Fight or Kite: Gigantic is a fantastic MOBA, but it’s missing a bit of Q and A and TLC


Over the last couple of months, I’ve been keeping a cursory eye on the development and release of Gigantic: Rampage Edition – another resurrected MOBA game. I suppose I’m on a bit of a kick with these recently. However, this time I’m not playing a spin-off of Paragon. Instead, it’s the revival of another popular title that was scrubbed before its time.

Or so I’ve been told, anyway. I never played the original Gigantic back in its launch days of 2017. Yet from what I understand it was only available for a year or two before PWE decided it was no longer able to support Motiga and then the game itself. I recall that it always looked pretty incredible, but somehow I didn’t make my way over to it before it was gone.

As I was gearing up for this column, I started to have that feeling that I think we all know when we’re getting ready to play a new game, along with that certain level of hype that begins to germinate when you know someone who is really pumped up and excited by it too. In this case, I couldn’t help but get that feeling from MOP’s own Chris and his level of enthusiasm at the title being back. Thanks to my listening to him talk about it in chat and his recent hands-on, I was ready for that launch day. Needless to say, by this point I was pretty excited to play when I was offered a chance to take the new version for a spin as well.

Some of the best and smoothest combat from the genre

I know I’ve repeated myself several times about how important the speed of combat is to my enjoyment of a game, but I’m going to bring it up again. Certainly, it’s something I’ve complained about in a number of the Paragon titles I’ve played. Most MOBA titles just feel too slow for me. Well, put all that aside for Gigantic because here, combat is quick, smooth, and highly enjoyable.

So anyways I started blasting. And then later on slicing and dicing. And it just feels really good. The speed of combat kind of felt like the perfect blend of time to kill and tactical play. Standing in the fire certainly kills you quickly, but when you’re one-on-one with someone, you can really try to make some smart moves and skillfully win the fight. Or lose, as I mostly did. But I still thought it was appropriate for the level I’m at right now.

And my number one favorite thing about the combat: We can dodge! It’s even better than the time to kill, better than the speed and visuals, better than how cool the hero skills are. Yes, dodging is part of the standard hero’s move set. I love dodging so much. It just makes the whole of combat feel interactive and responsive. It lets you feel as if you’ve got a way to skillfully maneuver around an opponent or save your own butt. In the Paragon games, when you needed to escape from a hot spot, each hero basically had a single skill that might help you out. If that ability is already on cooldown, well then consider yourself already dead.

And I can’t forget to mention how fantastic the game looks. That’s actually the first thing that came to mind when I launched Gigantic. There’s a certain colorfulness in all the characters and the environment that really pops out and catches your attention. There’s no hyper-realism here. It’s sort of cartoony, but in all the right ways. It just looks great.

The two game modes don’t tell you exactly what they are on the tin. You’ve got Rush and Clash. Since it’s a MOBA, I’ve got a decent idea of how the modes play, and I’m fine with that. Moreover, Clash is gated behind a level requirement or a number of matches because that’s the “competitive” mode. Whatever. If Rush is around a 10-minute long match, then that’s where my home would be regardless.

But then I began to learn the mechanics behind Rush. You have three points basically centered on the map. You have to go and capture them to earn points, and then… then I realized what this is: It’s another blasted Conquest mode. I can’t escape it, and I suppose developers can’t think of anything else. My thoughts and opinions on three-point capture modes aka conquest modes is well-documented; suffice it to say, I’m not a fan.

So for me, that’s a bummer. At least the Gigantic twist is that instead of just rushing the points until one team has more points than the other, you have to rush a boss every 100 points until the boss is defeated. That way even if your team performs worse throughout the match overall, you may still have a chance of stealing a victory. Kind of like Guild Wars 2’s Legacy of the Foefire map.

New players will have a jarring introductory experience

For all the good that comes with Gigantic: Rampage Edition, there’s certainly a number of outstanding issues that make the gameplay a less than perfect experience, especially for a newcomer to the game, which really is not what you want to experience or hear from a game that is trying to right the wrongs of the past.

First up, the tutorial teaches you how to play the Rush mode in a pretty basic desert canyon map. This is all well and good, and I actually appreciated the run-through. Of course, the three-point capture mode I did not, but alas. The problem came when I was able to finally get into a real match and the map was some kind of sci-fi spaceship or flying industrial fortress – I’m not really sure. Now, that itself isn’t usually a big problem. More maps is more good, right? Usually, I would nod vigorously and say, “Obviously, now let’s play.” But that’s not what I would say with this map because it is vastly different from the basic map I had just learned to play in. It’s dark; it’s laid out with ramps and paths that weren’t obviously the same as the desert.

I was just about totally lost visually, so I had to rely on the minimap to guide me from point to point. Again, we aren’t outside the realm of acceptability here yet – that is, until I step off a platform and fall to my death. The what? There are apparently pitfalls all through this map that definitely did not exist in the desert map. So frustrating. It’s just bad design to teach players one thing and then throw something completely unexpected at them the next. I wouldn’t say there needs to be a tutorial for every map, but maybe the tutorial should teach the more complex of the two.

Next up is the Fortune system, which isn’t explained at all. Of course, it’s possible there was some explanation that got skipped because of server issues, but I certainly didn’t get one. So I’m clicking around to figure it out, and I think these are basically just achievements. But you can set or maybe need to set some of them to being Watched to earn their reward. There are also tiers within each Fortune, and I couldn’t immediately tell whether I need to set the next tier to Watched too or not to earn the reward. Overall, it was annoying to mess with and not well-communicated to new players inside the game itself without external research.

While not a surprise, the server issues were pretty messy last week. I sat in a queue for several minutes at first not sure whether I was really in the queue or not. Exiting the game and returning seemed to clear that one, although returning to the game made it restart at the tutorial again, which was also not great. I get that basically all games have growing pains and server issues at launch, and I know Arc is compensating players, but these issues were fairly aggravating to work around.

My final QQ for the day is the lack of a surrender option. I hate that. I hate that so much. Developers of all games, hear me now. You punish players for leaving matches. You punish them for ragequitting and going AFK during matches. And now you’re also going to punish players by not letting them voluntarily quit?

It makes no sense. If I can clearly see a match is in the trash can, and I want to leave to start fresh, freaking let me. All you’re doing is forcing me to stay in a match that I’m not enjoying, which makes me resent playing at all. Let me pop up a vote. Let me try to leave the right way because if you don’t, I’ll just leave anyways and close the game out since I’m going to be blocked from queuing up from leaving a match.

All of these issues lead me to one major point, which is too little QA and proper play testing. Server issues are one thing, but mechanics like a simple surrender option, or understanding how a new player will experience one map versus another? These are basic problems that developers who are too deep into the weeds will never notice. But some fresh eyes or someone trained to look for them will notice right away.

Package all of my Gigantic: Rampage Edition thoughts up together, and you’ve got a real mixed bag. There’s so much to like and the important stuff – like how combat feels and how the game plays – is excellent. But there are also so many small things that are aggravating enough that it’s hard to know how I really feel on this one right now.

I’m glad Gigantic is back, and I’m glad players who really loved it are able to get back in here and play their hearts out. I just hope the developers over at Abstraction and Arc Games are able to resolve their server stability problems and perhaps take a fresh look at some of the more obvious issues that can really slow down new player adoption.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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