If you’ve played the Splatoon 2 Testfire, a timed, online trial mode where Nintendo Switch owners got their first hands-on with this anticipated shooter sequel, then you already know that Splatoon 2 looks and feels rather like the original game.
In fact, the ways in which Splatoon 2 differs are less in the aesthetics and more in its gameplay options. Perhaps the biggest among these is the endearingly titled “Salmon Run”, a tower defense or “horde mode” option, in which up to four players work together on an island surrounded by ink in order to fend off oncoming ink monsters attacking from all sides.
During our demo, we were handed 4 separate Switch units to take on a few Splatoon challenges. How likely you are to have this setup at home is another story, but for the purposes of our time with it this was undoubtedly the ideal set up; it will be fully online in the final game, too.
The task was relatively simple: pick your weapons, take 10 seconds to prep your island with some ink splatter, then defeat monsters who glide up to shore before they can defeat you. Each monster varies in shape and size, with some resembling tiny gnats and others taking up giant portions of your screen. Therein lies where the second part of this mode comes in: the golden eggs. Defeat the bigger ink monsters and they’ll drop important golden eggs. It’s up to your team to pick them up with “A” and carry them over to a centrally located basket on the island.
Communication aided in our quest to survive, as talking to others really did help with moving eggs and figuring out where the enemies were coming from. Obviously, this facet of the game is still up in the air when you’re not all in the same room, given Nintendo’s odd announced communication methods for Splatoon 2 (there'll be a smart device app). Mileage will certainly vary, so be prepared.
Continuing, the game plays in waves, and each wave carries with it a quota for how many golden eggs you need to salvage while also remaining alive. We needed to survive some three waves in total before claiming an overall victory. Not to brag, but we steamrolled the competition pretty easily.
That is, until we bumped things up from 5% difficulty all the way up to 100%., which you can easily adjust ahead of the match on a slider in the bottom left corner. Our Nintendo rep assured us we wouldn’t last 30 seconds at 100% difficulty. Another rep wagered Splatoon 2 pins if we could make it to 60 seconds. Obviously, it was a bet we took.
When we queued into our game this time around, we made sure to keep the high ground and make some paths. What we didn’t expect, however, was an absolute cacophony of ridiculous ink monsters to show themselves within moments of the start. We immediately found out that if you get hit and die, you turn into a ring buoy that you can move around the map slowly. If your teammate shoots at you, you can return back into the match.
We made it past the 30 second mark, but things were looking pretty bad. Half of our team died pretty quickly, and the two remaining fought valiantly to keep each other alive. Despite our best efforts, when the final Squid Kid fell we were 5 seconds short of a minute.
Splatoon 2’s Salmon Run mode is definitely shaping up to be a fun and solid edition to the original Splatoon formula. If you played Splatoon to death like this writer did, it’ll be well worth it to have a second main mode to jump back and forth from, and Salmon Run might definitely hold its own in that regard. Though communication methods seem murky, it ultimately turns out that fighting alongside other players is just as fun as fighting against them.
And in case you were wondering, yes, we did get those Splatoon 2 pins in the end. Consider it a badge of honor for a fallen squid squad.
Are you looking forward to this Salmon Run mode in Splatoon 2?