This is based off of my experience with the beta, elements talked about could be tweaked in the final version.
One of my fondest memories is playing Halo:combat evolved on the school PC’s with friends. It obviously wasn’t a regular thing but when it came to the end of the year the teachers would get a little lax in activities. We played everything from large red vs blue battles too custom game modes, for that extra spice of mixing things up. Sadly those days are long gone and there hasn’t been a shooter that’s hit that same itch for me on PC. Luckily Splitgate is here to do just that and it couldn’t have come at a better time! With the Master Chief Collection for PC still out of sight and the first flight, a beta test for Halo:Reach, still to be announced. I am in the market for a shooter that can recreate those Halo moments and Splitgate has some cards up its sleeves.
Splitgate is 1047 Games attempt to bring back arena shooters and it has a lot to live up too. Luckily its developers are dedicated to recreating the feel of Halo 2 and Halo 3, though this isn’t the only thing going for Splitgate. As players are given the power of creating portals to navigate and if well placed enough kill your opponents by getting that trick shot or sending them flying off the stage. So does solid gameplay and a portal gun mean Splitgate is a enjoyable experience? Yes, yes it is, but lets look at what seems to be a refresh of classic shooter mechanics that scratches the itch for Halo on PC.
Splitgate succeeds in making it’s shooting feel just like Halo 2/Halo 3, it even brings weapons like the pistol, battle rifle and sniper that are Iconic to the franchise. The guns Splitgate offers feel crisp and all except for the plasma rifle which I just couldn’t get into using were viable choices during matches. My favourites were the battle rifle and pistol, with the sniper and railgun being fun power weapons to use when I wanted to cause some chaos. 1047 have also made some style choices to help differentiate it from Halo. The big one I noticed early is you have no shield, the developers have decided to switch this out for a health bar that can regenerate given enough time. This choice added a bit more urgency with how I played as a health bar presents a more finite end then a shield bar. I do wish that some sort of health pickup or over-shield was also on the map, as fights against multiple enemies can be extremely dangerous. This choice in health does lead to a more tactical thinking to encounters as your strongest weapon isn’t your gun that fires bullets but the one that lets you spawn portals.
The introduction of a portal gun adds a new level to how you get around, as navigating the levels themselves becomes a challenge to overcome. Within levels are blue patterned screens, these are your portal points and you can only travel from these points. They are scattered around the map from floors to sides of buildings and even platforms on certain levels to help you get back up in case you fell down. The portals themselves aren’t just for jumping through but how you use them will be up to you. Of course you can also use enemy or friendly portals to get around but that might lead to a shotgun to the face. You do have grenades that shut down portals at your disposal but that’s all they do and it is a little disappointing. After all the best part of shooters is getting that grenade to land right a a groups feet and take everyone out. This might be a choice to avoid such tactics or it could be they are still working on damage dealing grenades for the game. Either way the emp grenades are a important resource that shouldn’t be ignored. Matches can get hectic with multiple portals spawning and being able to shutdown attacks from behind or above can be a life saver. There is one final part of your kit that we haven’t talked about and that would be the jetpack.
Momentum is the force that not only drives your attacks but also your ability to scale Splitgate’s maps. To aid is this endeavour players are given a jetpack so they can make the most of their portals. While not the most powerful part of your kit, it is a much welcomed addition to the game as being a moving target it better then one standing around waiting to be shot. If there was one thing I would add to Splitgate’s player movement it would be a mantle. Mantling has become a part of many gamers arsenal in traversing games level design and as the maps in splitgate seem to rely on multilevel-ed structures, I feel mantling should be an addition the team at 1047 games should looking to add to the game in a future update. This is just a small concern I have for the game and in no way takes away from the enjoyment I had while playing it.
That enjoyment I felt was just like back at school, there were up’s and downs but we always had a good laugh afterwards. The most genuine laughs came when we hopped into some custom matches. The modifiers are numerous enough that you can have some pretty unique experiences but not overwhelming that your left confused. Another feather in the developers cap, of how much they paid attention to smaller details for the games release. This showcases the care 1047 Games put into crafting the experience for Splitgate and should be a sign of how they will handle post launch updates and content.
Overall Splitgate’s beta had me excited for its launch and what 1047 games future plans are. While I did have some concerns, they are minuscule in comparison to the dev team recreating the Halo 2/Halo 3 experience and adding to it without ruining it.
Splitgate is set to launch on the Steam store on May 22nd for free.