Splatoon 2 is simply what it sounds like. But does this sequel have more in store for returning/new players?
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Release date: 21 July, 2017
Splatoon 2 brings back the strong style of the original. Dumb sea-related puns, a huge arsenal of weapons, and some really cool fashion once again bubble up from the neon colored gooey carnage. The gameplay itself is virtually unchanged from the original: it’s the same shooting-ink-as-a-kid, swimming-in-your-ink-as-a-kid ordeal! Splatoon is a one-of-a-kind, so in all honesty, there really wasn’t much we could ask for beyond that.
After the tutorial, you’ll spring into the hub of Inkopolis Square, where you can immediately jump into multiplayer action or play the game’s Hero Mode, a sprawling 5-6 hour campaign that’s bigger and better than the last game’s campaign. Hero Mode introduces Mario Galaxy-like levels that play with unique mechanics to give each level its own sense of originality. Despite its multiplayer roots, Splatoon’s single-player is no small feat: it fully embraces the best of Nintendo’s creativity and game design.
The multiplayer component is mostly the same. Stages rotate every two (previously four) hours for all modes in the game, and you can jump in with stat-modifying gear and weapons (which come with their own sub weapon and special weapons). Multiplayer is fun, fresh, and fun to play thanks to short matches where teams can instantly change the odds to their favor almost instantly. But maybe you’ve already known all about that if you’ve played the 2015 original.
But of course, it’s the simple touches that really count. Special Weapons (which can be comparable to ultimate/super abilities) are given a small enough overhaul, with completely new abilities that can deal massive destruction if executed properly. They ultimately never felt too cheap for both sides. Tickets attainable from both the game’s new Salmon Run mode (we’ll get to that later) and the single-player campaign can go towards food buffs, which can help alleviate the grind (the fact they last for x amount of matches versus x amount of time is also super cool too). The new Splat Dualies give a new edge to the game with the dodge roll ability exclusive to the weapon, and the ability to perform vertical splashes with the roller gives the weapon an almost new feel to it. New gear bonuses, new weapons, and returning maps receiving small changes are all various things Splatoon 2 does to differentiate itself from its predecessor. It still plays the same, however, which means that if you’re looking for a huge shake-up in the sequel, well prepared to be disappointed.
Besides all of those small changes is Salmon Run, a co-op mode that’s an absolute blast to play. Teams of four fight through multiple waves of unique enemies and a variety of bosses to take down, and it becomes a surprising challenge that is worth playing for the rewards it provides. Let it be said that Salmon Run is one of the many aspects of the game that makes it incredibly worth picking up! It’s a huge amount of fun, and honestly, it’s really hard to put down when you give it a try. However, the fact that it can only be played at a schedule-basis is stupid, especially when Salmon Run is often available on the weekdays during normal work hours of all things. While it’s understandable that they don’t want to make Salmon Run a mode people can easily burn out on, the choice to lock it to certain times in a day is stupid. Also, the justification for this (being that it’s a business with work hours) is cute but probably more maddening.
I mean, there’s also the big change that it’s on the Switch. Meaning the whole game is portable. And it has local-wireless multiplayer with other Switches. The ability to literally play the game anywhere (well you’ll need to be connected to the internet to play multiplayer). From my experience of having the game for about a week, being able to play online matches almost anywhere permitted I had the connection for my phone’s hotspot was pretty damn awesome.
So Nah, So Fresh
Alongside the game’s vast amount of content in both single-player and competitive multiplayer also comes other features in the game. Most notably is SplatNet, which comes with the Nintendo Switch Online app. The app is actually pretty cool, presenting your player stats, the ability to order items from an exclusive shop, and schedules for upcoming map rotations and modes. It all functions fairly well, and the app is excellent.
That is if we’re not talking about the cringe-inducing voice chat, which works by connecting to your phone rather than your Switch. While I can probably tolerate the voice chat being on mobile only, the execution is flat out terrible. If your phone locks, you are disconnected from the call. If you exit the app, you are disconnected from the call. And the use of this voice chat is incredibly limited, only being used in specific Online Lounges that support private lobbies.
Which brings me to another major gripe with the game, and it’s the annoying matchmaking system. Constant disconnect errors and waiting way too long for matches due to weird Nintendo antics is incredibly annoying, but hey, I guess I could tolerate that as well. What I can’t stand is the difficulty of playing with friends in online Turf Wars/Ranked matches. You can join your friends but chances are their lobbies will be full before you can get in, in which case you’ll have to wait before a player drops out. The inability to change your gear while in the lobby also makes this a problem, as having to leave a lobby because you or your friend wants to swap out their loadout is a nightmare, and on top of that, there’s a good chance you won’t even be on your friend’s team. It sucks that this hasn’t improved from the original Splatoon, although thankfully in addition to private lobbies now being available, League Battles and Salmon Run do allow for 2-4 player grouping, which means it’s going to take a bit of time before you and your friends can jump into grouped Splatoon games.
But, I wish I could just do this in Ranked and Turf Wars too…mannnnnn.
Besides its online functionality holding it back, Splatoon 2 is still every bit as a good as it’s original. Maybe you want more out of the game, and while the game’s small touches are more than enough for me, it might not be for everyone. But dammit, it’s Splatoon. You can bring it on the go and, at the moment, there’s no other multiplayer game on the system that will give you more bang for your buck, nor will there likely be in the far future.