This piece is a follow-up to one that I wrote almost two years ago about Call of Duty - Modern Warfare (2019), a video game that I liked so much I played it almost every night for about 18 months straight. That was definitely too much time for one game, but a pandemic and a layoff and the launch of a wildly successful battle royale mode all happened in that 18 months, so I’m gonna say it was allowed.
I come to you bearing good news of great joy - Splitgate is here to announce unto us that first person shooters are fun again. Remember how good it felt to jump around in Halo 3 and knock people out of the air with the battle rifle on Guardian? Remember how much fun it was in Portal when you’d drop into a pit and then shoot across a chamber off of a rampy bit? Something something you got chocolate in my peanut butter, we’re thinking with portals and killing dudes with the oddball, from the hit Halo mode oddball.
Honestly, that’s kinda it - they combined Portal and Halo and it’s real fun and it’s free to play with crossplay! Drilling down a bit, I think one of the reasons this game got its hooks into me is that it’s so playfully audacious - it’s a kind of bold faced clone-combo of two very popular games from like 10 years ago. That is not to say that this game isn’t impressive in its own right - it super is. I can’t imagine that it was easy to get it all working, and feeling as good as it does. (The portal jumps feel perfect, the jetpack is better than the previous high water mark - Destiny 2 - the guns have the perfect amount of oomf, and rocket launcher kills feel like you’re getting away with a crime.) This game is chock full of cool maps and every possible mode you could want from an FPS, and they’re all bundled up in really streamlined casual playlists that keep you moving through all of it without feeling crushed by competition or worn out - and on top of that, the daily/weekly/seasonal battlepass challenges all feel pretty varied and achievable, which stands in stark contrast to the impossible treadmill I pretty much always run into with these sort of games. With Splitgate, there is always something new to see, and it’s always a delight.
Of course, I’m pretty bad at this game - because it’s a multiplayer first person shooter - but I think that makes the fact that I’m having as much fun with it as I am even more impressive. I was telling Ethan that I think I don’t really get too frustrated dying as much as I do because of the way that you just kinda ragdoll and respawn in the course of a few seconds. There’s none of the weight and shame that comes from killcams and bloody screens in Call of Duty, and the whacky sci-fi space marine playground decoration just makes the whole thing feel like I’m at space camp with my friends or something. (Sidenote - this game has a really slick look, with a lot of really pretty maps, and it runs like a dream on my 7 year old partially destroyed, definitely haunted PC.)
Here’s a replay I pulled from the game of me finishing off the other team in TAKEDOWN, which is kind of like the no-respawn Counter Strike style modes in Call of Duty, but with a variable respawn time that ticks up the more you get killed. I don’t think this clip is too impressive but
1) it looks like I accidentally deleted the other replays I had.
2) this felt incredible to do, even if it is really sloppy and the other team was really really bad.
3) I forgot to capture the kill I had where I put portals on the side and top of a cube and a guy confusedly walked into one end, popped out the top, and I blasted him with a plasma launcher.
10/10 video game, Splitgate is cool.