Splitgate: Arena Warfare by 1047 Games is a lot of things: combining the speed of Unreal Tournament, the guns of Halo and the ‘portal’ system of, well, Portal. What that formula then creates is nothing short of magical.
I sat down with Ian Proulx, co-founder and lead developer on Splitgate, for a private demo of Splitgate: Arena Warfare while at PAX South. He showed off the basic gameplay mechanics and what gameplay would look like at his level of play. Facing against bots he dashed back and forth through a set of portals, picking them off one by one, before he moved on to the next area. Eventually, he took off to an open area of the map, shot a portal way down at the bottom of the arena and proceeded to skydive down into it. This propelled him out of a strategically placed portal on the other side of the map which launched him clear across its entirety, giving him a clearer view of opponent placement and, as he landed, he picked off a couple more bots with his assault rifle.
After I was given control of my robotic-looking combatant, it was easy to see why this game exists. The controls of your player feel like the FPS games you know and love, but with an extra bit of boost in speed and a new level of strategy from the portals that I never knew could even exist. I started out slow, getting my bearings of how the arena was laid out and where the more powerful weapons were placed on the map, but by the end of the demo I was hopping around at full tilt, shooting bots through portal openings and racking up multi-kills. Having a jetpack on my back gave me some additional vertical mobility that other games that I’ve played before lacked and the game became more fluid for it.
The arenas are slick, neo-futuristic architectural playgrounds with beautiful space vistas in the background. Weapons look just as good as they shoot, with cool looking features like lens effects and reflection maps. You can fully customize your character’s appearance and gun skins, which add to the customization, but is strictly cosmetic. Ian told me they were also looking to put some real advertisements on the virtual billboards within the arenas, but nothing was shown to that effect so far.
After the release of Halo 5 — a game I had a hard time getting into — I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to play a similar multiplayer game like that again. Thankfully, Splitgate: Arena Warfare not only changes my mind about competitive multiplayer games but already has me thinking of ways to utilize the portal system and get a leg up on my opponents. All of your favorite Halo-type weapons are back, from the long-range sniper to the efficient pistol or many others — everything feels just as good as you remember it. I can’t wait to see and play more when the game comes out later this year.