Fire At Will
If the new gameplay modes weren’t enough, the shops in Booyah Base have been hard at work procuring new weapons and clothing styles to take into battle, expanding both your array of strategies, and fashions.
New blasters, chargers, and shooters have been added that expand on the weapons already available–offering changes in range, power, firing rate, subweapon, and special to weapon types we were already familiar with. Most notable though are the additions of some new weapon styles: the inkbrush, the slosher, the semi-automatic, and the splatling.
- The inkbrush (including the Inkbrush, Inkbrush Noveau, and Octobrush) and its derivatives are roller type weapons that cover a smaller area when dragged along the ground, but allows you to move at a higher speed. Unlike rollers, which can splat enemies in one slap, the brush takes 4-5 flicks to dispatch the foe, but knocks them back in the process, and can be flung back and forth rapidly for wide ink coverage.
- The slosher is a bucket that can be used to fling a large amount of ink in an arc, even over walls.
- The semi-automatic (the L-3 Nozzlenose, currently) fires in 3-shot bursts which can be chained together if your timing is superb. It is very accurate, but cannot be fired rapidly.
- The splatling (the Heavy Splatling) must be charged up, before firing a heavy barrage of long-range inkshots when released. The length of time it fires is equal to its charging time, and can be used to deal heavy damage or cover lots of turf if you can balance the charging time well.
These, combined with the already-impressive array of options, mean that no match is ever the same, and there’s plenty of ways for players of all different skill levels to find what works for them. I recommend trying everything! Different weapons work better on different maps, too, or for different play modes, but it’s up to you to choose your preferred splatting method.
To compliment your arsenal, plenty of clothing styles and options have been added to the shops. Rewards from Splatfest allow you to add new slots to your favorite gear, or reroll ones you don’t like, and Spyke in the back alley can help you order gear from other squids you’ve fought online. It may take time, but an ambitious inkling can put together the perfect combination of gear that’s both stylish in the square and effective on the battlefield. I’m still working on my fashion sense, but if my opponents can deliver high payloads of ink in adorable little dresses, so can I!
The Squid World Expands
New modes and new weapons wouldn’t be complete without a host of new places to play them on, right? Six new maps have been rolled out since launch, plus a redesign of an original:
- Port Mackeral is a close-quarters map mostly made of long, narrow corridors. It’s easy to sneak up on people who aren’t paying attention, but equally as easy to be snuck up on. There are a few open areas, one on each side and another in the middle, plus some raised vantage points near those areas. For Turf War, most of the fight will take place in that open middle area. Rainmaker Mode can be challenging here, since the inkzookas can take out anyone in a narrow line down a corridor.
- Kelp Dome is a greenhouse-styled, square map with a large central platform, ramps on either side, and a catwalk perfect for splatting opponents from above. It can be rather tough to navigate for Tower Control or Rainmaker, but that can also be half the fun. In Turf War, you’ll spend a lot of time around the center tower, and in the side pockets nearest the ramps.
- Bluefin Depot features grates, water hazards, and some tarps that cannot be inked, with a few different height levels. The center area is split in two, so it can be difficult to control both sides at once. I didn’t get a chance to play a Ranked Battle on this map, but with all the water and the multiple paths to either side, good positioning seems vital to securing a win.
- Moray Towers is set on two huge, interconnected towers that can be traversed either by narrow ramps going from one to the other, or steep, wide ramps and wall-climbing. This is a map where you’ll likely spend a lot of time dead center, pushing the other team back, as it’s very difficult to sneak around and take new territory. Splat Zones take place mostly in the large, central areas–Rainmaker and Tower Control players would do well to make use of the stage’s height and narrow walkways to keep control.
- Camp Triggerfish is my favorite of the new maps–there are flood gates that aren’t always down, lots of water, islands, and cool rope walkways. Tower Control here is a blast–the Tower is above water most of the time, and easy to fall off of, but also difficult to reach to take back.
- Flounder Heights takes place over an apartment complex, with lots of heights and low areas mixed together, so wall-climbing becomes essential. Splat Zones mostly occur on the two highest buildings, with a bridge between them making it tough to see the other team coming at you. Rainmaker has a wide variety of paths to choose from to get to the other side–Tower Control is made challenging if the other team has brought accurate snipers, as there’s lots of high ground.
- Urchin Underpass received an update in August, making the map bigger (thank you) and moving some trees around.
For all stages, new music has been added to the rotation to keep the spirit of each match totally fresh. I actually like the new tracks even more than most of the originals. There’s a sense of gleeful mayhem about them that captures the essence of Splatoon, especially Turf Wars, perfectly. My personal favorite:
Finally, I want to talk about the Splat Fests. I was at last able to participate in the Autobots v. Decepticons Splat Fest last weekend as an Autobot, unfortunately to crushing defeat. During Splat Fest, everyone picks a team and sports a Splat Fest tee to represent. You’re placed in Turf War teams (Ranked is unavailable during Splat Fest) based on your choice, and (usually) pitted against the opposing group, though I had some matches against fellow Autobots as well.
Both wins and pure participation increase your Splat Fest ranking, which translates to Sea Snails at the end of the Splat Fest, items that can be used to add slots to gear. Both popularity of each team, and its win-rate, contribute to who actually wins the Splat Fest. The winning team receives more Sea Snails for their rank, of course.
At first I was disappointed about being locked out of Ranked during Splat Fest, but after a few matches, I didn’t care anymore. It’s only for a weekend, and during that time, Inkopolis plaza and each Turf War stage (expanded to three during Splat Fest instead of the usual two, but set as those three for the duration of the event) are fully decked out for the fest with decorations, special music, fireworks, everything. Inkopolis Plaza becomes packed full of Inklings, and a special Miiverse designation allows players to post content to Miiverse specifically for the event. It’s all so silly and and extravagant, it’s hard not to get excited about!
Be A Squid Now!
After all the skepticism initially, it’s pretty clear Splatoon isn’t disappearing anytime soon. The game is still fun and relevant three months after launch, with new content still pouring in regularly (there’s still at least one stage we haven’t seen yet, and tons more weapons!), and no sign of the excitement dwindling. If you’re not specifically waiting for the holiday season, now is an excellent time to enter Inkopolis. The amount of gameplay you’ll get out of Splatoon was worth the pricetag at launch, and with all the free DLC, it now far exceeds what you’ll pay.
Splatoon is showing every sign of becoming a staple Nintendo IP, long into future generations of consoles. Long live the squid kids!
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