Splatoon 2 Global Testfire (Nintendo Switch) Preview

By Tomas Barry 29.03.2017 4

Review for Splatoon 2 Global Testfire on Nintendo Switch

The Splatoon 2 Global Testfire took place over last weekend (March 24th to 26th), giving Switch owners a brief chance to sample the game ahead of its launch later this year. Just like the original's Global Testfire event, this limited-time multiplayer demo offered just a handful of hour-long session opportunities to paint things up. This equates to a fairly frenetic first-time experience for newcomers, who perhaps never owned a Wii U, the original home of Nintendo's multiplayer shooter with a twist.

For those who remained Wii U-less, the original Splatoon certainly represents one of the biggest recent Nintendo projects to miss out on. Made by the in-house Entertainment Analysis & Development division (Nintendo EAD for short), the project manifested itself partly as Nintendo's alternative take on competitive multiplayer franchises such as Battlefield and Call of Duty, which younger members of the team were experienced with. The critical reception was strong, with Nintendo applauded for creating (unusually for them) a shooter franchise, both refreshing in presentation and approach, as well as making full use of the Wii U's capabilities. With even Inkling amiibo doing the rounds, it was only a matter of time before a sequel appeared.

The problem with the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire event, however, is that not many conclusions can be drawn from it. Firstly, there wasn't any specific insight thrown up on the most relevant and important online features, like voice chat and private lobbies. Presumably, that's because these elements will tie into Nintendo's online companion app that is yet to be released. Secondly, there were only two rather small and similar maps available, which sacrificed a lot of space and verticality, something existing fans will have noticed. Although this was likely a choice to keep things nice and fluid at close-quarters, their actual design and aesthetic certainly could have been more varied. Lastly, there was just the one game mode to speak of, Turf War, which again seems sensible in order not to confuse newcomers initially, but does, paradoxically, end up rather limiting the experience if players clock up a couple of hours.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Global Testfire on Nintendo Switch

Since even for an open beta opportunities were fairly few and far between, it seems fair to assume this taster session served a very particular technical purpose for the developers. If it were simply a drive to get Switch owners reaching for the pre-order button, a greater range of what Splatoon offers would surely have needed to be on show here. With that said, the rather morsel-like nature of the experience might have more to do with the current lack of online support, as the Switch's fully-fledged online service doesn't launch until the fall. Either way, it was a great shame that it wasn't possible to launch into a session in a party with friends - as well as simply the fact the Global Testfire leaves many questions unanswered.

However, that frustration also reflects how entertaining this first encounter with the series was overall. Though the first session was a little jarring initially, while figuring out the controls and getting to grips with the more unique gyro-based aiming modifiers, things quickly clicked. The objective in Splatoon, at least in Turf War mode, is to spray as much of the level in your team's ink as possible. Players control characters known as Inklings, who can transform into a squid at the press of a button and traverse, hide and recharge their weapons within the ink. This might sound like quite a simple premise, but this shift in emphasis, for a shooter, conjures a totally different sense of pacing, urgency and tactics.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Global Testfire on Nintendo Switch

Although the Switch does have some comparative drawbacks compared to the Splatoon experience on the Wii U, especially the lack of a second screen to function as the map, everything else seems to translate well on first inspection. While some first-person shooter fans, looking for something totally different, may find the gyro-integrated aiming mechanics a bit perplexing to begin with, it's strange how quickly players become accustomed to it. Rather than full-on aiming mechanics, the gyro in the Joy-Con and Pro Controller allows for small and precise aiming modifications very quickly, which comes in handy since sessions are short and very frenetic. It's probably something other types of third- and first-person shooters might try to emulate with their Switch editions, since there's something quite satisfying about this extra physical act when aiming.

When testing with motion controls turned off (for the sake of experimenting), the game performance felt very much devoid of one clear and defining franchise nuance. On the subject of controls, the second hour-long session was tested using the Joy-Con detached, and this, on balance, was the somewhat surprising personal preference for playing Splatoon 2. Particularly in TV mode, it feels the most liberating and intuitive, with the Pro Controller setup coming a close second.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Global Testfire on Nintendo Switch

In terms of weapons, the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire made four available. The Splattershot seemed to function like the most traditional all-purpose firearm, the Splat Roller lets players paint the floor and whatever else with a giant roller, the Splat Charger allows for the largest range and charged far-reaching splashes, whilst the new Splat Dualies allow for more mobility and a greater splash rate.

While there's versatility here, it's essentially the same arsenal as the original, with no game changers, despite having more special weapon abilities. Each choice of weapon lends itself to different tactical approaches, with a fairly distinct feel, though by the third session, personal preference leaned toward the Splattershot and Splat Roller.

Teams are made up of four Inklings, which seemed about right for the small-scale design of the two maps available. While the visuals are quite a treat, thanks to the scattering of team colours being projected left right and centre about the map, it's a little disappointing that the actual level design couldn't be a bit more robust and memorable. Both levels seem to blend into each other in retrospect, though the quality of these stages bears fairly little relevance to the end product.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Global Testfire on Nintendo Switch

Final Thoughts

The Splatoon 2 Global Testfire was a brief but intriguing sample of things to come. While perhaps a more extensive testfire event, including more maps and modes, spread across a few months, would probably be a more alluring taster for Switch owners looking for their next big obsession, this demo nonetheless conjures a fair amount of enthusiasm. Nintendo EAD is, however, holding its cards close to its chest, with very little to distinguish this Global Testfire from the original experience. Consequently, while the demo event was a welcome addition, it's ultimately only a lightweight indication that Splatoon 2 will build significantly on the original. One might have expected a clearer impression of how the sequel will progress things to justify calling it Splatoon 2, rather than dubbing it "Deluxe" a la Mario Kart 8 (which would have been acceptable). In this respect, avid fans will need to see a lot more for any real sense of how Splatoon 2 is shaping up.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Action

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I feel like surely the testfires are just tests for the servers and such. Early indicators how things will run online, more than what will be in the game. However, I don't hold my breath that there will be too much content outside of the standard core multiplayer mode and some sort of story akin to the original game's.

I've seen nothing that indicates why this should be called Splatoon 2, and almost feel like the long-running rumours of a Splatoon 1 Switch port were true, so Nintendo decided to alter the name slightly once that was known - or they felt it would get more people interested if it seemed like a proper sequel than an updated port. But I am only getting the port vibe from this atm, so in order for me to get interested at all, I'd need a new demo with more of an idea of what else this will entail outside of just the usual multiplayer seen in the Wii U game.

I may just end up resigning to the fact it's not really going to be for me, but I did recall the outrageous lack of features in the first game were too hilarious for me to bother with it. If you cannot create your own friend teams this time around then there's no chance of me picking this up.

Have to say when I briefly tried this testfire that although I did mess with the gyro control in the tutorial it throws you into, the first thing I did was turn them off. I'm thankful that they are an option (looking at you, Star Fox), but I turn them off every chance I can get.

i hope it has a longer and bigger solo game.

A couple of things I neglected to mention: 

Firstly, there were a lot of disconnections whilst trying to join a match, this lead to a console error message once or twice, meaning I had to relaunch the game. That was a pain. 

Also, I just found it they hid a music-based mini-game/easter egg in the lobby menu. Apparently messing around with the left Joycon would add and subtract layers, with some very detailed methods of manipulation. Considering my background, I'm really annoyed I missed that. 

Azuardo said:
I feel like surely the testfires are just tests for the servers and such. Early indicators how things will run online, more than what will be in the game. However, I don't hold my breath that there will be too much content outside of the standard core multiplayer mode and some sort of story akin to the original game's.
 

If they really are paying attention to Call of Duty and Battlefield, they should be preparing seasonal content, a tirade of DLC, and the in-depth multiplayer integration elements that lot simply expects. No sign of it here though. Honestly, I hesitate to say it but.. there was hardly any point to it from a consumer point of view. I never really felt like it was trying to win me over, that's for sure. But I'm definitely intrigued enough to see what happens with it. Surely that 2 has to indicate something drastically improved, added-to or enhanced. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe gets a Battle Mode, maybe Splatoon 1 Deluxe would only require a better single-player offering. Splatoon 2 surely has plenty of work to do though. Smilie 
Azuardo said:
Have to say when I briefly tried this testfire that although I did mess with the gyro control in the tutorial it throws you into, the first thing I did was turn them off. I'm thankful that they are an option (looking at you, Star Fox), but I turn them off every chance I can get.

Ah nooo! That gyro-aim modification, while initially jarring and confusing as I said in the preview, quickly ended up feeling like a really significant quirk to Splatoon to me. It should definitely hold up without it (so yeah, good the option to remove it is there) but I'd honestly give it another chance- it went from feeling stupendously unhelpful to being quite the opposite in quite a short space of time for me, in the end. 

( Edited 30.03.2017 19:35 by The Strat Man )

If I ever get a chance to play the game again, I'll give the gyro another go, then. I just cannot be arsed with it in the slightest, and rarely ever have done. If it's obvious I'd be at a big disadvantage then I might consider using it, but I much prefer the comfort of traditional controls. Kudos if they pulled it off well tho, and it not just being forced onto us.

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