There aren’t too many games like Splatoon 2, ones where you’d happily let your child run loose with their very own (digital) paint gun without fear of blood, guts and swearing embedding into their heads, as well as one where you can play one of the most competitive first-person shooters across any of the platforms. Splatoon’s attraction is sometimes hard to see from an outsider’s perspective. Whichever team paints the most amount of ground with their own colour wins? Yet the various multiplayer game modes, weapons, clothing and accessory choices, social hub, and its single-player story and co-op modes make Splatoon 2 a fully-fledged competitive shooter with a colourful and inky twist.
Like its predecessor and many other Nintendo titles, Splatoon 2 has an unavoidable and distinctive charm. Whilst exploring the hub area, you can’t help but smile at the little things that are said by the characters you interact with and the delightful shops that you enter to buy your new clothes. Inklings are once again the populace; they are human-squid hybrids who, in their squid form, are able to swim up walls and through ink puddles at great speeds, reloading their paint guns as they do so.
The unique way of moving across the map helps to create fluidness within multiplayer. Never was there a moment of a standstill between two teams, each match is fast-paced and hardly stops to draw a breath. You can only swim through your own team’s ink, which leads to constant battles with the opposition over both lost and gained ground. As you and your team are ultimately looking to conquer the most amount of territory with your bright and colourful ink, you will find yourself thinking strategically about what approach needs to be made to achieve victory. Multiplayer starts you off in Regular Battle (Turf War), teams of four face off in a team deathmatch style mode. Once level 10 has been reached, you can enter into Ranked Battles, including Tower Control, riding a moving tower into enemy territory, and Rainmaker, where a special weapon called the Rainmaker is carried to the enemy base. There are also League Battles that allow you to team up with friends in a more competitive environment, and they include the same modes as ranked battles, but they don’t affect your solo rank. Each game mode offers something different and provides competitive players with alternative options to the more casual Regular Battle. For me, I had so much fun swimming and shooting, so I wasn’t too bothered which mode I played.
The shooting is certainly up there with any of its competitors. Nintendo could probably get away with slightly sloppy controls due to ink being used instead of bullets, and the ink goes literally everywhere, but they have continued on from the first game with very tight and precise controls. ‘Splatting’ opponents is hugely satisfying, each gun feels unique, and they carry their own strengths and weaknesses to accommodate for all play styles. You have the ‘Shooters’, which are the standard, base weapons; ‘Rollers’, not always great as weapons yet can be used to cover a lot of ground quick with plenty of ink; ‘Chargers’ are sniper rifles, good for long-range attacks and also for laying down a straight line of ink. Clothes and your accessories work as different types of perks; a certain t-shirt may improve your swim speed, or a pair of shoes can help reload ink quicker. Guns, clothes and accessories are all available to be purchased after you’ve reached the right level at their respective shop in the hub area. You gain cash by ‘Splatting’ opponents, spraying the map with your ink and winning games.
Throughout my time on multiplayer, I never experienced any technical issues, and games were fairly quick and easy to find. A minor annoyance I do have is that you can’t actually leave a lobby (unless you click ‘exit’ directly after a game); there are pros and cons to this: Yes, it makes getting into a game much quicker as you have a lot fewer players jumping in and out. However, you can’t easily jump into single-player, for example, or amend your loadout whilst in the lobby. If you really want to make changes, you will need to close down the game and restart and then implement any revisions whilst in the hub area. Voice chat is still an issue and can cause unnecessary complications and confusion when on the battlefield; the only way to communicate with other players is through the phone app. I can understand why Nintendo are cautious in allowing in-game chat, and I’m sure many other players don’t enjoy finding out about the number of 12-year-olds who have done something with their own mothers. Splatoon 2 is a family game, and there is an argument that in-game chat brings more harm than good. Regardless, it is worth mentioning for you to draw your own conclusions.
A welcome addition is the new co-op mode called Salmon Run. Playing alongside one to three friends or other players, you are in a type of horde mode, clearing waves and taking down various types of enemies all whilst collecting Power Eggs. I actually found that the co-op mode provided me with more team-based action than I ever discovered in Splatoon’s competitive multiplayer, in which I tend to run off on my own, creating a slightly more solo experience for myself. Salmon Run can be very challenging, and without working as a team you won’t be surviving for too long. Certain bosses can prove to be difficult, requiring specific strategies to take them down.
Another somewhat new addition to Splatoon 2 is its single-player. Admittedly, the first game did have a single-player campaign too, but its successor feels far more fleshed out and like a more worthwhile experience. In its 32 missions, Splatoon 2’s campaign sees you completing all forms of platforming challenges and finding collectibles, further demonstrating the uniqueness of its movement and shooting. Rail grinding, which you won’t see in multiplayer, unfortunately, is a huge amount of fun as you move slickly and stylishly along the map shooting targets. Even if you are not looking to complete the campaign, it still offers a really useful introduction into all of the weapon types and allows you to compare and try them out, giving you a better chance for success when you move to co-op and multiplayer.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 21st July 2017