After the Nintendo Direct focused entirely on Splatoon, a beta of sorts was released for free so people can test the game out. I was able to get in for two of the three available sessions of the Global Test Fire. Having not been able to try the game out at PAX East this year, I was excited to try out Nintendo’s new 3rd person shooter.
After playing 2 hours of the game, I came away with more excitement for Splatoon’s release than I did going in. While there were only two maps to battle on and four weapons to choose from, there was a ton of fun to be had. While most shooters focus on the kill, whether it’s Free-For-All or Team Deathmatch, Splatoon focuses on team based mechanics of covering the arena in your team’s ink. This might not sound like much of a deviation from the norm but it does so much in terms of setting it apart from other shooters.
In games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, you’re sole objective is to kill. Sure, you might have to plant a bomb or defend a location, but there is always one thing for you to do and that’s to kill as many players on the other team as possible. In Splatoon, killing is set as a secondary objective, which makes it all the more rewarding when you do get kills. You’re rewarded more for helping you team (i.e splatting the level in ink) and you gain more points towards unlocking your Special Weapon. Since killing isn’t as important, it takes away the frustration of getting killed multiple times in a row. If I ever was killed over and over again, I’d just go off and help my team by painting a part of the map with our ink or taking some of the opposing teams turf.
The squid mechanic is beautifully integrated into the combat, acting as both your sprint function and your reload. This is great for taking on incoming opponents, both escaping their ink and refueling yours to fight back. They compliment each other very well and led to multiple kills that just felt so rewarding. It also helped with maneuvering through the levels, which were both designed with certain encounter types in mind. Splatting the walls with ink and swimming up it to ambush an enemy was incredibly satisfying and turned out to be a great tactic.
The levels were both focused on certain aspects of battle, with Walleye Warehouse being designed for close quarters combat and Saltspray Rig having an emphasis on vertical play. Both were decently designed and led to some close matches. My favorite had to be Saltspray Rig, mainly because there was more options available to the player. You could hang back and claim more turf for your team or rush ahead towards the middle and battle it out for supremacy. I found a good equilibrium of fighting and spraying ink which were both a blast.
The weapons you had to choose from were quite varied with Shooters, a Charger and a Roller. Trying each out, I found myself going with the Splattershot or Splattershot Jr. more than the Charger or Roller. It felt at home to someone who is very familiar with 3rd person shooters. I was able to pull of some pretty great kills with the Charger and the Roller is a tank when it comes to splatting ink for your team. Overall, the weapon selection was decent and with more to be unlocked in the final version, the variety seems good. My only complaint had to be the choosing of the weapons. I’m not sure if it will work like this for the final version but you chose one of the four layouts before knowing the map. Because both maps were designed with different combat scenarios in mind, it felt like I was gimped when picking a weapon. While the Charger was really effective on the open Saltspray Rig, it was terribly inefficient on the close quarters Walleye Warehouse. Knowing you’ll be able to create your own custom class of sorts, hopefully this problem is alleviated in the final version of the game.
The control can be a bit hit or miss at times. Initially, the motion control was turned on which was bothersome for me at least. While it was helpful for being very precise, especially with the likes of the Charger, it was more of a burden. Turning it off made a world of difference and vastly improved my enjoyment. Unless you want to test it out for some reason, turn off the motion control. Other than that the game feels great. The movement of your character, both squid and inkling, are fluid and fun and the camera works as expected. No major issues minus the motion control.
As a stress test for the servers, I found it remarkable how well the game performed. With Nintendo’s rather embarrassing online history, my biggest doubt about Splatoon was the servers being generally awful. Seeing as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, six months after launch, barely works for me online, I feared the worst when it came to connection issues with the Splatoon Global Test Fire. To my surprise, I only disconnected about twice and never encountered a hint of lag. This was probably the best part of the beta, besides the game being a blast to play. It gave me faith that the final version will actually be playable day one.
Overall, the Splatoon Global Test Fire was success in my book. The game feels like no other shooter out there and I had more fun with 2 hours of this beta than I’ve had with a shooter in five years. I had a blast from start to finish and was always left upset when it eventually kicked me out. Splatoon feels exactly how a Nintendo Shooter should and it benefits tremendously from it’s innovative gameplay mechanics. I honestly believe this is the revolution shooters needed and I can’t wait to play more.
You can play Splatoon when it launches on May 29th exclusively on the Wii U.
Image sourced from Nintendo
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