So if anyone was able to catch the news a couple days ago, Wii U owners got the chance to try out Splatoon over the weekend in the Splatoon Global Testfire. Although we didn’t get a lot of time to try out the game, what I did get a taste of was well worth staying up late and waking up early for.
The matchmaking was about as rough as you’d expect for a server stress test at first, but I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it was once it got going. Performance-wise, Splatoon handled really well. With fluid controls and minimal lag, the game really felt like one of the best online shooters I’ve played in a while with regards to stability.
That aside, how does the game actually play? Fortunately, the game had a short tutorial to explain the controls to you. In Humanoid Form, you move with the Left Stick, fire your weapon with ZR, use your subweapon with R, and jump with X.
Camera control is a combination of the Right Stick and the Gamepad’s gyrosensor. The stick is used to rotate the camera horizontally, while the gyrosensor helps to fine tune your aim. It takes a while to get used to, but once you do, it feels natural. If you find yourself twisting the Gamepad too much, you can center the camera with Y.
You change into Squid Form by holding ZL. In Squid Form, you hide in your color ink and can move twice as fast through it. you can also press X to jump further than in Humanoid Form and to propel yourself up inked walls. Overall, the controls take time to get used to, but they make this game feel unique and a ton of fun.
In the Global Testfire, you had a choice between 4 loadouts and could play on 2 stages, Walleye Warehouse and Saltspray Rig. Even though there are only 2 stages to try, both offer a different strategy style.
Walleye Warehouse is a straight pathway with tight hallways and plenty of walls to climb up, so well-rounded weapons work best for this. Saltspray Rig has quite a bit of verticality with plenty of floor space to cover, meaning weapons that cover a lot of ground work really well.
Of course, the most important part of Splatoon’s gameplay is the weapons, so let’s take a look at the loadouts we got to try.
First, the Splattershot Jr. is the standard weapon of the four. It can fire ink at the fastest rate, and is the best for getting used to the gameplay. Your subweapon is the Splat Bomb, which works as you would expect your standard grenade to work, and your special weapon is the Bubbler, which gives you a temporary shield.
The Splattershot is similar to its Jr. counterpart, with a slower fire rate and longer, more accurate shot. You subweapon is the Burst Bomb, which uses less ink than the Splat Bomb and is useful for ink coverage. Your special weapon, Bomb Rush, gives you unlimited Bombs for a short period.
My favorite weapon that I got the chance to play was the Splat Roller. With this weapon, you hold ZR to run, rolling the weapon on the ground. As you can imagine, it’s very effective in Turf War. Luckily, it isn’t as overpowered as you may think. It’s excellent at catching people off guard, but your offensive options are limited. Your best contribution with this weapon is to focus on the turf. Your subweapon in this set is the Suction Bomb, which sticks to surfaces and has a delay like the Splat Bomb. Your special weapon, the Killer Wail, can be deployed to send out a shockwave that can pass through obstacles and hurts Inklings both in and out of ink.
The last loadout was the one that I didn’t get much of a chance to use, and it’s definitely the most difficult of the sets. The Splat Charger has the longest range of the weapons and requires a charge before use. Although it looks like one, the Splat Charger does not have the range of your traditional sniper, which can be a bit difficult to unlearn. The plus side is that it leaves an ink trail, which makes it useful for laying paths up ramps and walls. Your subweapon is the Splat Bomb, but your special weapon, Bomb Rush, makes it rain Splat Bombs temporarily.
Overall, the Global Testfire left me wanting more Splatoon. Although it takes adjustment, the gameplay is a ton of fun and refreshingly different. I think that it has longevity, and the stability of my play session reassured me of that. As long as the gameplay is fun and the connection lagless, people will probably stick around for a while.
Splatoon comes out on May 28th in Japan and on May 29th in North America and Europe, and I can’t wait.