Right, let’s get something out of the way at the very beginning of this review: Splatoon 2 is not a true sequel to the game in the purest sense of the word.
Aside from a handful of new additions – including two new modes that won’t likely eat into the time players spend in Splatoon 2’s multiplayer – this is pretty much the same game that landed on the Wii U a couple of years ago. To be honest, it’s somewhat puzzling that Nintendo didn’t just package Splatoon and its DLC as a Deluxe Edition – much in the same way it did with Mario Kart 8.
That having been said, many players who bought a Wii U probably own a Switch and it’s more than likely Splatoon 2 is a must-have title for them, because even without a ton of new bells and whistles, it’s an incredibly fun game. Those who never played the original Splatoon are in for a treat.
This review, then, is aimed mainly at the latter camp because veterans know what to expect. For the rest of you, here’s the juice: Splatoon 2 is a third-person shooter that puts a premium on team-based contests.
If the words ‘Nintendo’ and ‘shooter’ seem like strange bedfellows, never fear, because Splatoon 2 is still as family friendly as games get. Players control cartoonish little humanoids called ‘Inklings’ who are armed with paint guns that fire… well, ink at their opponents. For the most part you tool about on two legs splattering your opponents and everything else around you, but squeeze the trigger, and you transform into a squid that can swim quickly through ink and refill ammo at the same time.
The combat here is largely colour-based. Enemy ink slows you down, while ink the same colour of yours allows you to move quickly and reload. Players can create fast-channel paths through maps for them and their teammates by painting everything with ink. They can reach vantage points by coating a wall and then swimming up the side of it in squid form. Players don’t earn kills, incidentally, they earn ‘splats’ and when an enemy is splatted they explode covering the area around them in the opposite team’s ink.
The game’s main match type, Turf War, compliments these mechanics wonderfully as the objective is the cover the map in as much of your team’s ink as possible. On top of that, there are the ranked match types: there’s Tower Control, in which teams fight to control the titular building at the map’s centre, Rainmaker, a neat twist on Capture The Flag and Splat Zones, which is essentially King Of The Hill.
There a couple of new weapons on offer, including the Splat Dualities – a pair of ink machineguns that allow players to execute a dodge roll – and the Splat Brella, which doubles as a shotgun and a shield and is loads of fun to use. Splatoon 2 also introduces League Battle in which players who are ranked B- or above can compete in two vs two or four vs four contests in a two-hour window for bragging rights.
Of course, Splatoon 2 wouldn’t be a Nintendo game if it didn’t include some quirks and not all of them are particularly endearing. First off, ranked matches are out of bounds until players have reached level ten and, alongside the paucity of match types, players are unable to select maps. The game offers just two arenas at any one time and rotates these every hour or so.
Second, you have to quit a lobby in order to change your load-out and you can’t see what sort of weapons your teammates are using until a match begins. Since these were headaches players experienced in the first Splatoon, it’s baffling as to why Nintendo hasn’t rectified things here.
Splatoon 2 has two new modes and, as was mentioned, they’re unlikely to tear players away from the multiplayer for very long. There’s a single-player campaign, which is admittedly filled with some fantastic ideas and several excellent boss fights, but it stumbles in the one area a shooter should shine in – the combat. For the most part, players paint walls as a means of progressing and the enemies are at turns annoying and repetitive. On top of that there’s Salmon Run, in which four players have to collect eggs in a three-wave mini-Horde mode.
Splatoon 2 – Verdict
It’s really the multiplayer that’ll keep players hooked to Splatoon 2. Yes, it has its niggles, but they’re easy to ignore because Nintendo’s inky shooter is one of the most consistently fun titles made for the Switch – or any console for that matter. It’s almost impossible to play it without a smile on your face.
- Splatoon 2 was reviewed on a Switch. A retail copy was provided by the publisher.