The original Splatoon was Nintendo's unique take on the multiplayer shooter and while the result was undoubtedly Nintendo, the least violent shooter in the history of ever, the style and charm could not be denied. Now the sequel is out as the major summer release for the fledgling Nintendo Switch and it does everything you'd expect a solid sequel to do. Keeps what works (mostly) and adds a coat of polish, or in this case ink, to what almost worked to turn the sequel into the definitive version of the game thus far. Which is good, because you probably didn't play the first one anyway.
My time spent with the original Splatoon was fairly limited for the same reason that the rest of you probably didn't play it much, it was on the Wii U. While it was, without question, one of the best games on that system, the new IP wasn't able to move systems on its own. As such, the fact that the Nintendo Switch looks poised to outsell the Wii U in a fraction of the time is good news for Splatoon 2 as it means a lot more people are likely to give this innovative shooter a try.
If you're not familiar with Splatoon, here's the rundown. At its core, Splatton 2 is a third person shooter, but instead of firing bullets you fire ink. This ink covers the landscape of the map you're moving around and can be used to traverse the map more quickly by transforming from a kid into a squid. Swimming through the ink allows you to refill your ammo and also come up on opposing players quickly.
As with many third person shooters, the centerpiece of the game is the online multiplayer. The focus of this mode is, once again, turf war, where two sides of four players compete to cover as much of the map in their color of ink as possible. Leave it to Nintendo to make a shooter where actually shooting other players isn't the point, but here we are. You certainly can frag the other team to your heart's content but that's never the goal in Turf War. Maps get rotated in and out over time so there's little fighting over what map you're going to play on. The downside, of course, is that your favorite map may not even be available when you jump online.
Outside of the game's regular match, there are several different modes available as ranked matches, Splat Zones, Tower Control, and Rainmaker are all there again. Splat Zone is a King of the Hill mode where one must keep a designated area covered in your color of paint. Tower Control is Splatoon tower defense and Rainmaker is the game's version of capture the flag.
Once you reach level four in multiplayer you can begin to outfit your character with different weapons and outfit combinations that give you unique attacks or defensive measures. Most of the standard shooter weapon types are here along with a few unique Splatoon weapon types. The major addition to the list is the Dualies category, which works similar to dual wielding pistols.
The major new multiplayer addition to the game is Salmon Run, a horde mode like multiplayer team up. Unfortunately, this review cannot speak about the quality of the new mode, though the reason goes to my major issue with Splatoon 2 overall. It wasn't available when I wanted to play. Salmon Run will not be a standard part of the game when it is released. Instead, it will be limited to special online events and local multiplayer games. As I didn't have three other friends who also had review copies of the game, and I wasn't able to play the game during the designated time periods, the mode was unavailable.
Limiting the games biggest new feature seems like an odd decision. True, the portability of Splatoon 2 makes local multiplayer games something that people will be able to do fairly easily on the Switch but this type of game mode is almost always popular in other shooters and people will certainly want to play it at other times as well. Some people simply prefer cooperative multiplayer to competitive, and those people have only slightly more reason to pick up Splatoon 2 than they did the previous game.
One of the places where Splatoon 2 continues to innovate as its predecessor did is in the place of the single player campaign. While single player modes seem to feel more and more as bonus additions to multiplayer games, Splatoon 2 has a lot more going on. Since the game isn't simply a shooter, playing through the levels makes the game just as much a platformer as it is about shooting at things. The levels are interesting enough, and each one leads to boss battles which are so much fun you may find yourself replaying them just for the hell of it. Speed runners will likely find a lot to enjoy here.
Splatoon 2 is an evolution of its predecessor, not a revolution, and while those that played the first game to death will likely find themselves wishing for more, the fact that this game is almost certain to find a larger audience means that the fact that Splatoon 2 ultimately feels like a more polished version of the previous game is probably a good thing for the series long term prospects. That, combined with the fact, that we won't see another major Switch release for several months makes Splatoon 2 an obvious choice for Switch owners.