Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough. —James M. Barrie
Ever since players first encountered Octolings in the original Splatoon, fans have been clamoring to bring these eight-tentacled warriors into multiplayers battles as playable characters. The company resisted these calls during the Wii U era, but with both Splatoon 2 and the Switch recognized as unqualified successes, the dollar signs became too big for the Big N to ignore. The company announced the plan to release a new Octo-based single-player campaign a few months ago, but dropped a surprise announcement at E3 that the DLC was coming out on June 13th.
Octo Expansion is the first paid DLC for Splatoon 2, and thus is a sharp break from the game’s traditional pattern of free updates. When a dream this longstanding and passionate is fulfilled, however, price tends to be less of an issue, and most players were more than happy to throw money at Nintendo. After playing through the entire expansion pack and bring Agent 8 to the surface to live amongst the Inklings, I’d say that $20 for the whole thing seems like a more-than-fair price.
My specific thoughts are as follows:
- The expansion pack certainly delivers on quantity, with a whopping 80 missions to play (and that number doesn’t include the long ending sequence, final boss battle, or secret final boss battle). The levels are generally smaller and shorter than those from the Agent 3/4 campaigns, but the goals for the expansion levels are much more varied: take out all the enemies, defend an orb, don’t get hit by enemy ink, roll an 8-ball to the goal, etc.) A couple of classic boss fights return from the Agent 4 campaign, but additional hazards and enemies are added in to make them more challenging.
- Speaking of challenging…for all the hype about how this DLC would be tougher than the Agent 4 campaign, my response would be a shrug and a “yeah, but not by much.” There were a couple of intense moments (mostly involving multiple Octolings unleashing special attacks on me simultaneously), but the only hard part about the whole thing was navigating some of the platforming parts with a failing, stick-drifting Joy-Con. Less-seasoned players may find some of the levels tricky, but Nintendo’s got them covered too: After a couple of failures, Pearl and Marina offer you the chance to bypass the level as if it were completed, giving everyone the chance to beat the expansion pack and bring Octolings into Inkopolis.
- There’s a payment system that requires you to cough up a certain number of points to challenge a level. This system felt completely unnecessary: You tend to build up an abundance of currency over time anyway, and you’re bailed out if you run too low on points to keep going. It never felt like a problem during my playthrough, but it didn’t serve any useful purpose either.
- There aren’t any hidden collectibles (sardinium, sunken scrolls) in the expansion pack—”mem cakes” are awarded for every completed level, and while they aren’t as interesting individually as the sunken scrolls (you get a little octameter poetry, and that’s it), earning complete subway-line sets of cakes will earn you DLC-specific gear (Octoling armor, Cuttlefish’s outfit) that can be used in multiplayer battles.
- You don’t necessarily have to 100% all the levels to beat the DLC and use Octolings in multiplayer, but doing so unlocks a fun secret final battle that you get a special headgear item for beating. It’s not much, but I’ll never say no to more gear. 😉
- The story for this DLC is fantastic, and finally fleshes out the backstory of some very important characters (most notably Marina). I like how “Craig” Cuttlefish has evolved into a fire-spitting MC, I liked the way Agent 3 was incorporated into the tale, and as crazy as things got at the end, all the loose ends were tied and nothing felt unbelievable. The use of the four “thangs” was particularly good, especially as the real villain reveals themselves later in the story.
- While the differences between Inklings and Octolings are purely cosmetic (and auditory—Octolings have deeper voices), the Octoling designs feel just as cool and inspired as their squid-based brethren. They can use all the same gear as Inklings, so there’s no need to change your loadout—you just switch your species in the option menu and charge into battle!
Splatoon 2‘s Octo Expansion is a great example of DLC done right: It’s not going to impact your enjoyment of the rest of the game if you don’t get it, but it’s a nice extra 10-15 hour trip through the game’s deeper lore with some on-point action platforming that felt positively Mario Odyssey-esque at times. $20 felt perfectly reasonable (and maybe even a little cheap) for this DLC, and I’d encourage anyone who’s on-the-fence to pick it up and try it out for yourself.