By Michael Sagoe (mikedot)
With the rising trend of action MOBAs and Hero Shooters being released one after another, the team at Motiga has been hard at work developing their very own title that promises to be larger than life.
Gigantic. Just from the name alone, it sounds like a game that’s going to be huge, and it certainly has the potential to be, given the amount of progress that Motiga has made on the game so far. Gigantic has been in a beta test phase for quite some time, and just recently they ended their CBT 5.0 24/7 testing in order to prepare for newer content and features to be added.
During their CBT 5.0 timeframe, a bunch of new additions have been added into the game, including a new map, two new heroes, hero balance changes, system changes and much more for players to enjoy and to give their feedback on. I was pretty excited for this title back when it was first announced, and I still am to this day, especially after seeing how much progress has been made on the game. CBT 5.0 lasted from February to April 2016, but the devs have been pretty nose to the grindstone, so most gamers I talk to aren’t even aware of the updates happening in-game. In this article, I’ll be briefly be discussing most of the changes and additions that have been added since then.
New Heroes: Beckett and Pakko
The two newest heroes to the roster, Beckett and Pakko, both offer some pretty significant themes and play styles when compared to the rest of the cast. Armed with a jetpack, grenades and firearms that can transform between a pair of pistols and a launcher cannon, Beckett can take to the skies while raining gunfire and explosions from above. On the opposite spectrum is Pakko, a cute looking Yeti-like hero who runs around with his arms wide open and a huge smile on his face, looking like he’s ready to give his foes the hug of a lifetime.
Beckett’s set of dual pistols allow her to gun down crowds of foes, and while they do very little damage per hit, her damage output on single foes can rack up very quickly due to a very fast fire rate and the option to upgrade for more damage and ammo capacity. Her grenade skill is also pretty much what you would expect, a timed AOE explosion that can be lobbed off of walls to catch opponents around corners unaware. It can be upgraded for status effects such as poison. Her cannon weapon allows her to engage enemies from just short of sniping range, although the explosive power is a bit lacking. It’s a nice AoE poke to whittle foes down prior to a massive engagement, but her grande skill is there to cover real indirect fire damage anyway.
While most of her skills are very easy to understand for anyone that has ever touched a first or third person shooter before, learning to control her jetpack skill takes a bit of getting used to. You can activate it while on the ground or even falling in mid-air, making it a pretty versatile “oh shit” button. Beckett is able to gain the upper hand by getting the drop on enemies from unexpected angles, though she can only stay in the air for four seconds, so each second spent in the air must be used with care. Though four seconds of being spared the wrath of melee assassins like Tripp can feel like an eternity. Although, it is possible to upgrade her jetpack to last for six seconds, as well as the option to triple boost in the air, allowing for some insane height gain, you’ll end up missing out on some escaping potential such as speed boosting and enemy pushback when dealing with troublesome melees. Other than that, she’s pretty typical of what you would expect from a gun toting character: Just point, shoot and destroy whoever happens to walk into your crosshairs.
Her visual appearance is also very different from the rest of the cast, sporting a more steampunk-like design very reminiscent of superheroes like the Rocketeer. While no design ideas have been revealed as to what her premium skins may look like, I have a feeling that they may go with more space-aged themes, which I would totally see myself getting.
Some time after Beckett was introduced, the lovable tank Pakko joined the roster. However, his cute appearance can be rather deceiving. Pakko focuses more on disrupting the flow of enemy teams with crowd control abilities while being able to sustain himself in battle. He can also slide around on his butt to engage or flee from foes, throw giant snowballs that explode and freeze enemies on impact, and use ice breath to slow foes down while speeding up his allies. Most of these abilities can be spec’d either to do extra damage, or allow Pakko to selfheal in the middle of battle.
For those that aren’t too fond of fighting enemies head on, but still like to be in the thick of the action while focusing more on supporting teammates, then Pakko seems to fit your narrow niche perfectly. But as much as I love how Pakko can sustain himself in battle, I do feel like his ability to self-heal makes him a tier above the existing tank of choice, The Margrave, with his armor stacking abilities. Pakko is also considerably faster when it comes to his mobility and attacks, so he’s a lot easier to get a handle on compared to The Margrave. While Pakko’s damage output isn’t great, being able to disrupt and heal himself is more than enough to cause trouble during team fights. Throw in a dedicated healing from Vadasi or Uncle Sven and you got a tank that’s sure to make your foes throw their keyboard in a fit of rage.
In his current state, I really do like Pakko as an alternative to The Margrave due to his skill rewarding kit and cute appearance, but he has some way to go before he’s what I’d consider balanced.
Set on a glacial island where ships and vessels have crashed and have been incased in snow and ice for many years, Siren’s Strand is the latest map added into the mix. Along with a ton icy blocks, caves with connecting paths and wreckage all over, this new map sets the stage for all sorts of close quarters and mid-range combat. Not to mention being one of the most complicated maps ever seen in a MOBA setting.
Compared to previous maps such as Sanctum Falls and Ghost Reef, getting used to the layout for Siren’s Strand took me a long while, because there’s so many caves, cliffs and lookout spots all over the map. It was difficult for me to find my way around it. Not only that, but the layout of the map changes itself to reveal more hidden paths and tunnels during the final clash! Once you get used to the layout, there’s plenty of opportunities for escapes and ambushes, but for anyone new, there’s simply too many ways to get lost. Personally, I feel that some of the paths and tunnels could be toned down just a little. Having plenty of paths to take is great, but I fear that faster, more agile characters could potentially abuse the hell out of this layout in its current state. Overall, though, while the visuals of Siren’s Strand are very pleasing, I wasn’t too fond of playing on it, as it simply didn’t compare to the openness of Ghost Reef, of the symmetric balance of Sanctum Falls.
Over the months, Gigantic has gone through major gameplay tweaks in order to help with the flow of battles. The biggest and most noticeable change is how the stamina meter works. Now, stamina costs for sprinting and attack usage has been reduced, allowing players to sprint and battle much longer than before. This is a much need change to the game as stamina used to feel incredibly punishing before. Experienced players were forced into a very cautious playstyle while newer players handed themselves over on a silver platter as they rushed into battle with no energy left to defend themselves. While playing cautiously is still more important here than most shooters, going in with guns blazing is also a viable strategy now, which fits in perfectly with the gameplay’s focus on mobility.
Characters have also been tweaked and rebalanced several times over, with the expectation of the new arrivals. Every class in the game has their roles in combat, and they all feel unique and distinct from each other. No ability feels too underpowered or overpowered, and it always feels that each skill upgrade that your hero builds towards is a real decision, as you recognize you are sacrificing something else just as valuable int he process. I honestly feel that almost all the heroes are in a very good place at the moment, and with just a few more tweaks, they could easily achieve near perfect balance among the current roster.
The guardians and creatures themselves have also been rebalanced. The guardians hit a lot harder than before, and can now spot and attack enemies at a much greater range. Power stealing from enemy guardians is way more difficult now, and unless you’re a skillful backcapper, bringing a teammate along to ambush a guardian is very much recommended.
In order to help players communicate better in random pick up group matches, a ping wheel has been added. By using the middle mouse button and shifting their mouse cursor around, players can ping their location as well as give out commands to teammates. With all honesty, I really can’t say that I like this system at all. The amount of commands you can give is limited, and selecting those commands in the first place feels incredibly clunky. All this system does for me is make me wish that they would just reintroduce good old fashion text chat instead. It also makes me wonder why text chat was even removed in the first place.
The last bit of content introduced recently was the new crown boosts and fortune cards. In Gigantic, crowns and rubies are a type of in-game currency that players can use to spend on new heroes, creatures and cosmetic items for the game, with crowns being obtainable through gameplay and rubies being obtainable with real money. The new fortune card system allows players to take on a handpicked set of challenges such as a set number of kill streaks or a set number of assists while playing as a specific hero. If a player completes a challenge, they’ll be rewarded with extra prestige points, as well as extra crowns to use in the store. Players will be given one set of cards each day, but can also use rubies to draw more fortune cards.
While this is a fine way to keep players occupied with the game, one issue that some may have with the system is the hero challenge cards. These cards are generally the most rewarding but may require a hero that the player doesn’t have. For those that aren’t willing to unlock specific heroes (or wait for specific heroes to be available on a free rotation), they may be disappointed that they’ll have to either pass up on the card or draw another set of cards in the hopes that they’ll get another decent rewarding card that they can complete with the heroes they have.
All in all, CBT 5.0 for Gigantic shows just how much love and dedication Motiga has for this promising title. While I still have no clue when they plan to finish development on Gigantic, it becomes clearer that they’re steadily reaching that finish line. With three maps, a handful of heroes that fit tons of different play styles and a fully functional cash shop and progression system, I’d like to say that the game is more than ready to be launched, but time will tell. Perhaps these tweaks being done right now are the final additions before open beta?