MOBAs and I just haven’t gotten along. A confounding set of objectives paired with stories about some of the most brutal communities this side of the internet pretty much conspired me to forever hold off on joining in on the craze, whether it be the old guard like League of Legends or Dota 2 or the new kids like MXM’s Titan Ruins or Heroes of the Storm. After some time with Gigantic free to play, however, I’ve found not only a MOBA that makes sense, but a free to play game that is the perfect implementation of the monetization model.
We’ve had a lot of coverage for Gigantic over the past several months, and there’s a reason for that. It’s been a winding, likely frustrating, but ultimately successful road from conception to final release. It even didn’t look like it was going to make it to a launch of any kind. Honestly, I’m glad this game made its way out of the mire because there is a lot of lovely things about this title that has made a lot of the MOBA genre make sense to me.
For one thing, the game’s graphical style absolutely pops. From character design to color palette to animation, this game is about as close to playing a sort of Saturday morning cartoon as we’re likely going to see from MOBAs. It’s fluid, expressive, and really drives home the point of being a more approachable and welcoming sort of game.
The last time I peeked in on Gigantic in November of last year, I was confused by not only the objectives but the mass of icons as well as the sense of how the game is meant to ebb and flow. I’ve got to say, either something changed with me or the game because time has been incredibly kind to Gigantic. The starting experience was much more clean-cut, with information that clearly explained icons and objectives and how they impacted a match. The overall flow of the game just feels, for lack of a better word, more fluid.
The interesting wrinkle with Gigantic is the humongous creatures on either side of the map that represent Cores or other primary defense nodes in other MOBAs. These critters not only inject a huge level of character but also dictate how and where the action will happen. Once you’ve done enough on the map to get 100 Energy, your creature will attack, clashing with the opposing team’s beastie in dramatic fashion and opening up a wound that you and your team have to assault.
The rush of these Clashes – both on offense and defense – combined with an overall smaller map size and swifter sense of gameplay makes Gigantic a far more fun and frantic type of competitive experience. While genre diehards might balk at the lack of tactical decisions, newbies like myself can get the gist of how things work and even feel like a contributing factor in Gigantic.
I’ll not really go into too much detail about this game – this isn’t a review, after all, and we’ll have someone provide a much more succinct opinion of Gigantic as a whole. For those new to MOBAs like me, though, Gigantic is one to dive into and try out. Particularly because there’s nothing standing in your way.
To that point, let me explain how I’ve graded Gigantic’s free to play model. My impressions are divided into four different categories: Account Limitations, Store Interruption, Store Offerings, and Store Reliance. Each category is then rated as either Minimal, Acceptable, and Oppressive with explanations on why I came to the rating I did. Finally, I wrap up the full overall experience of Gigantic for those who aren’t buying in one way or the other.
Account Limitations: Minimal
What are Account Limitations? Anything that locks content away from you, from character or class choices to hotbars, access to dungeons or end game. These are things that flag you as one of the “freeloaders” and restricts your play.
It’s a MOBA, and a simpler one at that as far as objectives go. Therefore, it’d be pretty silly to block you from playing the thing. But for those who aren’t Founder’s, there’s still more than enough choice here. You’ve got a rotation of free characters to play with as well as opportunities to draw Fortune Cards, which are static objectives that you can complete multiple times to earn extra in-game experience and currency. It’s got a heavy RNG element, but it’s a welcome addition.
Beyond that, the whole Gigantic play experience is all yours. You’ve got access to creatures to Summon on waypoints on the map, and the heroes on offer are varied enough that you’re likely to find someone you attach to. For me, it’s all about Mozu. So cute.
Store Interruption: Acceptable
Store Interruption is based on how frequently you’re reminded of the in-game store during play. This either occurs through pop-up reminders that dominate your screen or buttons that redirect you to items offered in the store.
The primary page when you’re first in the game is, as one would expect, advertising for things in the game’s store. Beyond that, there’s nothing that’s bothering you to head to the store page and see what’s there.
Mercifully, this is doubly true while you’re playing the game itself. With the things you’ve got to pay attention to in the middle of a match and the pace these things can move at, store interruptions would be utterly ignored anyway. The few nods to the cash shop are appropriate and understated.
Store Offerings: Acceptable
The Store Offerings section is a quick look at what the store has to offer. From the selection to the variety of items, this is your at-a-glance idea of whether the store is interesting and if prices seem to be fair.
It’s not exactly a mind-blowing storefront as things go, but it’s definitely a solid one. You’ve got the expected roster of Heroes to purchase, skins for said Heroes, boosters, and some summonable Creatures and skins.
Practically everything in the store can be bought with Crowns, the earned in-game currency, or Rubies, the purchasable funny money that can also be gained from play though to a lesser degree. In either case, costs seemed balanced enough, especially considering the big-ticket item – a Hero – is more than possible to get through simply playing. Which leads neatly in to…
Store Reliance: Minimal
This is an overall score of whether a game enters the “pay-to-win” realm with its offerings. Does the in-game store have an abundance of boosts? Does the leveling curve feel like you need to buy pots in order to progress? That’s what Store Reliance measures.
Whether it was through player vs. bots or player vs. player, I was able to rake in the currency I needed to unlock Mozu within a little over a dozen or so matches. Several matches after that, I had enough Crowns to purchase another. What’s even better is that you get to play the whole roster for free in a practice arena so you can purchase with confidence.
While the costs of some Heroes on the roster do vary, and the prices for some of the nicer-looking skins do have some pretty high values, I got the ultimate impression that simply playing Gigantic will let you get the stuff you want. And believe me, when you find the character that feels right, it’s easy to simply play Gigantic.
I implore anyone reading this to try and not brush this off as “yet another MOBA”, especially those of us who are not quite ready to enter the deep water of the genre that Dota 2 or LoL represents. Gigantic is the approachable, colorful, and fun sort of “entry drug” game that the genre needs. Better still, there are practically no limits on how much of that fun is available to those who are arriving without a penny to spend.Related: Column, F2P Kingdom, Free to play, Gigantic, MOBA