After Nintendo released Splatoon back in 2015, it was met with a surprising amount of success, especially for a brand new IP released on a not so successful console. Splatoon captured gamers worldwide with it’s charming character designs and unique take on the online shooter genre. It only made sense for Nintendo to capitalize on this success with a sequel on it’s current money maker, the Nintendo Switch.
Back when the Switch was revealed and showed that it would be getting a Splatoon game on it, people were initialing confused whether it was a sequel or just an expanded port. Even after it was revealed that Splatoon 2 was indeed a sequel, some people still weren’t convinced that it was a proper sequel as it just looked like Splatoon 1 with a few more additions, similar to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Well I can say that Splatoon 2 is undoubtedly NOT a “deluxe” game, but a proper sequel as it does more than just port the first game over to the Switch and add new stuff to it. But the real question at hand here is, does it do enough to be a good sequel?
Well, the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” really rings true in Splatoon 2. Rather than a complete overhaul of the game’s mechanics, Splatoon 2 instead adds onto what they already have and makes a few adjustments to the system, using the same game engine and graphics. I like to think of it like a Mega Man game. If you’ve played one Mega Man, you’ll pretty much know exactly how to play the others, but that doesn’t stop them from being any less fun. If you love the first game, you’ll feel right at home with Splatoon 2. But like I said, the game DOES add and change things, so let’s go over them.
Splatoon 1‘s single player mode is one of the more overlooked parts of that game. There are some people who jumped straight into online multiplayer and barely even touched the single player campaign, which is a shame, because it was one of my favorite aspects of Splatoon and you bet I was excited for what the sequel would offer with single player.
The story, like the first game, is pretty simple. Two years after Splatoon 1, the Great Zapfish has been abducted yet again. That’s not all however as Callie of the Squid Sisters went missing. This time being instructed by the other half of the Squid Sisters, Marie, it’s up to you to rescue the Great Zapfish and find out what happened to Callie.
The Mega Man comparison made earlier is even truer here as Splatoon 2‘s single player is pretty much more of what was already great, while also improving upon it. The game adds new stage elements and enemies along with returning ones from the first game. The overall level design is much better this time around as it utilizes the old and new elements well to switch things up each level and keep it fresh. The colors and general aesthetics this time around are also a bit more varied and pleasing to look at. The Sunken Scroll collectibles are just as tricky to find this time around as they were before, requiring you to really observe your surroundings if you want to find them. They’re well worth the effort too as, like with the first game, the Sunken Scrolls give some good insight on the world of Splatoon and what’s been going on in the two year gap between Splatoon 1 and 2. The boss battles are also a huge improvement in Splatoon 2 as I found them to be much more creative, sometimes intimidating, and just plain fun to fight.
People say that the single player mode is a great way for beginners to learn the ins and outs of Splatoon before jumping into multiplayer. While I would argue single player is more than just a teaching tool, Splatoon 2 does improve even further on getting you ready for battle. Unlike the first game, Splatoon 2 has you using every weapon type.. Certain levels will have you use a different weapon type and the level will be designed around that weapon to show you how it can be useful. It’s a great way of getting players familiar with each weapon type before going into multiplayer and further aids in keeping the campaign fresh and interesting with each level.
With improved visual aesthetics, much better level design and set pieces, FAR superior boss battles, and the charm of being guided by everyone’s favorite girl Marie (oh, and Sheldon’s there too I guess), Splatoon 2‘s single player mode is a great experience and an improvement over the first game’s, which I already enjoyed.
As much as I love single player though, that really isn’t the main attraction of Splatoon 2. The multiplayer, both online and locally when connected to other Switches, is the true meat of this game and what I’m sure most are wondering about.
Well what you see is what you get. It’s just as fun and incredibly addicting as it was in the first game. Veterans will feel right at home as the controls feel great, the brand new maps are fun and quick to learn, the new Super Jump method is easy to pick up, and many of your favorite weapons make a return.
Yes, most of the main weapons are pretty much the same as the first game with only two brand new weapon types. There are the Dualies, which are twin pistols that rapid shoot like a Shooter, but give you the exclusive ability to dodge roll. There’s also the currently unreleased Brella, which is a shotgun type of weapon that comes with an umbrella that opens up in front of you to defend against attacks; an interesting new weapon that I look forward to playing with in the near future. Some of the returning weapons have been altered though. For example, Chargers can now hold a charge while swimming through ink and Rollers now fling their ink in a farther vertical line when jumping.
Although most of the main weapons are the same, that’s not so much the case for Sub Weapons and Special Weapons. New subs include the Curling Bombs, Poison Mist, and Auto Bombs along with returning subs. They’re great new additions that players are already using in smart, strategic ways. The Special Weapons are probably the biggest change to multiplayer as EVERY special has been changed. There are no returning specials from the first game, unless you count the Bomb Launchers. Special Weapons are of course super powered weapons that you have access to once you fill the special gauge up by inking turf. However, the specials this time around are less…extravagant, I suppose.
The specials are a big change that I’m still getting used to and not quite sure how I feel about yet. In Splatoon 1, there were a handful of dangerous special weapons that really made you feel powerful and could turn the tide of battle. The ones in Splatoon 2 however feel less like game changers and more like tools to pressure your opponent. They’re a bit more subdued, forcing you to rely more on your main and sub weapons. I understand the change encouraging people to actually fight rather than just building super attacks to win their battles, but on the other hand, it makes getting a special attack less…special.
For example, my favorite special from Splatoon 1 was my beloved Inkstrike. If someone dropped an Inkstrike on the map, you’d have to book it to get out of the way once you saw it coming. The Tenta Missiles in Splatoon 2 are kind of similar, except much less dangerous. They’re homing missiles that come down at you, but they give you so much fair warning and so much time to avoid them, that they’re more like a slight annoyance than a true danger. When “justice rains from above”, you can literally just casually walk out of the way. The only time they’re a true danger is if you’re stuck in a corner or if you’re already fighting the enemy team and now you’ve also got missiles to worry about. This also extends to specials like the new Stingray, Splashdown, and Rainstorm; good pressuring tools, but less likely to turn the tide of battle.
Regardless of how I feel about the new specials however, they do really change up the game, allowing for new strategies and ways to approach certain situations.
Splatoon 2 gives you a few more options to customize your Inkling as well, like new hair styles and leg wear. Gear also return with some new clothing styles and even new abilities that come with them. Some new ones include Thermal Ink which lets you track down distant players that were hit by your shots, as well as Drop Roller which lets you perform a dodge roll after landing from a Super Jump, in case an enemy is trying to shoot you once you land (THANK GOD!). Splatoon 2 seems to have done away with attack and defense up abilities though, so the power of your main weapon stays what it is.
A new music group is trending in the Splatoon 2 world as multiplayer maps offer brand new tunes to jam to while battling. The new music in this game in general is really great and I found myself listening to a few on loop when relaxing.
Some changes have been made to Ranked Battles as well. In Tower Control, there are now checkpoints that the tower must stop at for a moment before continuing forward, allowing the enemy team a chance to fight and knock you off. In Rainmaker, the Rainmaker weapon no longer shoots mini ink tornados, but instead shoots out ink bombs when charged up fully. It makes for a great long ranged weapon, but lousy up close, so your teammates will really need to protect the Rainmaker carrier in close quarters.
Another change to Ranked Battles is how you rank up, being a bit more forgiving this time around. When you win, you gain points to the next rank as usual. When you lose however, you don’t lose your points immediately. Instead, your points gauge will shake and if shaken enough, it’ll crack. If it cracks too much and breaks open, you lose all progress toward the next rank. It may sound harsh, but you would have to lose A LOT for it to break; chances are you’ll rank up before it happens. The best part is, if you made a certain amount of progress toward the next rank before the gauge broke, you won’t rank down. Instead, you’ll simply start over from your current rank. This will definitely make losses in Ranked Matches less frustrating and encourage players to keep going. In addition, each Ranked Battle mode has its own separate rank, so if you’re not so good in Tower Control for example, it won’t affect your rank in Splat Zones or Rainmaker.
Now as great as that all is, at the end of the day, you are still playing the same modes from Splatoon 1. My one big complaint with Splatoon 2 is that I was really hoping for more new multiplayer modes. What we have here is great, but there’s clearly potential for more. It’s possible they might add new modes in the future, but as of now, Splatoon 2 only introduced one new multiplayer mode…so let’s talk about it.
The One New Mode- Salmon Run
Salmon Run is the biggest new addition to the multiplayer of Splatoon 2. It’s basically a horde mode where you must work in a team of 4 to fight off hordes of Salmonid creatures. Although it is disappointing that Salmon Run is the only truly new thing added to multiplayer, what we have here, to be fair, is really freakin’ fun!
You and your team are given set weapons to use each day of Salmon Run. Salmonid will come in 3 waves and you must survive all 3 while collecting Golden Eggs from special Boss Salmonid and meeting the quota before time runs out. Winning games will increase your employee rank. A higher rank means more pay…but also much harder games. Salmon Run starts off pretty easy with quotas of about 4 Golden Eggs and plenty of time to do it with Boss Salmonid appearing at manageable intervals. But it gets crazy later on, with Salmonid coming in droves, Boss Salmonid appearing like 5 or more at a time, and then night falls as the Salmonid suddenly learn how to run and start bum rushing you and never let up. It’s crazy, chaotic, but incredibly fun.
While Salmon Run may not be a main competitive multiplayer mode, it’s certainly not a throw away mode either. Salmon Run is definitely worth your time to play as it can yield some great rewards like a ton of money, hard to get items like food/drink tickets (which can be used to increase XP and money gain in battles), ability chunks (items that can be used to potentially customize gear), and even some gear exclusive to Salmon Run. The only downside is, like with a lot of things in Splatoon, Salmon Run is on a schedule. It’s only available to play on certain days at certain times. I’m still not sure why they did this. Maybe they thought people might get tired of it too quickly if it’s available all the time? Maybe they felt it was too good of a money and rare item grinding tool, so they want to limit it? Who knows? On the bright side, as of now, Salmon Run is available to play more often than it’s not. If it’s not open one day, you can bet it’ll be open the next.
Splatoon 2 is incredibly fun and addictive, just like the first game. On the surface, not too much has changed, but the adjustments made to weapons, stages, and how you progress will surely change the way people play in the long run. Salmon Run, while the only new mode, is an extremely fun one that’s worth spending time on. The single player campaign is also excellent and a significant step up from the first game. Splatoon 2 adds and changes just enough to earn that “2” moniker, and there is merit in owning both games. While I’m mainly focusing on Splatoon 2 right now, I can see myself going back to Splatoon 1 every now and then to maybe experience its single player or be reunited with the older weapon sets and their specials (like my beloved Inkstrike). Plus, like with Splatoon 1, Splatoon 2 will be receiving free updates regularly for at least a year. Splatoon 2 is starting off strong built on what its predecessor accomplished and I’m excited to see where it goes in the future.
This review of Splatoon 2 is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
Still as fun and addicting as ever. It adds and changes just enough to earn that "2" moniker, but the foundation is incredibly solid.
A gamer through and through. Lover of all kinds of games with an especially soft spot for Nintendo.
Favorite game: EarthBound