Some are criticising Splatoon 2 for being the same as the original with some extra tweaks to port it to the Nintendo Switch, but there’s more to this sequel than a fresh lick of paint. And for us, the main appeal is the new 2-4 player horde mode, known as Salmon Run.
For this mode, there’s no name that’s more appropriate, because at times it can feel like trying to swim upstream against a strong current. You’ll have to work with your teammates to fend off waves of enemies in one of the most exciting horde modes in years.
These varied enemies pop up from the murky depths of the ocean – at least in the map we played. Defeating the biggest of them will drop shining eggs that need to be collected and taken to the basket that moves around the map with each round.
Each wave will require you to deposit a certain quota of eggs within a specific time limit, and the harder you put the difficulty scale the more you’ll have to get into the basket within that set time limit, with an increasing number of enemies and other elements to deal with.
We played the new mode with three other players and initially only had the difficulty at 5%, but that still meant we crashed out in the first mode because we weren’t working together as a team.
You can tell your teammates your location by hitting up on the D-Pad (or left Joy-Con) and you’ll have to revive downed teammates by splatting their floating lifeguard ring with a dose of life-giving ink.
As the waves get more intense, the number of eggs you need to bag goes up. And the same with the difficulty curve. When we’d smashed the 5% difficulty we tried 15% and the difference was palpable. Enemies still only have one spawn point, but the frequency of the bosses increased and they all require different tactics.
There’s one that requires you to lob grenades in his boxes while they’re open; another umbrella-shaped fellow that can only be hit when he’s opened up; another with a huge shield that can only be hit from behind; and another that throws exploding ink sacks that can only be hit when they spawn on his head.
Without communication, teamwork and some tactics, the mode is near impossible, but surviving the three rounds is seriously gratifying. Especially when you consider you’ve got to beat the bosses, fend off the other smaller enemies and avoid a rising/falling tide too, it all gets very intense.
We were told it gets even more vigorous the higher the difficulty percentage you go to. Our spokesperson informed us that the tides will change more regularly, even mid-match, mists can roll in to limit visibility and fireflies will start attaching themselves to one member of your squad, which causes all enemies to focus on them throughout that wave.
It’s interesting that the game is another launching without the voice chat support from the companion app, leaving friends unable to speak to each other unless they play locally or using a third-party alternative.
Is Splatoon 2 going to be good?
From the few sessions of the traditional Turf War combined with Salmon Run as a new, totally addictive, horde mode, Splatoon 2 is shaping up to be a strong multiplayer game for the Switch.
We can’t wait to see how the single-player campaign shapes up, and thankfully we don’t have too much longer to wait.
Splatoon 2 is coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch on July 21.