If there’s one thing I prefer not to do, it’s defining a game as “X game meets Y game” because it implies a game isn’t original. Saying that Rage 2 is Mad Max meets Doom might be accurate, but it implies that Rage 2 isn’t its own game. However, there are times where describing a game this way is the best way, and when it comes to Splitgate: Arena Warfare, it truly is the union of Halo and Portal that scratches that itch you didn’t realize you had.
Splitgate is an easy game to get into, with controls that will be second nature to anyone who has played a shooter on PC. To this familiar formula Splitgate adds portals. Throughout every map you’ll find areas with a lattice of dots and lines covering them. These are areas where you can place your portals, and where the advanced strategies of Splitgate come in.
Like Portal, you can place two portals, with all momentum you have going into a portal going with you as you exit the other. This lets you flank the other team, quickly get to power weapons, or fling yourself across the map. Maps have all the polish Portal does, and it’s an amazing feeling when you explode out the other end of a portal to knock an enemy on their back with a shot from the sniper rifle. Enemy portals can not be seen through, but flash red if there is an enemy on the other side. You can also move and shoot through enemy portals, but it will be a matter of spray-and-pray. In addition, if you feel too vulnerable with an enemy portal on your flank, you can destroy them, but the only method I found for destroying enemy portals was throwing an EMP grenade at them.
As for Splitgate‘s combat, it feels like a faster version of Halo 5. You have weapons like the assault rifle, pistol, battle rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, railgun, pistol, plasma rifle, and SMG. These all feel great to shoot, but at the same time feel very similar to their counterparts from the various Halo titles, and I wish they mixed it up a bit when it comes to how the weapons work. You can only hold two weapons simultaneously, and also have access to grenades. You die fairly quickly, but this is balanced out with regenerating health.
Finally–and this is a minor issue–is the very glossy, clean look that the game has. This was a problem I also had with Halo 5, because it looks like the armor and weapons have a layer of wax applied to them. Hopefully during the full release there are different materials or skins that will allow you to control how plastic your guns and armor look.
The Splitgate: Arena Warfare beta is over, but even from that limited time I can tell that it is shaping up to be a solid game. The portal mechanics have been combined with arena shooter gameplay very well, and the combination doesn’t feel forced. I do wish that the weapons and general aesthetic of the game would stray a bit further away from Halo 5’s look, but as long as it plays well it doesn’t matter. To top it all off, Splitgate: Arena Warfare is free-to-play, with a promise from the developers not to let the game turn into a pay-to-win mess.
Splitgate: Arena Warfare will be available on May 22, 2019 for Steam.
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