Splatoon 2 is a colorful shooter with a lot of esports potential

Are you a squid or a kid?

Image via Nintendo

Nintendo is turning the shooter genre on it’s head. So what is Splatoon 2? And why is it not only fun, but surprisingly competitive?

The original Splatoon for Wii U was released on may 2015 and was a cult hit. It was Nintendo’s first ever attempt at creating a third-person shooter title and people took it with open arms.

The basic premise of the game tasks players with saving Inkopolis, the world that Splatoon 2 is set in, from the evil Octarions, a race of octopus/human hybrids that are trying to cause chaos in the squid world.

Splatoon 2 was initially revealed during the Nintendo Switch’s first-look video back in October. No one knew at the time that the Splatoon title in the video would be a direct sequel to the first game, with many believing it was an updated version of the Wii U game for a new audience. It wasn’t until the Nintendo Switch presentation in January that the game finally got its official title.

It may look like your typical family-friendly Nintendo game, but there is a lot more to Splatoon 2 then most players realize.

Learning the basics

In the game, you play as squid-human hybrids that shoot ink.

The main objective is to take over as much of the map as possible, and the team that controls the largest percentage of the map after a set time of four minutes, wins. You take over the map with the ink you shoot from weapons and you can overlap enemy players’ ink to dominate space. If you step into enemy controlled areas, your movements will be slowed down, making you a prime target for your opponents. Ink isn’t just used for covering the area afterall, it is what players use to kill their opponents.

The game uses two main control methods. Motion controls allow players to move their aim cursor with a flick of the wrist to pinpoint shots and is mainly prefered for sniper rifles. There is also standard analogue controllers with actions, movements, and aiming performed with standard button controls.

Related: Hands-on with Splatoon 2’s beta build

The game’s campaign serves as a great tutorial for newcomers. It gives players the chance to try out every weapon the game has to offer while going through a handful of courses that test the player’s awareness and combat efficiency. It’s also a good way to get used to the game’s controls.

The campaign acts as a good refresher course for returning players, giving them a chance to try out the new mechanics and weapons that the game has to offer, such as the umbrella weapon that acts as a shield/shotgun hybrid.

The single-player aspect of the game can be completed in a few hours.

Splat time

Splatoon 2 has a multitude of weapons to choose from, each with their own special abilities. You have your standard assault rifle, sniper rifles, and other weapons that players of the genre will be able to use from the get go—and then there is buckets.

It’s not just buckets, Splatoon 2 is full of Nintendo creativity, with weapons designed around ink rollers, paint brushes, and even umbrellas.

Each weapon has its own distinct traits, like the umbrella being a shotgun that can also act as a shield when you hold the fire button. All these tiny details make every weapon useful in some way or another, giving players a flexible library of tools to use at their disposal.

Every distinct weapon type comes with a different grenade for players to chose from, ranging from standard grenades, to homing grenades, and sticky bombs—just to name a few. There are also special weapons that players can use once they have gained enough points from taking over territory on the map.

These special weapons can give players huge advantages in matchups, such as being able to gain a jetpack and fly over your enemies, shooting at them with powerful bombs, and using an ability that gives each member of your team a shield that can save lives in crucial moments.

With so many abilities, weapons, and grenades available, take the time to try them all to see which suits you best.

There is also a testing area for players to try out each weapon before purchasing them. These test areas are also useful for competitive players, as they allow a player to see the exact damage that a shot, grenade, or ability has on an opponent to see how the weapon can be used to its fullest extent.

Weapons aren’t the only gear in the game, however, as players will have to choose from various types of clothing in battle, which each give the player distinct abilities in the form of badges.

These badges give the player extra abilities, such as the power to move faster, swim faster through ink, and revive faster when killed. Some clothing options only have one ability per item, while others could have up to four (even if they are more expensive, they are worth it in the long-run).

These badges are part of the gear and can’t be changed, so if you don’t like the power-ups then you better switch out those sneakers.

To those of you that are new to the game—don’t worry. Every weapon and clothing option is not unlocked from the start, giving players the chance to get involved with the game at a pace that suits them and their skill level.

What we all came here to see

At its core, Splatoon 2 is a multiplayer shooter. The main focus of the game has always been on competitive four-on-four matches with various players trying to grab the most landmass.

For those of you looking for more of a challenge, to see where the hardcore esports players live their lives—then ranked mode is for you.

Nintendo has taken ranked mode from Splatoon on the Wii U, glossed it over with a shiny new coat of ink, and make it that much more exciting for players to dive into.

For Splatoon 2, Nintendo has split ranked mode into three game modes, with three different rankings for each one. Splat Zones has each team fight a control point on the map. Paint it with your team’s ink and wait out a timer to secure victory. Tower Control has teams contesting a tower that moves automatically, the team that moves the tower furthest into the other team’s base, wins. The last mode, Rainmaker, is your typical capture the flag mode, which has teams contest over a flag that can also be used as a super powerful weapon, with the main objective being to deliver it to a goal on the map.

Related: Nintendo held tournaments for Splatoon 2, ARMS, and Pokken at E3 2017

These three ranked modes are the typical modes that most esports competitions use. They focus more on objective play to challenge a team’s communication and teamwork until the bitter end. These were the modes mainly used at the Nintendo E3 esports event in June.

Every mode in Splatoon 2 gives the player a chance to earn something that can help them in the multiplayer portions of the game.

For example, in the single player portion, players have a chance of finding tickets hidden in levels that can unlock bonus exp and coins in the multiplayer modes for a set amount of matches. In the co-op portion of the game, players can unlock some of the best gear in the entire game by earning points over a period of time.

The game constantly rewards you for going above and beyond the call of duty. The players that invest their time throughout the entire game get more rewards, and that is a great thing to have. It’s a game that rewards you for going that extra step and finding things in places no one else would bother to check.

With this combination of risk and reward, the game gives off a great aura of synergy that not many other video games can mimic.

Stay fresh

Splatoon 2 is everything players could have hoped for. The colorful settings, characters, and tight controls all come together to create a breathtaking experience that players will enjoy and frustrate over in countless matches.

The game is beginner friendly, giving players a slow pace to get them invested into the action before letting them loose on the frantic fun that the game has to offer.

With a year’s worth of free DLC on the way, including new weapons, stages, and more, Splatoon 2 is a true successor to the Wii U game that players have come to know and love, while also being fresh enough to entice a new audience.

Final Score: 4.5/5

Disclosure: Our Nintendo Switch review copy of Splatoon 2 was provided courtesy of Nintendo.