Over the weekend, Nintendo held the first Global Testfire event for Splatoon 2, the company’s follow-up to 2015’s surprise hit. While the Testfire offered merely a small sampling of features, it did provide some interesting insight into what fans can expect when the title launches on Nintendo Switch this summer.
During the Global Testfire, four weapons were available from the upcoming title: the Splattershot, Splat Roller, Splat Charger and the brand-new Splat Dualies. The former three weapons control mostly similarly to the original game; the Dualies however, offer players a bit more freedom, particularly with the new roll option. Two new arenas were also on display: The Reef and Musselforge Fitness, both of which fit perfectly with the types of stages that appeared in the original Splatoon.
While the new stages and weapons received the most attention from players, I was more interested to see how the new title handled on Switch, particularly with the loss of the GamePad’s second screen. The Wii U controller was a blessing in Splatoon, as it allowed players to see the entire map and quick jump to join their teammates after each respawn. As we’ve mentioned in the past, that option no longer exists in Splatoon 2. Quick jumps are still available and players can now pull up the map at any time by pressing the “X” button. It’s a serviceable solution, but the loss of the map screen does take a bit of getting used to. I found myself accidentally pulling it up a handful of times, when I meant to jump, instead. Unfortunately, I was only able to play the demo in handheld format, so I can’t talk about the game’s use of HD Rumble.
Thankfully, the rest of the game’s controls remain mostly the same, and that’s a very good thing. One of Splatoon‘s greatest strengths was the ease with which new players could jump in and learn the game’s mechanics, which is probably why the Testfire format has worked so well in the past for Nintendo. Splatoon 2 seems to retain that same simplicity, while also featuring enough depth to keep older fans returning.
Surprisingly, the Global Testfire demo accommodated players that aren’t fond of motion control aiming. I’m not sure if the Testfire demo for the original Splatoon allowed for the option to be changed from the default, but I was pleasantly impressed that Nintendo allowed players to choose between control schemes, particularly since most players seem to prefer the motion controls. The right analog stick felt a bit more responsive than it was on Wii U, which took some getting used to, but I was happy that I didn’t have to dump my preferred control option.
Splatoon 2‘s music seems to be a big improvement over the original title. While Splatoon‘s soundtrack had a large fanbase (enough to get a physical release in Japan), I thought the music was catchy at best. The tracks on display over the weekend still fit what Nintendo previously established, but the overall quality seemed a drastic improvement.
Unfortunately, dropped matches seemed to be a bit of an issue during the Testfire. I had a handful of matches end prematurely, and a glimpse at social media led me to believe I wasn’t the only one. The original Splatoon had these problems on occasion, but they were far less frequent. In all likelihood, the problem will be resolved by the time the title sees official release.
So far, Splatoon 2 shows a lot of promise. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the title: we don’t know whether or not to expect the return of the previous title’s mini-games or Amiibo support and just how “new” the game will be overall. That said, we’re still a few months away from the game’s release, and there was more than enough in the demo to make me excited to revisit the franchise. Hopefully Nintendo will be able to get those network issues under control by the time the game releases this summer. I don’t want anything standing between me, my trusty Inkbrush, and splatting some of my fellow squids.