Overall score 88

When Splatoon was first unveiled for Wii U, I thought the concept of the game was very unique and interesting. Then the game came out and it was clear that Splatoon was truly something special. It had a very stylish look and lots of charm. It also stood out amongst other shooters because the main focus of it wasn’t about how well you can take enemies out on the battlefield, but on how well you can spread your ink and fulfill the objective. It was a fun and fresh game in a genre that was just full of too many similar things. So it made sense that Splatoon would eventually get a sequel, and with the Switch’s momentum and growing userbase, this is Splatoon’s chance to truly shine.

Splatoon 2 maintains the game’s core concept of teams of squid kids battling it out on the field by spreading their ink all over the ground. The team that covers the most ground with their own ink is given the victory. The game’s isn’t reliant on how many enemies you can take out, but it certainly is helpful. If you stop your enemies from spreading their own ink, that gives your team more time to spread more of theirs. The concept is simple and easy to jump into.

THE GOOD: Splatoon 2 is a sequel and it’s pretty much what you expect from a sequel in the shooter genre. Changes to certain things, while offering fresh new things on top of it and keeping in mind not to change what already worked. The original Splatoon was a great game, so the sequel doesn’t overdo anything in terms of trying to make the game new again. The developers knew what worked and they did a great job in maintaining that.

Like the game’s overall look. That same stylish feel and charm is still present in Splatoon 2. Thanks to the better specs of the Switch, the game does look much better than it did on Wii U. Colors look better and have a better feel to them in terms of how they behave when splatted on walls and when piled all over on top of the enemy’s paint. It runs great too at a locked frame rate, which is essential for the fast paced battles you’ll face online. Also, the music is still top notch and Splatoon continues to be the home to some of the freshest tunes you’ll find in any video game.

This is a sequel, so there is plenty of new stuff to be found. New weapon types like the dualies help change up gameplay just a bit by adding in a dodge roll ability for more maneuverability options. Special attacks are also all new, with none of the old ones making a return. Didn’t mind the change that much since the new group of specials were well thought out. Lots of new clothes to purchase as well with some new squid abilities tied to them. New characters, new stories, and a new game mode. You’ll certainly find a lot of Splatoon to be unchanged, but there is still a good amount of fresh things to experience.

One of the new things I enjoyed is the new single player. The first Splatoon’s single player was fun to play, but certainly did feel lacking since you only used one gun throughout it, without the use of an amiibo. Splatoon 2 changes that up by having a lot of weapon options available to you when you play. There are even levels that force you to use a weapon, and the level really feels like it was made for it. Once you complete a level, you can use any weapon to replay it. Replaying levels with new weapons really does give them a different feel and in some cases, can greatly change up how you approach it. Since you have so many weapon types available, and with levels requiring you to use a certain weapon, the single player does a great job in introducing each of the weapon types to you. Like the first, there is some small story bits tied along with the experience, and while it’s not too grand, the final battle it led up to was very satisfying to play through.

Lots of the multiplayer game modes in Splatoon 2 are the same as the original. The new thing added though is a cooperative mode where your team of four can engage in an arena survival game called Salmon Run. It’s very similar to the horde-type modes you find in other games. Splatoon 2 does a great job in creating the familiar game type in a way that really suits the world and mechanics of Splatoon. It’s not an endless mode, since you only need to survive for three waves of attacks. You’re not simply defeating weak enemies though, as there are various bosses that will appear on the field. After a simple tutorial, you’ll quickly learn how to engage each of the bosses you’ll come across in this mode. Defeating a boss also introduces the main aspect of the game, which is to collect the golden eggs that they drop. You’ll need to collect a certain amount in order to progress to the next wave and eventually complete all three waves.

Salmon Run is simple to understand, but once you play it, you’ll start to see how challenging of a mode it can be. First off, you don’t choose what weapon you want to bring with you. At various time points, a different set of four weapons will be available. These four weapons will be assigned randomly across the team. After the completion of each wave, the weapon assignments will then get switched around. Adds an extra layer of challenge when you’re tasked with surviving with a weapon you’re not familiar or comfortable with. On top of that, each wave builds on the difficulty by throwing more bosses at you. If your team can’t keep the bosses in check, you’ll soon see the whole battlefield covered in opposing ink and you’ll be unable to freely maneuver around. Just like any of the other game modes, you’ll need to be mindful of the enemy, but also ensure the ground is well covered in your ink. It’s a fun mode with friends and even with random players. I was quite surprised at how much fun I had with it, and also the unique challenges it gives to even experienced players.

THE BAD: I’ll start off my dislikes by continuing to talk about Salmon Run. It’s a fun mode and I can see a lot of players possibly only checking out that mode. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible. At least for online play. For some odd reason, Salmon Run is a timed mode. Meaning, it’s only available for certain time periods, and there will be certain periods where the mode isn’t available at all. It’s an odd decision to limit an entire mode, and not just map rotations like in the other modes. You do get bonuses for completing Salmon Run multiple times, but I don’t think doing so will give you a big advantage in the other modes. So I’m certainly finding it hard to see the reasoning for why this can’t be available permanently.

As I mentioned earlier, map rotations are a thing. Much like in the original Splatoon, two maps will be available over a certain period, then rotate to a new set of two maps. I didn’t mind the map rotations much, and actually thought it was a unique thing to do. It gave players the chance to get familiar with maps, and possibly to prepare for only certain situations and not rely on the randomness of not knowing what map will appear. The rotations also occur every two hours, so it’s not as long as it was before. Folks that took issue with the timed rotations in the first game will still dislike it here though.

I speak on the rotation thing simply because there are many things that Splatoon 2 has kept from the original that could’ve certainly been changed up. One of those things is the inability to leave a game lobby once you’ve entered it. The game does give you a small warning that you can’t leave once you enter a lobby, but it’s still a weird restriction to have. I get that it’s probably to help ensure that rooms get made, but when it doesn’t work and you’re forced to sit during the 140+ seconds of wait time, it’s a bit frustrating. So in order to leave the lobby without waiting, one must completely restart the game. This then causes matches to start when a player has already disconnected, which leads to situations where you see some matches ending with one less active player or even starting in ranked matches when a team is incomplete.

Another annoyance is the inability to change your equipment while in a lobby. Even more so since you can change your equipment if you’re in a private lobby. This was a problem with Mario Kart 8, but the Deluxe version fixed that. So it’s odd that these things were still present in Splatoon 2. Even small things like having to sit through the map announcements every time you start up the game, which if you have chosen to restart in order to avoid the long wait time of waiting for a lobby to fill up, you’ll have to sit through again. It would be nice to have the ability to skip it, since there are plenty of other areas of the game where you can easily see what maps are available. Splatoon 2 may have kept the main good things, but they have failed to address all the small issues that many had with it.

Another small issue that was kind of addressed is the ability to voice chat. This is more with the mobile app than with Splatoon 2 itself though. The Switch Online app works well as an accompany app to Splatoon 2. Providing overall stats, showing what maps are currently up while not being in the game, and showing details of recent battles. It’s a neat thing to check out, but having those in game would’ve been better. The main problem with the app though is that it’s the sole way to invite friends into a party for voice chat. Not only that, you use the app to do voice chat. So you’re not using the Switch itself to do these things, but a mobile device. If you want to hear voices in your headset, but also game audio on top of it, you’ll need an audio splitter in order to receive audio from your mobile device and Switch. Even worse, if your wires aren’t lengthy enough, you’ll need to make sure your Switch is nearby. Not a problem for handheld play, but if you’re playing on a TV, you don’t want to be tethered to your console. Don’t want to dive into it too much, since I never fully experienced it. Needless to say, it’s an odd solution for Switch voice chat. Perhaps it works just fine, but given how better and more convenient solutions have already existed on last-gen platforms, it’s inexcusable of Nintendo to not have considered having these capabilities already present in the console. It also hurts knowing that these things, online play and voice chat, will become paid items in the future.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Splatoon 2 is what you expect a sequel in this genre to be. Keeping the core concept intact, but adding new content on top of it in order to make it feel fresh again. This is exactly what Splatoon 2 does. It doesn’t change much of what the first game did, but does provide enough new things in order for it to feel like a proper sequel. A new mode, new weapon types, and a new single player experience. Just like the first game, new updates and additions will be available in the future for free. If you enjoyed the original Splatoon, this is more of what you enjoyed and is still simple enough for veterans and newcomers to easily jump into. Some minor issues that were had with the original are still present, like being restricted inside game lobbies. The new online app is also a laughable solution to provide voice chat and game stats, which are things I feel should be available inside the game and on the platform by default. Don’t let that bother you too much though. Splatoon 2 is another great game by Nintendo for their new console and easily one of the best gaming experiences you can currently have on Switch.

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