Fri. Mar 24th, 2023
Ready, ready, paint!

Ready, ready, paint!


If there’s an online gaming trend, you can bet Nintendo showed up embarrassingly late to the party. Multiplayer modes, friend lists, in-game voice chat, downloadable games, bug fixes, DLC, even smartphone gaming – for nearly a decade, the company has been too busy catching up to lead or innovate in this area.

Such a track record puts a lot of pressure on Splatoon, Nintendo’s first game to focus primarily on online multiplayer. (We wrote extensively about that same issue earlier this month, but just to know: Nintendo hasn’t yet launched a game with an online versus shooter mode in nine years.) Good news: that fact has allowed the developer to take exactly the kind of risks that make this four-on-four combatant so promising. The game’s paint-to-claim turf conceit is refreshing, and its best ideas pump new blood into the third-person shooter genre.

There is absolute pleasure to be had in a well Splatoon battle, but the catch here is the future tense. Splatoon reveals more than a few signs of immaturity in the online gaming space, but the worst offense is that Nintendo is unfortunately catching up with another big gaming trend of late. This is yet another retail launch of an unfinished game. The version of Splatoon we’d like to play – other than the one people are willing to spend $60 on – apparently hasn’t been made yet.

A long way from Bob Ross

The game’s primary “turf war” mode pits teams of four against each other in symmetrical arenas with one simple goal: cover the ground with paint. Before battle, players can choose from a variety of weaponized brushes and implements that would make Bob Ross weak at the knees, from a Super Soaker to a giant roller brush to a very, very messy paint uzi.

Once a match’s two-minute timer begins, players must shoot or roll to cover as much of the arena as possible with their color. That’s when the “weaponed” part of the armory comes into play; if an opponent is drenched in the enemy’s color, he or she is “knocked out” and must wait to respawn, giving the opposing team a great opportunity to put down an opponent’s jacket .

Don’t waste too much time collecting kills, though. Victory and experience points are gained by having more of your color on the battlefield when the whistle blows. But the paint isn’t just about dots; it also lets players quickly cross the battlefield, because SplatoonThe attitude-laden, paint-blasting teens also happen to be, er, squid. At the touch of a button, players transform into a fast-swimming cephalopod that can whiz faster through its friendly color. For strategic purposes, these squids can also run up and over most walls covered in friendly paint.

Paint swimming is crucial for advanced swimmers Splatoon play. It allows quick escapes, helps players reach key towers in the middle of arenas, and provides hiding places wherever a player puts some paint. Forget the tired cliché of chest-high coverage. This swim mechanic sold us as something we’d love to revisit in other third-person shooters.

In addition to primary paint weapons, players also have access to a secondary weapon – a variety of grenades for the most part – and a special attack. The latter cannot be activated until a player has deposited enough paint during a match, at which point they can click the right stick down and instantly temporarily equip anything from a “paint zooka” to a giant wave attack to a special radar sensor.

Players receive in-game money at the end of each match, which can be spent on new weapons and outfits. Things like shoes, shirts, and hats aren’t just cosmetic; they have benefits such as faster swim speeds, larger paint tanks, and faster reloads for special attacks.

The gun shop, meanwhile, sells a few types of weapons in total: short-range blasters, medium-range machine guns, longer-range “sniper rifles,” and the melee-specific paintroller. A new weapon – usually one you’ve seen before with minor tweaks to stats like range and speed – unlocks in the shop after each level you’ve cleared through experience points, and each weapon is linked to a range of secondary and special weapons . So if you want a sniper rifle with a stun grenade and a special super squid attack, you’re out of luck. As far as we can tell, Nintendo has not included that trio in its pre-assembled packages.

Are you going on a snipe hunt?

All on paper Splatoon‘s elements look pretty good (and not just because of the bright paint splatters, yuk yuk), but they don’t come together to form a smooth online fighting experience.

For one, weapons don’t feel all that different from one another, at least not in any satisfying way. The sniper class makes this especially apparent, as while players are asked to hold down the shot button to “load” full-range sniper shots, those charged shots don’t reach very far – not even twice as far as the machine gun class. In practice, that range reduction is too weak to be worth the speed trade-off.

Really, none of the weapons matched the on-screen crosshairs well, as they all have a scattershot effect – presumably because Nintendo wants players to focus on painting. That’s all well and good, but these are armed paintguns, and there is a distinct “respawn delay” benefit to taking out an enemy. If Nintendo had sent a few classes that were better at fighting and worse at painting, we’d better appreciate the choice and the inherent bonuses and flaws that come with each class. But we only have one combat-oriented loadout, and that shotgun-style rifle was also too slow and imprecise for its alleged power boost.

This could be because Splatoon‘s netcode has been pretty shaky in preview sessions – those hosting no more than 200 players, as opposed to the thousands that will presumably descend on Splatoon once it hits retail. We’re not sure if we should blame weapon balancing or netcode, but we consistently performed best with the uzi class – a weapon with high rates of fire and “low” range (although, again, in Splatoon, that doesn’t say much). Surprisingly, because it offered more range than the paintroller melee class, the uzi outperformed the roller all the time. We’d even have enemies hit us with the roller and survive, thanks to laggy moments (all while connected via gigabit on our end).

The other major issue with gear is that outfits have perks, or more importantly, higher level outfits have more perks. This is not a DutySituation in style where advanced players get more variety but still subject to the same ultimate in-game limits. Instead, people who have played longer get more benefits in total, and their benefits accumulate. The more you play, the more powerful you become. Should you join the fray as a noob, prepare to slog through at least eight levels – about 5 to 6 hours of fighting – to reach the second level of wearables, let alone the max level at level 15 (which will require another 5 to 6 hours of combat).

By akfire1

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