Although anyone who played the original Splatoon or took part in the recent Splatoon 2 Global Testfire will no doubt be excited for the intense ink-splatting multiplayer that’s in store, we were intrigued by the game’s single-player campaign, better known as Hero Mode.
Accessed via a manhole cover (or should that be squidhole cover) in Inkopolis Square, Splatoon 2’s Hero Mode sees players descend into the underground world of the Octarians known as Octo Canyon in search of the missing Zapfish and Callie herself, one half of the Squid Sisters. To aid you in your quest you’ll have the other Squid Sister, Marie, helping you out. In Cap’n Cuttlefish’s absence, Marie’s been keeping an eye on the Octarians so she’s in the know about what they’ve been up to, and is always ready with some hints and tips to get you through.
Octo Canyon is made up of several areas, which each contain a variety of individual levels followed by a boss you’ll have to defeat before you move onto the next area. But just maneouvering yourself around these hubs is a challenge in itself. The levels aren’t marked out, but instead hidden around the hub as transparent outlines that you’ll need to splat into visibility like an Unfinished Swan mini-game. You access the levels through similar kettles to the original Splatoon, but you’ll just have to find them first. Doing that will require some Splatoon skill, with players having to work out how to use platforms and different surfaces to get around.
At times it’s quite clear that Splatoon 2’s Hero Mode is a very cleverly disguised tutorial aimed at those unfamiliar with how the original game functioned – and unfortunately, a lot of gamers missed out on the joy of Splatoon.
But don’t let that fact turn you off from Hero Mode. From what we’ve played so far, each level is brilliantly crafted, introducing new gameplay techniques as you progress, ramping up the difficulty curve. There are ink-fuelled ride rails that you grind along to access the next section and shot-activated Ink Furlers that look like a cross between used waxing strips and party blowers and act as temporary platforms. Plus more combat-focused items like the Roloniums, which are five ink-charged rollers bound together that can be use as projectors by the enemy or you.
There’s another familiar face here to welcome you into Splatoon 2’s Hero Mode too, Sheldon. One of your buddies from the original game, Sheldon is a master of experimental weaponry and throughout Hero Mode you’ll be able to trial and test a selection of these new weapons. Our particular favourite is the Splosher, which is merely a massive bucket that you use to chuck paint at enemies.
Each level also gives you plenty to come back to as well, with Sardinium used to upgrade your weapons within Hero Mode and Scrolls used to unlock a little more of the game’s backstory.
It’s a shame that none of your progress in Hero Mode relates to your progress on the multiplayer side. The in-game currency you earn can’t be used outside Hero Mode and any progression made is limited simply to this mode. There’s also not as deep a narrative as we’d expected from the trailers Nintendo put out beforehand. It’s very much focused on action and exploration.
Thankfully, what we’ve played so far is wonderfully inventive and there’s plenty to discover in Hero Mode too.
Is Splatoon 2 going to be good?
From playing through the early stages of Splatoon 2‘s single-player Hero Mode, it’s clear that the same level of depth and devotion paid to the multiplayer is applied here. You may worry that it starts off very mundane, feeling more like an overblown tutorial than a worthy campaign. But give it time and Hero Mode is very much worthy of your attention, exploding out into a well-crafted, inventive single-player option that should complement the multiplayer wonderfully.
Splatoon 2 is out July 15, 2017, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.