It’s the epitome of a First World Problem, but I currently have a lot of games to play. In between trying to get a few reviews done for this here site (pop back and check them out if you’d be so kind!) and the Best Deal In Gaming dropping must plays almost weekly, there’s an endless choice of great stuff to play at all times.
And yet, those crafty bastards at 1047 Games have delivered something recently that has got me hooked, causing me to shirk my duties elsewhere. Splitgate is the first online shooter in sometime to truly get under my skin, and I’m only writing this now as I’ve been kicked off the Xbox by my kids, otherwise I’d still be playing!
Released back in May of 2019 in early access on PC, I’ve had my eye on Splitgate for a while. The consistent phrase “Halo X Portal” was enough to pique my interest, but as above, plenty of other titles distracted me from getting to it (well, that and the lack of a decent PC). It’s finally dropped on Xbox, albeit in a somewhat limited roll out due to the servers not coping with the huge demand. Even now it’s likely that when loading up the game we get placed in a queue to even hit the menu, let alone get into an actual game. Thankfully it’s not often a long wait.
But don’t let that dissuade you from downloading the free game as once we’re in…man…it is a lot of fun! Let’s get back to that “Halo X Portal” phrase, shall we?
Splitgate is an online. team-based shooter. Squads of four battle in various game modes, from team deathmatch to VIP, Oddball, King of the Hill, and more. Halo players should recognise most of the modes, as well as the combat flow. While it lacks the three pillars of Halo exactly, what’s here is a very close representation of it, and as such I was able to gel with the combat and movement pretty quickly. There’s a very deliberate feel to the movement and combat, and for me it feels almost perfectly paced. The base weapons everyone loads in with are more than capable to get some kill streaks going with, but grab a power weapon from around the map and those kills rack up even easier. Time to kill is great, and even if a player or two get the drop on us there is enough time to react and potentially win the fight most of the time. Weapons feel meaty to use, the impact showing up clearly on the armour of the enemy, and some punchy sound effects help sell the damage well. A melee is present – that will also one hit kill enemies hit from behind – but the grenades here are used to deal with the portals only; we’ll get to them in a second. Quite simply, the combat here is satisfying as fuck to get into, and it’s one of the more rewarding feeling games I’ve played in a while.
Combat is only one part of the equation though, and it’s those portals that give Splitgate it’s hook. Literally working in the same manner as Portal, we can fire one left and one right portal out which then creates a passage we can go through to instantly move from one spot to another. It worked excellently in a solo puzzle game, and here it elevates the online shooter to the next level. Only certain surfaces can host a portal, so it becomes part of the strategy to not only be on the look out for enemies, weapons, and ideal pathways to get around, but also strategic places to drop our portals for a quick escape or surprise drop on the enemy.
Not only can we move through these portals, but we can actually shoot through them too. It’s incredibly clever stuff, and the first time I killed someone through a portal was one of them “holy shit, it works” moments. This opens up the playing field immensely, as the amount of tactical plays we can go with is incredible. One favourite of mine was to grab the sniper, portal up to the highest point and use the portal itself to watch for players run past, at which point I’d use my vantage point to snipe them down. Or open a portal in front of me, and one slightly higher, then kite an enemy towards it, go through and literally drop behind them from the higher portal. I’ve no doubt that much higher skilled players than I have done some insane stuff, and I can’t wait to get back into it to see what else is possible.
I don’t believe it’s possible to traverse though enemy portals, but we can destroy them by lobbing the grenades at them, preventing them from using it. Even when I was on the receiving end of a portal kill though I can’t help but be impressed by just how well it works. The only downside to the portals so far is how few people seem to be using them. In the games I’ve played, only about half of them seemed to be filled with players using portals often. It can seem bewildering to get used to, but I really hope more people get involved with them as I can’t understate just how great they are.
As a Free to Play release, there’s also the expected season passes, daily challenges etc to check out. This side of things never really factors in for me personally – I tend to just play and not worry about that – but in the interest of information I want to include some details. So it seems that the Battle Pass is free, but you can buy levels to increase it, as well as skin packs and emotes. These cost Splitcoins, which can be purchased or earned in game. Naturally earning them is slow, so a pack goes from 100 for 79p, up to 13500 for a whopping £83.49. The skins and emotes range from between 400 coins to 4000. It’s not the worst item shop I’ve seen, but it’s something to be wary of as usual.
That aspect aside, Splitgate is already sliding up my personal GOTY list. Combat is incredibly fun to play, and adding in the portals is genius, offering up a truly unique blend of tactical options. Sure, the “Halo X Portal” might seem like marketing fluff, but it is probably the most accurate descritption of the game there is. Taking the combat flow of Halo and adding in the versatility of Portal‘s, well, portals, it comes together to make an incredibly fun shooter. I can’t wait for more people to get in and try the game, and hope it finds the audience it so truly deserves.Become a Patron!
This game was previewed on Xbox Series X|S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.