Early Thoughts on Splatoon 2
Splatoon was one of the few new franchises developed by Nintendo during the WiiU lifecycle. This was Nintendo’s first attempt at game that was primarily a team based, online competitive shooter. The movement abilities of the Inklings allowed for some unique strategies, and the variety of weapons allowed players to find the weapon and playstyle that was right for them. With the success of Splatoon, Nintendo has decided to produce Splatoon 2 coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year.
Over the weekend, Nintendo had a Global Testfire event where players could try out the online play during specific times. We had a chance to find a few hours of freetime to play the game and wanted to give you our initial thoughts on the maps, weapons, controls, and other features they showed during this event. Please note that the Global Testfire is a glorified server testing process and the content shown is only a small portion of what will be in the final game.
The number of maps was limited to just two during the testfire. Both of these maps we much more compact than the typical maps used in the original game and didn’t have the slight walk to get yourself into the main conflict zone. This works perfectly for the Testfire to maximize the amount of interaction of the players.
One thing they did lack was any sort of vertical space. My favorite maps from Splatoon had walls you could use to climb to a location to get a tactical advantage or surprise an opponent. These two maps felt very flat in comparison. Despite that, there was plenty of spaces to use for cover and action to be had. I don’t think these two maps will be my favorite when the game comes out, but I won’t hate battling on them. I do wonder if this will be a design change that will be in the other new maps in Splatoon 2. We will have to wait and see if that is the case.
Only four main weapon types were available for players to choose from during the testfire. Three which make return from the first game with the Splattershot, Roller, and Sniper weapons. Of them, only the sniper had a new ability that allowed you to hold a charge while you hid in ink. I’m awful with this weapon type and the new ability didn’t help me be any better. However, I did see some other players using it a lot with great success. The one new weapon was the Splat Dualies which allowed you to roll any direction while shooting. It was a nice new feature that allows you to get out of trouble in a flash.
As for subweapons, only one new one was shown as a companion with the Dualies as the curling bomb. This slides across the ground, leaving a trail of ink and bouncing off any walls before exploding. This quickly became one of my favorite subweapons in the game. I was able to disrupt players a lot by throwing it deep into enemy territory.
The majority of new weapons shown for Splatoon 2 were with the special attacks. All four were brand new, showing off missiles, ink spray, a ground attack, and even an ink jet that pushed players up into the air as they fired at opponents. These, as well as the other new weapons, showed that there will be innovation when it comes to the arsenal available to players with the new game. I can’t wait to see the full lineup of new weapons and try them out.
There are a few small UI changes for the better in Splatoon 2. For instance, the top bar shows what each player’s weapon selection is for this match. This allows you to have a good idea what you facing as you start the match. I also like how they made the ink level needed to use a subweapon much clearer. One big change is the lack of a dedicated map and a touch screen that you could use to jump to another player’s location. I never thought I would miss the clunky WiiU gamepad but I am a little after the Global Testfire. I think the method they used by having you pull up the map and move the cursor to the location you want to jump is the best option for the Switch but not a elegant as in Splatoon.
Graphically, the game doesn’t look to have changed at all. Which I don’t think necessarily is a bad thing, but I was hoping for a slight bump with the game on a newer system. The game does have the option for motion controls to fine tune your aim.
One thing I definitely missed with the Global Testfire was not being able to choose my clothing for battle. Clothing in the original not only made you look super fresh, but also gave you stat bonuses and special abilities by wearing them. I am glad to see that they will be making a return in Splatoon 2 and look forward to unlocking them all.
Overall, I’m still very excited for what Splatoon 2 will have to offer when the full game is released. Nintendo clearly took the “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” approach from what they have shown us so far. I don’t think that is a bad thing. There seems to be enough innovation in the special weapon types and user interface that I think they are going to give us a refined and better version of Splatoon. While I wish I could have seen a little more over the weekend, I’m sure news will be trickling out over the next few months with more information coming out at E3 this summer.