The Nintendo Switch is primarily a console for me to take on the go. I did exactly that with a recent trip to E3, bringing with my Legend of Zelda and Mario Kart progress for the ride. It’s not only that the console is so well designed for mobile use, but also the fact that Nintendo understands its strongest use case when developing its games. Breath of the Wild has many, many shrines that act as neat little micro time sinks. Mario Kart keeps races fast and brief for quick play. ARMS has intense fights that never last over two minutes each. And now Splatoon 2 features a campaign that can be chewed through in small, brief sittings.
Splatoon was lauded for its insanely addictive multiplayer (something which I have yet to properly try with its sequel), but its single-player was an often overlooked gem. The series of hand-crafted levels made you think about the game’s mechanics in a way that shooting focused online play usually didn’t. That’s pretty much been doubled down on in Splatoon 2, with more expansive playgrounds housing each stage acting as navigational puzzles themselves. Simply finding each new level is a treat on its own, and that’s ignoring the many distractions the game throws at you when exploring these small hubs.
But it’s the structure of each of the levels that really stands out. Much like the first game, each hub world requires you to complete each of its smaller missions to unlock final big boss fights. Each of these levels has a theme. One taught me how to use a sniper rifle and grappling hooks to get around a space more efficiently. Another impeded my progress with massive, octopus controlled bowling balls of paint, which would flatten me almost instantly. There’s even one of two stealth-based missions thrown in for good measure, making me think about navigation through ink and when not to engage enemies.
Each of Splatoon 2’s single-player stages can be thought of as its own condensed puzzle, which both throws past hazards at you while gently introducing new mechanics for you to grapple with. In this sense, it creates a campaign that is incredibly easy to pick up and play. Each of the stages can be completed in any order, and revisited at any time should you wish to clean up on collectables, attempt it with a new weapon or just refresh on some missed mechanics.
But they’re never massive time investments that you might find in other shooters. So far all of Splatoon 2’s stages range from around six to twelve minutes to complete – perfect for scratching that itch you might have in a pinch of time. It lends itself to mobile play in this sense. While you might have wanted to churn out a shrine or two while waiting for an appointment in Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2 offers the same sort of adaptability to the console it’s on. It’s easy to just want to play another level when they’re this tightly condensed. A piecemeal instead of having to eat a full course all in one sitting.
And yet despite the short lengths of each stage, the entirety of the campaign feels pretty fleshed out. Each stage has so far been captivating, on tangibly aware of the skills I’ve become comfortable with in stages beforehand. Splatoon 2’s single-player feels so far like a perfect evolution of the mode so many ignored the first time around. A differently focused portion of a game that is otherwise so focused on shooting, which allows its more nuanced movement and traversal mechanics to really shine brightest.
There are many more aspects to this new campaign that I still need to sift through (weapon upgrades, progression and the great boss battles), but you can look out for our full thoughts on the game early next week.
Last Updated: July 12, 2017