If you booted up Splatoon this morning you might have noticed that without even the need to download an update that you can now play on the new Port Mackerel map. You can also buy the N-ZAP '85, a new weapon which looks suspiciously familiar. Of course what will be most exciting for competitive gamers is the introduction of the Ranked Battle mode. If you have reached level 10, then you are officially "fresh" enough to lay it all on the line.
Ranked Battle is similar to a regular turf war with two teams of four taking on each other - however, it's worth noting that the rules are a little bit different. In a ranked battle the objective is to splatter set areas - known as Splat Zones - with your team's coloured ink and attempt to take control. Once a team takes control of all the zones in the level, then a counter lasting 100 seconds will begin to count down.
If one of the teams manages to keep control of the Splat Zone(s) and get their timer down to zero then they win the match. If things are proving to be a little more evenly matched, then the game will end after 5 minutes and the team with the lowest counter takes the win.
Taking control of a Splat Zone(s) is the easy part - defending it is the challenge as the rival team is sure to do whatever they can to seize control for themselves. Make sure you have a sniper high up somewhere to fend off incoming challenges to your team's domination.
Due to the change in rules, many weapons have drastically different roles: naturally snipers are a must for keeping foes as far away from the zone(s) as possible, Sprinklers provide good remote coverage when you're busy fending off attackers, and Rollers are extremely useful when popping out of ink to surprise a hapless foe just to name a few.
The map layouts are also slightly different in this mode, allowing cover where there was none before, or providing a path over what was once a chasm. These changes are largely minimal but provide a massive change in how many routes and vantage points are present.
It should be made clear that you cannot join a friend's game in this mode due to the ranked nature of the setup, so you're largely at the mercy of your randomly assigned teammates. Luckily because the zone(s) are fairly small it often doesn't take much to have a big impact on how a match pans out, so as long you're properly equipped you can easily pull your weight and tip the balance in your favour.
Depending on how you perform on the field you'll be assigned one of nine ranks ranging from A+ to C-. In theory you'll be placed in ranked battles with players of a similar reputation. Do you have what it takes to raise your ranking to the coveted A+ status? There's only one way to find out, and it's not sitting here reading this text.
Let us know if you've had a chance to try out the new Ranked Battle mode in Splatoon yet. We'd love to hear your top tips for controlling those splat zones.