PAX South 2015: Slaying giants in Motiga's Gigantic

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PAX South 2015: Slaying giants in Motiga's Gigantic
Motiga's Gigantic is one part Team Fortress, one part Dota, and one part Monster Hunter. The basic match structure will sound familiar to MOBA lovers -- two teams of five slug it out for superiority by controlling resources, leveling up, and killing one another -- but the skill-based mechanics, multiple maps, and shifting strategy priorities make the game more than a three-lane farm fest. Gigantic isn't about last-hitting or memorizing meta. Instead, it's about slaying giants and aiming true.

I hopped in on a quick Gigantic match with some other press folks this afternoon at PAX South 2015, and in the midst of delivering an absolute drubbing to the scrubs (kidding!) on the other side of the table, I was able to get a feel for the game's combat system, characters, and the way its massive guardians change the way battles play out.

SMITE, but not really

It's hard to find a parallel for Gigantic. SMITE seems like a close comparison thanks to Gigantic's over-the-shoulder view and FPS controls, but the game handles much more like Team Fortress 2. It's fast. There's a lot of verticality. Movement is everything. For example, my hero had an ability that coated the ground in liquid, which allowed my teammates to bounce extra-high onto elevated ground. The same ability, fired at the enemy, caused a large knockback effect. Characters fill familiar roles: sniper, healer, tank, assassin, etc. Specializations unlock during combat that allow players to enhance their abilities and fine-tune heroes for the role they want to play.

The goal of a Gigantic match is slaying the enemy's guardian. Guardians are enormous creatures that accompany teams into a match and periodically enter the fray. A team can't just walk up to a guardian and smack it down; instead, the team must strengthen its own guardian by controlling map resources and summoning other powerful allies. A strong enough guardian can provide an opportunity to wound the opposing guardian and edge a bit closer to victory. A weakened guardian needs to be protected from harm at all costs.

Guardians are dynamic elements of Gigantic's combat. They have their own attacks and traits, and several guardians are planned for the release version of the game (Gigantic is currently in alpha). When a guardian shows up on the battlefield, players notice. The presence of guardians dramatically shakes up the status quo of stalemates and tug-of-war lead advantages common to team-based shooters. Imagine if in the middle of a Team Fortress 2 match a 60-foot sandworm smashed into the arena and started laying waste to everything in sight and you sort of have the idea.

Everything in Gigantic is a skill shot. Players have to aim. But that doesn't mean the game is only for the shooting elite. My hero dealt primarily in AoE splash bombs that helped my team and hindered the other in a variety of ways, and all I had to do was be reasonably accurate. Support players and damage dealers alike have a variety of heroes from which to choose. Motiga was emphatic that the skill ceiling on Gigantic is high -- the team warned players before the demo to "be honest with yourselves" before selecting an accuracy-dependent shooting class -- but that the game is designed to offer something for everyone.

Most importantly, Gigantic is fun. I had a blast with the match I played, and I enjoyed watching a few more on the show floor. It's intuitive and difficult, easy and challenging. I'm excited to see where the Motiga team takes it (and to get specifics on its free-to-play payment model, which apparently has yet to be finalized).

PAX South 2015: Gigantic

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