Well, this review took me a lot longer to write than I expected. After completing the single-player portion of Splatoon 2 and leveling up my character past level ten, I was hoping to write my review soon after… But it took me longer than I expected to finish the single-player sections in this game. I ended up spending way more time on turf war and ranked matches, as these game modes are where Splatoon 2 shines, and they are very fun. As of this review, I’m level 23, with a decent number of hours logged in both the competitive game modes as well as salmon run, Splatoon 2’s brand new player versus A.I. game mode. With that said, I’ll now share my thoughts on the overall package that is contained in Splatoon 2. Enjoy!
Splatoon 2 is a wonderful game to play, featuring enough maps and weapons to keep players hooked for months to come. The core gameplay loop is the same as it was in the first game; players control ‘inklings’ that utilize a vast array of weaponry to cover the map in their team’s ink. This involves inklings shooting at the floors as well as each other in order to prevent the enemy team from inking the map with their own color, but the focus is still firmly placed on covering the map with your own ink. It may just be me, but the maps in Splatoon 2 feel smaller than those found in the first game. This causes firefights to break out more frequently and matches to end closer than before. It’s a change that I wasn’t expecting, but is welcome. In addition to this, most of the weaponry available in the first game is now available in the sequel. This is in stark contrast to the launch of Splatoon 1, where only a few weapons were available from the start, new blasters and brushes becoming available in the months following the game’s release. This gives Splatoon 2 stronger legs to stand up as a complete package, as opposed to the lack of launch-day content that was found in the first game. Nintendo has said they will be providing free updates to the game over time, similar to the way ARMS is handling it, but even if there were no upcoming updates aside from splatfests (the game’s monthly competition between two teams) I’d still be happy with the overall package.
As I mentioned earlier, the biggest new game mode coming to Splatoon 2 is known as salmon run, and after playing many hours of it, I’m convinced that it’s a blast. In most video games, I prefer player versus A.I. matches as opposed to competitive multiplayer, and to see Splatoon 2 receive this treatment is extremely welcome. Overall, it’s a fun game mode that is marred by a few issues. The most obvious of these issues is the widely reported complaint that many players have; online salmon run is only available during specific days and hours of the week, locking entry from those wanting to play outside of the allotted time slots. It’s a real bummer that Nintendo took this approach, as salmon run is a great way to unlock specific loot, and is very fun to boot. Perhaps they will hear fan criticism and respond to this issue, but as of this writing, there are many people that are upset by the decision to lock salmon run gameplay behind specific days of the week, myself included.
Salmon run features a simple premise of surviving and collecting stage pickups, masked beneath a layer of surprisingly deep complexity as to how players tackle their foes. There are a number of unique boss characters that must be defeated within each round, and the strategy on how to defeat each one differs from one another. The game’s tutorial teaches the basics on how to take down each boss, but I definitely recommend some outside research, because there are more ways to tackle your foes outside of what the game shares. Players will only be able to survive by combining their efforts and communicating on the battlefield, as each person fulfills a specific role each round, depending on which weapon is given to them.
This is my first gripe with salmon run. I understand the push to give players pre-selected weaponry, but having a poor set of four weapons makes each round more difficult than I think is necessary. I feel like before a round starts, players should have a choice of which weapon they wish to use during that round, so that nobody has to end up using the splat roller or the ink rifle unless they desire it. However, I understand this is a balance decision that makes sense in the game’s surprisingly high difficulty curve. I just don’t enjoy using the splat roller, ink sniper rifle, or any of the brushes for salmon run! I would appreciate a way to avoid using these weapons.
Another issue I would like to touch upon is the abundance of bosses that show up during each round. The last thirty seconds of each round in salmon run is often the most hectic, due to the game ramping up the number of on-screen enemies that pelt ink your way to stop you. I feel that the number of enemies present at one time far exceeds a number that are capable of being dealt with, resulting in many frustrating deaths when the entire team is wiped out. My brain’s first response to this thought is simply “well, get good” but in a majority of the games I have played, it seems as if every player on my team had a great deal of difficulty in simply staying alive against the frankly ridiculous number of enemies that flooded the game mode’s rather small survival arena. Some deaths feel a bit unfair, such as when you are killed by a sudden ink airstrike pelted from above. Combined with the other boss attacks, it is often difficult to survive a round without going down at least one time, which I feel is a bit unbalanced in the game’s favor. Despite these issues, I will keep coming back to play more salmon run, because the frustration I’ve felt for these issues pales in comparison to the satisfaction of surviving a game, collecting as many pick-ups as possible and defeating the enemies swarming a team of inklings.
I admit that I don’t have a whole lot to say about Splatoon 2’s competitive multiplayer portion. As a fan of the first Splatoon, each of the game modes in the sequel offer fun gameplay with a satisfying unlock system of receiving experience and currency, used to purchase new weapons and gear. If you were a fan of the first game, the sequel probably will not disappoint; likewise, if you did not enjoy the first game, the sequel doesn’t do a substantial amount to differ itself from the first game. However, there are a few big points that I would like to mention. The special abilities offered to players are much more satisfying this time around, rewarding timing and skill to pull off. Whereas in the first Splatoon the special skills on display felt a bit all over the place, some being extremely useful while others were lackluster, every special ability in Splatoon 2 has a meaningful use in battle. The tenta rockets are a favorite of mine, especially when playing splat zones, and the drop attack special ability is satisfying every time. The all-new maps are great, although I wish more of the elements featured in the single player portion of the game were also available in online multiplayer. The speed ramps and grind rails feel like they’d make a fine addition to the hectic online battles, but these exciting new interactive objects only make an appearance outside of multiplayer. This feels like a missed opportunity, especially when comparing the differences between Splatoon 1 and 2’s multiplayer. Despite this, online matches are a fun time, and searching for other players is usually a fast process. The lack of an exit button in the matchmaking menu is a bit bizarre, as is the inability to switch weapons and gear in between matches, but the core gameplay loop of inking enemy turf while taking down your foes is just as satisfying as it was in the first game.
Now that I’m finished giving my thoughts on the multiplayer portion of Splatoon 2, I’ll dive right into why I’m slightly disappointed with the single player sections in this game. Overall, the single player levels are better than most campaigns found in other first and third person shooters on the market. Most levels are memorable, each featuring fun and unique interactive objects while providing satisfying shooting and platforming action. The story is rather light, but this is similar to how it was told in the first game, and is not all that surprising. Most of the boss fights are great fun, especially world four’s boss fight, which takes advantage of the game’s smart implementation of vertical space. After the simply awesome final boss battle in the first Splatoon, I was expecting an equally exciting final battle in the sequel; unfortunately I was left disappointed, as the last fight features an all too familiar strategy to beating the game’s boss, similar to the first Splatoon’s final boss. The single player also doesn’t introduce any new supporting characters, like the first Splatoon’s Captain Cuttlefish, instead relying on Marie and Sheldon to tell the story. Each of the new characters are instead featured in Splatoon 2’s plaza, where the player goes to purchase new gear and access the game’s various playable modes. The ending of the single player is still satisfying, if totally unsurprising, and rewarding online multiplayer rewards for completing the single player is a great incentive for playing through it.
Splatoon 2 is a great game, complete with a satisfying single player story mode, cooperative survival matches, and the same great online multiplayer action that fans have come to expect from the series. It feels like Nintendo played it a bit safe for this sequel, but the same tight action and some fantastic new music is on offer for a fresh experience. The inclusion of “miiverse 2” also known as the in-game user drawings found in the main plaza is also a great inclusion, providing many laughs and some impressive art (I’ll share a couple of my favorites down below). New abilities and weaponry introduced in the future ensure I’ll be playing Splatoon 2 for many months to come!
Hey, all. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading my review. If there’s anything in this write-up that you think could use improvement, please feel welcome to share your thoughts! I’m always looking to improve my writing. Have a great week!