Gaming: Splatoon 2: Testfire Impressions

When I gave Splatoon my personal game of the year award in 2015, I did not think that in less than two years I would already have had hands-on time with the sequel. Nintendo does like to continue its popular franchises, but it was so fresh and new I hadn’t dreamed of getting another one as early as the first year of their new Switch console. After a couple hundred hours, (an insane amount considering my typical aversion to competitive multiplayer) my time with Splatoon did end, but the Switch reveal showing footage of Splatoon 2 renewed my vigor. Unfortunately it also worried me. My time with the Splatoon 2 testfire was a lot of fun, but it didn't answer nearly as many questions about its future as I had hoped.

Let me start off by saying, Nintendo, if you are reading this, please keep up this trend of free tests like this. I know some folks that are still on the fence about this sequel, having skipped the first Splatoon or not loving it, and I think it can not only sway those folks, but also gives fans and media outlets a taste of what’s to come. And what is to come, you ask? Mostly just more Splatoon. I don’t mean that negatively, I adored the first Splatoon and I want more of it, but from the playable bits the testfire had to offer, I didn’t see much to set Splatoon 2 apart from the initial entry in the series. As expected, the baseline mechanics of spray, swim, shoot, and splat remain, but with a few extra accouterments.

Only new weapon of note was the Splat Dualies, a twin-pistol setup with a short range and high rate of fire. This was not so far off from the Aerospray weapons from the original Splatoon but what made it unique was its added roll dodge move, a design space new to the series. The weapons have always had the paradigm of one grenade-like ability, and one super ability that charged over time, but the roll dodge in question was an unlimited use ability that didn’t fall into either category. While this was the one one of its type in the testfire, I hope it implies that other weapon classes will have access to some new and useful inherit abilities.

Outside of that new class of ability and a couple new super abilities, what remains is as i state before: just more Splatoon. The core gameplay still felt great. The motion control still feels good for aiming, even on the new Joy Con controllers. The maps still have their clever nooks and nooks and crannies, and verticality still enables a multitude of play styles. The primary Turf War game mode was the only available mode and still strikes the best balance of challenge and fun despite more creative modes being available by the end of Splatoon’s lifetime.

I hope with future testfires before launch that more new weapons and modes are available for testing. At this point I am confident I will play and enjoy Splatoon 2. If you aren't entirely convinced the sequel is doing enough to change up the formula and you missed out on the testfire, I doubt it would do much to change your mind. The testfire was a fun experience, but still has me a little concerned for folks looking for something more fresh and not a game strictly leaning on the idea of ‘old Splatoon, new platform.’

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-Justin Wicker