Recently, Splatoon 2 held its first Global Testfire, a beta for the game. With it came the general public’s first opportunity to try out the game, releasing this summer.
As it stands now, Splatoon 2 feels very similar to the original game, which could be a bad sign since it’s important for sequels to differentiate themselves. It hasn’t shown any signs of this yet, but Splatoon 2 still has many opportunities to do so.
Taking place during 6 one-hour slots, the Global Testfire featured just two maps: The Reef and Musselforge Fitness. Well designed, neither have any new mechanics nor are the environments as unique as stages from Splatoon 1.
A common complaint with the original game was that each mode limited players to just two maps for a 4-hour time span. Often, it became repetitive continuously replaying the same stages. The two stages in the testfire may point to this once again being the case, but hopefully not in the final game.
Pick Up Your Weapons
The Global Testfire provided four weapons for players to use. The Splattershot, the Splat Roller, the Splat Charger, and the brand new Splat Dualies, which are a great addition.
The Splat Dualies are great since they feature good spread, and they also have a roll which adds maneuverability. The roll feels natural and is a really good mix up in combat. Furthermore, it combines both reticles, making both guns aim at the same place, increasing splat power.
It’s slightly concerning that only one of the four weapons is a new addition. Hopefully, the final game has a better ratio of new weapons to old ones.
The four special weapons included in the testfire were the tenta missiles, the splashdown, the sting ray, and the inkjet. The tenta missiles lock onto enemies and launch four missiles at each one. They’re easy to use, but also pretty easy to avoid. The splashdown can be described as a jump punch into the ground. It creates an explosion of ink around the player, splatting anybody within the radius.
The sting ray functions similarly to the Killer Whale from the first game. The difference is that it has a much narrower stream that players can aim while using. Finally, the ink jet is the most interesting special weapon of the bunch. It functions as a jet pack that players can control paired with a bazooka type gun that is very satisfying to use, way more so than the Inkzooka of Splatoon 1.
This special can lead to ink–redible advantage, given players can move to enemy controlled areas, spreading ink and splatting enemies. There is a risk-reward element at play because though they have the high ground, players with the ink jet can still be splatted. So players have to be careful with who they approach.
A huge factor in the original Splatoon was its gyroscope controls. More accurate than traditional dual-sticks, the gyro controls were the go-to setup for many people. Fortunately, the motion controls feel just as good in Splatoon 2.
Additionally, resetting the camera is far easier this time around. It’s very free and easy to manipulate the center instead of it sticking vertically. The only quarrel with the controls is that swimming, which is done by holding ZL and moving the left stick, is incredibly difficult with the standard Joy-Con grip. A Pro controller will most likely be optimal for this experience.
MAKING THE SWITCH
The ink in Splatoon 2 is much brighter, standing out way more visually, but other than that, the graphics of are very similar to the original Wii U game. When in TV mode, it even keeps the original 720P resolution found in Splatoon. In handheld mode, it’s even worse. Honestly, it’s concerning for the Switch as a whole that this game couldn’t reach a better resolution than on Wii U, even with a very similar art style.
The Importance of Staying Fresh
This begins where minor problems may lie because the similarities don’t stop with the graphics. The mechanics and feel of Splatoon 2 are nearly identical to the original. When playing the Global Testfire, it was easy to feel like it was simply DLC for the Wii U game.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Splatoon is an utterly fantastic game and is one of the most unique multiplayer experiences in a long time. The gameplay mechanics themselves are already near perfect, so Splatoon 2 should innovate in other ways. For one, the game should offer stages that are far more unique than the ones seen in the testfire. While they are certainly well designed, they didn’t offer anything particularly new. Instead, stages should offer new, interesting mechanics and fresh environments.
New modes is another must. The original Splatoon contained only four modes, which is pretty low. It would be great for at least a few more to appear instead of merely one.
Finally, it should be possible for players to switch weapons while in a lobby. It’s foolish that this was not the case in the original. Instead, players had to back out of whatever lobby, change their weapon, and rejoin. This was particularly annoying when playing with friends. Unfortunately, it worked the same way in the Global Testfire, which is a bad sign.
A New, Exciting Single-Player
The most obvious way Splatoon 2 should improve over the original is in its single-player. In Splatoon 1, the single-player was clearly an afterthought to the excellent multiplayer. Stages were linear and unimaginative. Enemies required no thought to defeat and only one main weapon was usable. Not only that, but the plot was overly simple, and the bosses were predictable save for the amazing final boss. Splatoon 2 has the chance to change all of that.
First of all, the environments were very bland in Splatoon’s single-player in contrast to the game’s multiplayer. Open, creative environments would be a huge improvement. Better enemy variety and AI in addition to different scenarios and different weapons would be another improvement.
Lastly, while Splatoon’s main plot was fairly boring. The immensely creative lore found in sunken sea scrolls provides an excellent universe for Splatoon 2 to build off of. An intricate, eventful story would make the game so much better and would be a phenomenal way to separate itself from the original game.
And Now We Wait
Splatoon 2’s Global Testfire played incredibly well. The new weapons are great, and the idea of LAN and spectator support is promising for competitive play. However, it’s important for sequels to differentiate themselves from their predecessors. Splatoon 2 has many chances to accomplish this, but the game hasn’t proven that as of yet. We’ll just have to wait until Splatoon 2 releases in August for Nintendo Switch to find out.