Splatoon 2 Review

Craig dives into the world of garbled speech, paint, kids and squids in our Splatoon 2 review

Our In-Depth video that covers Splatoon states that the release of the original is one of the most important moments in Nintendo’s recent history; showing a willingness and a desire to embrace new ideas and let their young developers take the reigns.

If the original Splatoon received sales success on a console that didn’t, the potential for the series’ growth on a console that is harder to find than a Nintendo console without a Mario game is exponential.

Splatoon 2 builds on the original in a number of ways, but for those who sunk tens of hours into the original, you won’t find the sequel as ‘fresh’ as you might have hoped for. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Splatoon 2 builds on the already great gameplay of the original and introduces new weapons, new movement options, new modes and packages it in a more cohesive way.

For those uninitiated in the ways of Splatoon, it’s a third-person paint shooter where the main objective of most modes is to either cover the area in an obscene amount of paint or to splat (kill) your opponents.

If you’ve experienced the original Splatoon’s single-player then Splatoon 2 will immediately feel familiar.

This sequel iterates on the original’s campaign rather than reinvent it. It provides a similar set-up, where you’ll initially be tasked to find the entrance to levels within a small sandbox, using the skills and weapons earned in earlier levels to find your way around and uncover manholes that lead to the ‘real’ challenges.

Each individual level is around five to fifteen minutes long with most teaching you some of Splatoon’s basic concepts and it does a great job of training you for multiplayer matches. Opening levels will teach you basic horizontal and vertical movement before you’re moved on and introduced to level-specific mechanics that range from grinding on rails to moving platforms with fans and inking a rolled-up floor so that it shoots out to present you with a new path. As a whole, the campaign does a fantastic job of throwing new mechanics at you at just the right moment, increasing your knowledge and improving your ability as you go.

Throughout each of the five sectors you visit, you’ll be tasked with collecting numerous items that can help you upgrade your ink tank, weapons or to purchase new types of bombs. Each collectable is hidden to varying degrees of difficulty with the Sunken Scrolls – which unlock some of the game’s backstory in the form of a piece of art – are the most difficult to find. In fact, the game often teases you with their locations. You’ll find yourself searching every inch of a level only to catapult to the next section with a view of a hidden platform you missed just catching your eye. It’s frustrating in a way, but also gives you a reason to go back. After all, who wants empty slots in their log taunting them?

Single-player lacks the kind of jump in quality you’d expect for a sequel but it’s still an enjoyable ride. It provides a more than an adequate addendum to the game’s multiplayer and its quality holds up throughout its entirety, constantly challenging and throwing new things at you right until its conclusion.

It’s the multiplayer mode where Splatoon 2 will eat away at your spare time though. As in the previous game, Turf War is the dominant mode on offer, forcing teams of 4 to go against each other and cover the map in more of their paint than their opponents whilst also splatting the opposing team’s players. It’s a mode that while simple in its rules, is chaotic and hectic in practice. Games often remain tight until the last few moments and a last second splat or roller-induced focus can win the match. Teams who coordinate will often get the most out of games, with a spread of the game’s vast array of weapons the best way to not just cover the territory in your own colour, but to also hold specific sections of a map.

A good spread of weapons is crucial in multiplayer for those serious about dominating the Inkopolis leaderboards. Dualies (think Uzi’s with paint) Rollers and the sniper-like Splat Charger can provide quick coverage as well as both close-range and long-range combat options. Allowing you to snipe, rapid-fire and roll your way to victory.

For those who aren’t able to form up a formidable team though, don’t worry. Splatoon 2 also accommodates those who just want to jump in and play a quick game without the need for much organisation.

As you progress in multiplayer you’ll unlock more weapons and attire for your characters. The latter of which will provide subtle boosts during gameplay such as draining ink less, providing a speed boost or enhancing your range of attack. Each of these can also be individually boosted the more you play. It’s classic multiplayer hooks to keep you invested but in a way that doesn’t feel as arbitrary as seeing a number go up – even though that’s precisely what it is. The colourful and unique look of Splatoon makes it feel like those cool looking shoes you’ve just bought will give you a boost because they look cool. It’s just aesthetics with a number but Splatoon’s style makes it feel more than just a boost and upgrade.

After reaching Level 10 you’ll be able to compete in Ranked multiplayer matches. At this level, you’ll not only be competing against the best players but you’ll also be able to compete in Splatoon’s other multiplayer modes out with standard Turf War: Splat Zones, Tower Control and Rainmaker. Each is a variation on the more standard Turf War, except you’ll need to ink specific zones or moving obstacles in order to achieve your objective. All modes bring their own sense of individuality and are, most importantly, enjoyable to play without getting at all monotonous. Each delivers Splatoon’s fast-paced gameplay as well as any other without any modes feeling particularly weak.

No matter which multiplayer mode you play on Splatoon, you’ll still get great moment-to-moment gameplay which includes the nervousness of tracking a player down, only to see him disappear from view into his own ink. In these small one v one moments, Splatoon’s multiplayer thrives, setting up intense mid-game rivalries without the need for constant UI prompts telling you who killed who every few seconds.

Splatoon 2’s biggest new addition though is Salmon Run. A horde-like mode that sees you tasked with taking on an army of enemies in the hopes of coming away with an impressive set of loot. At Splatoon 2’s launch, Salmon Run will only be available during specific times, once you can access it though, you’ll find a cooperative focused mode that provides escalating challenges against an army of Salmon. It’s Splatoon 2’s biggest leap from the original and while it may not garner as much as attention as standard Turf War, Salmon Run will certainly attract certain players who thrive in a cooperative environment. It’s a great addition to what’s already here.

Apart from Salmon Run, Splatoon 2 doesn’t go as far as it should have to differentiate itself from the original but what’s here is still fantastic. The single-player, while brilliant, feels largely similar while multiplayer still stays true to the original.

It’s not often that Nintendo releases a sequel that is run-of-the-mill but when it’s an iteration on something that’s brilliant anyway it’s not too much of an issue. Returning players can immediately feel familiar with Splatoon 2 while newcomers won’t be alienated and I’d imagine there will be a lot of newcomers to the colourful, tentacled world of Splatoon.

Splatoon 2 Review Conclusion

Splatoon 2 offers a stellar single-player, a robust and addictive multiplayer and in Salmon Run, a horde-like mode that provides a great alternative to standard online matches. Splatoon 2 is funky, fresh and most importantly, fun.

4/5

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