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Splatoon 2 single player preview - An early look at how Hero Mode plays

More evolution than revolution

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Product: Splatoon 2 | Publisher: Nintendo
For: Switch
Splatoon 2 Switch, thumbnail 1
Nintendo has kindly provided us with an early copy of Splatoon 2, so we can take a look at it ahead of the launch to help you make your purchasing decision.

All multiplayer modes are currently unavailable though, so we're refined to the single player Hero Mode for now. It picks up right where the original left off, with you working with Marie to try and find the missing Callie.

Marie's had to take Cap'n Scuttlefish's place, after he also disappeared. So it's up to you to once again battle the Octarians, get to the bottom of the disappearances, and rescue the poor Inklings.

But we're aware that you probably don't care all that much about the plot of Splatoon 2. Well, not as much as you care about how it plays. That's what this preview is really about, so read on to learn more.

How does it play?

For this preview, we played three levels of the single player campaign, and our first impression is that Hero Mode is more of an evolution than a revolution.

If you played the original Splatoon, the single player will feel instantly familiar. You still access it via a drain pipe in Inkopolis, access each level from a hub in Octo Canyon, and still have to rescue zapfish to complete a level.

The hub world is dotted with stuff to do from balloons to pop, platforming challenges to complete, and items to find. There's a noticeable bit more to achieve outside of a level than in the original, and it's a welcome change.

Levels are also very similar, and play as a selection of platforming and combat challenges broken up by Super Jumps and checkpoints. There's still secrets to find as well.

What's changed?

The initial few levels are clearly designed to train you up for the challenges ahead, with a huge focus placed on learning the different controls and mechanics. So far, so Splatoon.

However, level three does start to up the ante with some welcome new mechanics, like a Mario Kart-style boost ramp, and a spinning, car wash-style ink brush.

Both lead to some interesting sections. You use the boost ramps to perform larger leaps, get around enemies, or generally go faster, and have to quickly rush past the ink brushes when they disappear. Later, these mechanics come together in a really fun way too.

Occasionally, you'll also come across an enemy with a balloon tied to its head. This forces you to make a decision between dispatching the enemy quickly and safely, but losing the balloon, or grab the goodies inside the balloon before taking on the enemy.

It's an awesome risk / reward system that feels very Nintendo. Rather than include an arbitrary difficulty mode at the beginning, Nintendo instead lets you decide how hard you want the experience to be, and rewards you for taking on the optional challenge.

What are our early thoughts?

We haven't seen anywhere near enough of Splatoon 2's single player Hero Mode to make a definitive judgement, but what we've seen so far has been very promising indeed.

Yes, it's very similar to the single player campaign in the original. But everything feels much tighter, and some welcome new mechanics are introduced as early as level three.

These change the gameplay in meaningful ways, resulting in a fun, and memorable experience. If a steady stream of experiences like this are drip fed throughout the game, then we can't see any reason it won't best its predecessor.

Efforts have also clearly been made to increase the difficulty - though not in a way that forces extra challenge onto you. Nintendo instead lets you decide how difficult you want the experience to be, and rewards you for taking on the extra challenge.

For now, we're going to stick to our catchphrase that Splatoon 2 is an evolution, rather than a revolution for the franchise. It's much tighter, polished, and challenging than before, with interesting new mechanics appearing early on.

But the real challenge for Nintendo is keeping that up for the duration of the campaign. What we've seen so far is very promising, but we'll wait for the full review to provide our definitive opinion.

Reviewer photo
Glen Fox 11 July 2017
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