This week brought us Splatoon Direct, Nintendo's quirky pitch for its upcoming ink-based arena shooter. It's a game that's justifiably been talked up a fair deal, with a blend of intuitive and clever GamePad controls, bright visuals and a whole lot of gameplay potential. While large sections reiterated information that we already knew, there were also fresh reveals and an intriguing new demo release.
Our goal here is to summarise that key information until you're fully filled in on Splatoon, with many words and then the videos at the end. So, let's begin.
Splatoon Global Testfire Demo
Available to download right now for free from the eShop, this will allow anyone with a Wii U to play online matches within three specific one hour windows this weekend, on 8th and 9th May. The Pacific US, UK and EU times are below.
- May 8th 8PM-9PM (PT) & 4AM-5AM / 5AM-6AM (BST / CET- 9th May)
- May 9th 4AM-5AM (PT) & 12PM-1PM / 1PM-2PM (BST / CET) and then Noon-1PM (PT) & 8PM-9PM / 9PM-10PM (BST / CET)
Nintendo Treehouse will be live streaming during these times, though the exact slots in which it'll be broadcasting are yet to be revealed at the time of writing.
While fans are aware of the mechanic of swapping from human form into squid form in ink, it was shown that swimming through ink is almost twice as fast as running, while the squid also has a longer jump between pools of ink. The characters can be customised in appearance, too, in skin tone and eye colour. A key ability in battle is also an ability to Super Jump around the map, which is carried out by tapping on the GamePad touch screen.
Taking part in online matches levels up a squid and its options for accessing specific gear, too. We'll break down gear into separate categories.
To start off with Main weapons, three different classes were shown off. A 'Shooter' is a relatively all purpose weapons with rapid fire, a 'Charger' requires a charge and features weapons that are often powerful or long-range sniper efforts, while a 'Roller' allows you to quickly paint large areas by rolling - obviously - while also flicking and flinging ink.
The following weapons were shown off, which you can view in the videos themselves at the end of this article.
- Aerospray MG
- Jet Squelcher
- The Blaster
- Splat Charger
- E-Liter 3K
- Splat Roller
- Dynamo Roller
Moving onto Sub Weapons, these fill the role of a typical secondary weapon in a shooter - they serve as grenades, help you find enemies, enable companions to Super Jump to a specific location and more. These weapons use up a lot of ink, so have to be used sparingly. Examples shown are below.
- Splat Bomb
- Splash Wall
- Suction Bomb
- Burst Bomb
- Pointer Sensor
- Ink Mine
- Squid Beakon
Finally we have Special weapons; these can only be used when a gauge is full, and that's charged by covering territory in ink. These are one off powerful weapons that effectively work as air strikes, for example, or in the case of the Kraken briefly turn you into a particularly powerful squid.
- Killer Wail
You always have a Main, Sub and Special Weapon equipped.
Fresh weapons will arrive over the summer months in free updates. An example given was the Ink Brush, which is a Roller option.
Guns are purchased, and this brings us to the various shops in the overall hub world - Inkopolis. The area with the shops is called Booyah Base; each sells specific gear.
- Jelly Fresh - here you buy t-shirts and tops.
- Shrimp Kicks - shoes, of course
- Cooler Heads - a shop just for hats
- Ammo Knights - this is where you pick up weapons
Levelling Up Equipment and Abilities
As mentioned above, the available stock in these stores increases as you level up your character and earn in-game currency, which is tied to online play. The gear you buy has a tangible effect on your abilities, too.
Each piece of equipment has up to four ability slots to fill - these abilities can allow you to use less ink, boost speed, reduce damage and much more besides. You can also increase the number of available slots in a piece of equipment by speaking to a character called Spyke. Achievements in the game reward you with 'Super Sea Snails', and it's these that you trade to boost your gear slots.
Levelling up your character will also be required, initially, to unlock more competitive online modes.
The online options for 4 vs 4 battles are accessed at Inkopolis Tower. A fairly generic 'Regular Battle' is the default option, though progress unlocks additional 'Ranked Battle' modes. It's worth noting that two stages are offered as a choice at any given time, with the two that are available being changed every four hours.
- The core 'Turf War' option familiar to those that have played at expos. The winning team is decided by which covers the biggest area in ink; after each match players are randomly scrambled between the two teams.
- There's an option to easily join friends that are playing online.
Ranked Battles - unlocked by reaching level 10 in Regular Battle
- Unlocking is a worldwide event - enough players need to reach Level 10 in Regular Battle. Social media information will provide status updates for when this happens.
- Players are ranked based on skill after each battle, with ranks going up and down depending on performance. There are nine levels (from C- to A+) and players with similar ranks will be matched up with each other.
- Splat Zones - fight over a specific portion of the stage, which is said to be a very intense battle.
Additional Ranked Battle modes will arrive in post-release updates over the course of the Summer.
- Tower Control - stand on a tower and it'll move on a rail towards enemy territory, with the goal of advancing all the way through.
- Rainmaker - no real details were given, but it'll arrive as an update.
- Teams - an August updates will allow you to join a team with three other friends and take on other teams.
- Friend Battles - also in August, this will allow you into a lobby with 7 other friends for custom online matches.
The online modes will utilise a range of stages; as mentioned above two are available at a time online, with them rotating every four hours. The following will be available on day one.
- Urchin Underpass - plenty of concrete walls to climb
- Saltspray Rig - features a large chasm between high and low areas
- Walleye Warehouse - a crowded space
- Blackbelly Skatepark - a wide open and expansive map
- Arowana Mall - another cramped arena
More stages will arrive in summer updates, said to be more complex and detailed in nature.
These regular online events will ask players from their respective regions – North America / Europe – to ponder answers to burning questions. North America will kick off with the following: do you prefer cats or dogs? To actually answer these questions, players will be required to pick a side and represent it. These events will also include their very own ranking system, and based on a player's overall rank it'll be possible to win a Super Sea Snail; as mentioned above these are vital for adding ability slots to gear.
These events will run regularly from launch.
Single Player Mode
You locate Cap'n Cuttlefish, who sends you on a quest to tackle Octopi of all types. This single player campaign utilises ink for puzzles, environmental tricks and, of course, combat. Key features are below:
- Your goal is to reach the end and grab a Zapfish.
- Find and use equipment in levels.
- Collect 'Power Eggs' to boost weapons and equipment.
- Sunken Scrolls can be collected in single player mode to fill in game lore.
- Boss battles also feature.
Each of the three amiibo toys unlocks 20 single player challenges of different types. Clearing these unlocks equipment, and beating every challenge will unlock an 8-bit mini-game (more on those shortly). Details on the challenge types are below.
- Girl amiibo - challenges using Charger weapons.
- Boy amiibo - challenges using Roller weapons.
- Squid amiibo - a mixed range, including some challenges featuring Special Weapons like the Kraken.
A total of four 8-Bit mini-games will be available - one is available to all, while three are accessed by clearing amiibo challenges. These can be played at any time from the hub world, or when waiting to be connected with an online lobby. Details are below, with the first being the commonly available game and those that follow being amiibo specific.
- Squid Jump - will involve players jumping higher and higher whilst avoiding enemies, racing the clock and progressing through stages.
- Squidball - launching birds at lines of jellyfish
- Squid Racer - a simplistic racing game.
- Squid Beatz - a seemingly addictive rhythm-based game.
Local Multiplayer - Battle Dojo
This is a two-player local multiplayer mode in which you try to pop more balloons in an arena than your rivals, while avoiding the loss of points by getting killed. One player utilises the GamePad screen and another plays on the TV with another controller - the Wii U Pro Controller has been shown to date.
Below are some other snippets of information that emerged.
- Splatoon Mii Fighter Outfits for Super Smash Bros. - with GameStop pre-orders in the US, confirmed for EU but no distribution details.
- Splatoon includes a 'Colour Lock' mode to support colour-blind gamers.
- Splatoon-themed New Nintendo 3DS cover plates will come to PAL territories in July.
Finally, below are the broadcast videos if you missed them so far.
Nintendo of America
Nintendo of Europe
Are you excited about Splatoon on Wii U? Let us know, and also give us a shout if any key details are missing; we'll be happy to add them in.