|Release: Q2 2017|
|Players: 1-8 Players|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Not yet rated|
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Splatoon is arguably Nintendo’s most prominent new series, and much has been done to slide the stylish shooter into the Big N’s list of respected franchises such as Mario, Zelda, and Kirby. Splatoon pummeled the media with marketing well before launch, with plenty of coverage at E3 and other conventions. Though the content breadth of the game was lacking at launch, Nintendo made good on its promise to inject a steady stream of new maps and weapons, free of charge. Plus, there’s simply no denying Splatoon’s brilliant blend of competitive gameplay, tight controls, and good, messy, ink-splattering fun.
The snag? Well, the console it’s on didn’t do very well in the sales department. Also, its multiplayer options were fairly limited and trapped behind barriers meant to keep some of the more unsavory elements of online gaming at bay. These are a couple of issues Nintendo hopes to rectify with the release of Splatoon 2 on its new console, the Switch, sometime this summer. Yet from the trailers shown and features divulged, most of what’s new could easily be labeled as downloadable content rather than full-blown sequel material. But let’s dive in and see what we’re actually getting.
Inkopolis Square is the fresh, new hub where the teenage Inklings can be found mingling around, window shopping, and showing off their new threads. We still have no idea what shops are open for business in Splatoon 2, but can expect to see a weapon shop and clothing stores where you can purchase tops, shoes, and hats. There also appears to be an arcade, a café, and a food truck, though we don’t know exactly what goodies they will serve, and whether some shady characters are lurking down any alleys and under manhole covers (or squidhole covers, in this case).
Of course it’s hard to miss Inkopolis tower at the end of the street, with its wide entrance beckoning you to come and engage in a Turf War, Splatoon’s signature 4 vs. 4 match where your job is to fill the arena with more of your brightly colored ink than the opposing team, all while splattering their squidy selves with an array of ink-loaded weapons.
Every weapon from the original game will make a return in Splatoon 2, with some fun new additions and upgrades to the arsenal showcased in the recent trailer. The Splat Dualies have been given the brunt of the spotlight. These dual-wielding rapid-fire weapons quickly pelt any area with ink. These babies also allow you to perform the new Dodge Roll, quickly evading an attack but also providing a momentary boost to accuracy once performed. The Dodge Roll could add enough of a competitive edge to the game’s meta that serious gamers will gravitate towards it, possibly even knocking the fan favorite Splat Roller off its pedestal of popularity. It will be interesting to see if the Dodge Roll remains exclusive to the Splat Dualies or will become a universal edition to your character’s move set.
There are also a slew of new special weapons to look forward to. As you coat the board with ink, your Special Gauge will fill, and when full it allows your game-changing special weapon to be unleashed. The Inkjet blasts you skyward and lets you hover around, giving you a strategic vantage point while you launch blobs of ink at the enemies below. The Tetra Missiles will home in on opposing Inklings, moving slowly towards the target but forcing them to shift their focus away from the frenetic action. There is the String Ray, with a charged-up shot so powerful that it can penetrate walls. Finally, there is the Splashdown, a high-leaping attack that lets you slam to the ground below, popping any enemies in the near vicinity. Those are the official new specials, but the trailer has also showed us a quick-fire Splat Bomb special and another that causes a storm cloud to rain ink down on the board. We can also expect to see some new subweapons added to the mix and a selection of new maps such as The Reef, an urban commercial area destined to get a new paint job.
These are interesting additions, but all of them could have easily been put in a DLC. With the visuals of Splatoon 2 looking virtually identical to the original, the debate has already begun about what will separate the upcoming Switch game as a true sequel.
One possibility could be the controls. The Joy-Cons are about as unique a controller as we have seen on any console, and with improved gyro sensors, playing a match using both motion and conventional controls could see an uptick in hybrid control adopters.
But more important to Splatoon 2’s success is an overhaul of the game’s multiplayer component. Turf War will always be the go to spot for straight up competitive matches, and Nintendo has started making a push towards the series being a viable contender for eSports, but multiplayer still needs to add more modes for the casual audience and better options for ranked gamers. Voice integrations and an improved matchmaking system should be priorities for Splatoon 2 to receive any consideration to enter the big leagues.
Of course, Splatoon 2’s success hinges on the success of the Switch. Initial demand for the new console has been strong, but we’ll see if that launch day fervor continues or falls flat within a few weeks. Splatoon 2 is an excellent summertime entry to have in the lineup, and will likely have a high percentage of new console owners eager to nab it off the store shelves. Keep your eyes on Cheat Code Central for any new details that emerge about this highly anticipated sequel.
Senior Contributing Writer