Pros: Fast and fun gameplay, unique idea clashing titans, lots of skill customization options, fantastic graphical style
Cons: Difficult to find out information outside of a match, chaotic combat makes it hard to follow things, ARC platform is a requirement (even if downloading through Steam platform), 3 maps and gameplay can get repetitive
We finally got a chance to check out third person “Hero Shooter” Gigantic, having only been available through the Windows 10 platform since its initial release. Now released through the Steam and ARC (Perfect World) platforms, everyone else can play the game for free.
The core mechanics of a battle are fairly simple, objective wise it is a constant battle over controlling camps and trying to earn points through them, fighting the enemy as you go. It’s simple enough that it can sometimes get a little boring doing the same thing over and over, but gives enough objectives to make teamwork necessary. Whilst being a lone wolf and picking off enemies is possible, it’s also very easy to get caught out and ambushed as the multi-level environments can hide enemies quite well. A big problem is that with multiple objectives, and a sometimes absence of players focusing on what they should be doing, the need for communication is quite high. The reason this is a problem is that there’s no text chat system or in game voice channel. Outside of a few token pings it is impossible to organize a group strategy and get them on the same page without having an external VOIP, which just won’t work for random solo pickup groups.
Combat itself is pretty chaotic, whether it’s the fast action or the graphics style, it’s sometimes very easy to lose what’s going on. As primarily ranged characters we found it very hard to see sometimes whether or not our ranged shots actually connected. Enemy players getting up in our face (never good for a ranged character) were very hard to keep track of even if they weren’t the most mobile of melee characters. The combat is very active and action packed, and the maps are of a size that makes finding a fight pretty easy keeping the combat constant. More so towards the end of matches where the arena grows smaller and smaller and we were constantly on top of the enemy.
One of the major things that we didn’t like with the game was the lack of information. There is a tutorial that walks us through the main phases of battle explaining capturing points and attacking the enemy titan as well as how to level up a character in game. However, the problem is that this information doesn’t seem to be readily accessible elsewhere. It was often hard to remember just exactly what mechanics did such as capturing the different camps allowed us to harvest points towards triggering our allied titans rampage. It took us a while to work out that having a creature placed on a camp automatically harvests it, whereas if there is no creature (and points are available) you can harvest them manually. This wasn’t explained particularly well and took a few games to work out.
The more fundamental missing information was when it came to abilities. An annoyance for us was that the skill descriptions didn’t actually tell us how much base damage abilities did, so from the offset it wasn’t immediately known which of our attacks did the most damage. When levelling up in combat and earning a skill point we could select our available skills and upgrade them with one of two choices. The problem is that there was nowhere outside of a match (at least that we could find) to see what different skill upgrades a character could get through a battle. This resulted in every time we got a skill point we had to read through all ten upgrades (two for each of the five key skills) to see which we wanted (with no idea as to how it would synergize with later upgrades) or just randomly pick one and hope for the best. The skill upgrade indicator is also way too subtle, there were plenty of times we’d been fighting for a while then realised we had three or more unspent points because we’d apparently levelled up. For more experienced players we’re sure it’s a matter of course to keep an eye on your level, but for new players it’s far from clear.
One of the elements we thought was quite interesting was the Fortune Cards, which work as quests that you can complete through matches. There are up to 7 cards that a player can have active at any one time and each gives a different quest such as completing three matches, or acquiring a set number of kills. The harder to complete the mission are, the more account XP and currency a player earns, with players able to choose which missions they want to activate based on which missions they think they can complete.
So how do we think the game will do? Well from a gameplay point of view it still needs tweaks, and given that the game has been out for a little while already we’re nervous as to why they’ve not already been implemented. The gameplay is fun, but at times too fast and confusing, and that will put players off. The three maps are great, and whilst many people tag on the “MOBA” title to the game (which traditionally only have a single/small handful of maps) we don’t think it’s anything like a MOBA and more like an objective based shooter. With that, three maps just doesn’t feel like enough.
A big hindrance of the game is going to be their platform. They launched exclusively on Windows 10 initially, which immediately limited the player pool, but now they’ve released through Perfect World Entertainment’s lesser known “ARC” platform and also the giant that is Steam. Unfortunately (and quite deceptively) installing and launching the game through Steam STILL installs and plays the game through the ARC platform, but only starts installing it AFTER you’ve committed to the 10GB download of the game. It’s published in part by Perfect World so we get why its on ARC, and most games can’t afford not to be on Steam, but needless to say the number of confused, frustrated and angry players on the Steam reviews echo our own sentiments that it should be more open about the ARC platform requirement.