Written by Jon Scarr
When the original Splatoon came out on the Wii U in 2015, it caused quite a stir. Nintendo showed the world that they could make a competent online shooter game and make it interesting. It’s now two years later and the sequel, Splatoon 2 has just launched on Nintendo’s shiny new console—the Nintendo Switch. Read more in our Splatoon 2 Review.
In a market that is saturated with first and third person shooters, the Splatoon franchise is a breath of fresh air. Splatoon 2 is much more bright and colourful than its predecessor and adds new features that keeps the game fresh.
If you are unfamiliar with the general gist of Splatoon, you play as Inklings. These are characters who can transform between humanoid and squid form in a blink of the eye. In humanoid form, Inklings, can cover just about anything with colourful goopy ink including floors, walls and other Inklings using their special ink wielding weapons.
Transforming into squid form allows you to swim at a high-speed though your ink, up walls, and through gates, just as if it was water. Also, while swimming in your ink you’ll be invisible from your enemies, and replenishing your valuable ink supply.
Consequently, you won’t be able to swim through your enemy’s ink. If you try walking through it, you’ll get stuck and walk at a snail’s pace, leaving you open to attack. By pressing the X button, you can view the map of your surroundings and teammates.
By selecting a teammate’s icon and holding down the A button, you can send your Inkling flying through the air to their location via a super jump. The super jump allows you to quickly get back into the action on the front lines, or to support a teammate deep in enemy territory.
Just like the original, Splatoon 2’s main focus is on multiplayer. Turf War returns and pits two teams of four against each other in head-to-head, action-filled battles. Ranked Battle is back, which is only accessible after your Inkling reaches level 10.
Gameplay modes of Ranked Battle include Splat Zones (keep ink control over the area marked for the most amount of time), Tower Control (ride the tower into the enemy base the furthest or reach the goal at the end to win), and Rainmaker (create a path to help carry the golden fish closer to or onto the podium to win).
There is also a new League Battle mode, where teams of two or four can compete against other teams. This is done in a two-hour period, and gives teams goals to strive for. If you get a nice win streak, you might even get to see your name on the leaderboard.
Splatoon 2 launches with eight stages that are a mixture of new and old ones from the original game (more are on the way for free through out the next year). After already playing over 70 hours of multiplayer, I’d have to say that Humpback Pump Track is my favourite stage. It’s an indoor BMX track with many curvy ups and downs with a small hill in the middle. In Splatoon 2 stages now rotate every two hours instead of six hours, to keep things fresh.
My favourite new mode in Splatoon 2 is Salmon Run. You team up with three other players to defeat the waves of Salmonoids, and collect their valuable golden eggs. Think of this as sort of a horde mode, where you fight off wave after wave of enemies. The more I played Salmon Run, the more I realized just how much effort has been placed into this mode.
Since there are a bunch of different bosses to fight, they each have advantages and disadvantages to certain weapons. Additionally, each wave has the chance for the tide to go in or out—restricting or opening up the playing area.
Splatoon 2 adds new standard, sub and special weapons to the game, including dual-wield pistols, that allow you to perform dodge rolls, and jetpacks. Main weapon abilities range from long-range to short-range, sub weapons give you different abilities and special weapons will cause devastating damage.
Special weapons can be used once your special meter is filled. Though there are many special weapons, my personal favourite is the Baller. You roll around in a hamster ball that you can explode when you want, causing some serious damage to your opponents.
Gear is a big part of Splatoon 2 and there is plenty of new gear in the game. Just like the original Splatoon, equipping gear in Splatoon 2 will give you special abilities. Each gear is unique and will give you certain abilities, and you can gain additional abilities as you use the gear in battle. Gear can give you benefits such as reduced ink consumption, decreasing respawn time, and even help you swim faster.
It apparent that Splatoon 2’s range of weapons, powers, and balance tweaks were an accumulation of the learned lessons from the original game’s years of active play.
For what is predominately a multiplayer game, Splatoon 2 includes a story mode that improves upon its predecessor to provide a worthy single-player experience. The story takes place approximately nine moths after the final Splatfest of Splatoon, in which pop idol Marie is victorious over her fellow Squid Sister, Callie.
One day both Callie and the Great Zapfish go missing, and fearing that the evil Octarians are involved, Marie once again takes on the role of Agent 2 of the Squidbreak Splatoon. You’ll assume the role as Agent 4 and with the help of Marie investigate their whereabouts.
Splatoon 2’s story mode is less about finding a new approach to the game, and more about refining and improving upon its predecessor. The small hub worlds return where you have to uncover Octarian kettles to unlock levels. Levels now are a lot more varied and come in all shapes and sizes. They offer a mixture of combat, puzzle, platforming, and have enemies and bosses with more varied attack patterns.
Right off the bat, I noticed just how well Splatoon 2’s single player modes does in introducing you to all the different weapons in the game. In the original, you were limited to using the Splattershot. However, in Splatoon 2 you can use the Squidshot sniper files, The new Splat Dualies, the Slosher and many more.
Now with zip lines not only can you travel across them in Squid form, but you can also grind on them as an Inkling. There are also grappling hook points that you can shoot to trigger to get you to places that you might not otherwise be able to get to.
While the enemies might not be that tough of a challenge for most, I thoroughly enjoyed my time and you can expect it to last about six to eight hours—more if you try to collect everything.
The biggest visual difference between Splatoon 2 and the original is the sheer vibrance of colours. If you put the two games side by side, Splatoon on the Wii U looks much duller. Furthermore, all the characters in Splatoon 2 are substantially better animated than the first game.
Splatoon 2 runs at a maximum of 1080p while docked and 720p while in handheld mode. The game features dynamic scaling to keep a constant 60 fps. Regardless of the mode you play in, Splatoon 2 looks absolutely dreamy! While its visuals are no tour de force, its stylized art and funky music have a certain charm about them.
When you start a game you are greeted by Marina and Pearl, the games new newscasters. It’s here that you will first notice that these two characters are much more full of life and include a lot more detail than Callie and Marie from the original game. This same quality of animation and detail is present throughout the entire game and makes the game that much more visually appealing.
At this years E3, for the first time ever, Nintendo held several different competitive tournaments. Among one of those was Splatoon 2. In 2017 Splatoon 2 World Inkling Invitational we saw four different teams from around the world battle it out in a tournament.
After fierce competition, Deadbeat from the United States emerged victorious, defeating their rivals Dynameu from Japan with a 4-1 victory. Interestingly enough, Splatoon 2 contains LAN play support for up to 10 docked systems—eight players and two spectators.
It’s nice to see Nintendo finally embracing the emerging eSports realm with Splatoon 2, ARMS and the upcoming Pokken Tournament DX. They even kicked off a new Twitter account called Nintendo Versus that focuses on these games.
Splatoon 2’s gameplay is fast, frantic, and fun. Here are a few tips to help you out.
Many people are wondering if Splatoon 2 is a true sequel and a worthy purchase. After spending a ton of time with Splatoon 2 this past week, I can answer honestly with a resounding yes. Just like the original game, Nintendo will be proving free updates and content for the next year. That means more stages, gear, weapons, etc.
There is one thing that I would like to see changed in the game, the ability to change your weapon in multiplayer when you want to. If you want to switch to a different weapon, you have to either wait for the current match to end and then not continue or exit the game completely. At this point, it’s a minor inconvenience but it’s defiantly on my wish list for future updates.
Simply put, Splatoon 2 is one of this summers must have games. It’s a game that once you pick up you won’t want to put down—its that much fun.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Genre: Third-person shooter
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)