Released on: July 21 2017
Available Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Price: $79.99 CDN ($59.99 US) [DLC Expansion available. Nintendo Online Subscription required for online play]
When it comes to multiplayer shooters, I am terrible at them. I have trouble perceiving where my character is in first-person shooters. Thus my opponents usually get the jump on me. For whatever reason, I decided to give Splatoon, Nintendo’s take on the shooter genre, a shot. I liked what I played, but I found myself dropping it rather quickly. When the release of Splatoon 2 drew close, Nintendo had a pre-release Splatfest: an in-universe festival where players pick one of two factions to represent and battle the other for supremacy. I loved my time with the pre-release Splatfest, so I looked forward to Splatoon 2’s full release. Did Splatoon 2 live up to its strong pre-release hype?
The world of Splatoon is inhabited by beings called Inklings, the evolutionary result of squids’ adaptation to Earth’s receding water levels. Inklings can shoot ink using weapons based on water guns and painting tools. Inklings can also turn into squids, and swim in ink of their color for faster movement and stealth. The global past in Splatoon is a sport known as Turf War: a four versus four competition where the goal is to color as much of the floor in the player’s ink color as possible. Splatoon 2’s story takes place two years after the final Splatfest of Splatoon (Wii U). The player is recruited by one of the idols from the previous game, Marie, to help her locate her partner Callie, along with the primary power source of Inkopolis (the game’s location), the Great Zapfish. I like Splatoon’s contemporary universe, where there are idols, shops, and a big city hub to walk around. I also love Splatoon’s backstory; it’s surprisingly somber for such a colorful universe.
Splatoon 2’s visuals go all-in with its present-day aesthetic, and I love it. The first thing the player sees when they load Splatoon 2 is Inkopolis, a vast city inspired by Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Crossing. As the player walks around to various shops and services, they will see other player’s avatars just relaxing. It makes Inkopolis feel bustling and alive.
One divisive opinion online I noticed was regarding Splatoon’s music. The fans love its catchy, pop-music inspired squid music while the haters will point out that it sounds like someone gargling mouth-wash. I am of the former opinion; I love Splatoon’s music, and Splatoon 2 drove that home for me. The lyrics are indistinguishable (and still make no sense once deciphered), but I love it nonetheless. I would highly recommend readers look up Splatoon 2’s soundtrack, and formulate their own opinion, but I do understand it’s not for everybody.
The meat and potatoes of Splatoon 2 is the Turf War game mode. Turf War, as explained in the intro, is a four on four competition where the goal is not to get the most splats (what Splatoon calls kills), but which team can cover the most ground with their team’s ink color. Turf War is brilliant. The big reason why I’m terrible at shooters is that my aim is awful. So having a game where the idea is not to shoot other people, but the ground is ingenious. That said, splatting opposing inklings is an asset, as they have to wait to respawn before they can continue re-coloring the floor. For whatever reason, I found Splatoon makes taking on other players much more manageable than in something like Call of Duty of Battlefield. The player can make a hasty retreat by turning into their squid form and swimming to safety in a pinch. A strategy I use is hiding around a corner in ink, then as the opponent rounds the corner, spring up and get the splat.
Splatoon 2 also has a single-player mode, where the player completes stages designed around the Inkling’s abilities. While the single-player mode is nowhere near what I would call groundbreaking, it’s worth going through, as the levels, the worlds, and the bosses are all charming. Some of the levels will give the player a little grief, but overall, the story mode is not overly challenging.
Another mode worth mentioning is Salmon Run. New to Splatoon 2, Salmon Run has four players collect a set number of eggs per wave of enemies, while also trying not to get overwhelmed by all of the angry salmon. Salmon Run is a beautiful addition to Splatoon 2 and helps add longevity to the game. Salmon Run is also a great way to get extra rewards.
Speaking of rewards, the amount of customization options in Splatoon 2 is wild. Players earn coins for playing online matches, which they can then purchase new gear in the various shops. Not only are the clothes stylish, but they also give the player bonuses. Each piece of clothing has one major benefit and up to three extra boosts that the player can unlock with experience earned through online play. Even omitting the additional costumes players can unlock via amiibo, the chances of two players wearing the same outfit is low, which goes to show just how many options Splatoon 2 gives the player in terms of customization.
There are a few things Splatoon 2 can improve on if they ever decide to make a sequel.
Salmon Run is a great mode, too bad it’s only available sometimes. While I understand the in-universe explanation as to why this is the case, as far as game design goes, this is baffling. I’ve noticed it’s available much more often nowadays, but back when Splatoon 2 was just released, its availability was far more scarce, which confused a lot of people, myself included.
It’s fairly common for online games to have maps available through rotation, usually three, then have the players vote on which map they should play on. Splatoon 2 does have a rotation of maps, a selection of two maps chosen at random, that changes every two hours. I don’t understand why we have only two maps per rotation, and why can’t the players vote on which maps to play?
Splatoon 2 has a Ranked Mode, the only issue with it is that there is no Turf War Ranked Mode. The Ranked Modes are fine in their own right, even though some of them are typical for shooters (like defending the payload), but the casual mode is Turf War. Why not have casual and ranked Turf War, along with casual and ranked versions of the other modes? That way, players can practice each mode before being thrust into a mode they know very little about.
My last gripe for Splatoon 2 is a big one. Splatoon 2 does not give players the ability to play with friends unless they go into League Battles. Why is this an issue? Players have to be a certain level to qualify for League Battles. I understand that it’s best for players to get acclimated to the game before entering the competitive mode, but why not give players the option to party up with friends in the casual Turf War mode? I never understood Nintendo’s decisions regarding online play, which is a fine example of their confusing philosophy regarding online play.
My issues with Splatoon 2 are minor in the grand scheme of things. Splatoon 2 is a fantastic and addicting game. Even people who don’t like shooting games will get a kick out of Splatoon 2. Those that have a Nintendo Online subscription should give Splatoon 2 a shot.