Available on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox
Splitgate is a fast-paced shooter with wonderfully diverse maps that include many lanes of attack and defense. Each map feels special and pops in a different way, from drab mines to a bright neon club scene. The developers at 1047 Games clearly were influenced by Halo’s multiplayer, which in my mind, is a good thing. They really captured the essence Halo 3’s multiplayer but with their own added flair. Splitgate adds in an additional mechanic by allowing you to open portals all across the map. 1047 Games modernized the Halo 3 formula so it doesn’t feel like you are playing something from the mid-2000’s but instead builds on the idea.
1047 Games was smart by making this a cross platform game out of the gate. Too many games in this day and age fail to do this. It is annoying to not be able to get a whole group of friends together because everyone plays on something different. Recently this has been a problem with Wreckfest, The Ascent, and Friday the 13th: The Game. I have either had to set up days where we play on either console or PC and it means we never have a full group and are at the mercy of random players. It’s pretty simple to find your friends in Splitgate. If they are not on Steam you can search by their gamer tags from either Xbox or PlayStation. Once you have added each other, then it’s just under the “Splitgate Friends” section. It’s pretty great and we only had an issue with hearing each other through game chat.
When I first fired it up, I definitely got the Halo 3 vibe and I was not disappointed. It has quickly become my favorite shooter and my go-to when I stream. It’s fun, fast-paced, has great verticality, and well laid out maps. You, of course, have your standard guns, from pistol to shotgun to railgun but where it really sets itself apart is the jet pack and portals. Nothing is better feeling than when you create a great set of portals and either kill someone through it or escape certain death. My favorite thing so far with the portals is when I set a trap. I put a portal at the top of a ramp and the other end over the edge of the map. I got a double kill and 4 overall kills with it when someone went through and fell to their death. It was amazing and made for a crazy new way to get rid of enemies. One of the better uses for the portals is keeping players from holing up in an area that is easily defendable. It makes it near impossible because even if you are holed up somewhere someone could shoot you through a portal they create, with the right angle. I have killed several people through portals that were shot onto a ceiling while a whole team was crowded into a small space.
The jetpack also helps alleviate choke points or easily defendable spaces. It can allow you to get over or across large gaps that would regularly be vexing. It also allows you some extra mobility to get away from an attacker or attack from a different unsuspected vantage point. It makes Splitgate one of the most mobile games I have played. Using the jetpack to get to a higher place and then placing portals can really give you an advantage. I can’t talk enough about how much I enjoy all of the freedom and ability to break strongholds.
The gun play is crisp and feels different with every gun. It really takes some time to get used to each. On the up side, there aren’t a hundred different guns that you have to sift through to find ones you like. You generally start with a “loadout” and in some match types, like deathmatch, you can pick up special weapons from the ground. There are a number of different match types that range from Team Deathmatch, to Oddball (keep away), to Swat (Headshots are instant death). When you pick guns up off of the ground, they begin to count down and respawn at zero. The blank holographic gun spinning reminded me of Quake, another amazing old school shooter this draws influence from. However, in game modes like shotty snipes, you only get the shotgun and sniper with no pickups.
They did add some more modern aspects. Similar to Apex Legends or Call of Duty: Warzone there are challenges, season passes, and the always controversial, loot boxes. In this case at least, the loot doesn’t change the game in any negative way. You cannot buy yourself into a better character like you could in Star Wars: Battlefront II. Honestly, I actually like the challenges and I work to complete them. I don’t know why but as I have gotten older, I like the challenges more and more. I actually pay attention to them and work towards that goal. Maybe I am more likely to be distracted by shiny objects these days ha-ha. Each challenge helps you either unlock new skins for your guns, portals, character, or grants an XP bonus. The XP is how you gain new levels and, in the matchmaking, it actually seems to pair you with similar level people. I really enjoyed that about the Halo multiplayer; it always seemed balanced. You were not always walking over people and not always getting crushed. It is a fine line and being challenged is the best way to keep people around. It’s what keeps bringing me back. I never feel like I am getting smashed every time I play. Not to say that there are no lopsided matches but they generally don’t continually happen.
The graphics are nothing super special but 1047 went out of their way to make each map look good and feel distinct. Some of them are drab browns with small pops of color but they are a sign of the area that you are in, like a mine or underground and then others have the neon lights and tight corridors. I, definitely, got Blade Runner vibes when playing the arena and club maps. There is one map in particular that brought me back to the early Halo games. Oasis reminds me so much of Blood Gulch that I almost immediately thought that 1047 Games was going to get sued for copying Halo. It looks a lot different but the lay out is nearly identical. Either way I loved the look of it and it reminded me a lot of the upgraded graphics from the Halo Master Chief Collection.
Splitgate has clearly been developed by people who not only love Halo but also a balanced shooter. I commend 1047 Games on their ability to put out such a well-rounded game with so few people. Splitgate is just fast paced enough for anyone to be able to get into but just slow enough you don’t get overwhelmed by the twitch mechanics. Mixing that with the insane mobility by using portals and your jetpack, make it very versatile and fun as hell. I love it and it brings me back to the days of playing Halo 2 and Halo 3 tournaments with my family back in my teen years. I, highly, recommend this to anyone. Oh, and did I mention it is free? Well, it is so even if you don’t like it, it’s not like you lost any money. What are you waiting for? Go download it now!