Game Title: Splatoon 2
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Download: 3.3 GB
Availability: Retail, Digital Download
Battery Life: 3-3.5 hours
Game Modes: TV, Tabletop, Handheld
Among the online communities, there was a lot of hype out for a few of the Switch’s games, most prominently the new Legend of Zelda game. Among the rest for this year, one of, if not the most-watched game was Splatoon 2, the sequel to Nintendo’s hit Third-Person Shooter on the Wii U featuring Squid-like humanoids shooting each other with colored ink in what looked to be some form of party-level paintball.
Since the game’s release last Friday, the internet communities have exploded with Splatoon 2 talk. People making games with others, people criticizing parts of the game, and all around just having some Splat-heavy conversations.
Although I did not receive a review copy of the game from Nintendo, I was set on getting the game and getting a review out as soon as I could. Having just beaten the Story Mode yesterday and spent a lot of time in the Multiplayer today, I’m ready. Here is my review of Splatoon 2 for the Nintendo Switch!
Story-wise, Splatoon 2 takes place 2 years after the events of the original Splatoon. The Great Zapfish disappears (again) and Inkopolis is in danger of running out of power. Along with the Great Zapfish being gone, Callie of the Squid Sisters Musical Group has gone missing as well.
Among the other Inklings, you are sought out by Marie of the Squid Sisters and recruited to go after the Octarian Threat beneath Octo Valley and rescue both Callie and the Great Zapfish.
The story aspect of Splatoon was the most interesting to me and, while I do love the colorful society the game shows, I dislike the lack of explanation and backstory behind the Inklings, Octarians, and the Zapfish. I researched this and it seemed to be the same for the first Splatoon. The Single Player campaign just kind of teaches you the controls, gives you the plot I wrote above, and off you go to save Callie and the Great Zapfish.
When the story does show itself, it’s pretty interesting, but for a game advertised as being friendly with those who know nothing of Splatoon, I had a severe lack of knowledge of what was going on without doing research on the Splatoon Wiki. This will likely be easier once the Splatoon Anime comes out, but still. If you want to go through Story, you’ll be left in the dark on a lot of things.
Like Splatoon, Splatoon 2 is a Third-Person Shooting game with a large focus with Online Multiplayer and Co-Op Play. There are also Puzzle and Platforming elements thrown into the mix when you’re diving through the Single Player campaign, but all around, Third-Person Shooter.
Since the beginning, there’s been a large number of vocal people on the net thinking that Splatoon 2 isn’t a new game at all, but just a straight port of Splatoon 1 for the Nintendo Switch. So let’s start this section by diving into what’s new in Splatoon 2. The core gameplay is mostly the same, but as with many shooting sequels, there’ve been new features added in.
In Splatoon 2, the following is new:
- The Single Player Campaign, which takes place 2 years after the events of Splatoon 1
- 6 New Weapon Types and 3 New Sub-Weapon Types
- Gear can be ordered by viewing Player Gear, rather than waiting for the shop to cycle
- Salmon Run, a sort of Horde Mode that is separate and has separate ranks from the main Multiplayer Mode
- League Battle – A New Online Mode that resembles a long-term Team Deathmatch Mode
- Local Multiplayer is available for up to 8 different players
Aside from the above, there are also a lot of revamped and newly-added Stages, Gear Sets, and Styles to choose from with Character Customization. There’s enough here to note that this is a true sequel and not just an enhanced port of Splatoon 1, as if the new Story Mode didn’t already make that apparent.
Game Modes are all unlocked from the get-go. Once you make your character and do the tutorial, you can dive into Story Mode, the Lobby for Multiplayer Battles, or Salmon Run, the game’s new “Horde Mode”. Although many weapons and shops are locked until you level in the Lobby, the major aspects of the game are already unlocked.
The way you progress in the game, however, is different based on what mode you go into. Story Mode has you navigating 3D levels towards finding Callie and the Great Zapfish, the Lobby has you doing online multiplayer with people around the net in Turf War, Friend Battles, and Ranked/League Fights, and Salmon Run has you teaming up in Co-Op against hordes of enemies and bosses.
Each Mode feels different and has different rewards. Story Mode is like a Mario game, but a shooting game at the same time. You go through 5 worlds, each comprised of several levels leading up to a Boss Fight, which opens the next world. These stages have a distinct platformer feel and gives the game a very different feel from typical shooting games. Even the bosses have a very Nintendo Feel in that they all have weak points you have to exploit to damage them.
The Lobby feels like a very casual multiplayer experience, across Random Games, Ranked Matches, and Friend Matches. Splatoon’s flagship game mode is here, Turf War, which emphasizes much more on teamwork to paint the area rather than to just run around, mindlessly shooting and killing everyone. Although many in the online communities may mislead you into thinking this is a brutal, competitive game mode, every time I lose, I still gain experience towards unlocking new content, so even with many losses, I can never really get mad or upset at this game.
Salmon Run is even more on the casual side because it’s a Horde Mode, so you’re not fighting other players. Every game of it has you fighting off hordes of enemies along with Bosses that hold special eggs you have to collect and return to your base to meet your objective and just keep going through waves until your team is wiped out. It has its own rank and reward system in the form of Tickets you can use to gain temporary boosts during multiplayer, from Double XP and Double Money for Gear to specific abilities and traits that would normally be learned by leveling up your Gear.
I’ve talked a lot about the game modes, but let’s touch on how you actually play the game. Your arsenal is comprised of your equipped weapon and your bombs. Both of these use up ink to damage enemies and “paint” the map around you. This ink is also used for cover, escaping from enemies, and refilling your ammo gauge. But, the thing is, it has to be ink the same color as your team. If you get into ink the color of the opposing team, you are damaged instead.
Now let’s talk about the Online Mode. There have been many complaints about this, so here are my thoughts on it. In terms of stability, my Splatoon 2 Online experience has been pretty much perfect. I’ve played more than 40 matches online thus far and have never gotten disconnected from a match.
The only thing I do dislike is how Nintendo has done Salmon Run. It’s a really fun game mode to play, but Scheduling is your worst enemy. Unlike the Lobby, Salmon Run is only available to play during set intervals each day. One day last week, it was available from 5 am to 5 pm EST. This causes issues for people who want to play Salmon Run. You might be working the entire time it’s going on any given day, or you might be too wiped out after work to boot up your Switch. The basics is that it should be available all the time, instead of forcing us to only play it during set intervals.
As far as length goes, here’s where things get confusing. If you noticed IGN’s review of Splatoon 2, they claimed the Single Player Campaign only lasts about 6 hours, and I heavily disagree with that. I played Single Player mostly with a little Multiplayer between Worlds and I finished the Story after playing for about 15 hours. I imagine that less than 3 of those hours were multiplayer, so whether it’s because I’m new to Splatoon or not, the Single Player easily took me 12+ hours to finish, and I plan on spending many more hours collecting everything and unlocking the Hero Weapons for multiplayer.
Controls are very versatile in the game, mostly being the fact that you are able to play with Motion Controls on or off. A lot of players prefer Motion Controls for this game, though they can be a bit awkward to get used to as motion only controls half of the aiming while the other half is with the Right Analog Stick.
With controls, you use the Left Analog Stick to move and the Right Analog Stick to move the camera. The Arrow Buttons are used for in-game dialogue prompts. The ZR trigger is used for firing your weapon and ZL is used for diving into Ink. R is used for throwing bombs. Finally, the face buttons. B is used for jumping and Y is used for centering the camera behind you. X is used for the menu, and A is just used in menus for confirming options.
All around, the presentation is great. In TV Mode or Handheld Mode, the graphics look very colorful and smooth. All of the environments are smooth and it’s been stated that the character models have even more detail than they did in the first Splatoon. From the rippling effects of the ink to how you can swim and change forms, everything looks great.
Performance is just as great. Load Times are nice and short, and the game’s frame-rate is perfect from start to finish. You get a solid 30 fps in the hub world and a solid 60 fps in actual gameplay that never drops or falls. The devs did an amazing job of optimizing the game for the Switch.
With Battery Life, I didn’t have extremely high expectations, especially considering this is not only a game high in graphical quality, but also one that you’ll be using Wi-Fi a lot with. Here are the times I got, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 51 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 05 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 28 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 37 minutes
This isn’t bad, I guess. Not as much as Mario Kart, but still a good 3-3.5 hours or so
In conclusion, Splatoon 2 is every bit what Splatoon 1 was and more, from the lengthy story campaign to the perfect optimization. Although the story doesn’t really explain much of the lore to you and Salmon Run being on a schedule are downers, they’re mere scratches on an otherwise-great Third-Person Shooter for the entire family.