I've never really been a big fan of online shooter type games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, but when Nintendo released Splatoon about 2 years ago, I quickly changed my tune. The game's fun concept and colorful visuals along with the dual kid/squid gameplay made for a unique experience that I was surprised worked quite well. So now that Splatoon 2 is out, does it fail to live up to the high expectation that its predecessor set, or does it take what it was given and make it even better? Well I've spent a fair amount of time with this game and I think I might be able to tell you.
Now compared to the first Splatoon, the gameplay is virtually unchanged. There are still many of the same main weapons making a return from the previous iteration, but in this game, two new weapon types make their first appearance: The Dualies, dual wielded pistols that give you the ability to perform a dodge-roll; and the Brella, a combination scattergun and shield which can be launched forward trailing ink behind it. In addition to this some new sub weapons were introduced, but that is nothing when you find out that EVERY special attack from the first game has been replaced with one of many brand new ones. These new specials force the player to think of brand new strategies that were not possible in the first game, and I for one welcome them.
Now when playing online, the stage rotation now updates every 2 hours instead of every 4 allowing for more varied arenas more often. Some stages are updated ones that have returned from the previous game, but most of them are brand new with some special exclusive stages that are only available to play during the game's occasional Spatfests, which are time exclusive parties to see which of 2 selectable teams is better in a themed competition.
When online you can play your normal Turf Wars and Ranked Battles like in the previous installment, but now you have 3 ranks for ranked battles; one for each mode. In addition to this, some elements from the battles have been updated. For instance: In Tower Control, you now have to pass by a certain number of check points before the tower can reach its final destination; and in Rainmaker, the rainmaker itself has been upgraded from being a chargable inkzooka to something more like a grenade launcher. Plus now if you want to play Squad Battles, you now have to have a minimum rank of B- to play them as it has been renamed to League Battles and now has its own unique stage rotation separate from the normal ranked battles.
The real star of the show here though is the game's new hoard mode: Salmon Run. In this game mode you and 3 other players will play cooperatively with a random set of loaned weapons to collect golden power eggs from the mutated salmonids living in the toxic waters just off the coast of Inkopolis. Now unfortunately this game mode can't be played whenever you want as it is on this bafflingly asinine clock where it is only open for about 12 to 24 hours every other day, but when it CAN be played I think I can safely say that this is probably my favorite of the game modes available and the unique rewards that come with it certainly more than make up for it.
Now like the previous game, there is a single-player story campaign. In this story we find out that Splatoon 2 takes place 2 years after the events of the first game. You have been chosen by Marie of the Squid Sisters to help her recover the once again stolen Great Zapfish and rescue her missing cousin Callie, the other half of the Squid Sisters. You will learn the game's basics in this mode and it will progressively become more difficult the further you get into the game, but now you can unlock and use any of the nine main weapon types found in online multiplayer and will also have more than double the number collectibles to find with some of them only found in the hub world.
And finally, the dojo from the previous game (which is was the local multiplayer game mode) has been completely removed in favor of a new local multiplayer mode called The Shoal. Instead of it being where you and one other person compete to see who can pop the most balloons before the time expires, it now is just a simple local wireless or LAN mode where 4-8 players can compete against each other in either a regular combat match, or a game of Salmon Run.
Overall, I love all the new content that was introduced and little improvements that were made here and there. You can now customize your hairstyle and leg-wear, the amiibo make a return as a way to save you loadout preferences, you can now assign specific abilities to equipment (assuming you have enough ability chunks), and I especially like that you can now have the ability to buy bonuses like double money or XP from the newly added food truck in the square. To some, the online mode, AKA the main focus of the game, may feel like "more of the same" but that isn't always bad thing. This game did everything right when it comes to sequels: Fix what was broken, and build upon what was already good. I just hope that some day in the future they remove the limitations from Salmon Run, but until then, I'll be seeing you.