One of the biggest questions people have about Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch is if there is enough new content compared to the original to merit a sequel. After getting down and squirty in the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire, I think we’ve been asking the wrong question entirely.
The Splatoon 2 Global Testfire was a server stress test that took place over the weekend during six 1-hour time slots where Switch owners could try out a few of the new maps and weapon sets. I only had a few minutes of connectivity issues during my otherwise silky smooth 90 minutes of online play which helped quell my fears of the console’s wireless capabilities. However, the Testfire raised new concerns, particularly in regards to the depth of its offerings.
The game felt great on the Switch whether I played on the TV with a Pro Controller or in handheld mode. The motion controls– the definitive way to play the original Splatoon– worked well in any configuration while other buttons have been intuitively remapped for a more user-friendly experience.
Many of the new weapons and abilities seem to have completely replaced several from the original game. All the maps featured are brand new as well, though none of them really impressed me. Familiar themes from the original Splatoon have been remixed while new Japanese punk music scores each battle. Unfortunately, while everything is new in theory, there’s so much familiarity that it failed to feel like a substantial upgrade.
By far, my biggest concern has yet to be addressed by Nintendo. While we don’t have all the details of the full game just yet, I am already sad at the thought of a Splatoon without Miiverse integration. While most Wii U games shoehorned their Miiverse features, Splatoon was largely successful because of the way it handled the console’s social features. Billboards littered throughout each map were populated by user generated doodles and memes. For a game that lacked voice chat in public matches, Miiverse gave you a sense that you were a part of a global community of gamers experiencing the game together.
Call of Duty fans are more or less used to buying the same game every year. From that lens, Splatoon 2 passes the sequel test. The improvements I noticed, however, all fall somewhere in between “eh, I’ll take it” to “good enough”. Yet with minimal additions and without a robust way to naturally foster community within the game, Splatoon 2’s inkwell may run dry before it can even get its feet wet.