Formerly known as Portal Wars, 1047 Games’ Splitgate: Arena Warfare released last week. It is a free-to-play arena shooter that utilizes the mechanics of portals from Valve’s hit series. As a shooter, Splitgate feels fun and responsive during matches. There is a good variety of maps and game modes to warrant multiple sessions, and unlockable gear can be an incentive to keep playing. Unfortunately, Splitgate tends to lose its novelty quickly after a few hours. Even the portal abilities, that are meant to be a staple of the game, end up being an afterthought.
Like other arena shooters that came before, Splitgate is a tense experience where skill is paramount. Players are put into a map with a basic rifle and pistol. While those two primary weapons are good enough for most engagements, the better weapons are spread out across the map and have limited ammunition. Matches end up being frantic as players rush around the map looking for a Plasma Rifle or Rocket Launcher, while also avoiding or eliminating enemy combatants. The time to kill is forgiving but with weapons having little to no recoil, defeating enemies can happen quickly.
In all this, 1047 has added modes that you would expect to appear in an arena shooter. Players can queue up in a ranked or casual server to modes like King of The Hill or Team Deathmatch. My personal favorite was King of The Hill, where the Hill moved around the map throughout the match and forced players to use their portal tools and jetpacks. All the modes were well designed and accompanied the maps that they were used in. The servers themselves are also easy to join and remained stable. Other modes like Domination, where you have to capture multiple points to win, or Free For All, where it’s you against other players by yourself, add a solid variety to Splitgate.
As I stated earlier, Splitgate was formerly named Portal Wars. Like Portal 1 and 2, players can shoot portals on specific surfaces to create new lines of sight and pathways. In theory, this is meant to add an extra layer of strategy to Splitgate, but in reality, the maps can be traversed fairly easily without the need of portals. Also, due to Splitgate’s frantic nature, standing still to make a portal can be detrimental to the player since other opponents can easily mow you down. In 1047’s defense, I did see some players using portals effectively during matches like in Domination. Players would use portals as a way to get to points quickly and will keep those portals open in order to defend those points. Yet, I can’t really see it has a viable strategy against highly skilled players.