will in turn charge their Guardian, who will then attack the opposing team’s Guardian until the players chase the enemy Guardian from their base.
The creature spawns are the most important areas of the map to first focus on when a match begins. These creatures not only help to power up your Guardian for an attack, but they can provide buffs to you and your team. Some of the creatures can heal you, or allow you to respawn close to the action, while others will attack enemies that come into sight, or give your team damage bonuses. There are all sorts of strategies involved in how you use the creatures, but they must be activated for ultimate victory because they charge your Guardian for attack runs, so priority number one is capturing as many as possible before the other team has the chance to do the same.
Once a Guardian is active it will lumber over to the other team’s base and start attacking their Guardian and anything that gets in its path. The Guardians are massive by the way, and take up large portions of the screen when they’re on the offensive. Going against one alone is futile, so if a Guardian does show up in your base it must be attacked as a team for any chance of pushing it back.
I really enjoyed the Guardian mechanic as it shifted the gameplay focus from personal glory to team success. Gigantic is not a game for greedy kill seeking players, and it is designed that way to encourage teamwork and players to use the skills of their characters in tandem with the creature captures to win. Matches tend to get extremely frantic once the Guardians have been activated, which spawn all out war between the attacking and defending teams, so if your only concern is racking up a kill count, you and your team will probably not find success.
The only way to win a match in Gigantic is to defeat the opposing team’s Guardian. If a match is dragging on, or if one of the Guardians is near death, a loud horn sounds indicating that the final skirmish is about to go down and that whichever team can kill the opposing Guardian will win. In my hands-on time with the game I was on the losing team because we didn’t focus enough of our attention on creature spawns to power up our Guardian. The enemy team did so masterfully, which is why they were able to launch Guardian attacks at will until the final bell sounded and my team was left with only a Hail Mary attempt at winning, because their Guardian wasn’t damaged at all, and ours was basically in the ICU. We tried valiantly to make a last stand, but the enemy Guardian was just too much for our five man squad and badly damaged Guardian to handle.
Gigantic really is a cool looking game and a refreshing take on competitive third-person multiplayer action. Visually it’s a treat, and mechanically it plays flawlessly. I love the pure focus on teamwork over the lonewolf style of play, so fans of strategy and tactical gameplay will surely appreciate what Motiga has baked into its latest title. The game is currently in an Alpha phase, which you can sign up to participate in on the Gigantic website. The team envisions the final build being ready sometime in 2015, and it will be a PC only release, as well as a free-to-play title. I’m holding out hope for a console release, because I think the game’s controls would work perfectly on that type of hardware, but for now that is just a pipe dream of mine. Stay tuned for more details as they’re released, and make sure to check out Gigantic in action below via one of its trailers.
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