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Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Lots of cosmetics
Variety of multiplayer game modes
Lack of plot
Splatoon 2 is a bright and colorful third-person shooter with a focus on multiplayer gameplay that younger audiences will love.
Splatoon 2 is the sequel to the original Splatoon for Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch. With a focus on its multiplayer, this brightly colored third-person shooter is appropriate for kids and comes with a variety of game modes to play online from Turf Wars to Capture the Flag. We took a closer look at Splatoon 2, focusing mainly on its gameplay, but also looking closely at its plot, graphics, and appropriateness for children.
Once you insert the game cartridge or download Splatoon 2, the game will launch and you’ll be prompted to create an Inkling. The character creation is simple, with limited options. Once complete, you’ll be placed in a basic tutorial and taught the game’s controls. Only after going through the tutorial can you enter the main city and access the standard gameplay.
Splatoon 2 starts by dropping your newly created Inkling into an area that has the aestethic feel of an urban, Japanese city. A screen will light up and two female Inklings will tell you about what’s new, which maps are currently being played in which game modes, and anything else you might need to know. This video is presented by the idol pop duo Off the Hook, and will play every time you restart the game. You can smash the A-button to go through the video faster, but you can’t skip it. After the first few viewings, you’ll grow irritated about having to sit through it again and again.
Overall though, Nintendo didn’t focus on plot when they created Splatoon 2. They were much more interested in the multiplayer gameplay.
The first time you arrive in the city someone will inform you of the different areas you have access to. One area is through a street grate, which will lead you to the Single-Player mode. Another is in a back alley, which will lead you to the expansion content—Octo Expansion. This focuses on single-player and introduces a lot of new maps. This content is not included in the original purchase and will cost you an extra $20.
This DLC has more plot than the original Splatoon 2. The only plot we saw in Splatoon 2 was some explanation about you, Agent 4, need to stop the Octarians who stole Zapfishes. You have to set out to fight the Octarians as you make your way through the single-player maps. The further you go into the single-player, the more plot there is to discover, with characters from the original Splatoon game making appearances. Overall though, Nintendo didn’t focus on plot when they created Splatoon 2. They were much more interested in the multiplayer gameplay.
The gameplay in Splatoon 2 is split into a few different types. You can enter the Shoal to meet with friends and play co-op―but this is not split screen co-op like with other Switch games. The co-op in Splatoon 2 is only Switch to Switch (local or online), but it does come with a special game mode you can’t play otherwise called Salmon Runs. This mode involves playing with up to four friends to fight against zombie salmon creatures.
You can also play single-player, moving through courses and fighting enemies and bosses. This a great way for those new to the game to learn the controls and get comfortable swapping between your humanoid form and your squid form. This is an important part of the gameplay, as it’s how you refill your ink (the game’s ammo), and how you climb walls and dodge attacks. Of course single-player isn’t really the big draw to Splatoon 2, the multiplayer is.
To enter the Lobby area of Splatoon 2, you’ll need to have access to the internet. Actually, a lot of Splatoon 2’s content requires an internet connection, so if for some reason you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, you won’t be able to play almost half the game’s content. With internet, you’ll be able to play a few different game mode types―there’s regular battles, ranked battles, and league battles.
The path to victory lies in covering the map with ink over getting kills, which is a unique premise.
Regular battles are where you’ll start, which consist of a mode called Turf Wars. This mode takes place on small maps, in a four versus four setting, with a goal of covering the majority of the map with your team’s ink color. Ranked battle will include the same turf wars, but also a King of the Hill mode, a Capture the Flag mode, a Capture and Escort mode, and finally, Clam Blitz, which involves capturing clams faster than the other team. League battles will be like an esports option for premade team versus team battles.
Of course, the game is still a shooter, so you can kill the opposite team with your attacks, but even if you dominate in kills, that doesn’t necessarily mean your team is going to win. Battle mode allows for a range of weapon types that you can purchase and unlock as you level. These go from paint brushes, to submachine guns, to even a giant paint roller. You also have a range of cosmetics to equip on your character. These outfits don’t just change how your character looks, they also give you small boosts in different things, like increasing the ink amount so you can go longer before refilling, or boosting your speed in Squid mode.
Battle mode is the big draw to the game—it’s well designed, fun to play, and the controls are responsive. But there are a few negatives to multiplayer that need to be brought up. Firstly, often the team balance is stacked, and one team will dominate the other, especially in the non-ranked battle mode. This can be irritating, especially as a player starting out that just wanted to get their first win. The second thing is that the games are short, and the skill-gap in the fighting isn’t huge. This can make the fighting feel almost juvenile, in that you never feel like you did something amazing that makes a big difference in a battle, or you don’t feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement. This won’t matter to most, but if you’re used to more competitive shooters, this can be an irritating aspect of Splatoon 2’s gameplay.
The premise for Splatoon 2 is great and super creative. There aren’t any other shooters quite like this game. The path to victory lies in covering the map with ink over getting kills, which is a unique premise. It helps that Nintendo took time to line up the character creation with this idea of ink, giving characters a squid form and a humanoid one. But even in the humanoid form, the Inklings have squid-like characteristics with tentacle hair. Beyond just the Inkling’s visuals, the maps are bright and colorful. They’re often filled with graffiti and art, which flows well with the goofy nature of the game.
Splatoon 2 is a game that we felt was far more appropriate for a younger audience than an older one.
Splatoon 2 is a game that we felt was far more appropriate for a younger audience than an older one. This was mainly due to the juvenile feel of the multiplayer gameplay and the smaller skill-gap. As an older player, this feels like a negative to us, but for a younger audience, it can be a positive. With the focus on multiplayer being about spreading ink across a map instead of getting kills, even those with poor aim can be successful and feel accomplished. Parents will also like that even though this game is a shooter, there is no gore and the violence is minimal. Splatoon 2 would make a great gift for a child.
Priced at $59.99 MSRP, Splatoon 2 isn’t a game we’d go and tell everyone to buy, but we do think it’s a great game for the right audience. Specifically, we think kids will love this game, but with parents who don’t want their children playing something with gore or heavy violence. For the standard Switch game price of $60, the right player will find hours of gameplay here. But if you’re competitive and take your shooters more seriously, we wouldn’t recommend this purchase. It just doesn’t have the skill gap and ability to get better that regular shooters usually have.
If you’re looking for a shooter to play on the Switch, but want something with more focus on aim and the feel of a traditional shooter, we’d advise taking a look at Doom or Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. If you enjoy multiplayer, we’d suggest Fortnite, as that is also now available on the Switch. Fortnite is also a great kid appropriate shooter, with bright, colorful graphics, and no gore.
A great shooter for kids.
Splatoon 2 is a well-designed game, with a unique battle mode that allows for those lacking ability in aim to still find something to enjoy. The premise of swapping between a squid form and a humanoid one is also very original. Kids will love the multiplayer, and it’s nice that Splatoon 2 also has single-player for when you need a break from the competitive battles. Overall, Splatoon 2 is a game younger audiences will love and perhaps older players who want a laid back shooter.