Hands-On: Splatoon

Adam:

I’ve been excited about Splatoon since its E3 unveiling, enthralled by the idea of Nintendo’s take on a genre that had seemingly been run dry to the point where I was completely apathetic to it: the multiplayer shooter. Fortunately Nintendo has injected it with all the fun I’ve come to expect from the company, eschewing the tired traditions that others have treated with a little too much reverence.

The goal in Splatoon, or at least the demo, is not to pop open your opponents’ heads in dramatic bloody clouds but to spread bright and colourful ink across the map via guns and grenades, hoping to eclipse your opponents’ efforts to do the same. It’s a really great idea that maintains the tension of each game right through to the end, as a match can swing so dramatically in either team’s favour. In my first match we managed to come back from the brink of defeat in the final thirty seconds of the game, whereas in another we managed to win by 0.1%

You can also turn into a squid and travel at a much higher speed through your team’s ink. This opens up a lot of paths when you shoot it through fenced-off areas or up walls to a higher elevation, and I’m pretty excited to see the wealth of strategy that will come about due to this mechanic. I tried a number of things, such as hiding in my ink to wait for an opponent to come along to take them out; though they usually outplayed me and had an ally waiting right behind me.

The biggest surprise of Splatoon was just how well the motion controls worked. When I first heard you’d be swinging the gamepad round in order to aim, I’ll admit to a disappointed groan. I knew I’d be switching that off immediately should it be an option; not so any more. The motion controls are incredibly responsive and natural, and I never found my character looking around in ways I didn’t intend.

According to a Nintendo rep, Splatoon does away with the woefully tired perks and layouts systems that every other multiplayer shooter seems to stubbornly implement: I started the game with the same equipment as everyone else, and it was up to me and my team to utilise these tools with ingenuity to gain victory rather than choosing the better tools to head in to battle with. There are no inherent advantages or disadvantages to either side thanks to this.

The game looks great, the bright and colourful industrial city that the demo took place in a fresh air after the brown and grey blurs that I’ve grown used to from the genre. Every character was a girl in a colour scheme to match her team, particularly in their bright hair.

In short, I think Splatoon will be a desperately needed breath of fresh air to blow away the dust and cobwebs that have been plaguing the genre for a little too long, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final product next year.

Seán:

I’d heard stuff about Splatoon and obviously I had watched the Nintendo Direct on it, but I gave the Treehouse E3 videos a miss so i wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was quite the shooter fan back when I was young and although I am less so now, I do go back to them to turn off and have a relaxing time when other games fill me up with lethargy. Obviously I’ve played some of the Battlefield games, so I have danced with titles that focus on objectives other than killing each other.

Luckily because of the size of the squads seemingly being limited to four a side, the chance of one person being able to make a huge shift in the powerplay seems particularly common and welcoming. That said, one player still can’t be everywhere at once and as it is based on how much ground is covered in your team’s paint, it’s easy for you to feel like your contribution isn’t helping to ease their failings.

Aiming with the motion controls was a mixed bag; aiming side to side was intuitive and easy but with raising your aim, it began to feel very much like something that needs time to adjust to as the paint is affected by gravity. It does mean that you can hit platforms and the like above you even if you don’t have a view, but it also means that height advantages are distinctly more advantageous than in regular shooters.

With points being more closely tied to the total area of the ground being covered in one team’s paint than defeating opponents, it did make every inch count. It does make it quite easy for you to miss some easy points like in your side’s base; the base never seemed to be fully covered even if it would result in easy points.

The number of advantages to having your paint laid out is staggering in some ways, especially if you consider the slightly higher levels of play. Hiding in paint is a basic principle but most people seemed to stay on the ground for that. The walls however are the better hiding points. As only ground covered in paint counts towards your team’s points, walls – especially ones that you don’t really have need of climbing – become great ambush points. There seem to be numerous tactics that your paint offers you. People can be distracted by areas of paint in your colour and you can take them out while they attempt to cover it.

As Adam says, we were told that there isn’t a perks system or anything along those lines but the points that we racked up did seem to be for more than just to give specific payers bragging rights during and briefly after the game. We were also rewarded points for winning a game just as you would for anything from League of Legends to Call of Duty. I would hope that there are things to unlock; even if only art, costumes and nothing of power. Some sort of progression system always gives people a reason to carry on with multiplayer games and will hopefully make this a title that lasts.

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Written by Adam S

Hailing from Parts Unknown, Adam grew up with a passion for three things: Videogames, anime, and writing. Unfortunately his attempts to combine the three have yet to form Captain Planet, but they have produced some good byproducts.

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