Splitgate: Arena Warfare is a multiplayer first-person shooter developed by 1047 Games. It’s a unique game that blends Halo and Portal with fast paced action. I had the chance to sit down and play it at PAX South 2019.
The gameplay has old school and simplistic and focused arena play. Splitgate has no classes or perks for the player to use. Instead, everyone starts with the same two weapons and pick up additional weapons that are dispersed throughout the map. There are eight weapons total that can be found on the maps and they range from a sniper rifle to their new Savage Rail Gun, that works is a charging weapon that is a a one hit kill (pictured below).
Additionally, everyone starts with the same amount of health and unlike weapons, there are no shields to pick up. Now, you do regain health, but only after avoiding hits for an amount of time. This means that aim and getting the drop on someone, paired with knowledge of weapon spawns, plays a vital role in each player’s success as there is no pre-load setup or perks to help you.
The game may seem very simple and at the surface level it is: aim and shoot. However, mastering the game requires so much more and that was one of goal of the team behind the game. The devs also said they were inspired by Rocket League, of all games. It seems simple watching a regular match all you see there are cars attempting to play soccer, but once you get to the higher levels you begin to notice the amount of skill and precision each move takes. This is where Splitgate’s portals come into play.
You have two portal buttons that are interchangeable. The first shot opens a portal then the proceeding shot connects the portals to each other. The range on the portals is unlimited, this allows for players to be able to portal all around the map. This also makes sure players stay hyper-aware of their surroundings, since flanking your enemies is possible from almost any spot on the map.
Players are able to not only see through their portals, but also shoot enemies through their portals. Players are even allowed to travel and shoot through other player’s portals. That being said, you are not able to see through an enemy’s portal before you jump through them.
But with this line-of-sight limitation, 1047 needed to come up with an anti-camping mechanisms for portals. For example, when someone is sitting behind a portal, the portal will blink, letting you know that there is someone attempting to camp there. Additionally, if you put your cross-hairs over the portal it will turn red if someone is sitting directly behind it.
I will say, from first hand experience, portals are difficult to master. In my limited time playing through three different maps, I was unable to fully grasp how to use the portals without assistance from the dev. That being said, it was a thing of beauty to watch someone who has mastered portals play. You totally understand that it’s simple to play but hard to master at a higher level. Especially since momentum plays a huge roll in the game. Whether its being able fly around the map, kill someone while coming out of a portal with just one melee hit, or the ability to get weapons on certain maps, mastering your speed and placement is key to top gameplay.
When it comes to level design, maps in the game are set up for people to use portals, not just run and gun. There are large areas of empty space and places to fall off the map – which admittedly, I did a few times. There are also areas connected by bridges, but there are some areas only accessible by portal.
If you want to swap out weapons, you need to have a good grasp on both momentum and portals as some weapons can only accessed by using these mechanics. The maps I played were all had a cool futuristic vibe which works really well with the fast pace gameplay.
Overall, Splitgate: Arena Warfare is a very fun game that brought back memories of some of the great classic arena shooters. But, the game also has its own unique identity. The controls were simple and easy to use, yet this game definitely requires time to master. If you are a fan of first person shooters I recommend checking this game out.
Splitgate: Arena Warfare is expected to release later this year for PC, but if you want to get your hands on it soon, there is a closed Alpha this weekend, January 26-27th. For updates, join their discord and follow their Twitter.