Splatoon Hands On Preview
Splatoon has been on my radar since its reveal. It’s a brand new IP from Nintendo – a vibrant, 3rd person competitive online shooter that emphasizes things other than getting kills, like turf control. Oh, and rather than shoot bullets or lasers, you shoot paint. And you can turn into a squid to swim around the battlefield.
As crazy as it sounds, the premise is full of the lighthearted, patented Nintendo Difference. After the recent Nintendo direct announced the Global Testfire demo – which is essentially a beta – I made a point to try the game out.
The demo included a short tutorial, but the bulk of time was spent with the game’s main attraction – Turf Wars. In this mode, two teams of four try to capture territory by painting it in their respective color. The team with the most coverage at the end of the match wins.
It’s simple, but what makes it fun aside from its simplicity is its efficiency. What this game mode does is create a competitive, yet stress-free game setting. I wasn’t necessarily worried about getting kills, but rather being as thorough as possible by painting as much of the area as possible. Getting into the nooks and crannies of each level can make or break a match as I’ve found. Having cooperation and awareness of the situation also plays a huge part. Knowing how to use your weapon to your team’s advantage is another part of the unique gameplay opportunities.
As I played matches, I gave myself different goals, depending on the weapon I selected. The demo had four choices; the first is one of my go-to weapons, the Splattershot Jr. This weapon has short range, but shoots fast and comes with a pretty decent grenade and a reflective bubble shield. The standard Splattershot had decent range, but had a slower shooting rate that was somewhat offset by its multi-grenade launcher. The Splat Roller is a close-combat weapon that emphasizes getting as much paint as possible, while also being terribly formidable in close combat. And lastly was the Splat Charger, which is a sniper-like weapon that creates a lane of paint in its path, which can help your team press forward.
The classic Nintendo difference "gameplay magic" is found in the small weapon selection: they can be used to get kills, but they will mainly focus your attention on how best to spread paint around the stage in different and unique ways. During my time I found that the Splat Roller was the most popular and arguably infamous due to its ease of use; however I found that the Splattershot Jr. was the most accessible, and a great counter to the Roller because of the Bubble Shield special weapon.
I think after two hours of play the thing that kept me playing, aside from the tremendous amount of fun, was the snappy feel to each match; at about three minutes long, they felt just right. This gives each match enough time to gain momentum, establish territory, and end with frantic battles for turf in the remaining minutes. Being able to utilize each weapon, special weapon, and the squid mode were crucial to success. There were times that players would try to get the best of me with weapons like the Splat Charger from a distance, or even try to rush me down with the Splat Roller. However, using the Squid form, I was able to maneuver and survive – at times even get the best of my opponent by catching them off guard. It works both ways as it also led to me getting attacked by surprise.
Somehow, I never felt myself getting angry at the game, and only wanted to continue playing. The beta did have a few connection issues with games dropping out once in a blue moon. I had one game where a player was so laggy that his paint wasn’t appearing on screen until way too late, causing me to believe he was on my team. But for the large majority, each match ran exceptionally well, which is a huge relief.
Ultimately, I came away from the Splatoon demo/beta only wanting to play more. I can only hope that the game modes and unlockables provide enough content to keep me coming back long after launch later this May.