Make no mistake about it: Splatoon is a great game. I’ve had a ton of fun with it, I gave it a positive review, and I even wrote a preview article prior to launch. That being said, it’s certainly not a perfect game. There are many things that Nintendo could do to significantly improve the experience. Having several developer friends, I’m acutely aware that it’s not as simple as pushing a button to add the additional options I mention below; it takes huge amounts of work. Regardless, these options would greatly improve the experience.
Here are eleven ways that Splatoon 2 could blow the first game out of the water:
- Improve server stability. I am kicked out of matches about twice every hour, which, given some of the other issues below, is a real pain! I play other multiplayer games with no such problems, so I know it’s not my wifi connection. I understand this is fairly new territory for Nintendo, but hopefully they learn from the problems they’ve seen with the first release.
- Allow choice of maps. While I appreciate some of the novelty of switching between two or three stages, it’s very unfortunately for the player, as some stages are custom tailored for certain types of weapons. It’s happened many times where I want to go with something like a charged blaster for a stage that is perfect for it, but the other stage makes my character practically useless with that weapon. That means that for half of the stages that I play, I’m severely handicapped. Since I can’t change weapons on the fly, I’m forced to often return to the general use weapons like the Splattershot jr. And please don’t suggest that I’m just not good enough; I realize I’m not that great at video games. But should a game really punish you for not being one of the best gamers?
- Improve “Splat Zone” Ranked Battle. Splatoon adds penalties to the team that loses control of their areas. What seems simple enough in the beginning, a simple countdown timer in which the first to hold onto their territory for 100 seconds (really, it’s units of time, as they aren’t actually full seconds) wins, evolves into a needlessly complicated system. Let’s say you hold your territory for 70 seconds, but then lose it for 2 seconds, and gain it back again. Think you’ve only got thirty seconds left? Think again! You’ve been penalized 70 seconds. Welcome to the world of rubber-banding in Splatoon. I get that they want to give the losing team an extra chance to come back, but it ends up extending the match for no real reason. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been incredibly irritated by this. One team can end up being forced to hold the territory for literally twice as long as the other team – how is that fair? This flawed system has caused me simply to quit playing the Splat Zone mode…which, unfortunately, as you can see from the next bullet, sometimes means I have to stop playing Splatoon altogether.
- Allow users to select which Ranked Battle mode they play. I have enough of an issue with not being able to pick maps, but only allowing me to play one “Ranked Battle” mode for the next four hours? It’s called shooting yourself in the foot. Let me provide an example: I love Tower Control mode. LOVE IT. I’m totally hooked on it, the scoring isn’t needlessly confusing like in the Splat Zone mode, and I have a ton of fun with it. I sit down to play Ranked Battle, and am lucky enough to see that Tower Control is the Ranked Battle of choice at the moment. I play two matches, at which point I’m pulled out of my game for “an exciting announcement.” The news? Guess what, you know that mode you love playing in our game? Yeah, no more of that for the next four hours. Great. Guess I’ll play a different game.
- Allow choice of teams. This could even be a separate mode if desired. Given the lack of voice chat, I would really, really like to be able to communicate with some team members, especially in Ranked Battle. I want to work together with my friends, and be able to divide and conquer without guessing what each person is doing. But, like so many things in Splatoon, team selection is random. I understand some of the benefits of doing it this way, as it keeps games more evenly matched. But it’s still frustrating.
- Allow voice chat as an option. You can always turn it off! It can even be off by default, or you could allow some parental control option. Whether or not voice chat would help that much in Turf Wars is debatable, but I’m positive that it would be a huge asset in Ranked Battle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to leave the main objective to go pick off a sniper, only to see that one or two other people from my team had the same idea, and then at that point we’ve all left the main objective and failed.
- Allow changing of loadouts in between matches. It’s super annoying to have to leave your match, and the people you’ve been playing with, just to change a weapon. And then once you’ve changed your weapon, you have to wait in line again to join a match. Playing with friends? Well, be prepared to wait another three minutes of staring at a loading screen, because that’s your only option when you want to rejoin the next match. At the very least, you could allow spectating.
- Allow spectating of matches. MarioKart 8 does a great job of incorporating this feature, and the time I spend waiting for an online match flies by when I’m watching other people play. But in Splatoon, you’re tasked with staring at…you guessed it, a brick wall. Basically. There’s technically a simple squid jumping game that you can play on the gamepad, but that loses its novelty after the first two minutes.
- Allow two-player local multiplayer in the main competitive modes. Right now, you can only play two-player locally, and that’s just for one simple balloon popping mode, which, let’s be honest…is probably the weakest part of the game. As this is a game built around multiplayer, adding the option to have both local players engage in online play seems like a logical next step.
- Add more variety and tougher bosses to the single player campaign. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the single player experience. One complaint is that I didn’t lose a single bar of health on the first four bosses (which were all really neat in design, but just really easy), but then spent over two hours replaying the final boss. The difficulty spike was just plain silly. I’d like to see some of the innovations of the final boss fight spread out more across other stages. The single player experience doesn’t need to be any longer than it is; this is of course at its core a multiplayer experience. But it did feel a little sparse.
- Release more content at launch. I’m sure they were rushed to get this game out at a certain time; otherwise I’m not sure I could account for the sparse level of content early on. Yes, I get the value of releasing updates periodically; it makes sense to keep gamers interested. But you shouldn’t withhold as much as Splatoon did. If you do, you’re going to hurt yourself in terms of review scores, as reviewers can only score based on what they’ve played, not what the future holds.
What do you think could improve the Splatoon experience? Let us know in the comments below.