Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Tomas Barry 03.07.2018 2

Review for Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion on Nintendo Switch

While most people head straight online and get stuck into the grind when it comes to multiplayer-centric shooters, Splatoon 2's single-player campaign was a very intriguing experience not to be missed, despite perhaps being too far-removed and short-lived, as Cubed3 noted in the original review. Thankfully, where many developers would choose to focus on the central online multiplayer experience alone, Nintendo has injected even more single-player content into Splatoon 2. The Octo Expansion is a £17.99 downloadable, consisting of eighty challenges that will comprehensively test the player's skill and patience. These modular scenarios are best compared with the test chambers from Portal, the Metal Gear Solid VR Missions, and the shrines from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. New ideas are constantly being introduced and are so robustly examined, it reveals the true depth of Splatoon's gameplay mechanics to those who endure this DLC's uncharacteristically steep difficulty gradient.

While typically, DLC or full games that are merely a collection of challenges, don't require much of a premise or narrative setup, the Octo Expansion does go to some effort in this department. The player takes control of Agent 8, an Octoling, who wakes up in a subway station, which connects several mysterious research facilities. While it's hardly the most original gameplay narrative, the kicker is that this character, along with Cap'n Cuttlefish and Agent 3, the Inkling from the original Octo Valley solo campaign, are all suffering from amnesia, having been attacked by 'something.' Shortly afterwards, they answer a phone ringing on an empty platform, where a stranger informs them that they need to collect four 'thangs' to get the promised land. A train pulls in, conducted by C. Q Cucumber, who promptly explains how the DLC's metro travel and credits systems work, and thus the template is laid out for the Octo Expansion.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion on Nintendo Switch

A lot of this is just pointless filler in the initial stages of the experience, but, without spoiling anything, it must be said that it pays off significantly in the final phase. How captivated players are by this framework in general, though, probably depends on how invested in Splatoon's world and lore people are. One thing is for sure, the Octo Expansion certainly enhances these aspects of the franchise considerably more than the Octo Valley campaign mode. Moreover, the atmospheric dreariness of the Deepsea Metro hub is an intriguing deviation from the existing universe, which succeeds in feeling very different, whilst somehow also maintaining the franchise's unique aesthetic. This DLC also displays a much more culture-savvy edge, making a host of references to movie's like The Matrix, as well as having floating GameCube and SNES systems in the background of challenges. This is something it should double-down on in the future, as it's an obvious way to complement Splatoon's own sense of identity, and has been somewhat of a missed-trick up until now.

That's not to say the Octo Expansion doesn't stick to standard protocol. Its wacky lingo is as persistent as ever, particularly with the return of characters like Pearl and Marina, who get in contact regularly to offer their help, and the aforementioned Cap'n Cuttlefish. Their slang and quips are either quite charming, or tremendously annoying, depending on the type of player and their tolerance for it. However, while Splatoon rarely misses an opportunity to crack a joke via dialogue, it's much less pervasive here, since the Octo Expansion's modular design breaks these moments up. It's only really within the subway hub that players are subjected to long dialogue interludes and cut-scenes. Once the player has entered a challenge, Pearl and Marina will only chime in to outline the mechanics of the challenge, provide actual useful advice, or to offer a pass, if they notice you are struggling - all of which is quite helpful. This is how it should be, since it would be irritating to be distracted too much while people are engrossed in a highly demanding test.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion on Nintendo Switch

Unlike in Splatoon 2's multiplayer component, where amateurish players can still flourish by focusing on a team role, or using less demanding weapons, the Octo Expansion regularly asks for optimum efficiency and ultimate precision. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, for the lesser skilled players, it's an opportunity to improve their ability and fathom some of the more advanced precision-based techniques. Furthermore, one doesn't need to be a highly ranked player to appreciate the craft that's gone into each. However, even the most skilled players will find this DLC quite frustrating at times. That's especially true as some levels are more than a bit fickle. One reoccurring challenge, for instance, sees the player guide an 8-ball across the stage. If it falls off into the abyss, and keep in mind almost all stages take place on floating platforms, that costs you one of your three lives. The currency system sees you pay for every entry into a level, so stages that are so frivolous certainly can be a real annoyance.

Once again, though, this is balanced out. Firstly, the credit system doesn't allow you to run out of finances. Instead Cap'n Cuttlefish will generously loan a healthy sum. When focused on precision tasks, it's not rewarding to return to previously beaten stages just to earn credits, so it's good that players who are persistent in their efforts to beat a certain level aren't punished with forced back-tracking. With that said, a much simpler and forgiving system would have sufficed. One can only imagine that this setup was implemented to encourage players to dabble in this stage for the sake of gameplay contrast, rather than be endlessly frustrated by one challenge for hours at a time. It's also possible to have Pearl and Marina hack into the system, which yields an auto-pass complete with a credit pay-out. How the player uses this system, obviously, will greatly affect the flow of the experience. In truth, though, perhaps gamers are shoe-horned into using this cheat more often than they should due to the excessive fickleness of certain challenges… or are gamers today just shy of a real challenge? It's hard to say, and probably in the end a matter of opinion.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion on Nintendo Switch

Elsewhere, the Octo Expansion is generous with its unlocks - particularly new gear, which is fed back into the main multiplayer component. This is an interesting way to reward players for their efforts here, and kind of reaffirms the idea that this single-player component can be viewed as somewhat of a master training ground for the other side of Splatoon 2 - its online multiplayer. It's certainly the case that after finishing up this DLC, this reviewer, who was never particularly gifted at Splatoon 2's PvP offering, was far better equipped and capable. There are a great many unique challenges on offer here, but they do inform and reaffirm the other side of the experience, too. A variety of collectible tokens are also well positioned within the Octo Expansion, which also provides gear for the main game. Adding to this, beating the expansion enables the ability to play as Octolings within multiplayer, as well. Hence, all in all, incentives are well positioned. As previously mentioned, all aspects of the design and narrative really come together in the final phase, too, thus providing a very satisfying endnote.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The Octo Expansion for Splatoon 2 is a unique DLC package. Nintendo could easily have extended its existing single-player experience by tacking on a few new worlds and adding an extra narrative strand there. Instead, it has produced something quite a bit more hardcore. Mileage will vary from player to player, since certain challenges can be unbelievably frustrating and the difficulty never really relents; however, this is tempered by the ability to skip scenarios after registering enough attempts. While that might seem like cheating to some, it is the correct decision. There are so many thoughtful stages, highlighting Splatoon's unique make-up of shooting and platforming mechanics that it is well-worth seeing them all rather than being halted by one specific task. While the fact that it's a modular design could be equated with laziness for some, Nintendo deserves credit for producing something robust and unforgiving that will test even the most dedicated of fans.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

Comments

i want this, but i dont want the core game of splatoon 2

I hear ya. I wondered whether Nintendo might sell it as a stand-alone thing. I guess it's unlikely to ever be made available in that form.

I'm convinced there will be solo-focused Splatoon titles eventually. I think the multiplayer is a real breath of fresh air, and I've got back into it since reviewing this. But I really dug the original campaign in Splatoon 2, I thought it was really well designed and deserved to be its own thing, in a more expansive form. The Octo Expansion is so much tougher, but its only confirmed to me there's a whole lot of untapped platforming potential there for a single-player experience. 

... perhaps a Splatoon/Mario Sunshine crossover one day? Smilie

( Edited 05.07.2018 00:25 by The Strat Man )

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