Splatoon 2 is one of the most satisfying third-person shooter games I’ve played this year – thanks in no small part to the crisp sound effects whenever you splatter paint all over an area, and the delightfully gooey graphics as you wade through the thick paint as a squid. I’ve spent the better part of my weekend trudging through Splatoon 2’s single-player campaign, and while it is a little bit dull at times, it most certainly feels good to be back in this ink-splattered world of kids and squids.
Following the events of the last Splatfest, Marie’s sister Callie has gone missing, and the adorable Zapfish have been kidnapped (fishnapped?) once again. Marie believes this to be the work of the very evil Octarians, and so she decides to enlist the help of an inkling to rescue the Zapfish and find out what happened to Callie. That’s where we come in.
Similar to the first game, Splatoon 2’s single-player campaign is divided into different sections, each filled with various challenges and missions you have to complete. Finish all the challenges in one section, and you’ll unlock a boss fight, along with an entry point to the next section. These challenges get a little repetitive, but they are a great starting point for newcomers and returning players alike, as they help to familiarize you with the game’s mechanics. With the press of a button, you can transform into a squid and roll around in your own paint color, refilling your paint gun in the process. There are also ink rails that you can slide on while shooting down airborne targets.
The bosses themselves are the real highlight of the campaign, requiring the player to learn and get used to specific mechanics in order to take them down. The first pit me against a large bread toaster that threatened to crush my inkling with huge loaves of bread. The fight was as simple as reading the patterns and finding a way to climb to the top and hit a weak spot. All while enduring awful bread puns from Marie as she doled out hints and helpful tips. Splatoon 2’s still got a lot of charm, and fans of the first game will find plenty to love here. There are even collectibles to help flesh out all that fishy Splatoon lore.
As the Switch doesn’t come with a second screen like the Wii U did, Splatoon 2 lets you bring up a proper main menu with the press of the X button. From here, you can fast travel to any of the single-player sections you’ve unlocked.
Of course, the real meat of the game lies in its online modes and multiplayer. At the time of writing, the online servers aren’t up just yet, and I haven’t had a chance to check out any of the new maps and game modes. Players can level up by playing online matches, allowing them to gain access to better weapons and, more importantly, fashionable outfits. The single-player campaign has been serviceable so far, but it’s the multiplayer modes that are going to be the true highlight. I’ll have more to say on those in my official review once I’ve gotten to play them for myself.
As the first official shooter game on the Switch, I did find that playing the game in handheld mode was significantly more uncomfortable than if you were using the Pro controller or even the Joy-Con grip. Though Splatoon 2 is arguably a lot more forgiving than most third-person shooters out there, you do still need some precision when aiming, and I found that the smaller analog sticks on the Joy-Cons simply weren’t suited to that kind of gameplay. It’s fine to play in handheld mode in short bursts, but Splatoon 2 was clearly made as a couch game for the TV screen, with a nice proper controller in hand.
Inkopolis, the main hub of Splatoon 2, looks colorful and it’s full of bizarre shops and characters that you’d expect from a quirky game like this. It’s a relatively small hub in size, but it’s packed with weapon shops, clothing shops, and areas for online and local play respectively.
Overall, Splatoon 2 is pretty much everything fans have come to expect from the new IP so far. It’s full of fish puns, squid action, and satisfying ink splatting gameplay. And we’re excited to see what new offerings the online multiplayer will bring.