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Splatoon 2 review


Splatoon was my Game of the Year 2 years ago. I was really happy when Splatoon 2 was announced at the Switch reveal event, since I was expecting just a “deluxe” version of the first game. It’s the first online-focused game I really gave a crap about, and seeing a whole new version of it is great.

Not much else to say as an introduction, so let’s get right to the review.

Let’s go!

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Date of Release: July 21st 2017
Platform: Switch
Genre: Third-person shooter

Rated E10+ for Everyone over 10

Presentation

In general the graphics haven’t changed a WHOLE lot from the first game. Which is fine by me. It features the same great character design, bright visuals, cool enemies and overall colorful style. There are very noticeable improvements though, the Wii U couldn’t handle the level of graphics featured here. The textures are a lot clearer, the models are more detailed and higher poly, backgrounds tend to be a lot less blurry, the ink looks a bit better. The 1080p on TV looks great which is an upgrade from the Wii U version, though I’ve mostly played in handheld mode (literally only played it on the TV to comment on it), which also looks great on the Switch screen. The constant 60fps helps greatly with how fast the action can be.

The music retains the cool style of the original game. Kinda rock-y, kinda pop-y, with what I’ll call “Squidlish” singing. It fits both within the context of the game and within gameplay too. It’s game-y enough while feeling really authentic. THAT said, there’s a lot of reuse so if you played the first game you’ll hear a lot of music you’ve already heard. There’s a pile of new stuff of course, but still. I can’t wait to see more metal versions of Splatoon music. One thing I find cool is that when enemy shots land close to you you get really cool sounds to indicate that, I don’t fully remember if the first one did that the same way.

Story-wise… they did something really cool, where the result of the last Splatfest (which is a multiplayer event) actually affected the story mode of this game, where Callie goes missing in the story since Marie won against Callie. Pretty cool. Would’ve probably been largely the same idea if it had been the other way around, but it’s a nice detail. Otherwise? The octarians kidnapped the great zapfish again. Yay? Also kinda sad Pearl and Marina make no appearance in the story at all. It would be interesting since Marina is an Octoling rather than an Inkling.

Gameplay

Remember Splatoon? Well not much has changed, and that’s a good thing. Don’t break what doesn’t need fixing, I say. There’s new content, a new story, and it was great in the first place. This is how you do a sequel that follows the formula of the previous game. Don’t fuck with anything but do enough new stuff to make it worthwhile.

The base gameplay is the same. Run around in third-person, shoot ink at stuff, specifically the floor. You can transform into a squid to swim through the ink of your color. There’s a lot of different weapons you can use. Splattershots are standard machine guns (with several variations), chargers are sniper rifles (with a gatling gun variation), sloshers are literally buckets of ink that you throw the contents of at enemies, rollers are huge paintrollers that are good at covering lots of ground (and they’ve been upgraded here with a longer-range jump attack) and inkbrushes are smaller, weaker and faster rollers (with a different melee attack). This game also adds a dualies, which are dual pistols that function much like splattershots but introduce a new dodge move. The story mode had an umbrella weapon which functions as a sort of smaller area slosher, but holding it acts as a shield in front of you and holding it long enough makes it shoot out in from of you and leaves a trail of ink behind it. Each weapon has different uses. Plus each weapon has its own loadout, including different subweapons and specials. So if a gun you like doesn’t have a loadout you like, you’re likely to be able to find a similar gun that has different subs and specials as you level up. Plus the gear thing is back so different clothes, shoes and hats have different stat boosts, and you can customize them a bit with one of the NPCs in the plaza.

One thing I will say without a doubt is that they really worked out the balance here. In the first game there were a few specials that were just plain broken and not fun to play against, specifically the kraken and the shield. Here there’s specials that are really strong, but they’re all counterable. The inkjet seems strong, but you can just kill the guy using it if your aim is good. The ink armor is great but it only lasts a few shots. So that’s nice to see that, so far, there’s nothing completely crazy strong. Out of the 11 specials in this game so far, 8 are new (and the other 3 are the bomb rushes from the last game), so it helps make the experience feel fresh. I do feel most of them are pretty useful too.

The main battle mode is Turf Wars. It pits 2 teams of 4, where they compete to cover the move ground in their color of ink. This is done simply by shooting their weapons at the ground. You can also cover the other team’s ink. More usefully, you can use your weapon against opposing inklings to explode the shit out of them. This covers a bit of the area with your ink, plus puts the player out of comission for a few seconds, giving your team a bit of an advantage. Covering walls doesn’t help for score, but you CAN use it to swim through it and reach higher areas.

Outside of Turf Wars there’s Ranked mode, which rotates between 3 modes: Rainmaker (try to bring a super strong gun into a “goal” on the other team’s side), Tower Control (tower moves towards your opponent’s zone as you’re standing on top of it) and Splat Zones (king of the hill with ink, and sometimes several hills). This is the competitive part of the game, but a nice thing they did here is have separate ranks for the separate modes, which makes sense. There’s also League mode, which I have no idea what it is (but it requires getting to a certain rank in ranked mode.

The game also has a single-player campaign. It’s largely the same as in the first game. Go through mostly linear levels, using various skills, level elements and weapons to go through them. Each level has a hidden piece of sardinium (whatever that is) which you use to upgrade weapons in the single-player, and a hidden scroll, which gives some lore information. It’s a really fun mode just like in the first game. My one disappointment is actually the final boss. It’s super fun, but it feels a bit… cheap compared to the first game. In the first game it almost felt like a Platinum final boss in how it was handled, in this one he’s a lot simpler.

I guess the last thing I need to talk about is Salmon Run. It’s a co-op mode, where 4 players fight Salmonids, which are fish that walk on land. The goal is to fight bosses, grab the golden eggs they drop, and put them in a basket. Fighting the normal salmonids is a pretty small thing, but don’t let them overrun you. The bosses are the tough ones, each having a specific strategy to fight them. Each run has 3 waves, and in each wave things get a bit tougher. Third wave has this tendency to throw several bosses at once, but good teamwork can get you through it. But as you advance through the ranks things get tougher. Salmon Run is a really fun mode, though I prefer just playing Turf Wars myself. I’m sure the co-op style is big with a lot of people.

I do also need to note that many things are on a rotation in this game. Every 2 hours the maps in all the modes change (2 maps per mode), and Salmon Run isn’t always open. A bit of an annoyance, however it was 4 hours in Splatoon 1, so it’s a huge improvement. I’m not stuck in one set of maps per play session which is very nice.

Overall

Splatoon 2 is an improvement over Splatoon 1 in almost every aspectaspects, while not breaking away from what made the first one great. They added Salmon Run which is a really fun mode, made new maps (and the old maps all have a ton of changes to make them more dynamic, made new guns and new specials, plus all the new single-player content and improved graphics. There’s even a rhythm game (with some kind of reward for full-comboing all the songs I hear). There’s a lot more at launch than the first game had at launch, though slightly less than the first game did by the end of its life. And the rebalanced specials are great. And the lower time between map changes is great.

I love that they’re still doing the free dlc stuff from the first game. We already got a few guns, plus a new level this weekend. It’s gonna get solid support for a year and that’s awesome.

Overall I fucking loved the first Splatoon and this one’s better. So there.

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