What Should Be The Next Big Additions To Splatoon 2?

Why is Animal Crossing headlining a Splatoon blog post? Read on…

What do you mean, “It’s too soon?” There’s no such thing when it comes to a great idea. ūüėČ

Splatoon¬†was a great game, and¬†Splatoon 2 did a great job expanding the franchise with new maps, weapons, and modes. On top of that, the developers continue to release new content for the game, and recently announced a huge batch of new features, maps and customization options that would be coming within the next month. There’s already plenty of stuff here for players to have fun with, so why am I asking for more?

My rationale for this post is twofold:

  • Splatoon players have been shoehorning their own ways to play the game into this combat-centered game, and while things like Hide and Seek, Laser Tag, and even simple squid parties are fun, they’re sometimes an awkward fit in the game’s existing combat-centered modes.
  • Customization has always been a big part of¬†Splatoon, but up to now it’s been limited to characters. Other games (like Animal Crossing) have made customization a huge part of their appeal, and I think¬†Splatoon has a lot of untapped potential in this area.

To address these points, I propose the following two ideas for the next big Splatoon update, whenever that may be.

  • Player Rooms:¬†Imagine your childhood bedroom. What did it look like? Did you have a bunch of cool stuff in it, like rock band posters or vacation mementos? Did you have friends over and hang out there? Given the canon age of playable Inklings (they’re kids or squids, but not adults), adding personal rooms for each player seems like a natural extension of the game’s customization options.

Much like the PC’s house in Animal Crossing,¬†each Splatoon player starts with a plain, boring room, and is given the option to choose a floor style and wall color (and like everything else in the game, this could be changed later).¬†Room items could be purchased from a special shop added to Inkopolis Square (there’s plenty of room in the back for new buildings) or ordered via Merch (and maybe SplatNet 2?). Finally, players could visit the rooms of other Inklings on their friend lists, and even place an order with Murch if they see a trinket that matches their own decor.

This could also tie in with Nintendo’s rumored achievement system, as the game could give you trophies and certificates that let you show off you awesomeness. Reach S+ in Splat Zones? Win a Splatfest? Become ‘SUPERFRESH!’ with your main weapon? There could be an app reward for that.

All in all, rooms would be a good way for players to show off their skill and style, and I’d be surprised if something like this doesn’t appear by¬†Splatoon 3.

  • Codified Minigames:¬†Sure, we can continue to muddle along using Turf Wars and ranked battles to host our beloved minigames, but there’s always confusion about the rules, and there’s no way to signal “Hey, we’re playing X!” and there’s always one player who just ignores the game and splats everyone… It’s time for the shenanigans to end.

Certain games (such as Hide and Seek) have become popular enough that they should be standardized and included as regular¬†Splatoon¬†game modes. They don’t have to be put on a two-hour rotation like normal ink battles, but they should at least be included as options for Private Battles. A non-combative, splat-free Free Play mode should be included as well, so people can have squid parties without having their fun ruined (or ruining the fun of players who just want to compete).¬†Ideally, there would also be a way for players to advertise their games for anyone to join, so that players just looking for specific kinds of matches could easily find them.

By organizing different games in this manner, it would keep people that were looking to do different things from stepping on each other’s toes, and make the game more fun for everyone.

While these ideas are a little crazy and the game is pretty darn good as it is, I think they would do a lot to further increase peoples’ enjoyment of Splatoon 2. Part of the game’s appeal is that it is continuously changing things up and adding new pieces, so ideas like these are a good way for the franchise to, as Callie and Marie might say, “stay fresh!”


Which Splatoon Maps Will Return For Splatoon 2?

Over three months into its run,¬†Splatoon 2 remains a fresh and popular title even in the face of strong competition (*cough* Super Mario Odyssey *cough*). Part of this has been the game’s strategy of releasing weekly content updates, which introduce “new” weapons and multiplayer stages and keep the game from becoming stale. For the most part, however, “new” has meant “old stuff from the original game,” as many of the added weapons and a few of the new stages (Kelp Dome, Blackbelly Skatepark, etc.) are moved over to Splatoon 2 with minimal changes.

At this point, I’m assuming that every¬†weapon from¬†Splatoon¬†will eventually end up in¬†Splatoon 2 (I’m still waiting for my N-Zap ’89), but whether or not all the old maps return is another question. So far, the maps here tend to share some distinct characteristics:

  • Aside from Sturgeon Shipyard, they’re all completely static (no moving parts).
  • They tend to have multiple paths out of each spawn point to discouraging spawn camping.
  • They tend to be very wide, almost to the point that they feel square (Port Mackerel and Manta Maria being the notable exceptions).
  • Their centers tend to be open, but they also feature a lot of uneven ground to serve as minor obstacles/lookout points and make things more interesting.
Map Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality
The Reef Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Minimal
Musselforge Fitness Yes 3 Wide Open, Small Lots
Starfish Mainstage Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Moderate
Humpback Pump Track Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Uneven
Inkblot Art Academy Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Lots
Moray Towers Yes 2 Narrow Open, Small LOTS
Port Mackerel Yes 3 Narrow Obscured, Small Minimal
Sturgeon Shipyard No 3 Narrow Open, Small Moderate
Manta Maria Yes 2 Narrow Open, Medium Lots
Kelp Dome Yes 2 Wide Open, Large Moderate
Snapper Canal Yes 3 Wide Open, Small Moderate
Blackbelly Skatepark Yes Narrow Open, Small Moderate

*This was my attempt to measure the ease of spawn camping on a map, but its actual usefulness is questionable.

Based on this criteria, can we make any inferences about what other original maps might return in the future? Let’s take a look at the¬†stages that have not yet made it into¬†Splatoon 2, and see how they stack up against their newer brethren:

Arowana Mall:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 3 Narrow Open, Small Moderate Yes

The adoption of smaller maps like Port Mackerel bodes well for the return of Arowana. It’s a difficult map to spawn camp on given the presence of a side path that leads directly to the map center, and the terrain has plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. I think it gets expanded with minimal rework (more than Kelp Dome, but less than Blackbelly Skatepark) and re-released in the near future.

Saltspray Rig:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 3 Wide Offset, Moderate Lots No

SaltSpray stands out from other Splatoon maps because of its symmetry (vertical rather than horizontal), its offset center with an obvious chokepoint, and its lack of inkable terrain on the bottom side of the map. Its crane also gives it a dynamic component (which admittedly wasn’t that useful), which is not something you see from most new maps (and none of the returning ones thus far). I just don’t think this map suits the playstyle Nintendo is looking for in Splatoon 2.

Urchin Underpass:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 2 Narrow Open, Moderate Lots Yes

After all the work that went into Urchin Underpass, I’d be surprised if this didn’t reappear in¬†Splatoon 2. It’s not an easy map to camp on despite its lack of direct paths from spawn, and the center is fairly open with plenty of verticality to take advantage of. Just like Arowana, I think it gets widened a little bit and otherwise left alone.

Walleye Warehouse:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 1 Narrow Open, Moderate Little No

Looking back, it’s kind of crazy to realize how boring Walleye Warehouse really was. The spawn points are set fairly deep in a passageway that makes spawn camping a major concern, and the center area is mostly flat and uninteresting (it’s basically a less-exciting version of Inkblot Art Academy or Blackbelly Skatepark). I don’t think this one come back.

Bluefin Depot:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 2 Narrow Split, Moderate Moderate No

One interesting trend in¬†Splatoon 2 is the lack of split-center maps that force players to work their way around a specific side of the map to reach the enemy (Snapper Canal is about as close as¬†Splatoon 2 comes, and it’s not that close at all). Throw in Bluefin’s diminutive size and lack of interesting center features, and I don’t think it’s a great candidate to return.

Camp Triggerfish:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 2/3 Narrow Split, Small Moderate No

Camp Triggerfish is basically a more-extreme version of Bluefin Depot: The entire map is divided in half (with limited opportunities to cross the gap), the center is pretty small with little turf to ink, and the design is narrow despite the map’s decent size. Throw it the dynamic gates, and this looks like a no-go to me.

Flounder Heights:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 3 Wide Open, Moderate Lots Yes

Flounder Heights feels like a perfect map to bring back from¬†Splatoon. It’s large, it’s got lots of different vantage points and places to explore, and it’s pretty darn hard to spawn camp on. The center might need to be expanded a smidge to allow for more action there, but I think this would be a great map for¬†Splatoon 2.

Hammerhead Bridge:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 1 Narrow Obstructed, Moderate Lots No

Forget the map details for a moment: It’s been two years since¬†Splatoon, so shouldn’t this stupid bridge be finished by now? The spawn point is set too far from the map’s branching paths (making spawn camping a concern), the center is not open or conducive to massive battles, and its size is due to its length more than its width. I never liked this map, and with any luck I’ll never have to deal with it again.

Museum D’Alfonsino:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 3 Wide Open, Moderate Lots Yes

Its dynamic qualities are a strike against it, but I still think this map is a good candidate to return. It’s got the wide open design that¬†Splatoon 2 craves, there’s some decent verticality and lots of little places to explore, and its side paths make spawn camping fairly difficult. I certainly wouldn’t object to seeing this map come back in the future.

Mahi-Mahi Resort:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Moderate No

Mahi-Mahi takes map dynamism to the extreme, with half the center left underwater until halfway through the match. It’s got a lot of the qualities¬†Splatoon 2 wants (wide open design, decent spawn camp difficulty), but having the map change this drastically during play is probably a (Hammerhead) bridge too far for this game. You could potentially remove the dynamism and just make the map large from the start, but that would remove some of the resort’s uniqueness and hurt its appeal to longtime fans. Unless some of these other changing maps return and signal a shift in map philosophy, I’d say this one doesn’t come back.

Piranha Pit:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 2 Wide Open, Large Moderate No

My favorite thing about Piranha Pit was that it was a big map that played small due to its spawn camp placement. However,¬†Splatoon 2 tends to favor interaction/conflict between the teams, and having large side areas where players can disappear for sixty seconds and never see the opposition doesn’t match the game’s philosophy. Throw in the moving platforms and large center structure that divide the map, and it doesn’t seem to be a good fit for Splatoon 2. (Dear Nintendo: Please prove me wrong and bring this map back!)

Ancho-V Games:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 3 Wide Open, Large Moderate Yes

Despite there being no comparable feature in Splatoon 2 multiplayer¬†to this map’s propeller lifts, I could totally see Ancho-V make a return in the future. It’s a Reef-sized map with plenty of spawn paths, and the moving platforms help to make up for the lack of terrain features in the map center. I think this makes a late-game debut similar to how it appeared in¬†Splatoon.

Of course, Nintendo could prove me wrong and just re-release everything in the next year or so, but they seem to be shooting for a specific multiplayer experience in Splatoon 2, and not every Splatoon map can clear this bar. Still, another five maps from the original game would placate longtime fans and introduce new ones to the joys that Wii U players have known since the beginning.

When Should You Ink Your Spawn Point in Splatoon 2?

If there’s one piece of advice that new¬†Splatoon players are repeatedly hit over the head with, it’s “Ink your spawn!” Veteran turf warriors tend to get frustrated when newbies, especially those with backgrounds in different shooter games, get caught up in the excitement of battle and head straight for the enemy with guns blazing.¬†Splatoon, of course, is¬†different: Your goal is to claim territory rather than splat the most foes, and¬†every inch of horizontal surface in a map is valuable. I can’t tell you how many times my team has scratched out a narrow advantage in the center of the map, only to lose because our base was completely uncovered. So…yeah, ink your darn spawn point.

With that question settled, the conversation has shifted to¬†when you ink your spawn point. This debate isn’t so cut and dry, but two lines of thinking have emerged:

  • You should cover your base immediately, and only move on to the center of the map once this is complete.
  • You should move to secure the center of the map immediately, and cover your base later (such as after re-spawning). This theory seems to be gaining the most traction, and is being pushed by prominent community members like Allochii of the Gaijin Gamers:

It’s a thoughtful, convincing argument. It’s also usually the wrong choice.

For my money, the first approach is the best approach: You should ink your spawn right out of the gate, and worry about securing the center later. Here’s why:

  • From my experience, maintaining map control in¬†Splatoon 2 is much harder than in the original game, and come-from-behind victories are as common as Aerospray mains. That volatility means that being the first to grab the center of the map doesn’t mean a whole lot, as that advantage can be lost surprisingly fast. (One could argue that¬†Splatoon 2 has the same problem as the NBA, in that nothing really matters until the last few moments of the match.)¬†Territory around your spawn point, in contrast, is the easiest for you to cover and the hardest for your opponents to take. In short, you should worry about the turf closest to you first, because there’s more than enough time to claim the center (in fact, the later you do it, the better).
  • By the time you get splatted for the first time, things have likely gotten frantic on the battlefield, and you’ve got better things to worry about when you respawn than inking your base: Where is the enemy advancing? Where should you counterattack? How much time do we have to make a push? Do any teammates need support? Is there a safe place to super jump? In comparison, things are relatively calm at the start of a match, and you have the time to breathe and focus on the task (and turf) in front of you. This, in turn, gives you one less thing to worry about later on. (On rare occasions, you’ll find that you play so well that you never need to respawn at all, and you have to make a special trip back to your base to cover it. When this happens, however, the match is usually so one-sided in your favor that it doesn’t matter.)
  • Inking turf means building up your special meter, and having your special ability in your pocket can be a huge advantage when the initial fight breaks out. This is especially useful if you have a defensive special and aggressive teammates, as a well-timed Ink Armor activation can turn a battle into a rout.

Of course, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all mantra: Certain weapons (especially chargers) are going to want to grab strategic positions early (and they might as well, since they aren’t going to be terribly helpful inking the base anyway). However, for most players (especially new ones), the best option is to take the time to cover your spawn point in ink before moving out and engaging the other team.

Splatoon 2: Is It Worth Buying?

Yes. Gosh, this was an easy post to write!

…Wait, you still have more questions? Okay then, fire away!

  • Is there enough new content here to justify being labeled as a true sequel? Not only is there enough new content, but it’s good stuff with no filler.
    • The single-player campaign feels about the same length as the original game thus far, but the ability to use different weapons (and the bonus of using a hero weapon in multiplayer if you beat all the single-player stages with it) adds replayability without making it feel too much like filler.
    • The Salmon Run horde mode is challenging, choatic, and fun as heck to play, especially when teaming up with friends.
    • The Ranked Battles have been changed up a bit to make them more competitive (Splat Zones are in more-contested areas, Tower Control features checkpoints that gave the defending term a bit more time to regroup), and the ranking system has been tweaked to let players skip entire ranks if their skill warrants it (for example, I crushed the competition in C- Splat Zone lobbies and was immediately kicked up to B-).
    • The new maps are great, the old ones are expanded, the gear upgrade system now includes a way to specify what abilities fill those slots…I could go on forever.

Bottom Line: The game definitely earns its 2.

  • How noticeable are the changes that push¬†Splatoon 2 in a more competitive direction? There are two major changes that I noticed:
    • The map designs are a lot more open and…well, square. There’s still a lot of verticality involved, but aside from Port Mackerel, the maps are widened to combat spawn camping and more open in the center to encourage more action (and even Port Mackerel has been widened and opened up a lot). This may give us a hint as to what maps might make the jump from¬†Splatoon to¬†Splatoon 2: Look for maps like Kelp Dome, Ancho-V Games, and Flounder Heights to reappear, while narrow levels like Walleye Warehouse, Arowana Mall, and Hammerhead Bridge will likely get left behind. (I’m curious to see if “split” levels like Bluefin Depot and Camp Triggerfish make a comeback.)
    • I feel like the special weapons have been watered-down for¬†Splatoon 2, and their impact on the game is more subtle than before. (They’re also noticeably slower, in order to give players around you more time to react.) How this makes you feel will be determined by whether you were more often on the sending or receiving end of these specials in the original game.
  • I’m new to the¬†Splatoon¬†franchise! Will I enjoy the game, or just get wrecked by the Wii U veterans?¬†Both, actually. Because everyone is at Level 1 right now,¬†I’d encourage brand-new Splatoon players to start¬†by taking a week or two to master the single-player mode, and avoid multiplayer until the experienced players work their way out of the lower-level lobbies.
  • I’m upgrading from¬†Splatoon! Do my favorite weapons still work the same? If you’re not a roller main, you’re fine:¬†Some of the sub weapons may have changed, but for the most part the weapons still feel about the same. If you are a roller main, however, your re-learning curve will be a bit steeper: In addition to the vertical jump fling (which is a pain to aim) and increased run speed, the weapon seems to consume ink a lot faster than in the original game, and its general fling power doesn’t feel all that powerful anymore. I didn’t find it nearly as fun to play as before.
  • Is there any reason I should¬†not buy this game?¬†Actually, there is: If you don’t have a fast, reliable Internet connection, you should think twice about buying Splatoon¬†2. Just like the original, the game is heavily reliant on online modes, and Splatoon 2 threatens to be more punitive if you disconnect from a match. Without a network connection, you’re only left with the single-player mode, which isn’t enough to justify the purchase by itself.

Overall, despite some minor complaints,¬†Splatoon 2 is a really fun game that I can’t recommend highly enough. If you’ve got a Switch and a sturdy network,¬†Splatoon 2¬†is totally worth your time.

Splatoon 2: Early Impressions

Why do I always blink in photographs?

Over the weekend, Nintendo opened¬†Splatoon 2 up to the public for a full-fledged stress test in the form of the game’s inaugural Splatfest. My initial Switch-buying stance caused me to miss out on the Global Testfire back in March, so this was my first hands-on time with the game, and after four hours of ink-flinging, I can confirm that the while there are some tweaks around the edges,¬†Splatoon 2 still contains the fun and magic of the original game, at least for the multiplayer mode (which represents most of the game anyway). My specific thoughts are as follows:

  • I’m a big fan of the new map designs shown during the Splatfest. Starfish Mainstage has a lot of verticality to it and includes a ton of nooks and crannies to ink/explore, Inkblot Art Academy reminds me a lot of Blackbelly Skatepark with its central tower and side alleys (though it lacks the slopes near the bases), and Humpback Pump Track has a large central hill for the teams to fight over and an outer ring that lets players outflank the opposition. My one complaint is that the nighttime motif of the Splatfest kept me from noticing any background details that might give the maps more personality.
  • Moray Towers is my favorite map in¬†Splatoon, and the new ink rails offer a lot more options for attacking a team’s base. It makes it a bit tougher to defend your side than before, but there’s nothing more satisfying than sniping someone out of an ink rail. (I’m interested to see how the added sponges change up Port Mackerel, as that map developed a really bad reputation in the original game.)
  • I like the idea of rotating maps during Splatfest instead of sticking withe the same two or three the entire time. It helps ensure that people who can’t stand certain maps aren’t forced to play them all day.
  • I¬†don’t like the idea of randomizing your Splatfest for every match, so I’m really hoping that was just a temporary limitation for this demo.
  • I spent a lot of time with the Splat Dualies, and while they’re functional enough, they don’t suit my playstyle very well. I tend to rely on jump-dodging to avoid foes during combat, but the Dodge Roll leaves you ground-bound in kid form, and I didn’t find the roll to be as effective as avoiding shots.I probably won’t use them very much in the full game.
  • On one hand, the 5-6 disconnections/connection errors I got during the event aren’t bad in isolation. On the other hand,¬†Splatoon has been rock solid for me ever since I upgraded my Internet (I see a connection error maybe once a month), so seeing an uptick in disconnections here was disappointing. Hopefully things won’t be as bad in the normal lobbies.
  • Honestly, I was underwhelmed by the new special weapons. Most were just okay, and the Stingray felt particularly useless (you could barely aim the stupid thing once it fired). Would it kill them to bring back a few specials from¬†Splatoon?
  • The Splattershot, Splat Charger, and Splat Roller are still the same weapons people know and love, albeit with the few tweaks. The weapons felt like they consumed more ink than before, and burst bombs in particular felt a bit slower than in Splatoon¬†(all bombs seemed to have a longer throw range, however). I stuck mostly to the main weapons, but that will change once I get my hands on some Sprinklers. (Happily, my beloved .96 Gal/Sprinkler combo has already been confirmed, as has my Quick Respawn Backwards Hat.)

Overall, I had a lot of fun with the Splatfest despite getting wrecked consistently by the opposition, and I can’t wait to try out the full game (especially the expanded single-player campaign) when it drops this Friday.¬†Splatoon 2 seems to have pulled off the impressive feat of staying true to its predecessor while offering enough new material to “stay fresh.”

How Concerned Should We Be About Toxicity in Splatoon 2?

Image From Nintendo of Europe

Toxicity has been around for at least at long as humans have. (I can just imagine some caveman telling a fellow hunter “Hey man, could you stop throwing the fight here? You aren’t hitting anything with that stupid slingshot, and that sabertooth tiger is wrecking us.”) When the stakes are high in a team competition, there are bound to be people who openly question whether their teammates are doing what they should do to win. Toss in the relative anonymity and sour attitudes of the Internet, and online team games are ripe breeding grounds for toxic behavior.

Because of these concerns, Nintendo made an explicit choice to not include voice chat when it made its initial foray into the shooter genre with¬†Splatoon. While the game still had a few “attack vectors” for toxic players to abuse (squid taunting, booyah spamming, going after other players on Miiverse), the lack of direct verbal communication kept the game from suffering from the massive toxicity issues that plagued its peers.

For Splatoon 2, however, Nintendo decided to include voice chat as part of its effort to establish the game as a serious e-sport. While this allows teammates to better coordinate their movements in battle, it also leaves players vulnerable to toxic teammates. Given that similar games like Overwatch seem to be going through especially turbulent/toxic periods right now, how concerned should Nintendo be about a similar cloud hovering over Splatoon 2?

I think it’s good news/bad news time…

  • Nintendo has obviously put a lot of thought into their voice chat deployment, and they’ve tried to limit contact between random players. Game producer Hisashi Nogami¬†provided the following quote to My Nintendo News:

“The reason we included voice chat is because we wanted users who already know each other to enjoy the game more deeply using a communication tool that‚Äôs linked to the game…Voice chat can only be used when playing with someone you know, such as in private matchmaking; voice chat with someone you don‚Äôt know in random matchmaking won‚Äôt happen.” (emphasis added)

People are less likely to take potshots at players they know than at anonymous squids that they don’t, so these restrictions are¬†good news.

  • However, the bar to becoming friends with someone via a Nintendo system is pretty low in my experience. I’ve gotten quite a few random friend requests from players who I’ve only known for a few Turf Wars or Mario Kart races, and I tend to accept them without doing a whole lot of vetting. I’ve also sent out a lot of friend requests to Splatfest teammates who I’ve never met, and they’re rarely rejected. (In fairness, I should note that I’ve met a lot of cool people via these random friend requests, so it’s not a completely broken system, just a risky one.) In other words, it’s not too hard to become friends with people you’ve never met and don’t know, and when it comes to toxicity concerns, that’s¬†bad news.
  • Because voice chat is done through a separate smart-device app rather than the Switch itself, there’s an extra cost burden placed on players who want to participate in it:
    • You need a smart device (phone, tablet, etc.) that can run Nintendo’s app.
    • You need a suitable headset if you want to hear both your teammates and the in-game audio.

In other words, not just any random squid can jump into voice chat‚ÄĒyou have to make a dedicated effort/investment to receive that privilege. It’s not much of a barrier, but it’s good news from a toxicity standpoint (if you’re going to say mean things to someone, you’ll have to pay extra to do it).

  • For players that don’t want to pay for the privilege of voice chat, however, there are freely-available tools like Skype or Discord that can allow players to communicate outside the scope of Nintendo’s walled garden. While this option requires some coordination ahead of time between players, it’s not hard to imagine people giving out their Skype user names as freely as they accept Miiverse friends. This is technically¬†bad news, but these tools have also been available for players to use for the original¬†Splatoon, and they don’t seem to have wrecked the community yet.

Overall, while I do think that the risk of exposure to toxic behavior is higher thanks to the inclusion of voice chat, the restrictions that Nintendo have put in place (both implicitly and explicitly) mitigate this danger somewhat. We’ll inevitably hear reports about the new voice chat feature being abused, but I don’t we’ll reach the widespread toxicity that games like¬†Overwatch are experiencing right now. The key for players is basically to choose their friends wisely, and be considerate of others when ¬†they chat with them.

There’s no way to completely eliminate toxic behavior, but if we all aim to be more understanding and less confrontational towards our fellow squids, we can minimize its impact and make the game more fun for everyone.

My Reaction To The ARMS (+ Splatoon 2) Direct

Yesterday, Nintendo aired a new Direct presentation centered on its next big Switch release ARMS, and closed¬†with¬†a small single-player trailer for¬†Splatoon¬†2. While I’m not a huge fan of fighting games and really couldn’t care less about¬†ARMS at this point, I was curious to see¬†exactly¬†what the game would include, and find out definitively whether or not there was enough¬†here to change my opinion. Let’s dive in, shall we?

  • The character design is pretty decent here.¬†There’s a lot of variety in both the aesthetics (standard fighters, ninjas, pop stars, autonomous robots, non-autonomous robots, etc.) and functions (each character seems to have some unique ability to distinguish them).
  • The arena designs, on the other hand, are¬†not terribly inspired. They all look nice and have some small differences, but for the most part they seem¬†interchangeable.
  • The various non-fighting modes are¬†nice, but they look kind of shallow and may not have a lot of replay value. Dunking opponents through a basketball hoop made me laugh when I saw it, but I feel like both that and the volleyball mode would get old pretty quickly. Grand Prix reminded me of the old¬†Mortal Kombat “climb the ladder” setup (which I never really enjoyed, but a lot of people did), and 1 vs. 100 has a¬†Super Smash Bros. vibe to it (actually, I wasn’t a huge fan of that mode in¬†SSB either). Andre from GameXplain muses in their Direct discussion¬†that the single-player content here will be pretty light (perhaps even lighter than in¬†Splatoon), and I think he’s on to something.
  • Back in my E3 post, I said that Nintendo should adopt the¬†Splatoon-style approach of releasing more (free) content in the months after the game’s release. Not only is Nintendo doing this, but they’re going a step further a running a “Testpunch” event across two weekends to give players a taste of the game (and the company’s¬†servers a taste of the loads they’ll see in production). This is a great move to get skeptics like me to give the game a spin with no strings (springs?) attached, and perhaps convince them to take a chance on buying the full game.
  • The highlight of the Direct for me was the¬†Splatoon 2 trailer, and it was as good as I had hoped. The single-player mode has more enemy and weapon variety (although I didn’t see the “Hero .96 Gal” I wanted), and builds nicely on the lore from the original game. While I’m not 100% sold on the “evil Callie” theory¬†that’s been floating around, it would certainly be an interesting plot twist. (I also like the Hero Suit design a lot more now‚ÄĒthe clothing now screams “cool Squidbeak splatoon member” instead of “highway safety worker.”)
  • I’m starting to think Nintendo’s going to owe Blizzard some royalties with its upcoming titles, because I’m seeing¬†a¬†huge Overwatch influence in both¬†ARMS and¬†Splatoon 2:
    • The character roster in¬†ARMS¬†feels very Overwatch-like in its composition (very diverse) and some of its specific designs (Mechanica is basically a ten-year-old D. Va).
    • In addition to the similar¬†Splatoon 2 special attacks (the Ink Slam looks¬†a lot like¬†Lucio’s Sound Barrier, while the Jet Pack makes me think of Pharah’s Barrage), if the “evil Callie” theory is indeed true, then she’s basically Widowmaker. (It’s too bad that Marie wasn’t the captured one, as her charger preference would have made her the perfect Widow clone.) Honestly, I’m kind of hoping for more of this sort of thing (the charger¬†equivalent of McCree’s Deadeye¬†would be both awesome and¬†terrifying).

In the end, this Direct was a 90% no-op for me: I’m still not that excited by¬†ARMS, and I was already super-hyped for¬†Splatoon 2. Still, that last 10% is key, because the ARMS¬†Testpunch might be the thing that finally gets me excited about that game. (At the very least, the event will be worth a good blog post¬†afterwards.) With these two games and the mountain of 3DS titles coming this summer, Nintendo appears to be heading into E3 with the most¬†momentum that it’s had in years.