Have you ever wondered what would happen if Halo and Portal had one cosy night together? Wonder no more – Splitgate takes the fast-paced, arcade-style shooting mechanics popularised by Bungie’s classic series and adds a sprinkle of Valve’s quirky puzzler.
The result is a shooter that’s even more fast-paced and just as thought-provoking as its inspirations. Best of all? It’s free to play, coming to all consoles next month, and features cross-play.
If Splitgate looks familiar, that’s probably because it has been on Steam for the last couple of years in early access. Originally titled ‘Splitgate: Arena Warfare’, developer 1047 Games has been hard at work updating the game since its original launch in 2019.
How do portals work?
The portal system is what separates Splitgate from every other arena shooter out there. Pressing ‘Q’ or ‘E’ sends out one of two portal faces. You can shoot them from any distance, but they can only be placed on areas of blue mesh, similar to the white slabs of Portal.
Placing two portals creates a link between them, allowing you to pass through instantaneously. It’s incredibly impressive how the technology enables this game to work because it feels like wizardry in motion. It’s one thing to create working portals in a single-player game, but to make them work in a multiplayer environment with up to 8 people placing down 16 portals at once? That’s magic.
Looking through your portals, you’ll be able to see through the window to the other side. Bullets pass through the portals, too. It’s possible to earn frags by ricocheting bullets through portals – it’s encouraged and rewarded with additional points.
However, while you can travel through enemy portals, you can’t see through them. I’m assuming that this choice is partly a performance saving option (I imagine seeing through everyone’s portals would require immense processing power) and a balancing one. That said, bullets will still travel through enemy portals. If you see an enemy disappear through one, it’s probably worth spraying through.
One final tactical tip, you can close your portals with the ‘Z’ and ‘X’. That can be useful for cutting off any enemy that might be tailing you. Grenades in Splitgate don’t deal damage, either. They’re used for closing enemy portals and can royally screw over any opponents tactics.
What weapons can you use?
The weapons of Splitgate range from your usual shooter affair to some slick references to its roots. Basic Assault Rifle’s and SMG’s are especially strong in the right hands, as are DMRs and Battle Rifles. They all operate just as you’d expect – if you’ve played any amount of Halo, you’ll feel right at home here.
Rocket Launchers, Railguns and Plasma Rifles step up the arsenal a tad, bringing in weapon charge-up times and projectiles into the mix. Jet Pack and momentum movement abilities mean that there are quite often enemies flying in the sky. Landing a frag on a moving enemy with a projectile weapon feels just as good as it always did in Halo or Quake.
My favourite weapon of the bunch is a nod to both Halo and DOOM. It’s called the BFB, looks like a baseball bat, and operates exactly like a gravity hammer. Pulling the trigger initiates a meaty swing, accompanied by an almighty crash of pure bass. You’ve got to get the timing right, but when you do, it brings an immense feeling of nostalgia as you send your opponent flying in an impressive ragdoll.
Maps and Modes
Splitgate will keep you occupied with plenty of maps and modes. In Arcade, you’re put into a casual playlist of rotating game modes, all of which I have found to be enjoyable thus far.
There’s your standard affair of Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Capture the Flag. In addition, there are also some wackier modes like Oddball, which sees teams fight over possession of a disco ball. The longer each team carries the ball about, the more points they earn. It’s kind of like Griffball from Halo, except there’s no goal – you must simply survive as long as possible while carrying the ball.
Another fun mode is a protect the president style affair. Each team has a VIP that can’t create portals but carries a powerful shotgun. The rest of the team can move super quickly, create portals, and carry BFB’s. The exceptional speed creates for an intense game of cat and mouse that had me and a mate cackling at the numerous close calls and insane plays.
We played for several hours and never felt bored, purely because there’s a wealth of maps and mode combinations to be had. I haven’t even touched the competitive 4v4 mode which takes things up a notch and introduces ranked-based matchmaking into the mix. If you’re any good at Splitgate, that’s where you’ll want to invest your time.
Besides the unadulterated fun of Splitgate is a typical Battle Pass system that we’ve come to expect in 2021. A reasonably priced season can be purchased which will unlock a bunch of enticing cosmetic items for your character model.
There’s also a plethora of daily and weekly challenges to keep you engaged, though I found that I tended to complete most of them without straying too far from my usual playstyle. In addition, Splitgate keeps you coming back with daily log-in rewards, as well as 5% XP boosts that stack up to 15% if you queue up with a squad of three other friends.
It’s not necessary to invest any money into Splitgate – all of the gameplay-related content is completely free to access. Like its gameplay, the progression system seems to take a leaf out of Halo Infinite’s book. That said, it would be nice if the developer could take it a bit further and make the Battle Passes not expire, just like 343 is doing.
Should you play Splitgate?
The answer to this question is a no-brainer. If you’ve ever touched a Halo game and enjoyed what you played, Splitgate will be right up your avenue. The fast-paced arena gameplay is elevated by the tactics introduced with portals. Especially when playing with a friend, there’s plenty of potentials for Splitgate to become a mainstay in any shooter fan’s rotation of games.
It’s not like there’s anything to lose, either. It’s coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles next month on 27th July. If you’re on Xbox platforms, there’s a Beta running right now if you’re interested in giving it a try. An open beta begins on all platforms on 1st July.
Will you be downloading Splitgate next month? Let us know across our social channels.
Over on the GameByte Shop right now you can get up to 100% off the latest games. How? By buying an EPOS GSP 370 or GSP 670. Games include Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Resident Evil Village, Returnal, Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War and F1 2021. Simply add the headset of your choice to your cart and the offer will appear.
You can also get 50% off the selected games if you decide to purchase other EPOS headsets instead. You can see all the deals over on the GameByte Shop.
Featured Image Credit: 1047 Games