'Splatoon 2' adds another layer of fun, personalization, competitive action

“Splatoon 2” continues its amazing, inky run into the world of squids with new weapons, gear, modes of play and ways to have messy fun.

Whether in single player or multiplayer, swimming, jumping and shooting your way against enemies offers plenty of enjoyment. The ability to use new weapons and gear to personalize your avatar will lead to hours of experimental gameplay to figure out the best combinations.

The single-player mode is a great place to get started. Battling through five sectors, 27 levels and major boss battles, players will get to try all the weapons, including two new ones, to figure out why the Octarians have stolen the Great Zapfish (again) and who is behind the theft.

Completing the missions will reveal new weapons to try, and those weapons carry over to the next event. The weapons maker is keen to remind you that all weapons are on loan. He’s not running a charity.

As Agent 4, you join the team after an agent goes missing. Pressed into battle two years after the first game, you prove your worth by completing the five sectors and gaining the confidence of the group.

Each stage entrance must be discovered in the sector by inking and jumping around until you spot the invisible teapot. Ink that baby up, and dive in to the action.

The stages increase in difficulty, relying on players to learn and retain new skills as they progress. Collecting power eggs will let you upgrade your weapons and abilities a bit in single player action, but it doesn’t carry over to multiplayer.

The weapons are unique to one another. Shooters, rollers, a sniper rifle, buckets and cannon all do a great job of spreading ink and splatting enemies.

There are two new weapon classes that are highly dangerous in the right hands. Dualies are perfect for up close attacks and are the only weapon that allow players to do a dodge roll. Personally, I love this weapon and, when boosted, became a rapid fire, high powered weapons during stages.

The brellas were only available during the pre-launch play but are to be released after launch for multiplayer use. Shaped like an umbrella, it can shoot a stream of ink, but its real power comes in opening the umbrella as a shield and launching it forward.

Many times, I was able to launch the brella and swim in the resulting path, getting close to an enemy while being shielded. It was a very handy weapon to use in areas that have a lot of floor.

The weapons come with a main ability as well as a sub and a special that gets charged up as you go. Experiment with different sets to find the one that fits your style. There is a testing area to safely see how each weapon works.

If and when you head to the lobby for multiplayer action, you are going to want to visit the stores often to get more powerful gear. Each piece has a main ability that can boost your defenses, your weapons or your health. It can also make you look really cool.

In the pre-launch time, I was only able to play multiplayer in Turf War, but there are other multiplayer modes that I will try after launch and review those as well.

In Turf War, the object is to paint more ground that your opponents in four-on-four action. While knocking out an enemy is nice, it does necessary help the final score.

Try different tactics to see what works best. I worked with groups who spread out and tried to cover as many areas as possible. Other groups wanted to stick together and coat the area as one big wave while keeping each other safe.

There was no voice chat during the multiplayer games, but there are emotes to let your teammates know when an enemy has been killed or if you are in need of assistance.

Again, experiment with different weapons and gear to find the right combination to fit your style. Do you want to concentrate on painting as much as possible or are you looking to keep the enemy at bay and on the defensive?

Once you reach level 10 in Turf War, Ranked Battle modes unlock and should be highly competitive. I haven’t reached that level yet but am looking forward to the three different modes, Splat Zones, Tower Control, and Rainmaker, to raise my game.

Get high enough in Ranked mode and League Battles become available for more competitive action.

There is also a new multiplayer mode called Salmon Run. Four players work together to defeat waves of enemies and collect golden eggs in a limited amount of time. It should be frantic, and coordination will be key for victory. I’ll have more on this later.

Splatfest events are returning for two years after launch. The first event, held during pre-launch, featured Team Cake versus Team Ice Cream. The winner was delicious.

Spatoon amiibos will save your current weapons and gear, giving you pre-set loadouts at your fingertips or a way to take your sets with you to a friend’s place. They also unlock special in-game gear, and you can take selfies with your amiibo in Inkopolis Square.

“Splatoon 2” will continue to have free rollouts after the game goes live. These will be new weapons, new gear, and more stages. Timing of those rollouts hasn’t been released.

An online app is planned for July 21 to display stage schedules, gear and stats, and how much ink a player has used in game compared to real world places. Special gear can be ordered through the app and picked up in game at the Murch shop.

The app will also allow players to communicate with others using voice chat. It will be interesting to see how well that works.

Overall, “Splatoon 2” doesn’t try to reboot what it has previously done. It has wonderfully added more layers to a very enjoyable and exciting game. Experienced players will have fun with the new weapons and abilities while new players can gradually learn the skills and be ready to join others at their leisure.

Playing it on the Nintendo Switch is probably the greatest addition to the franchise. The ability to play it anywhere is such a boon and should keep players in the game longer to hone their skills.

Inkopolis needs your help. Will you answer the inky call? Squid up!