I am always willing to give things second chances. When I jumped on Splatoon a few years back, it just didn’t jive with me. Maybe it was the Wii U. Maybe I wasn’t in the headspace for a multiplayer game of that nature. Maybe I was crazy (most likely the answer). But when I got the chance to test out Splatoon 2 at the Toronto Nintendo Switch event in early January, it spoke to me. It was like the colorful inklings were calling me hither, begging me to give it another go. So here I am, 2 years after the launch of the first game and in love with almost everything about Splatoon 2. Who would’ve thought.
(Caution. Painting and squid puns ahead. You’ve been warned.)
So Many Colors (or Game Play Modes) To Choose From
To most critics, Splatoon OG was a great game. When jumping into the second edition, I am sure the development team had fun riffing on this hit squid theme and bringing it to the next level. One of the most impressive things about Splatoon 2 is how much there is to do! Turf War is great fun, bringing that 4v4 action back, making you paint the world your team’s color. There are new maps for you to battle on and since they rotate every 2 hours, you never get bored of playing the same one over and over again. The hazards that they have added to each map also throw you a bit for a loop but if you learn them well, you can easily use them to your advantage.
Ranked battle looks awesome but as you could only enter as of level 10, I was not able to try. Play as I may, you can only level up by playing Turf War and since there were minimal people online during review times, I couldn’t get the XP as fast as I would have liked. The Tower Control looks like the most interesting of the 3 for me, as it reminds me of the same style of modes that I have played in Overwatch that I really enjoyed. I will jump in there as soon as I hit that big 10.
The solo campaign, aka Hero Mode, is a lot of fun and a great way to learn all the new weapons. It’s kind of like a tutorial, but not nearly as forced as the one you get when you first boot up Splatoon 2. The game feels much more like a platforming action style title in this mode. You can see inspiration from other games such as Sunset Overdrive and The Legend of Zelda. There are zip lines that you can travel along at rapid speeds while shooting enemies and a hook shot-like mechanic to get you from one platform to another. You can also hunt down items used for gear upgrade giving the solo campaign a solid replay value.
Salmon Run is a new take on a horde mode that has real potential. You and up to 3 other players take on waves of enemies, trying to collect as many golden salmon eggs as possible. While I really enjoy this mode, there are some balancing issues. Playing with 1 or 2 players is really tough, while with 4 you can easily go above and beyond the call of duty and get extra points easily. The game is not very forgiving here either and if you do miss your goal, your rating goes down. So word to the wise, grab a team before you jump into Salmon Run.
One of Splatoon 2’s strengths is how many cool paint themed weapons and fighting abilities they managed to pack into this game, and they have diversified the uses of each. For example, the Paint Rollers (which there are multiple versions of) are great for speedily painting large areas of the ground. It’s perfect for Turf War. The Chargers, on the other hand, are long range weapons that would probably come in handy during some of the Ranked Battle modes because you could take out opponents at a distance. I tried using these style weapons during Turf War and they were pretty well useless as they are not suited for such a fast paced battle. You will truly have to be strategic with your weapon choices throughout your team and your game mode to get the most out of each.
There are also secondary and special weapons that add that extra piece of chaos to the battle. I am a fan of the bomb launcher special that lets you toss a bunch of bombs at once to cover the the ground with paint as quickly as possible.
Putting On Your Painting Gear Never Looked So Fashionable
Oh man! I want to be as cool as these inklings! Not only does the gear make personalize your character and make it look good,, they also offer perk slots. You can have up to 4 extra perks so save some of that money you earn to buy some good stuff. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which perks I liked best. Make sure to favorite your outfits and weapon choices; it really helped me in perfecting my gear and load-outs.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
Nintendo knows how to make an amazing looking game, and Splatoon 2 is no exception. This game is straight up gorgeous. Nintendo has really hit the mark with the character designs this time around. Be it the two new game mascots and hosts of Off the Hook, Marina and Pearl, the gear, or the setting in general, everything seems to have a fresh coat of paint that brings even more life to the series. Little details like glitter in the ink during the solo campaign really bring that special touch to the art style that shows off the graphic capabilities of the Switch. It’s like the ‘freshness’ has been brought to a whole new level.
Getting into the technical side of things, while playing matches, Salmon Run and the solo campaign, the game is locked at a solid 60 fps, and that makes every bit of motion look glorious. But once you go to the hub world, known as Inkopolis Square, the frame rate drops to 30. When playing on handheld mode, it’s noticeable, but not distracting. When playing on TV, it throws me right off. Not sure why they didn’t or couldn’t keep the same framerate everywhere. This game looks so good that any minor flaw issue pops out more than ever.
A Few Missed Spots
I do have a few gripes with Splatoon 2. A MAJOR one is that once you are in a wait room for a game looking for players, there is nothing to do. Sure you can wiggle the analog sticks and change the music, but you cannot change your gear or leave the group easily. I remember in the little bit of the last Splatoon that I played that there was a little mini game to tide you over. The latter is nowhere to be found in this new version. I spent a lot of time during my testing in wait rooms and often dreaded wanting to try the new weapons and gear I picked up because it meant I had to leave the queue completely. Annoying! There were also some moments where I felt like some mechanics were not explained completely to me and I had no means to go back and re-read the instructions. For example, when I met Murch, he explained that I could buy gear that I saw other inklings wearing. To this day, I still cannot figure out how to do that and I cannot find a spot to replay his instructions. I am sure once this game goes live to the public there will be written instructions that I can search, but I am at a loss for now.
Even with those few things I feel need fixing, I have high hopes that Nintendo will do just that. We know from the previous game that there is a lot of support planned in the near future, including new weapons and Splatfests. Fingers crossed!
Wet Paint. Don’t Touch
Pre-public launch, there are still a few things that I could not try out. The group chat mobile app is still a mystery to me, and I am curious to see how you rectify listening to both game music and chat audio at the same time without that mixer like device that was introduced a little while ago. I also didn’t get to try out and LAN party aspects of the game. While I did know a few people playing online for review, we had a hard time connecting physically (cause life) so that will have to wait until a later date. And as mentioned above, due to the minimal amount of people playing online during review times, I also could not try some of the ranked battle modes. But never fear, I will definitely be putting in more hours on this game once the game launches and try out everything. Stay tuned to future #GoGCasts for that feedback.
The Final Masterpiece
Splatoon 2 has colored me impressed. It’s taken the formula that worked in the previous game and spiced it up just enough to make me, a non-fan, turn into a believer. If you are looking for the next big game that is coming to the Nintendo Switch, I think we have found it. Splatoon 2 has tickled me pink.
DISCLAIMER: Splatoon 2 review copy was provided by Nintendo. The opinions expressed in the article above have not be affected by, dictated or edited in any way by the provider. For more information please see Girls on Games’ Code of Journalistic Ethics.