Where does a person start when talking about Splatoon? One could easily go for the bright colors, something depressingly absent in many games in the Shooter genre. Others could talk about the off-the-wall premise of the entire game. Who even knew they wanted to be a Squid/Kid before they picked up the game? With the release, a lot, A LOT, of people can go after the way Nintendo refuses to “get with the program” with Online play. Splatoon 2 is an odd mix, so let’s delve into it.
Where better to start with a video game than the game mechanics? The idea of Splatoon 2 is near identical to that of its predecessor: You want to cover as much of the level in your team’s color ink as you can. Does your team have the majority of the map covered? Congrats! You won! Described here is the main mode of Splatoon: Turf War. There are a few other modes, such as Tower Control and Rainmaker, and all of these modes are played by two teams of 4. There are a myriad of weapons for are inking pleasure, from the steamrolling Roller, to the dual-wielded Splat Dualies. The Dualies are a new weapon type for the sequel, allowing you to dodge roll while shooting. After recovering from the dodge roll, you have a short 2 second window where your weapons’ two reticles combined into one, increasing firing rate and accuracy.
Overall, there’s not a huge change to any of these modes, which all appeared in the original game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Each of these modes, I feel, worked well in their debut game. Instead of messing with something that worked, the development team focused on tweaking the returning maps, and finetuning the new maps to match the mode types. The subtle map layout changes between the modes speak to the attention the developers put into making sure the battles are balanced and fair, but still challenging for both teams. The subtle refinements made are what make this game better than the previous. You can see that the developers knew what they had, knew what they wanted, and poured their time into that.
There are three matchmaking modes you can pick when you’re looking to join a game: Regular Battle, Ranked Battle, and League Battle. Regular Battle is exclusively Turf War, and is a great way to learn the maps before moving up to Ranked Battle. Oh, did I say “before moving up to Ranked Battle”? I meant you won’t have a choice. You must be level 10 before you can even attempt Ranked Battle. I feel this is a positive restriction, almost forcing you to know the maps. If I’m playing Ranked Battle, and I know the person I’m playing with doesn’t know the maps or where to go, I’m not going to do well that match. League Battle is equally locked behind needing a B- rank in any of the Ranked Battle Modes. League Battle is a tougher match, requiring you to be in a 4-Person team already, and I have not tried that mode out yet due to lack of friends.
The biggest change to the game from the previous is Salmon Run. This is an entirely new mode, and Splatoon’s first PvE mode. A team of 4 is placed on an island, and most survive 3 rounds against the vile salmonids. There are different types of bosses and minions, and some of the can be highly formidable. The more times you win Salmon Run, the harder it gets. The ultimate goal of the mode is to collect the Golden Eggs that Boss Salmonids drop upon defeat. Each wave has a quota of Golden Eggs, and the game will give you a bonus if you can surpass your quota. The weapons you can use are randomly selected, so if you’re looking to try out some new weapons and don’t know what to try, you won’t have a choice here! All in all, I think it’s an amazing addition. There have been rounds where I have completely dominated the opposition with my team, but there have also been rounds where I have had my entire team wipe within the first minute. You can earn special equipment and loads of money through the mode, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
The last mode the talk about is the single player content. There is a story mode in there, but it’s pretty barebones. After playing the equally lackluster single player campaign from the first game, I knew what to expect and wasn’t let down. The single player campaign is separated into 5 areas, and each area has 6 levels and a boss. There some good music in these levels and the bosses, and the boss designs are really good and there are some really cool puzzles and ideas in the levels, but none of them are used outside of the single player, which I feel is a missed opportunity. Depending on your dedication to collecting all of the Sunken Scrolls, one per level, the mode can take you roughly 6 hours. It’s pretty standard for Shooter campaigns, and it’s not terrible, I just wish there was more story to keep me invested instead of a lazily made cutscene at the end of each boss.
One of the last facets of Splatoon 2 that deserves talking about is not something you can play, but simply experience. It’s a beautiful disaster that comes not from the developers, but from the community, and boy have they delivered in spades. The first Splatoon has integration with the Miiverse, allowing you to draw and post pictures to the game that would show up around the hub area and graffitied on the map walls. Without the Miiverse, Nintendo created a drawing function specifically for the second game so the…fun could continue. Walking around the hub area and seeing each person’s post appearing above their heads, and seeing the outpouring of memes and bad drawings, it’s a masterpiece.
Nintendo has not figured out online yet. Is this a surprise? Voice chat, officially, is near impossible, requiring a smartphone app to talk to friends. Not only that, but the phone needs to remain unlocked. You can’t join, lock it, and forget it. Locking it cuts off the app. Why is this not controlled in the game? This is something that needs to be added to not only Splatoon 2, but to the Switch as a whole. It’s crazy that online gaming has been around for so many years and Nintendo has spent that time trying to put the square block in the circle hole. Everyone has beaten this dead horse about online, but I would feel like I wasn’t being fair if it wasn’t mentioned.
At the end of the day, Splatoon 2 is a really good game. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll feel right at home with this sequel. Salmon Run is a wonderful addition for a nice taste of something new, while the same modes with all know and love from the original when we need something familiar. While Nintendo continues to drop the ball when it comes to coordinated online play, the online with random people is still fun. The game tries to match you up base on some general skill level, but there have been matches where I feel the game is insulting me with some of the people I’ve played with. This is a game I would wholeheartedly recommend to any with a Switch, but I don’t think I’d recommend it as a reason to buy the system. I’d give it a solid 7/10, and with a promise of continued updates bringing new modes and weapons, it wouldn’t surprise me if that score changes a year from now.
– The Pest
It's a good game. Not amazing, but certainly not awful. Greatly entertaining. Would recommend to system owners, but not necessarily a system seller.
Mechanic refinement, community integration, PvE mode.
Awful online group functionality, mobile app nonsense, cool ideas in single player not used elsewhere.
Jul 21, 2017