Splatoon 2: Issues revisited

Back in December of last year, I wrote-up a piece about Splatoon 2, saying:

Nintendo have clearly altered the dynamics in ways that are difficult to decipher, but amount to nothing less than breaking the one thing the game had going for it originally: balance.

As I’ve continued to play Splatoon 2, my feelings about it have evolved — somewhat, anyway.

Let’s start with balance. A recent MyNintendoNews piece, referencing translated excerpts from a Famitsu magazine interview (in Japanese; citations for both are at the bottom of the MNN article linked to above), there have been some challenges in balancing of the gameplay due to the large number of stages in Splatoon 2 vs. the original Splatoon. While the excerpts don’t really talk in detail about the specifics, it was nice to hear Nintendo representatives at least acknowledge that balance is important, they do pay attention to it, and they do adjust it.

I would still say that the Splashdown special in Splatoon 2, in particular, is unreasonably and disproportionately lethal compared to other specials in my view, but recent updates to the game suggest that balancing is happening, the playing field is leveling a bit in some areas, and the game has become more enjoyable to play as a result.

Since so much of Splatoon 2 rests in online multiplayer game play, it goes without saying that player skill levels and game matching then take-on an outsize importance. Here too, it seems that Nintendo could do a better job. But that is a balancing act of skill levels, player rankings, who’s actually wanting to start a game at any given moment, and doubtlessly other factors as well. I’m sure there’s no particular magic here; sometimes, simply put, you win — and sometimes you don’t. All in all, it seems fairer and more balanced in March 2018 than it did in December 2017.

I do have to commend Nintendo on another thing: They are continuing to update and add content to the game, nearly a year after its introduction (though that’s unlikely to continue all that much longer; look at Arms updates, for instance, which were ended after just six months on the market).

The weapons additions are quite regular, but in my view, nearly ridiculously so; there are not significant new capabilities being rolled-out. The “new” weapons are merely remixes and reskins of old ones with new combinations of base, sub, and special weapons. I suppose if your favorites happen to align, it’s interesting; if they don’t, it isn’t.

The stage additions, however, are where things get — and arguably stay — more interesting. There are a lot of them already, more are slated, and with the more-rapid rotation of stages in Splatoon 2 over Splatoon, it’s nice to have that variety and range.

Contrary to my post last December, I’ve continued to play Splatoon 2, and I’ve come to appreciate it more than I did, I suppose, at the time. It continues to be one of the weirder games on the market, one that appeals to a specific (although seemingly broad) audience, based on sales volumes. And it’s one I hope to continue enjoying for a long time to come.