Splitgate: Arena Warfare Review

User Rating: 6
SPLITGATE: ARENA WARFARE

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began playing Splitgate: Arena Warfare.  Having cut my teeth on classic arena FPS games, I knew that Splitgate had a daunting task – to either revolutionize or revolutionize the FPS genre in the contemporary gaming market.  Considering the monumental nature of that task, I set aside my usual pessimism and jumped in to see what the game could offer. This is our Splitgate: Arena Warfare review.

As an arena shooter, Splitgate: Arena Warfare looks ok.  The backgrounds and level design are nice, but not amazing.  The models are not terrible, but the skins themselves are dull.  Perhaps there were constraints based on available models, but once I set my character’s look, I stopped caring about my own skins, and I certainly never had time to take a detailed look at my opponents’ skins.

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Skins are the game’s monetization – no pay to win here.  Buying Saw packs with the in-game currency (i.e., Disco Balls) yields three random skins, which could be for your portal, armor, weapons, jetpack, etc.  At the time of this writing, the packs go for about $1 US for a single Saw pack, but as with other games, purchasing the premium currency is more efficient in higher quantities.  The review copy came with 5 saw packs, which yielded skins of a variety of rarities, the odds of each of which are viewable when purchasing Saw packs.

The gameplay has several modes for both casual and competitive play.  The game’s modes included many of the classics, such as capture the flag, king of the hill, and team deathmatch, but others were added as well.  Halo’s Oddball (featuring a disco ball rather than a skull) returns, as does a SWAT-style game mode, reminiscent of Counter-Strike.  Casual play allows for random matchmaking or joining servers hosted by others.  The game’s description touts casual play as a way to try out all of the game’s modes, and I found that to be accurate.  Ladder play allows for six-player free-for-all style play or team-based games.

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Weapon variety also largely mimicked other games.  Halo seemed to be the most significant inspiration, which is unfortunate.  That is, weapon variety and design are about as dull as it was in Halo.  The most unique weapon I experienced was the rail gun, which required one to zoom in and charge one’s shot before firing, a rather significant drawback for an otherwise instant kill.  That said, most players I ran across usually didn’t even bother with other weapons, as the starting machine gun and pistol were deadly enough.  A lack of armor and low health meant that firefights were short unless all parties had poor aim, irrespective of weapon.

Nevertheless, the game’s claim to fame is its integration of portals into the fps mix.  Adding portals to a competitive fps is long overdue, but Splitgate’s design doesn’t take advantage of the mechanic as well as it could – usually because the games I found myself in were too fast paced to engender a need for a portal.  There were certainly times when it helped (such as when porting between control points in a domination map), but by and large running and a jetpack got me where I wanted to go in plenty of time.  The addition of the portal mechanic also raises the difficulty curve, meaning new players may have to struggle long before they find a way to reliably add portals to their repertoire.  That said, the portals themselves are a blast.  On more than one occasion, I’m sure I raised my teammates’ blood pressure because I was too focused on getting a portal jump right to follow the objective. #sorrynotsorry

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Summary
Splitgate: Arena Warfare is a bold step in the FPS genre. It adds the portal mechanic to a fast paced, team shoot-em-up, but the melding isn’t perfect. The visuals, although technically well designed, are artistically uninspired and ho-hum. Moreover, although there are a variety of game modes, the variety only puts a dent in the flawed game design. Even so, the game lends itself well to an eSports format, but doesn’t force it - meaning the game fits both casual and dedicated playstyles. In sum, Splitgate: Arena is a game that really struggles with its identity, and that focus ultimately relegates a potentially great game to mediocrity.
Good
  • Portal mechanic is fun
  • Game modes work well
  • No pay to win
Bad
  • Dull model & skin design
  • Melding of gameplay mechanics from other games does not work
6
Fair

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