By James Daly
Splatoon 2 premiered today in a limited time demo for the Nintendo Switch. Running from 5PM to 9PM (UTC), the premiere focussed around a new Splatfest, an event pitting gamers against each other based on their preference of ice cream or cake. I chose Team Ice Cream, and then dived right in to the ink-filled, nightclub-inspired world of Splatoon 2 ready to see what Nintendo had to offer in their latest game.
The first thing you notice about this game is how similar it is to the previous one. There are a few changes, such as the newscaster characters having been replaced with two new, slightly more ostentatious individuals, and the player hub is now set at night time, giving the game a more mature look than the original title. Other then that the experience offered by Splatoon 2 is essentially the same as before.
The in-match gameplay is also pretty similar. The map is no longer always visible due to the hardware differences from the WiiU, but it can be displayed by toggling the X button any time during a match. One particularly positive new addition to the multiplayer maps is the inclusion of ink railings on one level. These railing have to be doused in paint in order to be made functional, but once soaked in the colour of your team they are a great way to get around and spring surprise attacks on your opponents.
In terms of combat, the weapons are largely the same, with only one new primary weapon unveiled so far, the Splatter Dualies, a pair of handguns designed to be used simultaneously, as the name suggests. These weapons are preferable to those players who like rapid-fire, but they do not differ too much from the original Tentatek Splattershot, essentially a submachine gun. The secondary weapons are fine, though none of them struck me as memorable except for the Ink Jet Pack, purely because it allows the player to fly around and rain deadly paint from above. Unfortunately, this experience does not last very long, but if it did then it would probably ruin the game for those on the receiving end of it.
The highlight of Splatoon 2 is playing it in handheld mode on the Switch. The game looks wonderful on the small screen, with no loss of quality despite the miniature size. So long as you don’t stray from your wi-fi source then playing in handheld mode is perfectly enjoyable. Chances are, you will find yourself playing predominantly through your TV if you prefer to play without motion controls, but other then that the handheld option really is exquisite.
Overall, Nintendo’s new rave-em-up offers seemingly little new from the first Splatoon except for subtle changes, both aesthetic and combat-based, and the fact that it is on a different console. However, video game previews like this usually do fail to convey the brilliance of a game, so when Splatoon 2 officially launches on July 21, hopefully it will give us more to be excited about.