If you’ve played Splatoon 2 recently (especially in higher-level ranked modes), you’ve probably noticed that matches have been filling with a tacky-yet-powerful shooter, a weapon that Nintendo can’t seem to figure out how to balance: The Kensa .52 Gal. The weapons has been kicking around the game for three years now, but it’s gotten a steady stream of buffs ever since it was introduced, and the last few finally pushed it past its competition and turned it into an unstoppable, ever-present force, a weapon that excels both offensively and defensively and is darn now impossible to move once it stakes out a position. Even after the Splatoon developers finally realized their mistake and tried to rein in the Kensa .52, the weapon laughed off its weak painting nerf and special point increase and continued its reign of terror across Inkopolis, claiming any and all territory as its own.
If Nintendo won’t fix its weapon, then it’s up to us to figure out how to work around the weapon and find a way to neutralize its powers. So how do we beat a Kensa .52 Gal?
Why Is the Kensa .52 Gal So Good?
A wise man once said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles,” so let’s start with the first part of that statement. What makes the Kensa .52 so powerful?
- Slaying Power: Each shot from the .52 Gal has a base damage of 52 (huh, I wonder where the name came from), making the weapon a) a two-shot kill and b) one of the most-effective slaying weapons in the game. It ranks only behind its larger cousin the .96 Gal in terms of per-shot damage among shooters, and is outranked only by classic one-shot kill weapons (chargers, rollers, blasters) and a couple of sloshers.
- Range & Efficiency: Of course, the Tri-Slosher also does 52 damage per shot and doesn’t suffer from falloff issues (i.e., the Tri-Slosher does 52 damage no matter how it hits, while .52 shots weaken to a minimum of 30 damage after they reach the maximum edge of their range). So why is the .52 preferred over our favorite green bucket of death? It’s because the .52 gives you more opportunities for slaying: It has a slight range advantage over the Tri-Slosher, and is way more efficient per shot (a full ink tank gives you 76 shots with a .52, but only 16 with a Tri-Slosher). The Tri-Slosher may be easier to aim, but the .52 lets you take more shots from farther away. This also means you’ve got more shots to chip in with painting and map control as well.
- Main Power Up Buff: Of course, extra range and awesome power doesn’t help a whole lot if your shot don’t go where they tell them to. The .52 Gal is incredibly inaccurate, quickly going from a 2% to a 25% chance of being off-target (a number that jumps to 40% the moment you jump while firing). However, this weakness is partially mitigated by the Main Power Up gear perk, which can increase “shot accuracy when firing while jumping by up to 50%,” and can improve “accuracy while on the ground by up to 25%.” Naturally, if you look at the .52 builds of competitive players, most of them count at least two sub slots of MPU among their gear in order to counter the weapon’s biggest disadvantage.
So the .52 Gal features exceptional power, solid ink efficiency, decent range, and a shortcoming that can be covered by gear perks. This explains why the .52 is so popular…except that there are three variants of the weapon, so why is the Kensa .52 Gal everywhere while the vanilla and deco .52 variants barely appear in Top 500 matches at all? The issue is that while the weapon provides the offense, the Kensa kit provides the defense:
- The Kensa .52’s Splash Wall puts an impenetrable barrier between the .52 and the opposition for up to seven seconds, and while you can attack the wall to shorten its lifetime, the .52’s two-shot power means that if your weapon can’t chew through the wall fast enough, it’s essentially impossible to challenge the .52 when it’s deployed.
- The Kensa .52’s Booyah Bomb is a classic crowd-control attack that can be deployed at nearly any range and presents anyone within a fair radius of its landing point with a simple choice: Move or die. This special gives the Kensa .52 an option for dealing with nearly any weapon, as it can be tossed at a far-off sniping point to dislodge a pesky backline weapon, or simply thrown at a user’s feet to push back a Sploosh-o-matic or Splattershot (the user also gains a significant shield that absorbs damage as they float in the air while the bomb is charging, although some weapons get significant damage multipliers against it). Using the special also refills the user’s ink tank, which means a Kensa .52 can throw out another Splash Wall the moment they launch the bomb and hit the ground.
With this kit, the Kensa .52 Gal is able to take and hold whatever ground they please without fear, using the weapon’s offensive power to punish anyone who dares test them. Neither of the other .52 kits can match its ability to move from unstoppable force to immovable object in an instant.
So What Can We Do About It?
To take on a Kensa .52 Gal, we have to adopt the same mindset of an NFL defense taking on Tom Brady: We have to find a way to move them off their spot in the pocket without getting torched by all their weapons. So how do we do it?
- Superior Range: The .52 Gal may be a two-hit kill, but it can’t kill what it can’t reach. There are plenty of weapons (from the Tetra Dualies to the E-Liter 4K) that outrange the .52, allowing you to safely challenge it without fear of getting splatted (or at the very least forcing the .52 to use its Booyah Bomb to go after you).
- Object Shredder: Of course, pinning down a .52 with superior range and forcing them to sit behind a Splash Wall all day may not be enough—we may need to dislodge them from a key area and push them back. The most direct way to the Kensa .52 is through their Splash Wall, and Object Shredder will help you take it down faster through its 125% damage boost. (The gear perk also grants a small damage bonus against the Booyah Bomb’s armor as well.) Combined with superior range, we can keep the Kensa .52 from feeling too secure in any location.
- Autobombs: Another possibility is to force a ‘move or die’ decision onto the Kensa .52 from a safe distance by launching our sub weapon over and behind the Splash Wall. Bombs of any sort can be used for this purpose, but Auto Bombs protect against the possibility of an errant throw by hunting down their target before exploding, so these are your best choice for the task if you’re unsure about your aim.
- Torpedos: Torpedos feature the same auto-targeting functionality as Autobombs, but they lack one-hit kill power of the Autobombs and can be shot down before impact. Still, they can be a potential option to distract an opponent and potentially convince them to move.
- Toxic Mist: Could the least effective sub weapon in Splatoon 2 actually come in handy here? Believe it or not, it can: Toxic Mist reduces the movement speed and drains the ink tank of anyone within its radius, and its radius is surprisingly large: Even when smashed against a Splash Wall, the effect will beyond and behind it and force the .52 user to move back. (The weapon may have the ink efficiency to sustain the mist for a short while, but since a Splash Wall requires 60% of the Kensa .52’s ink tank to throw, staying in the mist means they won’t have another wall handy when their current one fails.)
- Tenta Missiles: This is probably the best counter to the Kensa .52, so much so that missiles are the main reason a number of weapons (such as N-Zap ’89) are seeing a fair bit of use in the current meta. Tenta Missiles can deal with the entire Kensa .52 kit: They can be launched from anywhere on the map, they travel over the Splash Wall to strike targets behind it, they have enough power to take down anyone who doesn’t move to avoid them, and they can even take down an armored Booyah Bomb user if they hesitate in the face of a missile strike. If you’re looking for a foolproof way to go after a Kensa .52, Tenta Missiles are a great choice.
- Booyah Bomb: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The initial Booyah Bomb throw can be blocked by a Splash Wall, but the resulting explosion will go right through it, forcing the .52 to at least temporarily abandon its position.
- Ink Storm: The Ink Storm is a slow-killing special, but it can be set off from a safe distance,it can completely ignore the Splash Wall, and it will knock out any opponents that dare to sit in the storm for too long. You won’t get many KOs with this special, but you will get people moving.
- Stingray: Stingrays have infinite range and laugh at walls of any sort, so using on against a Kensa .52 will force it to abandon its position, although it can be hard to track opponents when firing the ray and it’s not a terribly fast kill against someone using a Booyah Bomb.
- Ultra Stamp: The Ultra Stamp can easily smash its way through a Splash Wall and Booyah Bomb armor, and while the .52 has more than enough mobility to flank the weapon and attack the user, the weapons can still serve as an opening salvo, breaking through the line and allowing teammates to follow up.
In other weapons, through careful planning and the right kit, we can give ourselves several options to approaching and moving a Kensa .52 user.
What Weapons Are Best To Use?
Now let’s consider the “know thyself” portion of Sun Tzu’s quote. Any weapon that provides one or two of the above options can be somewhat effective against the Kensa .52 Gal, but there are a couple of choices that give use the most tools and the best chance for success:
- Jet Squelcher: This weapon might be the perfect counter to the Kensa .52 Gal. It outranges the main weapon by a wide margin, it can apply pressure over the top with its Tenta Missiles (which they absolutely farm at 180 points), and even Toxic Mist provides some utility by helping to push the Kensa .52 back. This weapon also complements the Kensa .52 Gal as a teammate, so it’s an excellent when you’re stuck in a Turf War or Ranked solo queue lobby. Also consider: Custom Jet Squelcher.
- N-Zap ’89: Not confident in your aim at long distances? The orange zapper might be right up your alley. You’ve still got Autobombs to force opponents to move, you’ve got Tent Missiles at a reasonable 190 points to charge, and it’s only slightly under-ranged when taking on the .52 head-to-head. This has been my go-to weapon for missile spam in ranked battles, and the .52 has to account for your entire kit. Also consider: Kensa Splattershot, N-Zap ’83.
- Kensa Splattershot Pro: Once upon a time, the Kensa Pro was the weapon dominating the meta and drawing all the complaints. In a head-to-head matchup, however, this weapon still presents a challenge for its .52 counterpart: It’s got Splat Bombs for poking, it’s got longer range and better accuracy, and it can match the .52 Booyah Bomb for Booyah Bomb (although at 210 points and mediocre paint output, you won’t have it as often). It may not be the weapon du jour, but it can still get the job done. Also consider: Splattershot Pro.
- Custom Dualie Squelchers: The vanilla Dual Squelchers have Tenta Missiles available (and aren’t a terrible pick), but the CDS features good range, a workable bomb, and a special (Ink Storm) that can still provide pressure on a dug-in .52, even if it’s not on the level of Tenta Missiles. Also consider: Dualie Squelchers, Custom Splattershot Jr.
- Sloshing Machine: How about a pick out of left field? The sloshing machine is kind of an awkward kit on balance (it has the same problem as the .52 Gal Deco in that it’s a frontline weapon with a backline special), but all the pieces are there: A useful sub in the Autobomb, a workable special in Stingray, and a weapon that not only outranges the .52, but features the sloshing machine that can go over the wall and still land hits on the other side. If you can find the room to use your special, this one has some .52-countering potential. Also consider: Tri-Slosher Nouveau, Dapple Dualies Nouveau.
The Kensa .52 Gal is a powerful weapon with a kit that complements it perfectly, and it’s earned its prominent place in the Splatoon 2 meta. It’s not invincible, however, and there are weapons with the ability to counter and mitigate the impact of the polka-dotted menace. With the right tools and the right gameplan, you have the chance to defy the meta, fight through the .52 Gal, and find victory.