Splat Duelies is still a weird name…
The first Splatoon was one of the best new IPs Nintendo has created in a long time. Sadly it released on a console that hardly anyone bothered with. That hasn’t stopped the Squid Kids from getting right back up with their sequel for the much more popular Switch console.
Right out of the gate Splatoon 2 feels a lot like the original game. The plaza still serves as the hub. Shops still exist, although some are run by some fresh faces. Callie and Marie are out, but Pearl and Marina have stepped in to take their place. It feels familiar while also feeling fresh. Yes, I am totally going to abuse that marketing buzz word while describing Nintendo’s newest shooter.
Price I’d Pay: $49.99
While Splatoon 2 remains a mostly multiplayer-focused game, the single player returns and feels a bit more fleshed out. It starts our similar to the original, but quickly expands on the ideas. The boss fights are still inventive and the last level is simply outstanding. It is a nice 10-hour romp that will certainly make up for the thrown together offering of the first game.
Much like the first game players are forced to test out the motion controls right out of the gate. The tutorial doesn’t allow to change it until completed. I have never found them to my liking, so as soon as it ended I switched to traditional controls. Playing with the Pro Controller feels great, even the Joycons do a decent job of handling the action, but I highly recommend Nintendo’s Pro option for those that have it.
The other new addition is Salmon Run. This horde mode is a blast when played with friends. Players join up to take down waves of enemies and eventually bosses. If someone goes down other players can revive them using ink. It is a blast. Sadly it is only available all the time offline. Yup, Salmon Run online will only be available when Nintendo deems it so, which makes this mode a little less appealing for those looking to play with friends abroad.
Multiplayer is once again split into different sections. Casual mode consists of only Turf War, and players have to reach a certain level before they can even attempt ranked and league modes. Turf War remains the epitome of Splatoon. Matches that are quick and fun, so losses never devastate players.
Ranked mode brings a little more variety with a trio of modes that mimic other shooters. Tower Control tasks players with escorting a tower to a position on the map. Rainmaker borrows heavily from capture the flag modes, while Splat Zones works more like domination. This final mode has players fighting for control of various spots on the map.
Multiplayer remains the core behind Splatoon 2, which makes most of its shortcomings even more perplexing. For starters when in a lobby it is impossible to switch loadouts before a match starts. I was also not able to see my team’s setup before a match. Leaving a lobby is impossible once the countdown starts, which means a hard reset of the console. Also when playing with friends it is never guaranteed that everyone will end up on the same team.
Now to the biggest drawback of online: the Nintendo Online App. Now we have always known how it worked, since Nintendo detailed their online strategy for the Switch they had always said basic system-wide functionality would be done through the app. We also always knew it was a bad idea. Well in practice it really showcases how much. I will quickly hammer out the positives first.
The app is slick and tracking stats and gear on there works flawlessly. That’s about it. So if I want to invite friends I need to do it from the app. If I want to voice chat, I need to do it from the app. The downside? If the app goes into the background, if the phone goes to sleep, or let’s say someone calls, voice chat is disconnected. Yes we are back to the early days of the internet hoping someone doesn’t call while I am connected to the world wide web. Way to take it back Nintendo.
It’s rough and personally I will never use the Nintendo App for these functions. In fact it made me not want to deal with it. It feels simpler to coordinate with friends and use something like Discord to chat.
Even with these problems Splatoon 2 is still a fun online game. The single player feels much more fleshed out, and Salmon Run is a blast. There are just two many weird setbacks to how the game works. Rotating only two maps per mode, keeping Salmon Run online locked behind events, and of course the online app. Sure Nintendo has promised lots of updates to Splatoon 2, and I believe them, but right now I feel like there are too many barriers for me to enjoy it to its fullest potential.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.