Splatoon was such a surprising breath of fresh air when it debuted on the Wii U back in 2015. Offering up something totally new for the shooter genre, the game quickly built a massive audience among the small group of Wii U owners across the globe. With the release of the Nintendo Switch everyone assumed that the game would be ported over, but people were shocked once again when a full sequel was announced with Splatoon 2. After getting some hands-on time with the game at PAX East 2017 I can say that this isn’t feeling like the total genre reinvention that we saw with the first game, but that’s not a bad thing at all.
For the demo we had two teams of four facing off in the classic Turf War mode. Using our ink we were tasked with covering more of the map than our opponents, just as you’ve likely done dozens of times in Splatoon. The only new stuff was a new gun that fired two streams of ink instead of one, and that the game was running on Nintendo Switch. The map was new as well, but felt very much in line with what we’ve seen from the series before, with nice open areas for battles and side passages for flanking and surprise attacks.
I had a blast playing Splatoon 2, and so did the people around me
As the eight of us were alternating kids and squids, we did battle over the large center area, while defending the land near our base from any enemy encroachment. The match ebbed and flowed just like any other classic Splatoon match, with it ending in our victory, but only after a few skipped heart beats as we tried to figure out if we’d held the line, or allowed it to fall.
Splattershots, Rollers, and charge shots were all back and functioned pretty much the same as before. The new dual Splattershot was fun to try out, giving a wider area of coverage seemingly at the cost of range and ammo capacity. I enjoyed it, but did switch back to my trusty Splattershot for the second match in handheld mode. This is where the game would do well to move away from its predecessor a bit, as Splatoon 2 features motion aiming once again.
It wasn’t bad, in fact on the Pro Controller it worked rather well. Whether or not you prefer it will likely come down to how much effort you’re willing to put into learning the intricacies of this aiming method before jumping back to your trusty dual-analog controls. In handheld mode it was rather tough to keep track of what was going on on screen while moving said screen around, trying to get that split second pin-point accuracy. The final release of Splatoon 2 will likely allow you to turn this off, but the demo didn’t and there were complaints from some of the newer players around me.
Other than that Splatoon 2 looked, felt, and played much like its predecessor. Did it do so too much? Not in my opinion. We’re moving onto Nintendo Switch, and just re-releasing Splatoon would likely not work as well as putting out a full sequel. The single player campaign promises more innovation, and we’ll have to wait until we have more than just a single demo of Turf War to judge if the multiplayer has been improved and changed enough to warrant the full sequel moniker.
In the end though, I had a blast playing Splatoon 2, and so did the people around me. The game is pure bliss, and even after having the first game for almost two years, it still feels like that breath of fresh air for the genre. Getting a new game on Switch is worth a full price release in my opinion, and Nintendo trying to justify the sequel naming will hopefully lead to some big new additions.
Splatoon 2 hits Nintendo Switch later this year.