At E3 2014, Nintendo debuted a new IP for the Wii U that would revolutionize the third-person shooting genre with colorful visuals and a fresh style of gameplay. Splatoon impressed many at its E3 2014 showing, but few expected the IP to turn out to be the next big thing. In May 2015, Splatoon launched for the Wii U to enormous success – leading the franchise to become one of Nintendo’s most popular titles on Wii U. Here we are in 2017, the Inklings and a Splatoon stage are now in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and the franchise is more popular than ever. It is the perfect time to release a sequel, and Nintendo did just that. Splatoon 2 is now available for the Nintendo Switch and it is even better than the original.
Building off the foundation laid by its predecessor, Splatoon 2 perfects and improves upon many of the core elements introduced in Splatoon. If you played Splatoon extensively on Wii U, then you feel right at home with Splatoon 2 on Switch. Be that as it may, Splatoon 2 serves as a great introductory entry to the franchise, as it welcomes players with a tutorial and teaches the essential basics. In short, Splatoon 2 provides a delightful, amusing, and thoroughly entertaining experience for all who play. Splatoon 2 has everything you love about the first Splatoon; but has new content, a new game mode, and the convenience of portability.
The appeal of Splatoon 2 exists in its addictive online multiplayer. Fan favorites – Turf War and Ranked Battles – are back, and they retain their perfect balance of competitiveness and friendly entertainment to create thrilling and fun filled online matches. These two game modes play just as they did on Wii U, but now with one major omission – no second screen. The Wii U GamePad was used in Splatoon to provide the player with immediate access to the layout of the map and key points of interest. With the Switch lacking the second screen, the development team had to craft an alternative means to provide this essential information to the player in a non-intrusive manner.
Thankfully, they did just that. Players can access the map or jump to teammate’s position by tapping on the ‘X’ button. Admittedly, it does take some time to adjust to this; and I often found myself forgetting the option was available. Nevertheless, it works well and doesn’t feel like a hindrance.
As for the online game modes themselves, both Turf War and Ranked Battles deliver quality fun. Turf War is as it was on Wii U – your primary objective is to ink more of the stage than the opposing team. Ranked Battles offer three unique match types – Splat Zones, Tower Control, and Rainmaker. Again, if you played Splatoon then you will have a familiarity with these three modes as they remain largely the same, but now with a few minor changes to improve the player experience.
Splat Zones tasks the player and their team to cover and retain control over a certain area of the map. To take control of a section, the player must cover it in their color ink and battle to keep it under their control. Splat Zones is an intense game mode and requires strong offensive and defensive play. If you are the type of player that likes going on the offensive and splatting the opposition, this game mode is for you.
Tower Control is basically Splatoon 2’s version of King of the Hill. In this mode, you must ride a moving tower into enemy territory until you reach the designated goal area. To make for a more enjoyable and less frustrating player experience, this mode now has checkpoints located on the path to victory. Tower Control is a challenging mode and has a lot of back and forth moments as teams organize and take control of the tower. Resilient defensive planning is key to success.
Lastly, there is Rainmaker. In this game mode, your team is challenged to carry the Rainmaker to the enemy base. The Rainmaker is a powerful weapon that is capable of inking a large area, but it is slow to charge. As a team, you need to defend whomever has the weapon – if your team doesn’t have the weapon, then you want to target the opposing player that is in possession of the gun. Rainmaker can end as fast as a summer storm. Flanking the enemy and other defensive techniques will allow you to keep the Rainmaker from making its way to the pedestal. Meanwhile, a quick advance forward may catch the defense off-guard and allow you to run it in for a quick win.
Each Ranked Battle mode offers its own brand of entertainment, but all are competitive. For a more competitive setting, there are League Matches – essentially organized Ranked Battles.
One notable change made to Ranked Battle is that each mode now has its own ranking – whereas in Splatoon all Ranked Battles shared a common rank. You will need to build your rank in each individual game mode in Splatoon 2. This allows the player to focus on the mode that best plays to their strength. If you excel at Rainmaker and Splat Zones, you will be able to increase your rank in these two modes independently.
Another change made to the multiplayer of Splatoon 2 is how experience is distributed. In Splatoon, you would earn experience based on a number of points earned in accordance with the amount of ink you covered. That is no longer the case in Splatoon 2. You are now awarded based on various criteria– for example, you may get 400xp for inking more than 400pts worth of territory and an extra 1,000xp for winning a match.
One thing that hasn’t changed from Splatoon, though we wish it had, is that the player still cannot change their equipment without having to exit from the game lobby. What makes this omission all the more curious, is that you have the option of changing equipment from within the game lobby whenever you participate in a Private match with friends.
While the main multiplayer modes are plenty of fun to keep you occupied for years to come, Splatoon 2 offers a couple of additional treats to keep you playing. Salmon Run is the game’s biggest addition, as it provides the player with a horde-style multiplayer mode that urges players to work together to defeat a common enemy. Together with three other players, you are tasked to battle and defeat an array of enemies in an effort to collect golden eggs. You are assigned a weapon at random from a set selection at the start of a new round. This keeps things feeling fresh and forces the player and their team to adjust their style of play to best counter in the incoming threat.
Successfully completing this mode will grant the player with rewards and see it increase in overall difficulty. The more you play, the more challenging Salmon Run will become. Once you commit to this Salmon Run, it will quickly become your new obsession. As it ramps up in difficulty, you are pushed to your limits as waves of enemies engulf your location and make success seem impossible. This provides a rush of adrenaline as you desperately fight for survival.
Unfortunately, Salmon Run isn’t treated as a primary mode in Splatoon 2. In terms of the game’s narrative, Salmon Run is a part-time job or side-hustle, if you will. This means the mode is only available on certain days for a limited window of time – typically 24-hours. From a Splatoon lore standpoint, the decision to make Salmon Run a limited affair makes perfect sense. As a fan of the mode, it is disappointing that it isn’t available all day, every day.
There is, however, a way to play Salmon Run as often as you like; but doing so can only be achieved via offline local multiplayer. Everyone will need a Switch and a copy of Splatoon 2 – as there is no local or split-screen multiplayer option available. If you can gather three friends together for some Salmon Run fun, be sure to do so, because it is a blast to play.
Much like its predecessor, Splatoon 2’s single-player campaign is comprised of individual stages – each with their own unique platform challenges, and has you explore a number of stages, across several regions. While the foundation is the same as that of Splatoon, you will find that there is greater stage variety in terms of design, and that the overall level design is more imaginative and more fun. Fresh to Splatoon 2 is the use of Inkrails, and these new elements create some exciting platforming sections, as you navigate your way through a stage at high speeds. The Inkrails give Splatoon 2 a feel of Sonic and even Jet Set Radio.
Some boss battles utilize the Inkrails to create memorable and epic encounters.
Featuring more than two dozen single player levels, the campaign will take most around five to six hours to complete on a first run. Replayability is a major element of the single player, as the game has hidden scrolls and challenges you to complete each stage with eight different weapons. Sure enough, there is plenty of content and entertainment to be had with the campaign.
Though Splatoon 2 may not be as fresh as its precursor, the game still manages to be amazing and an absolute delight. Online multiplayer and Salmon Run are addictive and will tempt you to take your Switch with you wherever you go. The lure of playing Splatoon 2 multiplayer during a lunch break, or during your commute is far too strong to resist. With the promise of new stages, weapons, and other content still to come, Splatoon 2 can only get better. It’s the best online multiplayer shooter for the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo of America provided We Write Things with a Switch code of Splatoon 2 for the purposes of this review.