Nintendo shocked the world with the release of the original Splatoon. No one was expecting a multiplayer shooter to be Nintendo's next big IP, especially in a console generation where multiplayer shooters were oversaturating the market. As is often the case with the big N, their gamble paid off against all odds.
The original Splatoon was a revolution in online multiplayer because it completely shook up the format. Instead of simply going for the kill or capturing a flag, victory is achieved by covering the most territory in paint. This subtle difference opened up the PvP mode to more than just the hardcore shooter fan. Now, every player on the map is making an impact and pushing their team closer to victory. While some players may forge ahead into enemy territory looking for the kill (or splat as the case may be), other players will be mopping up the map from behind as they claim more and more area for their team. Since the match comes down to who covers the most territory, you can't win without both types of players.
Having loved the original game, Splatoon 2 was a day one purchase for me as soon as it was announced. After all, as the Wii U faded away, so did the player base of the original game. Going into the sequel, I was looking for two major things. Splatoon 2 needed to revive the community, bringing that passion from the original game to Nintendo's next system. It also needed to do something to earn the nomenclature of 2. Splatoon 2 isn't being marketed like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe; a remake or compilation from the prior generation. This is a numbered sequel to one of Nintendo's hottest new franchises. What's going to set it apart from its beloved predecessor?
Splatoon 2's greatest strength is just how fun it is to shoot paint. This is most prevalent in Turf War where each map is designed to keep the players moving forward, weaving around the battlefield in and out of the paint as you change the map to match your color. Watching an area go from industrial gray to neon orange and blue is a sight to behold.
You won't be on the lookout for ammo in Splatoon. Refilling paint is as ease as holding a button to turn into a squid to swim through the ink. In squid form you can move faster, swim up painted walls, and hide from the opposing team. Even if your team is being blown away most of the match, some last minute heroics of slipping behind enemy lines can make all the difference. So many matches end with only a few percentage points coming between victory and defeat. On the match highlighted below, two teammates were able to keep the orange team fighting for territory in the lower half of the map while we claimed valuable turf near the top. What would have been a close match turned into a lopsided 56.3% to 38% win!
I've already seen some incredible players make some beautiful kills in Splatoon 2. Watching someone fly up from the smallest speck of ink to snipe a person across the map can be jaw dropping. Unlike many shooters though, you almost never feel completely outmatched. As awesome, or frightening, as the elite players can be, they never single-handedly take over an entire match since the true objective is to cover the map with as much paint as possible.
While not much has changed from the original Splatoon with Turf War, that's not a bad thing. This is still the mode that will keep you logging in and coming back for more long after other games have lost their luster.
The single player campaign tasks you with rescuing the Great Zapfish. To do this you will need to defeat the Ocatrians and rescue the smaller Zapfish at the end of each level. While this starts off easy enough, later levels offer some complex platforming puzzles that will keep you on your toes.
Think of each of the twenty-seven levels as you would the various levels in a Mario game. While they share similar ink based puzzles, they also mix up the standard formula to keep you challenged until the very end. Some of my favorite levels are where they send you grinding on rails at break neck speeds as if it was right out of a Sonic game. Other levels will have you face off against rotating platforms or massive armies of the Octarians.
There are also five boss battles that uniquely challenge you at the end of each world. If you pick up the game, make sure you make it to the final boss. This fight is incredibly fresh and challenges you with everything you learned up to that point.
Each level averaged about 10 minutes with some being incredibly short while others offered a bit more depth. Don't worry about the length though if you are a completionist. Every level offers a hidden Sardinium and Sunken Scroll to find. If that's not enough, you can also challenge each level eight additional times to beat it with each unique weapon. I can't imagine trying to make it through some of the maps with the Hero Charger (sniper rifle). If you can pull this off, show off your skills in the comments below.
Salmon Run is Splatoon 2's biggest addition. It's a horde mode that teams you up with four other players to collect eggs. These are dropped as you damage and eventually finish off one of the eight types of Salmonid bosses. Return enough of these to the storage bin to move onto the next round. Fail to meet the quota or wipe and your team is sent packing.
Each boss has a different skill set and needs to be defeated in a unique way. As you are trying to take them out you will be completely swarmed by hordes of other enemies that can quickly ink the map with their opposite color leaving you with little room to operate. Salmon Run is a balancing act between eliminating bosses and returning their eggs while watching your own hide to make sure you don't get inked. If you do, you are left in a buoy hoping a teammate has time you rescue you before your entire group gets overwhelmed.
I spent almost the entire first weekend in Salmon Run. It's seriously that good! I would have spent even more time with it except it's now locked in a rotation. To access it outside of the given time that Nintendo opens it up, you must create your own group using Nintendo Friends Codes in a different area instead of using the games standard matchmaking system. Make sure you have your codes ready because that's the only way you can play this amazing new mode right now.
Speaking of rotations, Splatfests are back! Splatfests were a great way to get people back into the original game by having combatants align themselves with a side for the weekend. You then work as a team to ink your way to victory in Turf Wars. For the first Splatfest in Splatoon 2, you had to choose between mayo and ketchup.
The difference between the limited nature of Splatfests and Salmon Run is that you can play the standard Turf War maps every day. It's only the special event that's locked away on a timed cycle. Hopefully, Nintendo has heard the complaints and opens this mode up. If they want to have special events based in Salmon Run, they should have bosses that only appear every so often. It would be awesome to even see a raid boss added to the mix that really changes things up. Salmon Run's maps are big enough for 8 people if they really wanted to change things up on occasion.
Splatoon 2 is a blast. It brings back everything the original offered and ups the ante with Salmon Run. Unfortunately, you may be waiting a while before you can play this awesome new mode. Nintendo's ability to deliver amazing content year after year can not be understated. Limiting the new mode behind a quirky schedule ultimately holds Splatoon 2 back from elevating the bar above its predecessor.
Our Splatoon 2 review was conducted on Nintendo Switch using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
A previous version of this review erroneously referred to bosses in Salmon Run as "Octarians". This has been corrected.
Splatoon 2 brings back everything fun about the original and adds an awesome new horde mode to top it all off.The only thing holding this game back is Nintendo's perplexing decision to hide new content away from players for weeks at a time.
- Awesome Second-by-Second Gameplay
- Challenging Campaign
- Salmon Run
- Salmon Run's Availability