Last night, I played some Splitgate. I found a quiet spot on the map and placed a portal, then I ran out towards the middle of the arena where enemies could be seen and placed a second portal. Back at my quiet spot, I posted up with a rifle and used my strategically placed portal to kill 11 players in the space of a few seconds. It was awesome. But it also keeps happening, and it shows that a lot of people aren’t effectively using the nifty portals that are the key feature of Splitgate.
Splitgate is a free-to-play shooter that combines Halo-like gameplay with portals that feel ripped right out of Valve’s Portal games. Splitgate isn’t new though. It launched in 2019 on Steam. Back then the game was moderately successful for a few weeks, but quickly lost players. Then last month, the game came to consoles along with cross-play support. These new platforms, plus some popular streamers playing the game, helped Splitgate’s audience explode. It’s now one of the most popular games on Steam.
The thing is, many of these new players seem to be unable or unwilling to use the portals, or maybe just not interested. This is odd, considering Splitgate is built around the portals. Levels are filled with areas that let you place portals. You are equipped with an EMP that only destroys portals. You get awards and medals for using portals. The game is practically screaming at you to rely on portals. Yet in most matches I’ve played recently, few players use them. This is a mistake. For example, if you use portals you can do stuff like this:
I’ll admit that I’m a fairly experienced player when it comes to online shooters. But I’m not some esport pro who is always on the top of every leaderboard. Yet even my average-skilled ass ends up winning and leading in many matches of Splitgate. When playing, I often feel like an unkillable god simply because I use portals to kill other players, escape from fights, or as a way to move around the map more quickly.
I’m not sure why so many players seem unwilling to use portals. For one match I followed people around on my team, not shooting or anything. Just observing. Many of them never used a single portal. Not only that, they also don’t seem to realize how powerful portals can be. They often run right by enemy portals without blowing them up using their EMP or shooting into them using their gun. (Pro tip for a non-pro: Shoot into enemy portals. You can’t see through them but if opponents are there and you land a hit, you’ll know it.)
All of this leads to moments where players get obliterated by folks like me who take advantage of the portals that Splitgate offers you. Googling around, I’ve found that these players who get destroyed by others using portals seem to be upset about it all. I’ve seen some suggesting portals are overpowered. I’ve even seen some even suggest the game should include modes without portals. But the portals are the very thing that sets Splitgate apart from other shooters. Without them, it would lose its distinctive identity.
Instead, I’d recommend that folks out there start using their portals. Even if you just pop one down when you spawn and pop one ahead of you for a fast exit from a potential fight, you’ll quickly realize how much of an advantage you gain. Simple moves like that can help make you a hard-to-kill Splitgate player.
Sadly, I expect that as the game continues to grow and more people put in more hours, there will be an increase in skilled players who use portals. When that happens, ol’ Zack will be shit out of luck. But for now, I’ll keep racking up the kills on folks who don’t get how powerful portals can truly be.