Splatoon 2’s announcement came as surprise to fans, as many instead expected a port of the still infant Wii U title on Switch. It isn’t often Nintendo comes out with a brand new IP, much less one that leaves as much of an impact as the first Splatoon, but they managed to put a fun creative twist on multiplayer combat that made it stand out. While Splatoon 2 looks like more of the same from the first title, it continues where the first left off and goes to improve upon everything it started.
Splatoon 2 begins with a brief tutorial to run down all the basic controls. After getting into the actual hub area it hints at trying out the single player mode, known as Octo Canyon. This is a series of over 20 levels that will teach the player some more advanced techniques and of course where players can get the story of Splatoon 2. The story continues following the end of the first title, with two years having passed and Marie of the Squid Sisters now looking for the latest recruit to stop the Ocatarians once again. Throughout each level there are various enemies and collectibles to be found with bosses at the end of each set of given levels in each area. Just getting to each level is sometimes a puzzle in itself, as players will have to run around unlocking each one before they can play it by traversing the terrain. Once players have unlocked a level, they can hop in and get to fighting the Ocatarians.
Splatoon gave the player a single starting weapon to complete the entire multiplayer with, but this time around players will unlock every other weapon type as they progress that can be used in each level. Some levels will require players to use a certain weapon type the first time through, but every subsequent playthrough of that level can be completed with whatever weapon they desire. This makes it a nice welcoming way for players to get used to handling each weapon type, while also allowing them to use their favorites throughout levels. The single player levels start out fairly easy early on, but do ramp up in difficulty and even become surprisingly challenging at points, requiring players to really be alert and know what they’re doing in order to progress. The plot of Splatoon 2 is somewhat similar to the first, but it still manages to be a fun engaging way for players to really learn the ropes before they go online.
Once players have conquered Octo Canyon or are just ready to get into the meat of it they can hop into multiplayer. Returning from the first Splatoon are the two main modes of battling against other players online, Turf War and Ranked Battle. Turf War is the main multiplayer mode with the goal being to cover as much ground in ink as possible and a winner being decided after just three minutes. These matches hardly get tiresome, as they’re short, fast paced and straight-forward. Once players have managed to make their way to level 10, they can take on ranked battles. These battles challenge players to work even closer together in three different modes in order to dominate. Ranked battle increases the player’s rank for victories and lowers with each loss, but once players have reached a B- rank they can finally take on ranked battles with their friends in League Battle.
Aside from the regular multiplayer modes which pit players against one another, the biggest new addition to the multiplayer scene comes in the form of Salmon Run. This mode tests players ability to work together in three rounds against a new evil crew known as the Salmonids. Groups of two to four players head into a match and get a randomly selected weapon given to them every round, and after getting a moment to ink as much of the area as they can, waves of enemies begin to descend. Players must take down boss Salmonids and collect the Golden Eggs they posses, with a required amount being needed to continue to the next round. After a hundred seconds are up, players start again with their new weapon and a possibility of the tide having either lowered or gotten higher to change the battle area. While players won’t be able to increase their levels or clothing through Salmon Run, it’s a fun way to earn some money and unique gear and take on a fun challenge with friends or randoms. Salmon Run can also be played solo if players don’t manage to find a team in the lobby, but makes it feel a bit lacking and might do better requiring the player to try to find a party again instead of playing alone. The only draw back to Salmon Run is that it can only be played at certain times online instead of freely like other multiplayer modes, but those playing locally with friends are able to hop into it whenever they like.
Like Splatoon, Nintendo plans on adding more free content through the coming months. This can make the multiplayer level roster feel small at first and it would have been nice to have a few more new levels tossed in at the start as levels can feel tiresome after a while. Nintendo also decreased the time in which multiplayer levels change from the first title from every four hours to two hours, but this level restriction is still a bit of a disappointment and would be nice if there were more than two levels available at a time for each mode.
While the visuals appear similar to the Wii U original, Splatoon 2 is gorgeous to look at. The decorations in every area and the small attention to detail in characters are enjoyable to look at. The music remains memorable, with each track having a pleasant undersea beat to it that charms players as they continue to ink everything in their path. For players who want to get even more out of the themes, the music mini-game featured in Splatoon returns with a remarkable upgrade making it an extremely noteworthy distraction for when players need a break from battle. Players can go through their favorite songs pressing notes to the beat on two difficulties, and while it may not give any rewards, it does show if players have gotten a perfect combo on the song or not for fun.
Splatoon 2 recaptures every moment of enjoyment of the original while finding room to add even more. Whether it’s the challenging single player or the revitalized multiplayer, Splatoon 2 does a phenomenal job at making itself more than a minor upgrade. Those who never got the chance to play Splatoon will absolutely want to pick the second up to see just how impressive Nintendo’s ink-tastic multiplayer shooter really is. Whether a kid or a squid, Splatoon 2 is an incredibly enjoyable title that will hopefully continue to ink its way through more titles for years to come.