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10 Practical Tips for Playing ‘Splatoon 2’

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Look, I’m the first to admit that being a great gamer is not exactly in my skillset. Two things that are, however, are tenacity and predictability. I start something, I fall into a groove, and I stay in said groove. Like a quality turntable stylus or a car stuck on a dirt road. This is all to say that I have played a lot of Splatoon (and now Splatoon 2). Like, a lot a lot. Easily hundreds of hours on the Wii U alone. That’s more time than I’ve put into Skyrim (on multiple different systems). Hell, that might be more time than I’ve played Animal Crossing!

Because of this, I’ve learned a few things, and it was pretty clear to me, at first blush, that these hard-fought splatting skills translate directly to the brand new Nintendo Switch release Splatoon 2. Still, despite its basic shooter underpinning, Splatoon‘s core Turf War mode—with its focus on “marking your territory” in your team’s colored ink—can surely seem a bit confusing to first-timers.

So allow me to demystify this world of Inklings and Octolings. If you’re having trouble, feeling overwhelmed, or just can’t seem to get into that… well, groove, read on for my 10 Squid Commandments.

1. Know Your Role

There are two acceptable weapon types in Splatoon, Rollers and Shooters.

Okay, clearly I’m being a tad hyperbolic; the Splatoon series plays host to a myriad of weapons, and Splatoon 2 only adds to this bounty. That said, Turf War is all about inking territory, and Roller- and Shooter-type armaments are clearly designed to do just that. Sloshers and Dualies offer a bit more mobility at the expense of coverage, while Brushes and Blasters, though better suited to straight-up combat, can ink a moderate amount of terrain in the right hands.

But what, you ask, if you’re a Charger or Splatling gun kinda guy? Well, in that case, my friend, you’ve just volunteered to be crowd control. Congratulations. Find yourself a central perch and enjoy picking off the other team as they frantically scramble to paint the proverbial town, you aggro psychopath you. Just don’t expect to be claiming a ton of ground in the name of the motherland.

Switch Splatoon 2 charger
Have fun NOT inking turf, you lunatic! image: NOA

2. Splatoon 2‘s  Turf War Mode Ain’t Deathmatch!!!

As a special reminder most specifically for the aforementioned players who tend to gravitate toward the sniper rifle-like Chargers and the Gatling gun-style Splatling cannons, Turf War ain’t deathmatch.

Allow me to repeat: Turf War ain’t deathmatch!

Arguably, the coolest part of Splatoon is that your ammo, cover, and (especially within the realm of Turf War) scoring system all hinge on the same single concept, that being ink. This means the same thing used to rack up points, in the form of floor coverage, can also be used to damage your foes, but that isn’t your primary concern.

In Turf War, if you spend your entire round chasing down and eliminating the opposing Inklings instead of actively trying to cover enemy ink with your own, don’t be surprised if this negatively affects your score.

3. Fear Ye Not Death

Once again for the folks at home: Turf War ain’t deathmatch. Your kill/death ratio means… well, not nothing, but let’s say very little.

Much like the War Boys, you live, you die, you live again. Or maybe I should say you spawn, some yahoo splats you, and you re-spawn.

Don’t be afraid of this. Fortune favors the bold, so I heartily encourage you to charge into the breach. You might get summarily splatted, or, through some combination of luck and skill, you might not. The only two things that matter are:

A) Am I having fun and B) Am I inking territory for my team.

4. Run to the Hills

Look, I literally mean charge into the breach! Once the countdown timer runs out and the round begins, run for mid-field. This disputed territory is where you want to concentrate your efforts early on.

Why? It’s simple, really; your team’s spawn point, which constitutes something like 0.3-0.4% of the total map area, is intentionally far removed from that of your foes. It’ll be harder for them to get there, as opposed to that central point of the map, which is generally accessible from all sides. As the round progresses, enemy agents will draw ever closer to your home base, and by inking this broad central area and working around the map from that point, you are essentially adding obstacles, slowing them down.

Even in higher-tier (three-star) gear, traveling through enemy ink is a slog, forcing your opponents to cover your ink with their own, thus slowing them down and buying your side valuable milliseconds.

Switch Splatoon 2 Bomb Launcher
Ink some happy little trees right there. image: NOA

5. Every Second Counts

Another reason to refrain from over-spraying the area around your spawn point? Well, let’s just say you’ll see it again soon. Every time you are splatted and re-spawn, you get another chance to make a pass at the land around your home base. This is particularly important during those last few critical seconds of a match. If you are splatted during the final 10-second countdown, that’s a perfect time to fill in the gaps—to “paint the corners,” if you will—around said spawn point.

As a rule, covering enemy ink is always preferable, but in a tight game, any bit of open ground can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

6. Stay Hydrated

In Splatoon 2 as in life, ink horizontal areas for coverage and vertical areas for travel.

Okay, so maybe this advice only applies to Splatoon games. Still, remember that only horizontal surfaces count for Turf War scoring. Vertical areas are inked mostly just to give you and yours access to additional horizontal areas.

But remember that all inked areas provide cover and, more importantly, a place to replenish your ink stores. The tank on your Inklings back is a visual representation of how much ammo you have available. Primary (shooting) and secondary (bombs and the like) attacks all draw from this same reservoir. Simply transforming into a squid and submerging yourself in your team’s color ink replenish this.

(I just wrote the above sentence, like, six times, and, while accurate, it still makes me sound like a raving madman.)

All I’m saying is keep an eye on your ink level.

Switch Splatoon 2 illustration
Peep that full tank. image: NOA

7. Keep Your Finger on the Trigger(s)

Another rule of thumb (rule of finger?!) is, if you’re not swimming, then you should be shooting. Or, as Freak Nasty put it, “if you ain’t dippin’ / you must be trippin’.”

Your dual Joy-Con setup (docked or freehand) or, my personal favorite, the Pro Controller, is designed so that your forefingers easily rest on the ZL and ZR triggers, and this is by design. In Splatoon 2, the former controls your squid transformation while the latter fires your weapon. It is both easy and advisable to keep one depressed at all times.

Since you can’t shoot in squid mode, keeping the ZR depressed means you are constantly firing—that is until you depress ZL, at which point you disappear into familiar ink. Better yet, continually pressing ZL means you are constantly swimming as a squid until you tap ZR, at which point you become a kid and fire a volley at your target.

8. Don’t Hold Grudges

This goes back to that earlier point about deathmatch and those lunati… uh, those special players that like to use weapons like Chargers. Chances are when that dude is on the opposing team, you are going to hate him. Hate. Him.

But next round, when he’s suddenly on your side, he may well save your skin.

It’s easy to get caught up in the game, to become vindictive and overly competitive, but since Turf War mode loves to mix things up, realize that your fiercest enemy may quickly become your ideal ally.

9. Watch That Jump Point (Because You Know the Other Team Is!)

Splatoon 2 makes it very easy to Super Jump—that is to leap high into the air and land near a conveniently located teammate. The only problem? Unless you have gear with the Stealth Jump ability, your enemies can also clearly see your landing marker.

Be a supportive teammate; when you see an ally’s name on a nearby marker, back them up, protect them, cover them. It’s common practice for enemies to use “camp” in nearby ink and blast a Super Jumper to oblivion as soon as they land. It’s your job to try and prevent that from happening.

Switch Splatoon 2 Super Jump
This guy’s about to get splatted. image: NOA

10. Grind Your Gear

Splatoon gear comes in three distinct tiers. One-star items typically have one already available ability and one mystery sub-ability slot that is unlocked by leveling up said item (gaining experience during gameplay with that piece of gear equipped). Two-star gear has one visible and two unlockable subs, while three-star has one and, you guessed it, three subs.

In Splatoon 2, Murch the sea urchin can help you tweak your gear by scrubbing items of unlocked sub-abilities, resetting them and passing on those harvested “ability chunks” to you, which can then be used to spec out other items. It’s a wonderful innovation, but one that is predicated on you continually wearing and leveling up new pieces of gear.

It’s easy to find a set of items that works for you and never bothering to switch things up, but, especially early on, don’t be afraid of change. You may just find a brand new pair of shoes, piece of headgear, or item of clothing that’s your new favorite, or, worst case scenario, you can break it down for spare ability chunks to use later.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that sometimes your character looks just plain silly—wearing a football helmet, a tank-top, and clogs, for example. But sometimes you just gotta take fashion risks!

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