Splitgate: Arena Warfare Preview – A Throwback Arena Shooter for Veterans and New Players

Arena shooters were awesome, back in the day. With games like Quake III and Unreal Tournament releasing in the late 90s, the arena shooter scene was epic, to say the least. I actually remember tuning into G4TV (remember that channel?) and watching esports tournaments for Quake III — now remember, this was when esports wasn’t as crazy big as it is now, so watching a gaming tournament on TV was just mindblowing. However, nowadays, arena shooters haven’t been doing so hot.

There have been some attempts to bring the genre back to its former glory, but each release seems to miss the mark in terms of winning everyone over. With that said, developer 1047 Games has been crafting an old school yet new school take on the arena shooter genre with their upcoming arena FPS Splitgate: Arena Warfare. In a nutshell, Splitgate: Arena Warfare has the tight and solid gunplay from a Halo 2 and Halo 3 but also has portals that are like the ones from the Portal series. It sounds crazy, and trust me, it is, but believe me when I say that it’s a fresh of breath air since it’s so much fun, requires players to actually figure out different offensive strategies on the fly, and surprisingly, it just feels good.

Splitgate Action Shot 1

Similar to that of Halo 2 or Halo 3, combat is simple to learn yet difficult to master in Splitgate: Arena Warfare. The game has players go right into an arena and from there, it’s a matter of kill or be killed. Around each arena, there lies an assortment of weapons, like a pistol that looks and actually feels like the one from Halo: Combat Evolved, and equipment, such as good-old-reliable frag grenades to pick up. One pretty neat feature for these arenas, though, is that there are in-game scoreboards that showcase top kill leaders in each match. It gives the game a more esports feel to it, which I like. 

Rather than a majority of today’s shooters that have multiple other features, Splitgate: Arena Warfare brings back old school arena gameplay as it has no classes and no perks — all players have to rely on is what’s in their arsenal. However, firepower isn’t what wins matches in the game, brainpower is, especially since players can shoot out and use portals to move about. Still, beginners will be able to jump right into Splitgate: Arena Warfare, whereas more experienced players, will be able to truly master the simple yet fun mechanics. For me, I admit that I’m not an FPS pro by any means, but I still was definitely able to get a hang of everything in the game. On the topic of not being an FPS pro, instead of the game having a complex ranking system that basically requires players to look a game’s wiki to figure out how the heck it works, Splitgate: Arena Warfare actually has throwback competitive ladder system where a player’s rank is based off their win-loss ratio. 

Splitgate Rail Gun Screen 1 Outpost

However, moving up the ranks will not be a breeze in the game. With portals thrown into the mix, Splitgate: Arena Warfare isn’t a run-and-gun type of shooter as it plays out more like a fast-paced, puzzle-solving arena shooter instead. Players constantly need to be quick on their feet and think of ways to use portals to their advantage. Using even just one portal at the right moment can ensure victory. Even when I played with bots (I love that there’s going to be an option to add bots in the game, by the way), I still had to make sure that I was always moving about and transporting through portals to quickly get to different areas.  

Not all matches, whether it’s in the multiple modes like deathmatch or King of the Hill, need to be so intense and high skill level-focused, however, as Splitgate: Arena Warfare will offer custom game options. During my hands-on time with the game, I was told that these options were actually inspired by not only the Halo series but also by Rocket League. For Splitgate: Arena Warfare, players will be able to come up with custom games like “snipers only” or my personal favorite, “rockets only”, and also be able to adjust certain mechanics, such as gravity levels, map layouts, and interestingly enough, players heads (good old Big Head Mode is a classic).

Splitgate Custom Games Big Head Mode

At first glance, one might think of Splitgate: Arena Warfare as just a “Halo knockoff”. But really, while it does have Halo series mechanics, which is a good thing, it’s actually its own unique hybrid beast that merges puzzle-solving with arena FPS gameplay. For players that miss the glory days of arena shooters, and even new players looking for something different, Splitgate: Arena Warfare should definitely be on your radar.

The game has been in alpha for a bit, but 1047 plans to reveal when their arena FPS will be entering beta. Once we find this out and even get a release date, you bet we’ll be sharing everything with you all. Splitgate: Arena Warfare will be portaling (I guess this works?) and blasting its way to PC soon.

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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.