VG Tribune

Review: Splatoon 2 (Nintendo Switch)

July 20, 2017 / 12:20 PM

By: Marty Estes

The Octarians are coming, the Octarians are coming! Sound familiar? So does a lot of Splatoon 2, Nintendo’s newest entry into their most successful new IP in years Familiarity isn’t a bad thing however, as Splatoon 2 excels in many ways while letting the experience of splatting friends and enemies go mobile. Having spent almost a full week with the game, I can safely say that this is one of the first “must own” games for the Nintendo Switch. Want to know why? Read on for a full review!

Splat Attack

Splatoon 2 is a 3rd person shooting title from Nintendo that can be played in single player mode as well as online or locally in multiplayer matches. For those familiar with it’s predecessor Splatoon for the Wii U, you’ll find the same variety of options in multiplayer: Regular Battles, Ranked Battles, and the new League Battles option, which allows you and friends to form a team and play over a set period of time for points, coins, and of course, bragging rights. Also included is a more robust single player campaign in which your Squidkid is recruited to help Marie, one half of the popular Squid Sisters combo from the first game, find Callie, her other half. Also included in this year’s outing is a horde mode called Salmon Run, in which a team of four tries to survive swarms of Salmonids in order to get coins and exclusive gear. Now that we’ve run down the game modes, let’s talk a little about the specifics of the game.

Splatastic

Booting up the game for the first time, you’ll be directed to create your Squidkid and given a quick tutorial, which is exactly the same as the recent tutorial from the preview Splatfest. Once you’ve completed these tasks, you’re released into the fully functional Inkopolis Square, complete with shops to explore, The Shoal (which is where local multiplayer is handled), a lobby for online matches, Marie, who leads to Octo Canyon and the single player campaign, and Grizzco, the mysterious employers for Salmon Run. You won’t be able to use the shops until you reach level 2 online, so jumping into a few online battles immediately is probably not a bad idea. Inkopolis Square is bustling with activity as well. You can see other users and their gear load outs, draw a post that could be used on walls and for your avatar at the post box, visit Crunchy Sean for a boost, and even get some fresh gear from Murch.  All of this is introduced by Off the Hook, a two piece rap idol band featuring Pearl and Marina, standing in for Callie and Marie. It’s only been a few days and I honestly have to say that I may like them better than the Squid Sisters, if only for all the snappy banter back and forth between the two. They introduce the days’ stages and give any other important updates, then you’re off to wander the square in all it’s glory. All in all, it’s a nice, yet not necessarily brand new experience over the first game.

Splattin’ Solo

Jumping into Octo Canyon, immediately the single player campaign feels beefier than Splatoon’s. You’re tasked with helping Marie find Callie, and along the way you get help from Sheldon, who gives you different versions of the series’ popular weapons that you can upgrade along the way. Having completed two out of the five worlds so far, I feel like it’s fair to say that Nintendo has listed to some of the concerns about single player, but it still has issues that linger. Some, like myself, would like for it to be a fully fleshed out story mode that allowed a larger glimpse into the world of Splatoon, but alas, that’s not happening here, it seems. Alas, maybe Splatoon 3….

What action we do get in the single player campaign seems well paced and more engaging than before and adds in lots of things to find, shoot, grab, and splat. Each level contains a page from the Sunken Scrolls, a diary that offers just a bit of backstory, and Sardinium, which comes into play with Salmon Run. Select stages also include a ticket to Crusty Sean’s that’s pretty well hidden. These tickets can be turned in for food which adds limited time bonuses to your online battles. Speaking of….

SquidKids Unite!

Online multiplayer is really at the heart of Splatoon 2, and this is where we run into a majority of the game’s new features. As I mentioned before, online play is sorted into three modes. Regular Battles allow you to hop into Turf War with random players and shoot it up. Ranked Battles involve a few different modes and don’t unlock until you’re level 10. League Battles don’t unlock until you’re at least a B- level in Ranked, and allow you and some friends to engage in ranked style battles as an entire team. Of course, the option to play with friends who are online is there as well, as well as a setting to send a game invite via the Nintendo Switch Online app. From the Online Lounge you can create a room or respond to any invitations you have received, but not much else.

Online battles are fast and furious bite sized chunks of territory control, which is the core of the Splatoon 2 multiplayer experience. Teams of 4 compete to ink the most turf by the end of the match. Most matches are back and forth affairs seeing you constantly having to take back territory from the other team, by any means necessary. Once you reach level 2, you can go buy additional weapons, and at level 4 you can purchase fresh gear from the other stores. Each weapon now contains a primary function, a secondary weapon, and a special attack that you can charge up by covering dry portions of the map or by taking back territory from the opposition. These special attacks, a new feature in Splatoon 2, include everything from a powerful ground slam that takes out anything in it’s radius to squid seeking missiles to an exploding hamster ball you can get inside and roll up walls before detonating. The addition of these special attacks definitely changes the game and even changes the consideration of what weapon you might like to use as your main, adding an additional level of strategy to play. Of course, gear you buy also gives you some bonuses but is upgradable, adding new abilities in as well. Having raised myself up to level 6 so far, I have to say that Splatoon 2’s multiplayer is my favorite mode, and it feels great, just like the last one did. Controlling your squid kid is fluid and easy and the game moves along smoothly as it keeps up with the action. Each match is accompanied by music from the world of Splatoon that sets the mood wonderfully, and graphics and sound effects are crisp.

Don’t Get Cooked

Overall, here’s my verdict – you need this game at launch. Nintendo is leaning heavily into e-sports and online competition with both Arms and Splatoon 2, and I think this title will be even more popular than Arms. Having Splatoon style action able to be taken anywhere with me is a huge bonus: I ranked up to level 5 while sipping on an iced white chocolate mocha in Starbucks this week. The ability to take it along with you, plus connect via the new Online app is going to make Splatoon 2 a major contender for my gaming time. While it might feel a little too similar to the first one, it’s early release on the Switch gives it time to shine bright, with Nintendo promising a year’s worth of new content coming to game after release and TWO YEARS of Splatfests as well. If you like shooters, team based gaming, or online competition, this game is a must buy. If you’re simply in for the single player mode, it might be best for you to look elsewhere. As for me, I’ll see you online!

 

Splatoon 2 was reviewed from a downloaded review copy provided to Nintendo Dads by Nintendo. Amiibo functionality was unable to be reviewed at the time of publication

Splatoon 2

9

Final Thoughts

9.0/10

Pros

  • Great updates for online multiplayer
  • Graphics and Sound are top notch
  • Writing for character dialogue is on point
  • Portability makes this a need to own title

Cons

  • Feels a little too similar to Splatoon
  • Single player campaign still feels a bit anemic
  • Not much more backstory given for world building

About the author /


Marty Estes is a lifelong Nintendo fan and gamer who has lived through eight console generations and lived to tell the tale. When he's not playing games, he's a full time youth minister, husband, daddy, and friend.

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