Splatoon 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Tomas Barry 18.07.2017 20

Review for Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch

One of the most highly thought of games from the Wii U is, without a doubt, the original Splatoon. Its distinct brand of quick-fire, four vs. four territorial paintball multiplayer, where the objective is to cover the map in as much of your team's ink as possible, turned out to be a winning formula. Players fell in love with the bizarre and quirky creatures known as the Inklings, but their ability to transform from humanoids into squid, to traverse ink wherever it's been sprayed, was the under-pinning mechanism that pulled the whole thing together so nicely. It was also encouraging to see Nintendo enter the world of online multiplayer, establishing a new franchise with a clear emphasis on this as a core experience.

Not only was it the most successful new intellectual property on Wii U by some margin, but by March 2017, worldwide sales of Splatoon reached a very impressive 4.8 million. There's no doubt, then, that Nintendo deserves plenty of praise for having found a colourful and alternative niche from within the world of bland, militant and washed-out competitive multiplayer shooters. However, now the Switch is out there, which far exceeds the limited reach of the Wii U, and seems like the perfect platform to grow the franchise, what lies in store for Splatoon 2?

While nobody can blame Nintendo for wanting to provide a second chance for some of the brightest and most neglected gems from the Wii U, 4.8 million shows that Splatoon doesn't fall into that category. As such, a bare-bones upgrade to 1080p, along with some gameplay tweaking, was never going to suffice for the Switch version, especially since this is a sequel. Despite that, some reservations have been expressed, based on what's been seen over the build-up, to the effect that, according to some, Splatoon 2 might better have been dubbed Splatoon Deluxe.

Indeed, there is a degree of reproduction going on in Splatoon 2. Inkopolis Square looks near identical to the original hub, except a little more compressed, and elsewhere the multiplayer maps, while different (except for returning maps like Moray Towers), have common themes, such as a skate park and warehouse, and seem directly influenced in terms of core design by the original set of levels. It is, in the main, the same core experience that existing fans will feel accustomed to, but in various domains, Splatoon 2 has more polish and a greater sense of balance. Characters such as Sheldon, the NPC seller of weapons, are notably improved in both detail and quality of animation, the latter of which really helps up their charm-factor and their overall visual impact.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch

The core multiplayer mode, Turf War, which is the only mode available until players move up to being ranked at level 10, remains a glorious three-minute adrenaline burst, especially when your four-man team works together successfully. That said, it can be a little frustrating when cobbled amongst a hopeless team, although since matches are only three-minutes, they are still fun to persist in. Covering the maps in your team's ink is a surprisingly satisfying pursuit, and while it's a simple objective, it doesn't really lose its appeal. It's also such a small snippet of time that with the portability of Nintendo Switch, players will be able to sneak matches in much more frequently. That's also true because there are plenty of personal gains to be made from the XP, with a huge variety of weapons, shirts, headgear and shoes to unlock and purchase, all of which receive enhancements or upgrades of sorts as one progresses.

This element of personal reward is slightly more quirky and playful than its serious competitive multiplayer shooter counterparts, but there's still plenty of strategy involved, with each item harbouring special attributes that can be used strategically. Early on, for example, during a phase of forgetting to reload (achieved by morphing into a squid with ZL and swimming through your team's ink) a decent improvement in fortunes is achieved by purchasing gear that ups ink capacity. As players level up, these capacities seem to broaden, which generally makes higher-levelled players more dangerous, although the modifiers are there to somewhat level things up.

The maps this time around seem a little more strategic and conscious of the need to keep the action flowing, with thoughtfully designed intersecting routes for Inklings to use in sync to their own advantage. Some notable highlights include Musselforge Fitness, playable in a more basic form in the earlier Testfire, which is small but still filled with some sneaky passages and opportunities to flank, and there is also Starfish Mainstage, which is similarly compressed and hectic. Other maps, such as the returning Moray Towers, complete with its futuristic-city backdrop, offers a nice contrast thanks to its verticality, but generally the maps that keep the action centralised seem to be the best. Some of these stages offer interactive elements, although it's hard to pay much attention when busy inking.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch

Once players reach the ranked multiplayer, they are able to participate in three returning modes of the original. Tower control sees Inklings duel it out for control of the Tower, which requires quick and adaptive tactics. That's especially true since checkpoints have been added this time, which means teams can go about re-capturing in a different (more interesting and tactical) way, when compared to the original. Rainmaker requires players to pick-up the chargeable weapon, then take it to the opponent's base to score, an inverse capture-the-flag scenario that provides a lot of laughs and close-calls. The rainmaker weapon itself requires more precision, so it's not a case of charge and release as it was in the original. This is a welcome alteration, which makes a notable difference. The last mode in ranked play is Splatzone, which sees an area designated as the zone, which players fight for control of, like King of the Hill. This hasn't been tweaked much, except for an added HUD-element to show how much more ink is required to control the zone. On balance, however, it's still one of the best modes to get absorbed in.

Another hugely important ingredient to Splatoon 2 is its motion controls. When testing using both the Pro Controller and the Joy-Con, some degree of horizontal manipulation (even swivelling) was possible with motion-input. However, in order to get one's head around the motion-influence, it seems that most people settle on using motion-input to control the vertical axis and the analogue stick to aim horizontally. Beginners will no doubt find that it takes some time to get used to this principle - however, once accustomed, it is amazing how quickly it becomes second nature. The superior control method is by far that of the Pro Controller, but playing in handheld mode was also quite liberating. It's also possible to modify the input sensitivity and inversion for TV/Tabletop mode and handheld mode independently, which is quite useful. Overall, only an impatient player would turn the motion input off, since they certainly add another unique element to the experience.

Before leaping into the multiplayer world of Splatoon 2, undeniably the main course, this iteration's Hero Mode is a much more complex and thoughtful exploration of Splatoon's weapons and tactics in a single-player context. Unlike the original, which only focused on one weapon, this mode focuses on introducing new weaponry, and challenges at a very consistent rate. While many players will overlook this mode because the multiplayer is there and available from the off, those who give Hero Mode the time it deserves will find an expertly-crafted experience; Nintendo through and through. The boss battles are wacky, challenging and bound to raise a genuine smile, the craft of each level is thoughtful - and in some ways it is a shame this didn't end up as a Mario series since then the single-player would be four times as long! While Hero Mode is on the short side and won't keep players absorbed alone for longer than a month or so, it does feature many more collectables, which is a good reason to come back for a second helping. After gorging on the more varied multiplayer components, coming back to this will be at the very least, a nice change of pace.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch

Perhaps the most significant addition to Splatoon 2 is Salmon Run, a two-to-four player co-operative mode where the emphasis is on team-work to fend off 'salmonoid' hordes, collect eggs and defeat the Boss Salmonid, all of which requires real team-work. It's playable online and locally, and without a doubt quite a challenge beyond 10% intensity. It's nice to see another unique take on a common shooter gameplay mode, but since this is the only truly new addition to Splatoon 2, it could have been a bit more expansive in terms of its map size and variety. That said, this is something that might occur with DLC in the future. Ultimately, it's a welcome addition, but not really a filler when you compare it to the inventive single-player Hero Mode and other multiplayer components.

In terms of disappointments, Splatoon 2 does have a few niggling issues. It does seem rather astonishing that, for a second time, the inability to change an Inkling's load-out in-between matches remains. This is part and parcel of most competitive shooters, and it seems a bit baffling to leave this as it was. It also feels beyond archaic to have to back out of a lobby by closing down the game entirely, since once you have joined there isn't any other way to quit - whether or not this is something that might be addressable in the form of a patch remains to be seen. Elsewhere, the rather rigid rota for multiplayer is served up to the player on the hour by the Squid Sisters in the form of an un-skippable cut-scene. This will quickly become a massive pain in the proverbial backside and, again, there's really no reason why it should be this way. Considering how fluid and fast-paced the actual gameplay is, it just seems crazy not to identify and address these minor grievances.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Overall, Splatoon 2 is a brilliant and refreshing competitive multiplayer experience, both online and offline, which really fills a void in that regard for the system. Although the changes are fairly minor, it's hard to see the existing fan-base not leaping on-board in hordes, since more than anything else, the quirky franchise needs a more sustainable home platform and Nintendo Switch has proved itself to be just that. While this sequel will feel initially quite familiar to established fans, a great deal of attention has been paid to the nuances of the multiplayer dynamic, leading to an altogether much improved sequel, which is worthy of anyone's attention, whether an existing fan or a newcomer. It's a shame match-making options couldn't have been broadened, but with things such as voice chat finally introduced, this is a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how Splatoon 2 expands. It is presumed DLC will be offered to support the multiplayer domain, but the much-improved Hero Mode might also open up the door for better and even more expansive single-player content in the future. Overall, Splatoon 2 is one of the best games available on Nintendo Switch.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Shooter

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

Very fair and balanced review, Tom. I just saw that NL gave this 10/10, which I find very dubious indeed. That site says that absolutely everything from the original is built on and massively improved, but that's not what I'm seeing. It's a great game, no doubt, but as you say, there are some thing that should have been tweaked, and hopefully eventually will be in future patches.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Amazing, there's absolutely no way I'd consider giving a 10 to any game of this nature. A portion of the judgement should always be reserved until the new content has begun to flow, I have no doubt that Splatoon 2 will get better with the regular free updates, but without a time-machine..

If I bought CoD one year and then the subsequent as well, although the formula might be identical, down to quite specific details, such as the exo-suits in Advanced Warfare and then Black Ops 3- still there'd be an entirely different campaign mode which doesn't evoke deja-vu, and at least some parameters will be shaken-up in the core multiplayer, such a move to set-loadouts rather than freedom of choice,  something that does break the original formula, even though overall its still reproduction at large.

With Splatoon 2, I guess it feels like they weren't willing to break things, maybe because of time restraints. I can understand this since, of course, despite the decent Wii U sales, we can't pretend many people won't be discovering the franchise for the first time with the Switch version. On the other hand, as we've discussed, I'd say if you were to just throw an existing fan into Splatoon 2, there is a chance they may not realise it's a new iteration at all when playing the existing modes. Whereas a CoD player going from AW to BO3 would immediately tweak- something is different. So some existing fans may feel conflicted. Some may have expected more change.

Or maybe they won't, I really don't feel qualified to speak any further on the matter since I can't perceive all the minor ways its been improved for the better compared to the original- so perhaps existing fans will be over-the-moon with the re-balancing, mode tweaks, plus vastly improved single player experience and the introduction of Salmon Run- it's possibly more than enough for some.

If you've spent hundreds of hours in Turf War, I can see how these things would feel like a big deal. Can't argue with that since CoD and Battlefield and whatever else has plenty of that going on too. If you ask me though, they should have titled this Deluxe and released a Splatoon 2 a year or so from now, with more radical changes.  It's difficult to envisage the free added content changing the shape of Splatoon 2 too much, and I must say, I settled on the same score as the original quickly. 

Lastly, I think that Splatoon 3 has to have a fully-fledged single-player too. The Hero Mode was a joy to play, I think there's a multitude of things they can do with that now. Big changes there hopefully for the next.

( Edited 19.07.2017 18:01 by The Strat Man )

My biggest issues with this sequel is how it's still lacking in it's online mode and it was the perfect opportunity to fix those problem from the first game.

Want to team up with a friend and some other randoms for turf war? Nope, you need a full group of 4 friends to be able to group up.

Want to play a variety of different stages in one play session? Nope, you're locked to two for two hours, and you could be stuck playing the same one over and over if it keeps picking it.

Want to play Salmon Run? Nope, it's at set times "oh, can you play the 8 o'clock one?"... "Nah, I'm busy at that time".

Want to change your weapon/equipment in the lobby screen? Nope

So yeah, as much as I love Splatoon, those things really disapoint me. I'm still going to enjoy it, but all it does is make the game less enjoyable to play with friends. I love to play online games with friends, not randoms and Nintendo make it the hardest to even do that with most of their games.

But Marzy, Nintendo Life said it improves on everything over the first game.

Splatoon 2 is just about everything you could ask for from a sequel. It builds on everything the original set up and then some; almost every single major issue people had with the first game has been resolved, showing that Nintendo is genuinely listening and wants to deliver the absolute best experience possible. Anyone who says Nintendo can't do online should be eating their words right now.

10/10

I am laughing. That whole quote is hilarious.

I guess they've never played any other online game before.

That's all I can say with a comment like "Anyone who says Nintendo can't do online should be eating their words right now"

Call me cynical, but if you check Metacritic, their review sits on the top of the pile because it's the only 10/10...so I'm calling that a clickbait score to bring in the extra hits.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Amazon apparently will have the game delivered to me in Saturday (it comes out on our national day so no post on the 21st -_- ...) but my splatoon 2 controller is still up in the air despite the fact i asked for the game and controller at the same time and now they're saying they're unsure if they'll ever get any more of that controller in the future.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get into this game. I had a bad time with that Testfire event the other day. The controls just seem to irk me and I am just too bloody crap to enjoy this game, I blame age! 

I'm with you there - I do like the look of it, and would love to get into it, but I couldn't get into it at the events I tried it, and wasn't a big fan of the Wii U version...so I'll probably be giving this a wide berth.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
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Flynnie said:
No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get into this game. I had a bad time with that Testfire event the other day. The controls just seem to irk me and I am just too bloody crap to enjoy this game, I blame age! 

I'm the same more or less. I do enjoy the gameplay although aiming with motion controls doesn't work all that well for me, but the other players who are infinitely stronger than me are ruining the experience for me. But then there's salmon run and there's the solo part which apparently is more fleshed out this time around. As i told others on Mush's stream the other night, i was considering cancelling my preorder cause i wasnt having a good time, but a couple more games online and grasping the controls a bit more, finally managing to splat some people, brought me back to a point where i kinda still wanted the game. Hopefully with more practice i can actually enjoy this more. I don't enjoy smash bros as much as i used to on gamecube and n64 for the same reason, it's super skilled players that are ruining the game for me.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
it's super skilled players that are ruining the game for me.

If that's the case, the ranked mode needs adjusting to better pit players of the same skill level together, or allow you to choose the rank of players you wish to play with/against.

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Azuardo said:

RudyC3 said:
it's super skilled players that are ruining the game for me.

If that's the case, the ranked mode needs adjusting to better pit players of the same skill level together, or allow you to choose the rank of players you wish to play with/against.

There's no real way to measure a player's skill acquired through previous entries in a series when the newer game is freshly out. If you measure it by acquired points or wins etc, it's going to take a while for such a system to work and reflect how good each player really is. In the case of the first splatfest, you had plenty of players who were obviously returning from Splatoon 1 and using their skills to wreck players like me who are completely new to the franchise and not accustomed to the controls (I didn't buy or play the first game). I predict my experience with the game won't change much over time, I'm not really interested in putting thousands of hours into this game to become as good as they are. Same goes with Smash. I bought Smash in the past more for fun local multiplayer sessions or for the solo mode and the heaps of unlockables but I didn't buy the 3DS/Wii U one because it was lacking in the solo department. If they ever port it to Switch, I hope they add some stuff to the solo, something like the Subspace Emissary all over again.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Ah yeah, I see you meant in the Testfire. Yeah, I can see how the vets would be mixed with newbies there, making it very unbalanced and unwelcoming.

I'm same as you with Smash. When Cloud came along, I considered trying to learn the game proper, and I sorta did with a couple of other characters when we were doing the Cubed3 tournies, but really I just played Smash for the solo stuff. Totally in agreement how sad it was that they stripped that back with Smash 4. Lack of a proper story mode was such a shame. It's still got such an appeal about it tho, so I always find myself buying each version. Next time tho, they really gotta step it back up on solo stuff.

You could play through the single player first, Rudy, if you're having a tough time getting used to it. It's a good way to learn all the mechanics of the game.

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Marzy said:
You could play through the single player first, Rudy, if you're having a tough time getting used to it. It's a good way to learn all the mechanics of the game.

My copy arrived this morning, I got started on the single player mode. I'm getting there, picking up certain tricks on my own from experiencing the game in solo first, like not going on foot all the time like I did but splash colour, swim, splash some more, swim and so on to cover more turf quicker and move about the area much faster. The game itself doesn't do anything for you in teaching you stuff like that, just the basic controls and you're left to figure a lot of things out on your own. I guess there's merit in that too, there's depth to be found in the gameplay if you're willing to make an effort to learn it, but it's not easy and you have to be willing.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Adam Riley said:
I'm with you there - I do like the look of it, and would love to get into it, but I couldn't get into it at the events I tried it, and wasn't a big fan of the Wii U version...so I'll probably be giving this a wide berth.

Yea i remember trying out the original at an event a few years back and I just found it difficult to control then. 
RudyC3 said:

Flynnie said:
No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get into this game. I had a bad time with that Testfire event the other day. The controls just seem to irk me and I am just too bloody crap to enjoy this game, I blame age! 

I'm the same more or less. I do enjoy the gameplay although aiming with motion controls doesn't work all that well for me, but the other players who are infinitely stronger than me are ruining the experience for me. But then there's salmon run and there's the solo part which apparently is more fleshed out this time around. As i told others on Mush's stream the other night, i was considering cancelling my preorder cause i wasnt having a good time, but a couple more games online and grasping the controls a bit more, finally managing to splat some people, brought me back to a point where i kinda still wanted the game. Hopefully with more practice i can actually enjoy this more. I don't enjoy smash bros as much as i used to on gamecube and n64 for the same reason, it's super skilled players that are ruining the game for me.

Indeed, I think the super skilled were running riot, I do like the way that Mario Kart matches players based on their VR ranking (or whatever its called). I would like to practice on Splatoon but I just can't seem to get into the hang of it. I reckon if I could actually get a few kills under my belt I'd start to feel better about it too. Shame that there isn't a demo of the campaign, even if it was just the first stage or level or something. I quite like shooting games and not really ever going online. I own Battlefield 1 and never actually been online with it!

Playing Splatoon just makes me think that all I am good at/want to do  is own a 'Painting simulator' ....

I don't think MK matches you on your VR at all. It's all randoms. It's more or less just a bragging rights number.

Our member of the week

Azuardo said:
I don't think MK matches you on your VR at all. It's all randoms. It's more or less just a bragging rights number.

My experience with MK8 is that it always tries to match you with people that are around the same VR level as you. I never had for example an instance where I was 2000VR and I ended up in a match with only 10000+VR people. It was always more like in between 1000 and 3000 and perhaps the odd 4000 or two. Naturally the higher your VR level goes and the harder it is for the game to match you with other people around the same number because people that reach 10000+ levels are not the majority of players, they're a small percentage so from there you may encounter 50000+VR folks even though you're barely over 10000 yourself. But beyond 10000 is there really such a big difference in skill between players? If you can reach that point (I can't) then any points beyond that are just there to reward you the extra time you put into the game and not so much your skills by then.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I will try to look up on that. Perhaps you're right! With no indicator I never thought that was the case.

Indeed I've pretty much had the same experience as Rudy explains with both MK7 and MK8. With that said I have seen some 'higher' level people enter the fray in a lower ranking match. 

If such a ranking were to display in Splatoon then at least i'd know what to expect when I enter the match!

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