Release Date: July 21, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Those pesky Octarians are back at it again and its up to the Inklings to literally take back the power…. Again.
Upon booting up Splatoon 2 you’ll go through the motions of creating your Inkling, playing the tutorial and viewing the special announcements where you’ll learn all about the games map rotation and the current issue that’s plaguing Inkopolis. Once that’s over, you’ll be smack dab in the middle of Inkopolis and what you choose to do is up to you. You can jump into the single player by following the mysterious woman with the umbrella or dive into the multiplayer by walking straight into the large tower in front of you. Inkopolis is also home to a few shops, a social space to meet up with your friends and as well the Amiibo box tucked off into the corner for all your amiibo-ing(with Splatoon exclusive amiibos unlocking special content).
I’d like to first off admit that I never played the first Splatoon, however, thanks to certain employment I had at the time, I was able to play the demo we had on our Wii-U and I had a bit of an idea of what I was getting into. Splatoon 2’s “Hero Mode” certainly does not disappoint. It’s fun, lighthearted and full of whacky bosses. Each level is basically an obstacle course for your Inkling to overcome filled with various Octarians and Octolings, who are more like mildly aggressive bots in hero mode. They can do just about everything the Inklings can and they even respawn to boot. Clearing levels and finding the collectibles will reward you with new weapons, the means to upgrade them and give you some insight into the Inkling’s and Octarian’s relationship. You’re also encouraged to go back through each level with the weapons you unlock as well.
Multiplayer is really where the heart of the game is. Inklings have 3 competitive modes to choose from and a newly added Co-Op mode called Salmon Run. There’s plenty of customization options to take into the multiplayer. While clothing and weapons that have been unlocked don’t carry over to the Hero Mode or Salmon Run, they do appear in the competitive modes and offer random stat upgrades to players once they’ve been unlocked. Each weapon has it’s own special abilities and comes with it’s own set of advantages and downsides. The splat dualies are for the more agile player, while the paint roller is for those who want to get down in the front lines. There’s even a sniper rifle for the painter who wants to splat at a reasonable distance.
Salmon Run is a horde-like mode where 4 players must fend off waves of Salmonids and bosses while collecting as many Power Eggs and Golden Eggs as possible. Level modifiers change the way rounds work and weapons are swapped with each round. You might start off with the N-Zap ‘85(Splatoon’s adorable NES Zapper weapon) but then get a paint bucket during the next round to fight off Salmonids during a rising tide which make the map smaller. The more you collect, the better your “payment” from Grizzco(the company leading the event) and the faster you get your bonuses which include cash and clothing. The downside to Salmon Run is that it isn’t always available. It runs on a schedule and just because its available one day, doesn’t mean it’ll be available the next. Thankfully Nintendo has updated the schedule making it more accessible.
I’m not really a huge fan of competitive multiplayer and I’m almost certainly a casual PvPer but Splatoon 2 offers an amazingly fun competitive scene. You start off with only access to the Regular Battle mode which only features features Turf Wars, a mode where the objective is to paint every square inch of the map with your teams paint while doing battle with the opposing team. Splat Zones, Tower Control and Rainmaker are unlocked at level 10 in the Ranked Mode and League Battle becomes available once you get a rank of at least B-. Just like Salmon Run though, the maps rotate, two at a time.
Its clear a lot of care went into designing each map which is one reason the rotating schedule is so disappointing. You’re never guaranteed to play your favorite maps. On a more positive note , the map rotation does ensure that each and every map gets the love they deserve. From a rock climbing gym to a skate park and even an art school, the Inklings are set in their ways to make their mark all over Inkopolis. Even the grungier Salmon Run maps, which offer the feel of the Inklings dirty, manual labor, are very charming maps and the tunes that play are catchy and energetic to keep you in the action. All the maps are designed with verticality in mind and there’s plenty of ways to move around and surprise your opponents and give your team the edge.
My biggest gripe with Splatoon 2 is the TV announcement that is made every time you turn the game on. It’ll tell you which maps are in rotation at the time of play like a morning talk show and you are not able to skip it, despite there being other ways in the game to see whats in rotation. I actually dread turning the game on because of this and it even sometimes will kick players out of lobbies if you’re playing while a rotation is happening, sending you back to the announcement show. The one charming part of these announcements though aren’t the hosts but the Inklings in the background who goof off and take pictures like an audience at an actual talk show.
Another thing I’d like to point out is that it absolutely devours battery life in Handheld mode. One multiplayer match used up about 25% of the battery life while one campaign mission used about 40%. I heard it’s about as bad as Breath of the Wild on the Switch but I’m pretty sure I can get more than an hour of continuous play out Zelda than Splatoon 2 allows.
Overall though, it is a must have game for anyone who owns a Switch. It has plenty of content to keep you playing and caters to every kind of player. If you want a single player game or to go head to head or just want to relax and play co-op with 3 other people, Splatoon 2 really does have you covered. Just y’know… make sure you bring your charger with you.