So today, I have something different from what most other review sites have to offer. I will be reviewing a game that has gone through several updates since its original launch. I am reviewing Splatoon 2 after its (presumably) final update, which came out in April 2020. The game as of this writing is at version 5.2.0, and I will be covering the game in its current state, including some of the changes that occurred between its initial release, and this current version. If a more significant update comes out in the future, this article will be amended to take note of that.
So, what is Splatoon 2? It is an online multiplayer shooter where two teams of four shoot paint (called ink in this game) to mark their territory can win a match. The ink you spread alters how both sides can move throughout the stage, and depending on the mode of play, is also how you win. You can turn into a squid to “swim” through your own ink and move faster, use it to hide, or even climb up walls inked in your own color. Trying to move in your opponent’s ink will slow you down, and will give you a big disadvantage.
The goal of the game varies depending on the mode, but none of the online modes require you to KO your opponents to win. Anyone who gets KO’ed will reappear at the starting point after a few seconds. All this coupled with the game’s colorful presentation, and you get one of the most refreshing shooter games in a long time (of course, this also applies to the original Wii U game too).
The game offers several ways to play with others online, and is the way players will spend most of their time in this game. In the basic “Turf War” mode, your team wins by spreading more ink than the opposing team within a three minute time limit. There are also four ranked modes to play as well. These include Splat Zones, Tower Control, Rain Maker, and Clam Blitz. These modes require you to take control of a win condition of some sort, and to score 100 points using this win condition first. You have up to five minutes to do so, and the game ends either at the time limit, or once a team scores 100 points. There are overtime rules in case the losing team is in control when time is up, giving a narrow window to take back the game at the end.
So how do these ranked modes work? Let’s look at them one at a time. Splat Zones most closely resembles Turf War, where you have to keep ink in the designated splat-zones long enough to score 100 points. Tower Control has you ride a tower that automatically moves toward the opposing base on a set path before the opponents do the same. This tower moves on a set path, and moves based on which team is riding it. Rainmaker is similar to tower control, but instead, one teammate must carry a super weapon to the opposing base. The player with the rainmaker can move anywhere on the stage to achieve this goal, but is vulnerable in the process. Lastly, Clam Blitz, which was added in an update in Splatoon 2, requires players to collect clams that need to be thrown into the opposing team’s basket. One player needs to collect ten clams to make a power clam to break the basket before other clams can be thrown in. All modes require some level of cooperation, but clam blitz requires the most coordination to be successful most of the time. Unlike the first Splatoon, all four ranked modes calculate rank separately from each other as you gain rank.
There are a few refreshing things that kept me into Splatoon 2, and its predecessor. The first is the colorful presentation. The next is the unique way the game is played, where KO-ing your opponents isn’t the win condition, it simply slows down the opposing team. The last is how each mode rewards you for playing, even if you don’t win (though winning grants more rewards).
You gain experience points, ability points, and in-game cash for every match you play in. Experience points lead to increasing your level, which allows the stores to get better items, including new weapons and equipment. After a point, more levels simply give additional sea snails, which can upgrade your gear. Cash of course allows you to buy new things in the game’s stores. Ability points lead to getting new abilities on your equipment, making you stronger in a variety of ways. Oddly, each new ability added to a piece of gear is random, but unlike the first Splatoon, there are other rewards that can alter these abilities to your liking.
This brings me to the other mode new to this game, Salmon Run. Here you gather golden eggs from monstrous salmon-like creatures that you have to defeat. This is the only online mode that has you face computerized opponents, and doesn’t have an opposing team. It isn’t always available, and doesn’t give experience points, but offers a variety of goodies to make your gear better. It is also the most entertaining mode in my opinion, as you have to cooperate with the other players to get the most out of the mode. Sometimes it is nice not to have to compete to get useful items and rewards.
During the initial run of the game, there were monthly Splatfests, which ran on weekends and had each player choose a team based on a theme they preferred, such a ketchup vs. mayo. The team that wins is based on popularity and their win/loss records. All participants win sea snails based on who won and what rank each player made. Splatfests ended a while before this final update, but a one off Splatfest ran in May 2020, and it remains to be seen if any more will come back in the near future. These themes were fun, but you couldn’t play any ranked modes while a Splatfest was running.
One of the few issues I have with Splatoon 2 is scheduling. Only two stages per mode is available at a time, and only two ranked modes are available at one time, one of which is in league battle, which requires a friend to play with. This schedule changes once every two hours, so you have to play at certain times a day to play the ranked mode you want to get better in. Even more unusual is that Salmon Run is unavailable at certain times, and only one stage is running when it is open. I know Nintendo is still new to online gaming, but this scheduling is way out of date in comparison to its peers.
The game does run quite smoothly most of the time. I notice very infrequent lag, and rarely get connection issues (on my end) mid match. The most common issue is seeing a player disconnect mid match and watch that team lose. It happens often enough, but is usually hard to notice until you see the results. Other than the scheduling, I’m actually impressed at how well this game runs online.
Single player mode is, however, an afterthought. You will probably play it at first to get used to the gameplay and controls. Luckily, Splatoon 2’s single player also gives you a few variations of weapons to try on each stage too, but offers few reasons to come back to this mode.
Now to discuss the Octo Expansion DLC. This one is a tough sell for me. It costs $20, and you are given a tough new single player game. While the challenges you go through are unique and much harder than what the main single player adventure has to offer, the rewards you get for all that work offer no real advantages over other players. The main reward is the option to play as an octopus person instead a squid person. The two play entirely the same, and the gear you get for playing the entire expansion is marginally better than other gear from the main game. Actually, to be more exact, you are more likely to get the abilities you want on the gear based rewards, but any piece of gear in the game can still get the same abilities, but may require more work.
This decision is both good and bad. Good, since you don’t have to pay for an advantage (or you don’t have to pay to win). Bad, as you are paying a decent amount for a second single player adventure just to earn a cosmetic change. If you are on a budget, then you might want to skip this DLC. If it still sounds fun to you and you have the real world money, then you can still get this if it appeals to you.
Overall, Splatoon 2 is a fun, unique online game for the Switch. It is one of the smoothest online experiences for the system, and is well worth it if it sounds like the game for you. Like all online games, though, your enjoyment will depend on the players you play with. If you play with friends, you should rarely have too much issue with the game. When playing with random players, then you never know when you will get a rude player, or someone who intentionally disconnects to ruin your experience. This is something to watch out for in any online game, but the ability to communicate is limited in Splatoon 2, both for better and for worse. You will never have to listen to a toxic player, but you also can’t coordinate with your teammates either. All in all, if you like online games and want to play one on the Nintendo Switch, this is one of the best options currently on the system.
- You need to buy the Nintendo Switch Online membership to play this game online. This is the only way to make the most of this game.
- Try to familiarize yourself with the core gameplay early, possibly learning the controls in single player first.
- Also adjust the controls to your liking, especially whether you want to use motion controls or not.
- You will have to earn ranked mode by gaining enough levels in turf war. Once you do, play either mode as much as you like.
- You also need to be a certain level to start playing Salmon Run too, but try it out once you can. If you like it, play it when it is available and earn as many rewards as you can per cycle.
- Play the Octo Expansion if you like. Keep in mind that it costs extra real-world money, and is quite challenging.
- Quick, fun online gameplay.
- Colorful graphics.
- KO’ing opponents is not the win condition in any match.
- There is plenty to do to hone your skills in this game.
- Limited means to talk to other players.
- Playing against significantly tougher opponents can be very frustrating.
- Other players can disconnect somewhat often, and if they are on your team, you usually lose.
- Only 2 stages per mode are available at a time, and this changes every 2 hours.
8.7/10 A great and unique online shooter
It is important to note how quickly you learn this game and how the other players behave can greatly impact your experience. It is hard to say how much this may affect this game’s score, but do keep that in mind before you pick up this game.
What do you think of Splatoon 2? What is your favorite mode? Did you like the Octo Expansion DLC? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button and share on social media. To keep up with That’s All Games, you can also subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!