NS Review – Splatoon 2 (Switch)


In this article I’ll be covering the multiplayer modes of Splatoon 2, for the single player Hero Mode, please see my Hands-On Preview here.

A long way we’ve swum since the starting days of a weird £20 barebones shooter on an underappreciated console- a strange ink-splattering adventure that exploded in popularity, boosting Wii U sales and even making its own eSports scene. When Splatoon on the Wii U was released it featured the bare minimum, with multiple expansions such as new modes, maps, weapons, and balance patching helping it eventually become a much sturdier game post-release. In Splatoon 2 those shortcomings are long-gone and the game features the modes of the original Splatoon and then some. Turf Wars and Ranked make comebacks with improvements, there’s the all new mode Salmon Run, and we even see the return of Splatfests.

 

aaalll byyy myyyseeelllfff

A handful of complaints have been addressed in Splatoon 2, previously I mentioned Splatoon felt disappointingly lackluster in its solo-campaign and I’m pleased to say Splatoon 2s single-player feels like a better, more confident version of its previous self. The rank system has undergone a significant change, meaning each individual mode is now assigned a rank, rather than it carrying across all of them- something which should hopefully make for much fairer matchmaking and let players feel like they’re teamed with people of their skill, rather than brainless binbags who happened to somehow get hold of a controller (seriously it’s called Turf War for a reason can someone other than me PLEASE ink the base it’s not difficult). Previously there was some confusion regarding the text commands- “C’mon” was often mistaken for encouragement rather than beckoning. More tryhardy players would often spam “Nice” or “Booyah!” upon being splatted to let their teammates know they were off the field, and the location of their death. Now being splatted replaces “This Way” with “Ouch”, an inkredibly useful command though it does feel like it would have been better to replace “Booyah” with “Ouch” instead, leaving the “This way” command still available.
Queue times will naturally be dependant on how many people are playing at once but something strange that still sticks with me from Splatoon is how I was almost never left waiting too long for any kind of match, regardless of the time of day- an impressive feat for such a strange IP on an underdog of a console. With the Switch’s success and each big game release drawing more people in hopefully even more players will be ready to fill up each lobby whenever you fancy splatting. Gone are the days of the minimal-content but a palatable price tag, Splatoon 2 will run you the amount of a full priced game but it includes most of what we saw in the first game and then some. (And then some more.) The ever-controversial Map-Rotation is back in place but this time it resets every 2 hours instead of 4 and I’m at the point in my life where I feel exfoliating with the salt of people who absolutely despise this system is just a normal part of the gameplay experience now.

 

Turf Wars

 

There’s been many significant changes to the gear system too- players will once again wait until level 4 to start buying gear, but by then they should’ve saved up a decent amount to hopefully get some new weapons, or a rancid looking shirt that’s probably overpowered and forces the ongoing conundrum of sacrificing looking fresh over function. Old faces do return but the stores are also helmed by new characters, each one about as wacky as you’ve probably come to expect from the series. Sheldon’s irritating text-spewing now thankfully features a speed-up option, but it still feels like it can take way too long for him to sit around and explain things if you’ve unlocked a fair bit before visiting his store for the first time. There’s even more freedom to customize abilities now and you can even add temporary buffs in battle with a shiny ticket. Irritatingly while you can bring up the menu to adjust settings or jump to the single-player area while in the main plaza, this isn’t the case for online modes and if you try to access multiplayer areas from the menu you’re unable to. The menu also features schedules so you’re more in the know about which maps and modes will be in rotation at what time- an improvement over having to consult a third-party app. In true Nintendo fashion, on the right track but not quite there, Splatoon 2 features better options for friend lobbies with communication- that is, players can get an official headset with a splitter, connecting their Switch to a phone with an official app on it. The headset looks to be a very impressive replica and the squid-fashioned-splitter looks like something right out of Inkopolis, but I feel there are probably less obtuse ways to enforce parental controls in your services. Hopefully the speakers and microphone quality of the headset will be decent too.

Salmon Run in Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 features another new mode, Salmon Run; a co-operative multiplayer horde style experience with varying difficulties where you can learn just what reprehensible half-wits your friends truly are and question the general IQ of those who flock to you. Sporting a dangerously-Dexter-style ensemble teams of 4 battle it out with the scrappy Salmonids, collecting various Eggs and questioning if it really is worth it to revive your deadbeat teammate after they charged stupidly into danger despite warning them not to. Players can experience Salmon Run via local play or online during specific time-slots, so if you’re only friends with poor people who can’t afford a Switch (probably because they spent all their money on avocado), or just don’t even have 3 other friends- you’re out of luck. Finally while not gamebreaking but frustrating nonetheless players are forced to sit through News Reports each time they load up the game, Pearl and Marina are fantastic new idols with amusing quips and tales to dish out but it’s just not necessary to have them tell you the maps and modes in rotation whenever you want to play. At least now when it updates while the game is on it doesn’t waste too much of your time.

All things considered Splatoon 2 just feels like it’s better than the first in almost every way. So much has been built and improved on and those lovable little squidkids not that one are just as charming as ever. With even more worlds, weapons, and a hybrid-shotgun-umbrella, players can dive in to a fresher iteration of Inkopolis- with colorful characters, splattastic scenery, diverse customisation, and teammates that will at some point probably make you consider joining the Octarians (ah, the joys of online gaming), Splatoon 2 is an impressive addition to the Switch’s library and has a little something that hopefully everyone can enjoy.

 

Thanks to Nintendo for providing this copy of Splatoon 2 for me to review. If you have questions or comments you can post them below, or send them to me on my Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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