Splatoon 2 seems like an extension of the original Wii U game, and in many ways that’s not far from the truth. This is a good thing: Splatoon 2 looks good, sounds good, and feels good, carrying over many of Splatoon’s best traits. But there are plenty of surprises in store as well, as we’ve discovered while playing through the first half of the single player campaign. We can’t talk about anything beyond the first three worlds, but that still leaves plenty of meat on the bone: there are new weapons and mechanics to discuss, not to mention that the stages we’ve played are above and beyond the original game’s opening hours. So we’ve put together a rundown of our favorite gameplay changes and other additions that make us smile; however, we also want to hear from you, so let us know what you’re most looking forward to in Splatoon 2 in the comments below.
And to catch up on any Splatoon 2 news and information that you may have missed, check out the latest Nintendo Direct announcements, our impressions of the Salmon Run mode from E3 2017, and the complicated headset you may need to assemble to chat with your friends when playing Splatoon 2 online.
Early on in Splatoon 2, you’re given access to the Splat Dualies: a pair of pistols that effectively doubles the firepower of your starting weapon. One of the obvious advantages of this is that–with a gun in each hand–you can cover a wider swath of space in front of you as you shoot.
The most important aspect of wielding Dualies however is the accompanying dodge-roll mechanic that they enable. Where your best best for avoiding incoming fire in the original Splatoon was to turn into a squid and hide within ink on the ground, the dodge-roll granted by the Dualies is a snappier maneuver, and can be used twice in rapid succession, allowing you to quickly avoid enemy ink, and pop up fast enough to return fire. – Peter Brown
Grinding On Rails
Swimming through ink is part and parcel of Splatoon, and sometimes that means riding a narrow stream of ink from one platform to another. In the original Splatoon, this was a process that could only be accomplished in squid form, but Splatoon 2 introduces the ability to stand up and ride jets of ink on your heels.
If you’ve ever played Sunset Overdrive or Jet Grind Radio, the sensation of grinding in Splatoon 2 will feel very familiar. But whether or not you get a twinge of nostalgia, this mechanic no doubt enhances your mobility in Splatoon 2 and is fun in the process. Riding rails can feel like sitting on a mini rollercoaster, albeit one where you are free to jump rails and fire guns to take out enemies or acquire nearby collectibles. I don’t think anyone asked for this feature, but it’s a welcome surprise that perfectly suits Splatoon 2’s style of movement. – Peter Brown
The boss battles in the first Splatoon were some of the high points in that game’s single-player mode, so it’s no surprise that Splatoon 2 includes the most ridiculous bosses this side of Inkopolis. The new ink-spraying giants that conclude each world are utterly ridiculous, and will test your knowledge of the game’s weapons, as well as the new mechanics introduced throughout the campaign.
The game’s first world has a banger of a boss battle in the Octo Oven. The eight-sided industrial appliance fires I Love Lucy-sized loaves of bread through its doors, and eventually chases you down with its donut-glaze apparatus. And the second one gets even weirder, with a unicycle-riding samurai flinging ink with his roller katana. The vivid colors and striking character designs make Splatoon 2’s bosses a joy to fight, as well as a psychedelic assault on the senses. – Joey Yee
Swim While Charging
If you liked the Charger in the first Splatoon, it’s now even more dangerous. You can now swim for a short period of time while your rifle is fully charged, and when you surface, your powerful sniper shot is ready to go. This allows you to safely hide in the ink while your opponent is firing at you, then pop up quickly and blast them with a one-hit KO shot.
The new-and-improved Charger shines on single player’s Turf War-style levels against a slew of enemies that are dead-set on hunting you down. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice the timing–since you’ll lose your charge after a few seconds in the ink–and it’s getting us even more excited to try it out in multiplayer when the time comes. – Kallie Plagge
Higher Difficulty And Smarter AI
While the original Splatoon’s single player was memorable, it wasn’t especially challenging. Splatoon 2 brings more creative, trickier movement challenges and smarter enemies into single player. Completing each level is satisfying but not overly difficult, and each successive level builds upon your understanding of gameplay. There are also Turf War-like levels against a swarm of clever opponents; these enemies actually track you down and have you on your toes instead of just being sitting targets. Even traversing the overworld is engaging, since each area highlights a different movement mechanic and rewards you for applying your knowledge. Taken together, it feels more comprehensive and complete than the original’s single-player mode. – Kallie Plagge
We’ve already covered Splatoon 2’s awesome new grinding mechanic, but the single player mode has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve when it comes to getting around a map. In the second area of levels, you are introduced to floating lures, and these little items can turn your ink gun into a grappling hook. You generally need a weapon that can fire great distances–the Splat Charger, for example–to make use of them. Basically, if your shot can reach a lure, you’ll be reeled toward its location. Splatoon 2 uses lures in conjunction with timing-based challenges at first, but we’re hoping to see them combined in a level with the grindable ink rails to really open up Splatoon 2’s newfound appreciation for movement variety (as if swimming wasn’t cool enough). – Peter Brown
The Sunken Scrolls return and they are even more wild than before. I won’t spoil the contents of these scrolls, but they do a great job of filling in the backstory with a laugh or two. What’s more is how much fun it is to track down these collectibles. Thankfully, instead of having hundreds of collectibles there are only two per stage– a Sunken Scroll and an item used to upgrade your weapons– so each one is carefully placed and finding them encompasses a wide range of challenges. Some can be pretty easy to find while others will have you scouring the area. They force you to use the game’s mechanics in creative ways and when you pair that with the level variety it becomes a satisfying treasure hunt. – Jake Dekker
Roller Speed Boost
Rollin’ with a Roller in Splatoon was a great way to cover large chunks of turf in ink, even if it didn’t make for the best offensive weapon. Fast forward to today, and there’s been a small but meaningful update applied to the Roller for Splatoon 2, which, while not geared towards improving the weapon’s stopping power, does ultimately make you a more efficient inker. Now, when using a roller on foot to spread ink on the ground, you can gain a quick burst of speed if you keep your momentum up for a few seconds. This speeds up the process of covering an area in ink, and introduces a new quirk for Splatoon veterans to explore in addition to the roller’s other change: it now spits out a vertical dash of ink when used mid-jump. – Peter Brown