MOBAs and I don’t get along, and not for lack of trying. I’ve gotten kind of close with Heroes of the Storm but never ultimately saw it hook me. I’ve squinted in confusion at esports broadcasts of League of Legends and Dota 2. I’ve tried the MOBA side of Master X Master and then ran screaming from it.
That was all until Gigantic came along.
Of course, if I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all, which means that Gigantic – a MOBA I could enjoy for once – is going to be shutting down very soon. So I wanted to take an op-ed moment to say goodbye to Gigantic, the only MOBA that actually did something genuinely unique.
The first thing that had me intrigued by Gigantic was definitely its graphics style. As much as I am definitely a person who values gameplay over looks, I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that visuals are what make a first impression and boy did Gigantic’s visuals impress. Something about its bouncy, stylized and cartoon-ish quality made me think that this would be a MOBA that would be honestly fun to play.
Sure enough, when eating that bait I found it absolutely delicious and was hooked. The screenshots might look a tiny bit chaotic, but given time all of the objectives and icons on the screen began to make sense. There were a pretty small number of things to pay attention to, they were explained clearly via gameplay, and it all fell into place in a natural-feeling flow. The only competitive video gaming experience that’s done conveyance better is Splatoon, frankly.
Finally, the last thing that got me absorbed was finding a character to love. And her name was Mozu. Honestly, every character in this game is full of vibrancy in their designs and animations, but I adore my adorable wand-waving goblin-mouse daughter with all of my heart. The deal with Gigantic and myself was sealed.
With all of the fun I was having, though, I didn’t really play super deeply. There wasn’t a competitive mode, but I also didn’t feel like there needed to be. I just liked playing for fun, yet at the same time, Gigantic often felt like a game I could eventually learn and improve at. I’m not claiming to be even close to a mediocre player, but there’s a rare few PvP-centric games that give me a drive to improve and Gigantic was definitely among that small number.
That was likely helped thanks to Gigantic’s progression system, which seemed to offer rewards simply for being around. I assume those rewards scaled up if you managed to be top of the charts in your team, but even in games where I was playing at my worst, I still felt like I was a contributor of worth and reminded me of as much. I’ve got plenty of kill assist badges to prove it.
That seems to be the thing missing from MOBAs for me; that sense of encouragement without forcing a competition ladder on you. There wasn’t a competitive mode so almost instantly I felt like the pressure was off. I guess for some people that meant that Gigantic was, ultimately, a pointless MOBA. I’m just going to chalk that up as an irreconcilable difference of opinion – frankly I find climbing a competitive ladder the antithesis of fun.
That sense of fun also wasn’t ruined by reading a miserable chat scroll. There didn’t need to be chat because communication was on the screen and combat was moving at pace and matches had a tug-of-war feel. This meant typing in chat was wasted time, which meant grumbles from other people didn’t pierce my perception of fun and a casual environment.
I’d be remiss if my look back at Gigantic didn’t also take a moment to consider why this game didn’t catch fire. The biggest reason seems pretty cut-and-dry to me; Gigantic arrived at a time when the well of MOBA excitement had run dry and people were disinterested in the game type. Many were either into established titles or otherwise wouldn’t feel engaged with PvP gaming until the arrival of Battle Royale Fever that now grips us.
So why the late arrival? The ups and downs of the title’s beleaguered development and release cycle has been documented by many and even by the devs themselves on a couple of occasions, which all combined to see a game that kept having to delay itself. While I certainly have made no friends with any flies on the walls of Motiga’s offices to confirm as much, this seems to lead to some possible poor decision-making at the higher levels.
Then again, I could be completely wrong here. I repeat, I don’t have that information.
In any case, by the time Perfect World decided to pick up publishing duties, it was already too little too late. This makes the whole closure of Gigantic just that bit more frustrating to me because this game genuinely, honestly is something unique in the MOBA genre.
That said, if I’m completely honest with myself, I saw it kind of coming…but that didn’t mean I had to like it and elected to enjoy the game for what it was in spite of the writing on the wall. And you know what? I’m glad I did. It’s the same tactic I used when I saw that City of Heroes was going to be shuttered. It’s a similar tactic I’m using with the assumption that WildStar is inching to the chopping block. I’ll focus on the good times of the game instead of trying to wrap my head around the question of “why.” My brain is not that malleable or flexible anyway.
With that in mind, and in the off-chance that anyone who worked on Gigantic is reading this, I want to say thanks. Thank you to the devs who worked to make this game come to life, however eventually that was. Special thank you to the designers and animators that brought me my wonderful girl Mozu. Even thank you to Perfect World for trying to make it happen, though arguably you could have tried harder to make it work.
Gigantic pulled a neat trick in making MOBAs not feel like alien Rubik’s Cubes. It made me feel like I could actually be good even though I believe myself to be chronically bad at PvP games. It had a lot of good ideas and great characters, and I genuinely hope the minds behind all of that enrich other games out there.
I’m sure going to miss it. So this is my farewell to Gigantic.