Free-to-play monster hunting packs a steep price
What a thoroughly bizarre little thing this is. Wait, did we say ‘little’? The correct wording to describe this odd MOBA/shooter hybrid should be ‘maddeningly enormous’ or ‘stupidly sizeable’ given the title. This frantic, five-on-five online effort may revolve around a slim premise – namely, laying a cartoon smackdown on cutesy warriors – yet the headlinehogging Guardians are seriously big customers. ‘Multistorey mansion’ big.
Gigantic is one of the latest titles to hit Xbox One’s increasingly crowded Game Preview programme. As such, it’s still ropey in places. Matchmaking is often terrible, to the point of being broken – in every one of our games, the borked system takes at least six minutes to find a match. Such glacial waits are unforgivable, and it’s an issue developer Motiga needs to address immediately if Gigantic has any hope of sustaining a decent community.
But what of the game itself? Phew, this is going to take some explaining. So, an average match of Gigantic pits you and four teammates against another band of five warriors. Aside from slaying foes and capturing command points, the main goal is to injure, then kill the other side’s Guardian: a mythical beast the size of a brachiosaurus that takes a hell of a lot of slashing and shooting to down.
After your team takes out a certain number of opposition players, your Guardian hunts down its rival. At this point, you have 30 seconds to sprint across the map to get into a position to put a hurtin’ on it. Once the regal griffin or massive serpent wrestles its foe into submission, you have a short window to wound the beast. Deal enough damage, and a third of the monster’s energy depletes. Wound it significantly like this three times, and you win the game. Simple, right?
Um, no. Not at all. While you’re wailing on a rival Guardian, enemy players try to stop your attacks, and this is when Gigantic devolves into one appropriately colossal cluster. Range combat with the likes of Charnok – a dragon sorcerer who flings fireballs – is reasonably accurate, but close quarters melee combat feels frustratingly haphazard.
Charge in with a hero such as the Minotaur-esque Lord Knossos, and the resulting spear scraps are less precise than performing heart surgery with a dessert spoon. Collision detection forever feels off, and the sheer onslaught of explosions and energy blasts that engulf the screen are both visually exhausting and super disorientating.
Gigantic is also free-to-play, meaning microtransactions are never far away. Of the game’s 16 heroes, six are available for free. To unlock more, you either buy them with Crowns – a currency that’s drip-fed to you in sinfully small doses after matches – or you pay with Rubies – valuable gems that cost actual money. A thousand of the latter will set you back £7.99, and with each hero costing between 300 and 900 Rubies, owning the entire eclectic roster will prove costly.
The real appeal of the game lies in playing with the powers of its various cast members, especially if you want to get the most of its insidious price. It’s still a wallet-basher, though, and when you add in those almighty matchmaking issues, Gigantic’s problems are anything but small fry.
“Combat is less precise than doing heart surgery with a dessert spoon”
right The number of ranged projectiles, bombs and melee slashes that dominate the screen can easily overwhelm.