Now that our very first Splatoon 2 splatfest has wrapped up, we’ve learned that ice cream is legally better than cake, at least according to squids. While I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion, I’m very much on board with this method of determining things. But does Splatoon 2 keep it fresh or get splatted? Jump past the break to find out.
Full disclosure – I never got around to playing much of the original Splatoon on WiiU, so this piece is coming from the perspective of somebody who is new to Splatoon 2 and fairly new to the series overall. I wrote this piece based on my impressions of the title via the public splatfest, and thus have not seen any of the upgrades or customization options, and have only played the turf war game mode.
I’m going to skip the fluff and cut straight to the chase – if you like the idea of a fast-paced online multiplayer shooter with a vibrant aesthetic and a dual-focus on covering the map with ink and splatting enemy players, you’ll love Splatoon 2, because that’s really all it is. That’s not a knock on the game by any means – the simplicity of vision that Splatoon 2 has is one of its strongest assets in my book.
The gameplay of Splatoon 2 revolves around splatting (killing) enemy players with your ink and taking control of the map by capturing various objectives. In the splatfest demo we only got to take a look at the series’ less popular turf war mode, but in the full game there will be a variety of other PVP modes including splat zones, tower control, rainmaker, and a special group mode referred to as ‘league battles’. There’s also a new co-operative PVE horde mode which offers exclusive loot.
Turf war is pretty fun in and of itself – you are trying to cover as much of the map as possible with your team’s ink, while the enemy team is trying to do the same. Purple ink is constantly being covered up with green ink and vice versa, and it’s a constant battle over disputed territory. Constant fighting over inked territory plus open combat equals instant chaos, and the mode is a ton of fun. You haven’t won or lost until the timer runs out, and there’s always a chance to make a last minute push to take back enough territory and grab the win. I had a blast during my time with Turf war, and I’m sure you will as well.
My favorite part about Splatoon 2 is how immediate and satisfying everything is. Whether you’re covering the level in ink with a paint roller or sniping enemies with a carefully timed charge shot, the game reacts instantly and fluidly to everything that’s going on. Your contributions to the team’s efforts are immediately apparent, and even people who are unfamiliar with the series won’t have a problem understanding what the objectives are. If you get splatted you can jump back to the location of a teammate almost instantaneously, and movement in general is speedy and fluid. The combination of these carefully designed mechanics keeps downtime to a bare minimum and makes for some really exciting and active gameplay throughout the entirety of each match.
I wasn’t entirely sold on the combo motion/joystick aiming control scheme at first, but after spending a couple of hours with the game my fears have vanished. It’s not something that you’re going to be immediately comfortable with, but after learning the ins and outs of the controls and experimenting a bit you will come to love the clever and highly innovative systems at play here. Using the joystick for larger turns of the camera and the motion controls for smaller adjustments (such as aiming your weapon) allows for significantly improved accuracy and fluidity over a joystick alone, almost to the level we see on PC with mouse+keyboard. After getting over the learning curve I can confidently say that Splatoon 2 has the most fluid and precise control scheme of any console shooter I have ever played.
Splatoon 2’s no slouch in the graphical department either. The game runs at a maximum resolution of 1080p while docked, which is adjusted on the fly in order to ensure solid 60fps performance throughout. It runs a little lower in handheld mode (around 720p) but still sits at a rock-solid 60fps. Graphical fidelity has been significantly bumped over the original Splatoon, with upgraded character models, sharper surfaces, improved dynamic shadows, and inkier ink (seriously! It’s a lot goopier than the original). The most impressive takeaway here is the 60fps performance – during my time with the game there were absolutely zero noticeable drops in framerate, regardless of how chaotic it got.
Nintendo has promised at least one-year of post-launch support via content updates with new stages, unlocks, and weapons, and at least two-years of Splatfests (worldwide pvp events with objectives and rewards).
Overall, Splatoon 2 has something for pretty much everyone: relaxed modes for more casual players, a ranked ladder for the addicts and more active players, and a co-operative PVE horde mode for everyone. Whether you normally enjoy multiplayer shooters or not, this is something you can have a lot of fun with. It’s a ridiculous, exaggerated, colorful, action-packed multiplayer shooter, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than that.
Splatoon 2 releases July 21, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch system in both physical and digital formats.