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Splatoon 2 Preview: Staying Fresh

/ Apr 3rd, 2017 No Comments

Splatoon 2 Preview

Splatoon was one of the crown jewels of the Wii U. Nintendo’s gamble on the new IP paid off big when Splatoon became a worldwide hit. The unique take on the online shooter genre was full of charm and bursting with style. It added something to a genre that wasn’t muddled color palettes and hype realism.

It is no surprise, then, that when Nintendo officially announced its latest console, Switch, that Splatoon would play a big part in its software lineup. Splatoon 2 was revealed as a major component of the Switch’s first year.

While the game’s summer release is still a bit away, Nintendo threw Switch early adapters a bone with a Global Testfire of Splatoon 2’s online servers this past weekend. It gave fans and newbies alike an opportunity to try out two maps, a new weapon and get a handle on the game’s updated controls.

A New Way to Play

Naturally, Splatoon utilized the Wii U’s GamePad heavily. It used the GamePad’s gyroscope, but most importantly, the GamePad’s second screen was used to surface the map. The GamePad was so useful to keep track of the map’s paint saturation and quickly launch to a teammate.

The Switch’s lack of a second screen means the controls for Splatoon 2 will be a bit different. The biggest difference is the lack of a surfaced map.
 

Splatoon 2 Preview

In Splatoon 2, the map is now a transparent overlay on screen.

You now use X to keep track of the map and use more traditional controls on the D-pad to super jump to teammates. The map surfaces on screen in a transparent overlay to give you a way to check on where you team is and how each team is doing in terms of painting the map. It feels more cumbersome than using the GamePad.

Whether using the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller, there is some foreignness for vets when trying out Splatoon 2 for the first time. The mix of gyroscope and traditional controls is odd at first, but the more time spent with the setup makes it feel more comfortable, much like on the Wii U.

Luckily, like on the Wii U, you can switch off motion controls and play Splatoon 2 like a more traditional shooter. However, after switching from motion controls, getting a handle on the right stick camera takes some time. The best way to play is obviously with a more traditional camera setup.

Outside of a learning curve for the map and camera view, Splatoon 2 plays exactly like its predecessor. That is a good thing because the core gameplay of Splatoon was on point.

Besides getting acclimated to the controls, the Switch allows for a new way to play. In an age where all FPS games are centered around kills, it’s nice to see Splatoon coming back into the fray with its objective-based gameplay.
 

Splatoon 2 Preview

The Supers are all new in Splatoon 2. Watch out!

One of the most exciting aspects of the Switch has been its core gimmick of being able to switch from playing on your TV to popping out the console and playing on the go. When trying out the Global Test Fire, it was nice to be able to sit back on my couch and play a few matches without needing to be completely upright and focused on the TV. Whether the on the go aspect will work well without a strong WiFi connection remains to be seen, as well as how a local tabletop match will fare.

If Super Bomberman R is any indication in terms of Switch-to-Switch gameplay, Splatoon 2 should be a blast locally.

Know Your Turf

Splatoon 2’s Global Testfire gave fans a chance to compete in the game’s popular four-on-four Turf War mode. Competitors got an opportunity to try out two new maps to the series: The Reef and Musselforge Fitness. This enabled players to create some strategies ahead of the game’s release.

The Reef is a killer skatepark where both teams have to splatter paint around ramps and asphalt. It is a much more traditional map than Musselforge Fitness. There are opportunities for each team to head into the other’s area for total domination.
 

Splatoon 2 Preview

The Reef is map all about paint saturation.

Musselforge Fitness is a tougher map with more isolation between each base. The lack of a clear path into the other team’s base makes for more fiercely contested battle over the center of the map.
 

Splatoon 2 Preview

On Musselforge Fitness, controlling the middle is the quickest way to victory.

Matches aren’t as easily won in Musselforge Fitness, even if both teams are coordinating well on where to paint. I fought much more heated and competitive matches on the Musselforge Fitness map than the Reef. However, both maps are effective in building excitement and hype for the mix of maps coming in the full version of Splatoon 2.

Even though it’s speculation, Nintendo is more than likely saving a few more unique maps with various level gimmicks to keep players on their toes and provide an element of luck to matches.

We Got Guns

The Global Testfire’s most thrilling aspect was the opportunity to try out the changes made to Splatoon 2’s arsenal. The Splattershot, Paint Roller and Splat Charger returned from the first game with some tweaks. Anyone who played Splatoon will recognize the new ways these familiar weapons handle.

One new weapon in the Global Testfire was the Splat Dualies. The Splat Dualies gives Inklings the ability to dual wield two ink pistols, making them strong offensive weapons but weak in covering turf. The best use of the Splat Dualies is annihilation and defending teammates.

The coolest part of the Splat Dualies is the added mobility it gives players. When wielding this weapon, you can perform a dodge roll to move around the map. It really helps this weapon excel on offense.
 

Splatoon 2 Preview

The Splat Dualies comes with a killer new Super that gives you a sweet jetpack.

Splatoon 2 is making some big changes to players’ loadouts. No supers from the first game are returning, and the Global Testfire gave players a chance to try the all-new supers. The sub-weapons are also switched up, making familiar loadouts feel brand new.

Players were able to test out grenades as well, providing plenty of ways to splat enemies around the globe. As per usual, the team with the most paint on the field is the winner, so how these more offensive player-killing weapons work into the mix in the long term remains to be seen.

It’s going to be awesome to see what other new weapons, sub-weapon and other specials will be available in the full game.

Waiting for Summer

Matches in Splatoon 2 are every bit as addictive as the original, and the hour-long sessions flew by. When the full game launches, it’ll be easy to lose hours of your day (or night) racking up experience in ranked matches. Splatoon 2 will also feature a single-player mode that should fill players in on what’s been happening with the agents since the showdown with the Octarians and their dreaded DJing leader.

The Global Testfire gave players a small taste of what Splatoon 2 has to offer. The new weapons, maps and ways to play are very promising. Splatoon 2’s summer release can’t come soon enough. We’ll be chilling out and spraying some ink soon. In the meantime, stay fresh!

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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