The Splatoon series is to me what Mario Kart and Smash Bros is to a majority of Nintendo’s fans. I’m always keen to jump in, play a couple more rounds in any spare moment and test my skill. I’m over both Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros – the new iterations of these long lasting series just don’t do anything for me. Just more of the same, which is ironic considering Splatoon 2 is one of the least changed sequels from Nintendo. But regardless of it lacking a plethora of new mechanics or new content, within moments of starting up the Testfire beta, Splatoon 2 already had its addictive hooks into me.
If you’re new to the series, having skipped on the Wii U generation or just not having jumped in yet, Splatoon is a third-person shooter series, developed and published by Nintendo. Although it isn’t your standard shooter.
The focus in multiplayer battles (and where a majority of the fun lies) is using the weapons at hand to cover as much territory with your ink as possible. It may sound simple, but it is insanely addictive. The ability to turn into squid form and move through your ink on the map at great speed, adds to what is an intense game of cat and mouse paintball.
The gameplay is as solid as it gets, no surprise from Nintendo, but what I really love about the series is it oozes style. Even the lamest story moments or silly ideas seem cool when a game takes it all in its stride and embraces its unique feel. Splatoon 2 is no exception, featuring the neon visuals and poppy electronic music which made the first so unique and wonderfully strange.
Bringing our focus back to the testfire, there was honestly a limited amount of new contents to test and try out over the weekend, but there are plenty of good signs leading up to the release of Splatoon 2. The match-making was quick and easy, with only one instance out of dozens in which I was forced back to the menu to restart searching for a game. Which is a great indicator early on, especially since I was playing with majority Japanese players, with no lag issues throughout. Not that the original had any major multiplayer issues, but it’s good to see regardless.
Still featuring the frantic, fast-paced action of the original, the testfire featured a few new additions. The Splat Dualies were a blast, although requiring finesse and quick reactions to be effective, are made for the fastest squids on the street. With the ability to combat roll while shooting makes this dangerous short range option a great choice for run and gun fans.
The Splat Roller (or what I prefer to refer to as the shotgun roller) was still my weapon of choice for the two new maps on show. The Reef and Musselforge Fitness are both as fun to play as the originals and of course, adding to the surreal Splatoon lore and world with their varied settings.
Other new additions included all new specials abilities, which can be used after filling up special gauge via spreading ink and splatting opponents. Specials can turn the tide of a battle and add to the surprisingly deep tactics the series has on offer. The sting ray, splashdown (a personal favourite), inkjet and tenta missiles all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but most certainly all deadly when in the right hands or used in the right situation.
But honestly, after playing in two of the testfire periods over the weekend, I was content. You may think I’d loved every opportunity to play to tide me over till release. But without the option to customise my character with my own edgy clothes of choosing, it just isn’t the same. As I mentioned before, the style and feel of Splatoon plays an integral role to its atmosphere, so until I can take my own jazzed up inkling of choosing into battle, I’m content to wait and look towards the full release.
Looking towards the future, in regards to whether I think there is enough in the sequel to keep me hooked over the Switch’s life span. I’d say with games like Splatoon, I have a similar feeling to Overwatch. I love the core game. It’s pure fun, and I could play for hours.
All I really ask is for more maps to keep it somewhat varied and plenty of support and attention to keep the game balanced (similar to what Blizzard have been doing with Overwatch. Particularly the attention to detail with hero adjustments). Of course, new gear and swag to keep my Inkling looking fresh. If the extensive after launch support for the original is replicated for the sequel, I’m sure Splatoon 2 can be just as bit of a hit.
If you liked the original, it’s fair to say you’ll love the Switch version. If you own a Switch, then it looks like you’ll be doing yourself a favour by picking it up. Not only will it be great fun for on the go short fire matches, as you can bet I’ll be hotspotting. But there is split screen play available this time around (which wasn’t available in the testfire) and local multiplayer with up to eight friends, presuming you have eight friends cool enough to own a Switch. Which is where the sequel looks to add the biggest changes to the formula and young series.
The Switch is all about creating a co-op friendly vibe, so by adding split-screen gameplay and local multiplayer support to Nintendo’s latest ingenious franchise, will be sure to strengthen the Switch line up further before the year is out.
Did you have a chance to jump on for the tesfire? What were your favourite loadouts and for veteran inklings, is there enough change for you to make the switch? Let us know!