Splitgate offers a refreshing twist to the multiplayer shooter formula by mixing portal-like gameplay with old-school arena shooter sensibilities. The result – a satisfying free-to-play first person shooter that rewards creativity and skill, a call-back to the shooters of yore!
Splitgate forgoes the current trend of killstreaks laden multiplayer shooters and battle-royales for a more lean, fast paced and classic approach to multiplayer shooters emulating the feel and pace of games like Halo, Unreal tournament and quake arena. Guns feel tactile and the shooting feels crisp. ADS (Aim Down Sight) mechanics are nowhere to be seen as some guns simply switch to a magnified zoom, along with a shield mechanic akin to Halo. This further establishes the fact that Splitgate is a throwback, embracing classic shooter mechanics. It felt nostalgic having to strafe manically left and right while lining up headshots with just hip-fire.
With all this said – Splitgate has a secret weapon, and it comes in the form of portals.
This novel portal mechanic adds a much-needed twist in the gameplay loop of Splitgate and adds a sense of calculated chaos to the gunfights. Don’t have an angle on an enemy? No worries – open up a portal behind his/her cover, open another one next to you and voila! You have a clear flank of your opponent! But beware, these fun tactics can be used against you as well.
Much like the game Portal from Valve – these portals can be used for faster traversal – be it by using them to get into firefights faster or by fleeing these fights in a jiff. I can’t count the number of times Splitgate has made me feel like a total badass – disposing of foes by racking up headshots – opening a portal behind the enemy only to pop into it kill a few more players and disappear back. The possibilities seem endless. On the flip side I have come across sweaty players who know a lot more tricks than I did resulting in me dying quite a bit – but these deaths were never frustrating or because of the inadequacies of the game through bugs or flawed game design. If I died, it was because I made a mistake. Only time will tell if the player-base will be invested enough to find and develop more creative tactics and strategies along the lifespan of this free-to-play shooter.
Level Design and Arenas
This game’s direction is further established with the level design of the arenas that you fight in. Artistically speaking these maps don’t have much to write home about as they are very similar in art direction to any other hero-based or arena-based shooter in the last 5 or so years however the game does a good job of having variety within its 10+ in this version of the build. These maps have within them deliberately placed areas of walls, ceilings and floors that you can create portals on as having to be able to create portals anywhere would be a nightmare for game-balance. Though overwhelming, the devs do a great job of opening up multiple possibilities of portal deployment for yours’s and the opposing team. There’s a good mix of open map designs along with more maze-like maps that funnel in players towards more action-packed fire-fights. The sizes of these maps vary as well based on the game-mode.
The game boasts a healthy amount of varied game modes that unlock to the player as you level up. Splitgate boasts 12 game-modes at the time of the writing of this review – my favorite of which is ‘Team SWAT’ – regular deathmatch with the twist of having one-shot headshots. Other game-modes range from King of the Hill, Free for All, Capture the Flag among others. These game-modes open up to you as you level-up which gives you enough time to be familiar with the mechanics and flow of the game without overwhelming you.
Gunning for some kills!
Splitgate boasts the standard variety of guns from the trusty pistol, to an assault rifle, pulse rifle and more. It’s safe to say. At the moment Splitgate contains 11 weapons of mass destruction to help you frag away. My favorite of which is the battle rifle which lets out a burst fire and is extremely accurate.
As mentioned earlier the guns and gunplay take inspiration from Halo, hey there’s no harm in borrowing from the best. Because of this, there is no attachment or customization system that augments the performance of your guns. My only gripe with the collection of guns is the lack of variety or novelty. They all seem adequate and similar to guns you’ll find in other shooters. The creativity and seems to only be reserved to the portal mechanic.
If you’ve been lamenting the return of highly skill based, arena shooters – Splitgate is the game for you. It introduces a new and creative mechanic to the mulitplayer shooter formula in the form of portals that gives players immense room to experiment in the art of fragging. With plenty of room for growth Splitgate promises to have an exciting future. Uninspired art direction, a collection of guns that fail to excite holds the game back a bit. All-in-all Splitgate is a great time that I recommend you get into for the fast-paced and unique portal-shooter fun!
Splitgate Rating: 4/5
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