It’s been almost a year since it’s release, and Splatoon 2 remains at the top of best titles available on the Nintendo Switch. There’s always been much reason to come back to this messy filled pile of fun. Whether it’s the seemingly endless new content, the ongoing community events, or it’s downright addictive nature, it always manages to pull me in and never let go.
Coming into Splatoon 2 was one of the biggest dilemmas I faced in recent memory. I fought really hard with myself during the first two weeks of the games release, convincing myself that I didn’t need or want this game. Being focused in my eyes as a competitive, multiplayer shooter, I had my fears and doubts as to whether I’d actually be able to find any enjoyment with Splatoon 2. I generally haven’t done well with shooters, and multiplayer games, as I often find they do a bad job of making you feel like an integral part of a team.
Being someone who missed out on the first Splatoon, I heard too much praise about this game, and finally caved in. After mustering up some courage, and proceeded to enter my credit card information on the eshop and download Splatoon 2. Moments later, as I took my first steps into the ink filled arenas, I quickly realized my initial judgement of the game couldn’t have been more wrong. My first moments with the dreaded multiplayer that I once feared quickly turned into a joy filled session. It suddenly became extremely hard to put this game down.
Splatoon 2 manages to ease you into the main fray of multiplayer in a way few games do. As you initially start out clueless as to what are the best strategies and weapons, you quickly learn by seeing queues from your team mates and start picking things up at an alarming rate. This game is not only easy to pick up, but almost makes you feel like a master right off the bat.
It’s an immensely refreshing experience to play a multiplayer game of this magnitude and quickly feel that you can make a different on your team. Why is this? I reckon it’s Splatoon 2’s focus on non-kill based objectives. Sure, splatting your opposing team is fun and deeply satisfying, but to ultimately win a match, you need to do more than rack up your kill count.
Doing things like covering the ground with as much ink as possible is the single most important and simplest objective the game can muster up. Instead of focusing on things like heads shots, covering the ground is something that strangely feels fun, and whenever I close out on matches, I always feel proud at the turf I was able to cover. It’s amazing how this simple task can bring such joy. Things only manage to get better as you rank up and move on to the tougher, more involved game modes.
Splatoon 2’s ease of use and access has to be partly attributed to it’s controls. The control scheme is simple, yet accurate. Through the various button presses, you are able to shoot, throw grenades, morph into squid form and execute special abilities. Your right analog stick controls your aim, but this isn’t the ideal method for lining up your crosshairs on your target.
The games motions controls are implemented fantastically. They are accurate and making small or even large adjustments seems to be fine tuned so well even on the default settings. I never found I couldn’t adjust my aim with any difficulty right off the bat. If this isn’t to your liking, the sensitivity can be tweaked to your prefence. Also note, even with motion controls enabled, the right analog stick can be used still for quickly turning left and right if needed.
If motion controls are something of a turn off for you, don’t let it deter you from trying them out in Splatoon 2. I’ve always had a soft spot for them, so adjusting to them was easy for me, but I think this is clearly the way the game was meant to be played. No matter how you hold your Switch, whether that’s using joycons in the docked or separately, or even have them attached in handheld mode, it just works brilliantly. In fact, some of my finest matches were done in bed using the motion controls in handheld mode. You’d think the weight and size of the Switch in handheld mode would be a hindrance, but it isn’t. Continually tilting your controller left and right to cover ground infront of you in turf war just feels so natural and smooth.
Now it’s only fair to mention since we’ve really only touched on the multiplayer goodness for now, is there is a pretty hefty single player campaign, all complete with bosses. Each level has you push through several obstacles and collect items and basically reach the end goal. Every few stages you get to face a pretty menacing boss which can be tough and fun. I’ll be honest, and have to admit that I haven’t delved deep inside the single player modes much. Not because it’s bad by any means, but in all honestly, multiplayer is where it’s at in Splatoon 2.
As beefy as the single player campaign can be, the multiplayer simply has so much to do. Turf Wars is a fun place to start and really help ease you into things. The simple joy of playing short bursts of three minutes matches to simply cover the ground in ink is outright addictive. I’ve heard some complain that turf war may be a bit too simplistic, but I beg to differ. I’ve had much fun in this mode even with the ranked and league modes available.
As fun as Turf War’s is, when you slowly level up and unlock the other available modes, things start to get chaotic as you jump into the other modes. Splat Zone has both teams attempt to cover two designated areas with their teams ink to see who can control it the longest. Tower Control has you or a team member hop onto a mobile tower that travels along a designated path until it reaches the goal. My personal favourite, Rain Maker, has you take control of a devastating weapon called the none other than the Rain Maker, and carry it to the goal. Even after all this, a new mode called Clam Blitz was added, which has you collect clams and toss them into a basket, much like basketball. If you have a buddy, you can also take on these modes in a coop session in the games League Mode.
Splatoon 2 has so much going for it in ways of multiplayer, but things don’t end there. New to the table is the games highly hyped Salmon Run which runs on a set schedule. This is essentially the games horde mode that has you team up with three other players and face waves of enemies while collecting a specified amount of eggs and placing them in designated baskets. You go through three rounds each with their own variations, such as water levels rising that reduces the amount of real estate available to you. Enemies are quite numerous and there are many types that each have their own unique weaknesses. Each can either be easy or hard to take out depending on the situation they are presented. Team work is key here, so I highly suggest you run into this with a group of friends for the highest amount of success. Only downside that people see is that this mode runs on a schedule, so you can’t play it whenever you want.
Splatfest is another great event that takes place on specified weekends. The community is presented with some form of quirky question, and the players pick their side based on their answer. The questions are so trivial and meaningless, but man is it fun to take part in this. You then have to represent your team as you take part in Turf War’ss. The more matches you win, the better the outcome for your team. At the end of the weekend, results are presented in it’s very eventful fashion.
When you are not knee deep into the multiplayer madness, Inkopolis Square is a neat place to kill time. Here is where the games shops are located, and present you with all sorts of cool gear to purchase with your hard earned coins. The area also shows random players squid kids hanging about, along with some special art they’ve drawn for themselves, much in the likeness of the Miiverse, R.I.P. The Miiverse lives on through Splatoon 2, and it’s great. I always have a great time and find many laughs checking out peoples whacky posts.
All this helps Splatoon 2 feel very much alive, more so than any other game I’ve played. It’s a game as a service no doubt, but one of the best executed ones I find. There’s so much always being added and events going on all for the initial price of admission. There always seem to be something new going on that it really encourages you to check back in often, hence it’s addictive nature. It’s during times like Splatfest where this becomes most apparent, as Inkopolis Square lights up in a dazzling array of lights as everyone dances in celebration. It’s not uncommon to see social media sites talking about what’s currently going on in Splatoon 2.
If that wasn’t enough, Splatoon 2 also throws a wealth of gear and perks your way. The never ending quest to find the best combination of clothes and accessories to wear never gets old as unlocking new gear holds the promise of getting a slight edge over your opponents. Whether that’s increased swim speed or decreased ink depletion, tweaking your gear to get the best combination of perks never gets old.
One very neat inclusion is the use of SplatNet from your smart phone. Through the Nintendo Switch app, you are able to get access to a shop outside of the game itself. Here, you can view what items are available for order, likely perks they may have, and how much time you have left to purchase them. If you like what you see, simply place your order, and next time you log into your game, you are able to purchase the item, assuming you have the required amount of coins. It’s a cool way to reserve items you may not have the cash for just yet. I find myself checking in from time to time even after long stretches away from the game just to see what cool gear is available.
Gear hunting is one of the charming elements of Splatoon 2, not because of the perks, but just the awesome pieces that are available to you. For pure fashions sake, gunning for some cool paintball masks, or neat white leather jackets is pure joy. We all know, how you look will always remain the single most important aspect of Splatoon 2. It’s so important infact, outside of matches, people will equip their best looking clothes so those who run into their avatar in Inkopolis Square will see the coolest looking version of them, and then simply switch back to stat based gear when in matches.
Moving on from what makes the game beautiful inside, it’s visuals are pretty darn good. It may not run on the highest tech, and is geared more for performance that visual power, but it looks and runs fabulous. Character designs are so well done, and I really love the Nickelodeon style visuals. The game is ever so colourful and full of cute and quirky characters all around. Matches always bring the great visual of all sorts of different coloured ink splattered all over the place. Never is there any slowdowns during the matches no matter what carnage is going on at any given time. Even during Salmon Run when there are numerous monsters around, the frame rate holds a steady 60 FPS at all times.
Splatoon 2 on the audio front is a very cool and catchy sounding game. The sound effects of the guns firing really sounds like you are shooting blobs of paint. Hearing the sounds as they impact on your opponent and they explode into a puddle of ink is oh so satisfying. All the audio queues are done so well that there’s always a window to react to the opposing teams action due to audio queues given off by all the actions.
On the music front, oh wow! I’ve read people complaining that they felt the first games sound track was far superior, but as someone who didn’t have much experience with that game, and even if I did, it’s hard not to love all the songs. Every song is so damn catchy, I often find them playing through my head away from the game. I love the rock styled songs, and there are some awesome sounding instruments and some really gnarly and snappy bass in some songs. Even the music that plays during match making is so catchy and fun, as the game gives you a fun opportunity to mess around with buttons pressed that lead to certain musical sounds and analog stick control that can do things like speed up or slow down the music. I often attempt to put together my own fun tracks here.
The online components of the game work pretty well. Finding matches is often an easy process and usually doesn’t take too long. Although I find during things like Splatfest, if teams are unbalanced, then it may take a while to get in on matches. During matches, online performance is pretty spot on and works without a hitch. I never find that there is any sort of lag. However, if you are running on wifi and it’s even a hair bit spotty, I found before a recent router upgrade of mine, this can lead to match drops. If there is a slight hiccup in your network connection, Splatoon 2 doesn’t react very well to this and often leads you to being booted from matches.
If there is one area I would fault majorly, that would be the online communication between players. Voice chat sadly is a feature that is available only through a convoluted process using the Nintendo Switch phone app. Even if you attempt this, it can only be done with friends, and random people you play with through regular match making are not supported through this. Furthermore, to make things worse, there is absolutely no meaningful way to communicate with your team outside of voice chat. There is no form of text chat, and although the game provides some quick one liners, they aren’t anything meaningful. Saying C’mon and Booyah can only get you so far as a team. Comparing this to something like Rocket League, this would have been a great place to implement dpad communications where you could actually convey meaningful text to your team to plan some sort of strategy.
Even though the online infrastructure mainly remains unchanged to this day, and much of the problems since launch remain, Nintendo has more than made up for it in terms of content. Even without purchasing the newly available expansions, there was a wealth of content always being added without the need for micro transactions. There was always new weapons, new stages and new modes being added. It all helps to the feeling to make this game feel alive and really encourage people to always check in to see what is going on.
Splatoon 2 from launch until now remains one of my top titles on the Nintendo Switch. It is a game I am glad I decided to brave, as I unexpectedly fell in love with it. The way the game eases you into it’s competitive play and makes you feel like an integral part of your team is something few multiplayer games ever accomplish. Where other games are all about shooting people in the head, Splatoon 2 is about making a mess, and having fun while you are at it. That’s not to say there aren’t areas where skill isn’t required. As you rank up and progress, the strategies and skills needed to be even more successful make themselves apparent. But for those put of with that kind of commitment, there is definitely an area for everyone to shine. Outside of the heat of the matches, hunting down the best looking gear is such a treat. It’ very easy to end a game and say “Just one more match…”. This addictive element, whether it’s the matches themselves, or making your squid kid the most fashion sensible thing our there in my eyes is what makes this such a great game. It’s one of the best values you can find as the game feels endless. The single player campaign ends at a point, but the multiplayer is the real meat of the game, and that feels eternal. Splatoon 2 is a game I highly recommend to everyone.