With its release on the Wii U in 2015, Splatoon added the typical Nintendo flair to the existing third-person shooter genre and was a hit game on an underrated console. Now back, bigger and brighter, Splatoon 2 splashes its way onto the Nintendo Switch in style – boasting a better Story Mode, new online features, and more ways to splat your enemies.
Splatoon 2 opens months after the original, in which Inkopolis’ source of power The Great Zapfish had been kidnapped by the evil Octarians, rivals of the Inklings. After the heroes saved the Zapfish, it seemed peace had returned to Inkopolis. The two pop idols Marie and Callie, also known as the Squid Sisters, are involved in a huge Splatfest which sees Marie victorious. But after some time, Callie goes missing, and with her so does The Great Zapfish again! Players are recruited as Agent 4 of the Squidbeak Splatoon, traversing Octo Canyon to fight off the Octarians and save both Callie and the Zapfish.For the majority of gamers diving into the Splatoon universe this time around, it’s going to be a totally new experience – don’t get me wrong, the first game was great, but not many people had the Wii U to be able to enjoy it. With the Switch already selling in droves, new gamers will flock to Splatoon 2 like crazy, keen to make their mark. Players are treated to a tutorial to begin with, to learn the basics on how to play the game, and from then on it is totally up to the player how they wish to proceed. Do you jump straight into online and take on the world? Or do you hit the story mode and save The Great Zapfish?
Newcomers to the series will benefit greatly from beginning with the story mode – it functions as both a campaign for the game, as well as a tutorial for each individual weapon and skill that can be learned throughout the course of the game. Assisting Marie and fighting your way through the Octarian menace is a great way to understand the mechanics of the game, which are beneficial for online play – things such as ground coverage with ink, recharging that ink through swimming, and knowing what weapon suits your playstyle as you proceed through the game. Splatoon 2 doesn’t play like typical third-person shooters – it’s a lot more (if you’ll excuse the pun) fluid, and involves continuous movement and thinking. Being quick is a skill that will benefit players immensely regardless of what weapon becomes their favourite.Where Splatoon really shines though is online, which is a given considering the connectivity of the Switch. Players are allocated into teams of four, with the goal usually to cover as much ground as possible in ink. Here the reflexes and skills you pick up in the campaign are really handy – quick firing, constant ink charging and outplaying your opponents will push your team to victory. The fact that every match has different and contrasting colours is a bonus for the game, as it means you’re never likely to get your teams mixed up.
The biggest drawback I noticed upon starting the game was the inclusion of motion controls. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many people are able to play with them, but to start the game off with in the tutorial is quite hamfisted and a real turn-off. Luckily this can be adujusted in the game’s settings further on. Similarly, the fact that after leaving Story Mode or Online Mode your character gets put back right at the start of the Inkopolis Hub is quite annoying and tedious. If I hit the wrong button and leave online, I don’t want to have to walk all the way back again.Splatoon 2 offers a fun online experience that is somewhat limited by the game modes and maps active, and is also hindered by a bulky communications partner app for your smartphones. It is understandable for certain reasons as to why the Chat app is separate, but most of the time it is bulky and counterintuitive to having a portable console – I don’t particularly want to be using my phone while I use my Switch to communicate with friends.
Overall, Splatoon 2 is more of the same goodness that the original provides, with some graphical and gameplay improvements and additional game modes and maps. New players will find the game quite easy to adapt to without being out of their element, and experienced players will be able to dive straight in and get shooting.