REVIEW / Splatoon 2 (Switch)

 

Have I mentioned that I love Splatoon? Because I really love Splatoon. I cosplay as an Inkling at conventions, for shit’s sake. So really, Splatoon 2 was the only announcement needed to confirm my desire to purchase a Nintendo Switch. Ok, Breath of the Wild didn’t hurt either (That game got my highest review score ever, followed shortly by…Splatoon). But suffice to say, I was excited to return to Inkopolis and get my Turf War on. I even got to try the game out back in February. At the time, I noted that the game was extremely similar to the first one, and that I didn’t mean that as a bad thing. But just how similar is it? And is it still not a bad thing?

Overall, things really haven’t changed much. In terms of overall changes, the biggest thing to note is that the local multiplayer mode from the first game is gone. That’s probably just as well; that mode was lackluster at best. In its place, the game now supports a mixed online/offline multiplayer experience where multiple players with their own Switch systems can play together locally. It is a shame that there’s no split screen multiplayer, though.

A few other things are missing as well: the lobby mini-games are unfortunately no more, because of the lack of a second screen. The rhythm mini game is still present, but it’s a standalone feature that you can’t play while waiting for a match to start. I find this to be one of the most disappointing things about this sequel; there’s enough space on the lobby screen for a mini-games. Also, while the single player campaign remains, the bonus challenges unlocked by the amiibo are completely missing. This is also pretty disappointing, but it’s not that big a deal. The option to use different weapons is now integrated into the campaign, so it’s not a big loss.

In terms of additions, the biggest one by far is the new Salmon Run horde mode. This mode has four players team up to fight off an army of mutant salmon creatures and steal their eggs. It’s a nice change of pace to cooperate instead of compete, and it offers a bigger challenge than the single player mode. Granted, it seems like the challenge might be a bit too big; outside of the starting tutorial stage, I’ve only ever succeeded a handful of times in meeting all of the requirements before the entire team gets wiped out. The randomized weapons don’t help much with that either, but as with every other mode in the game, you gain resources even if you fail. For Salmon Run, these resources are bonus points, which unlock exclusive gear and helpful bonuses for the competitive modes. And for what It’s worth, I don’t totally mind that the mode is only available at certain times. Like the returning Splatfests, this adds to the game’s longevity, and makes playing it more exciting. That being said, I can see why it might frustrate others.

There are a few new weapon types in the game too. At launch, there was just one: the Splat Duelies. These are two small blasters that hit a wider range than standard Shooters and allow players to use a dodge roll. In turn, they sacrifice power, but players have been using them effectively. Since launch, an umbrella weapon has also been added. Its most unique feature is that it can be used as a shield, but I haven’t had too much of a chance to try it out yet.

Now, in addition to all of the things added and removed, there are also some changes worth mentioning. All of the special weapons from the first game are gone, surprisingly. I guess it kind of makes sense though; the first game’s most successful weapon was reliant on the touch screen map, which isn’t viable on the Switch. So far it doesn’t seem like any one special weapon is really dominating, so that’s a plus.

Finally, there are a few things that I and other fans hoped would be improved in Splatoon 2. There’s still no real matchmaking in the game; you may end up in matches with players at much higher or lower levels. The good news is, the most popular weapons are all unlocked pretty early this time. The change in the Special Weapons meant that previous late game favorites have actually been overshadowed by their early game counterparts. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that the single player mode, while still hiding story details below the surface, is still short and still feels like a training tool more than a campaign. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun; I just wish it was deeper.

 

At the end of the day, Splatoon 2 is very similar to the first game. But I love the first game, so no matter what I recommend checking this one out. It gets high scores from me for the same reason the first one did. That being said, I expect a bit more from a sequel. Salmon Run is great, but I wish there were more improvements and more additions than what we have right now. So yes, I love Splatoon 2; I love it for the same reasons I love the first one. But if you didn’t like the first one much, there isn’t much here to convince you. And if you were looking for a brand new Splatoon paradigm, well, it won’t give you much there either.

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