Splitgate is Multiplayer Comfort Food with a Brilliant Twist

Splitgate is multiplayer first person shooter that harkens back to the early to mid 2000s. A time before customized loadouts, killstreaks, sliding and even aiming down the sights. This is a classic arena shooter through and through, where every player starts with the exact same weapons and if you want something different, you better find it and pick it up before someone else does. Die and you’re back to the default loadout. It’s a game in the vain of classics like Unreal Tournament, Quake and especially Halo. It’s not just a straight arena shooter however as the game holds a brilliant twist that not only makes it unique but also fundamentally alters gameplay for the better. Everyone has a portal gun at all times.

That’s right, every single player in every game mode has a portal gun always equipped to their wrists. The maps are filled with surfaces that you are able to shoot a portal onto. Just like everyone’s favorite first person puzzle game, once you’ve shot two different surfaces with each side of the portal you can go through it to travel to the other end. In gameplay terms, what this means is that it’s not just about running and gunning, it’s about traversing around the map and your enemies with portals. The portals are Splitgate’s X-factor that puts it a cut above the rest of the free to play shooters on the market. The responsive and butter smooth shooting also helps.

As I said earlier, Splitgate most closely resembles the arena shooters of old but it’s most like Halo. The developers at 1047 Games have made it quite clear that they love Halo and make no attempts to hide how much it inspired the core of Splitgate. A lot of the guns feel straight out of Halo 3, even down to the design. The Battle Rifle in particular made me overcome with a sense of 2007 nostalgia when I picked it up and used it for the first time. While it’s inspiration and core might be old school, the actual gunplay is decidedly in the present. No there’s no sliding to be had but the actual shooting mechanics are as smooth as any other competitive FPS currently on the market and in a game where you’re aim in crucial in achieving victory, that’s a great thing. Every gun feels unique to use, with their own advantages and disadvantages. All the weapons are balanced out nicely so you never have to worry about another player getting a specific weapon. Just because your opponent has a railgun or rocket launcher, that doesn’t mean certain doom for you.

Much of the game is old school in design. Everyone starts with the same guns and must find others around the map to equip them. There’s no fancy movements like sliding or wall running. The most advanced movement you get is a jetpack with a limited charge to reach higher areas or float for a second or two. Playing it has made me feel like I’m back in my younger days playing Halo 3, trying to grab the sniper before another player can snag it. It’s a great feeling made better by the fact that this plays a lot more smoothly than a game from 2007 would feel today.

I know what you’re probably thinking by now. Why would you play this when you can just play Halo? Well because this game features a mechanic so brilliant I’m surprised no one has put it in a competitive FPS before. As I mentioned earlier, everyone in the game has a portal gun. At all times.

Every map is filled with blue walls that you can shoot a portal onto. This completely changes the dynamics of the standard arena shooter gameplay. Well you can get by just playing it like a Halo clone and rely soley on your aim, the use of portals opens it up in a a big way. Portals can be used to flank enemies, to escape certain death, the get a better vantage point and just getting around the map more efficiently.

For as satisfying as the base shooting is, few things I’ve played this year have given me as much satisfaction as shooting an enemy through one of my portals. I’ve gotten a great many of kills either through a portal or by portaling behind unaware enemies, killing them all from behind and getting the sweet dopamine rush that is the announcer proudly claiming I’m on a killing spree.

There’s a risk with portals as well since you can still be killed through your own portal. Enemies can’t see through your portal and you can’t see through theirs but you can still shoot into them and hope for the best. You can go through enemy portals to try and surprise them but you don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side. It adds a new dynamic other than just focusing on your portals. Do you risk death in the hopes of surprising an enemy through their own portal or do you move on .

Splitgate is currently in open beta on Playstation, Xbox and PC with a full free to play release on July 27th. It features full crossplay as well so you can play with your friends on every platform. There are in game purchases but they are for cosmetics only and don’t affect gameplay. You do get some item drops for completing challenges so you still get some cosmetics just by playing. I implore anyone who’s a fan of arena shooters, Halo or just competitive FPS games to check this out. It’s incredibly fun and really like nothing else on the market right now.

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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