Five Ideas Other Shooters Should Steal From Splatoon 2

Nintendo's brilliant online shooter Splatoon 2 deserves to be copied by other similar games. Not necessarily the fashion stuff or the whole "paint the floor" thing. Rather, some of the game's smaller ideas....

1. Give the game its own TV show.

Modern games are constantly changing. If you haven't played your favourite game for a few weeks, you'll probably be greeted by an update notification the next time you boot it up. You'll click your way through a page or two of patch notes and pointers, then be back in the game.

Splatoon 2 takes a more interesting approach. On each new day as you boot up the game, you're greeted with a short episode of "Off the Hook," a TV talk show hosted by the enthusiastic gremlin Pearl and the lovely octopus Marina. They banter about the tracks of the day, keep you posted on upcoming events, and even discuss game updates as they happen.

It'd be nice to have the option to flip through these videos more quickly, but it's a terrific idea in general. Over time I feel like I've gotten to know the two hosts, which in turn has helped me feel more rooted in and familiar with the world of the game. Why can't all games have charismatic announcers who explain new features and updates to you?

2. Build player-made propaganda into the game.

Splatfest is Splatoon's best idea. Or it's my favourite, at least. Rather than structuring timed events as contests between established clubs, clans, or guilds, each Splatfest is centered around a common topic of debate. Cake or Ice Cream? Ketchup or Mayo? In the next one: Flight or Invisibility? (Flight, obviously!)

The reason Splatfest is so fun is that it encourages players to engage in a propaganda war with one another. The hub world of Inkopolis is populated with versions of other players' characters, usually accompanied by whatever art their player has made using his or her Switch touchscreen. Some of the art is really good, and all of it plays a role in noisying-up the world of Splatoon 2 and making it feel alive.

I can't think of another multiplayer shooter that feels as lively as Splatoon, because most other games don't give players nearly as much space to express themselves. Meme wars are built directly into the game.

It all came to a glorious head a couple weeks ago when Splatfest rolled around. Finally players had something to argue about (other than furries), and the resulting meme war was consistently hilarious. Splatoon 2's designers have captured an essential aspect of the internet to an unusual degree, which is ironic given Nintendo's (deserved) reputation for more generally failing to grasp the role of connectivity in gaming.

3. Limit players to useful/fast communication options.

Splatoon falls so far short on a lot of basic communication stuff — chat, parties, etc. — that it's easy to overlook the ways it gets communication right. There's the whole meme/drawing/inkopolis thing I talked about above, of course. But it's actually also really easy to convey important information during a game, thanks to quick verbalizations like "Ouch," "This Way" and "booyah" that are tied to the D-pad.

Splatoon 2 is of course not the first game to do something like that, but the stripped-down options disguise a surprisingly flexible system. Rather than bogging players down with emotes and other complex and easily misinterpreted options, more games would do well to keep things simple, easy to use, and flexible.

4. Don't show deaths after matches.

More and more games are catching on to this one, which is a pleasant development. For years, it was assumed that a multiplayer shooter's post-game roundup should show each player's kills along with their deaths. Many games even average the two for you, assigning each player a kill/death ratio, or K/D. If your K/D was positive, you felt good. If it was negative, you felt bad.

The most important thing is how much you help your team, and also that I helped my team the most.

Splatoon 2 is one of a number of other recent online shooters to ditch that approach. It keeps tracks of your kills (aka "splats") and shows them at the end of the match, but because each mode is objective-based, it doesn't actually assign you points based on them. Furthermore it doesn't show how many times you died, which ordinarily kinda shames weaker players in front of the rest of the group. Part of the reason the game is able to ditch K/D is that Splatoon has no standard deathmatch game-type, where kills directly contribute to your team's score. Which, hey, turns out is a perfectly valid thing to do.

5. Have a casual PvP mode with no parties allowed.

At first I didn't understand why Splatoon 2's standard Turf War allowed me to play with my friends but didn't always let us party up to guarantee we'd be on the same team. After many hours of Turf Warring, I get it. It's impossible to go in with a party because Nintendo doesn't want either team to have the advantage of coordinated teamwork. It keeps the playing field level, which is a blessing for solo players who fear nothing more than a coordinated pub-stomping from a well-oiled opposing team.

Zed could've been my friend, baby. Zed could've been my friend.

When my friends and I play Turf War together, we never quite know who's gonna be on whose team for which game. We just hop into Discord chat and play the game.

At first I was annoyed by that, since I wanted to more actively team up (which we still can do if we get four people together and do League Play), but eventually I came to like it. It's a more casual way to play, with lower stakes. My friends and I engage in some mild trash talk, but mostly just screw around and talk about other things.

Of course, it'd be nice to have the option to play in a party for Turf War, perhaps with a separate lobby. And yes, it's ridiculous that we have to use an outside chat service to talk to each other while we play. But I still like how the standard mode shakes things up. Because we're rarely all on the same team, it's impossible for us to feel collectively responsible for our wins or losses. That makes it easier to talk about stuff other than the game, which makes for a more laid-back experience.

One idea Splatoon 2 could steal from other shooters:

1. Have a functional party and chat system.

I mean for crying out loud, Nintendo. If you're gonna make it this much of a pain in the arse to do integrated chat with my party, just cut the feature entirely.


    No mention of gyro aiming? PS4 has the ability to do this and it's great for fine tuning your aim. Zelda style gyro is a bit easier to get used to and would be great for shooters.

      Gyro aiming is amazing and very underrated. It does take time to get used to though.

    4. Don't show deaths after matches.Nah, fuck this. If you don't want your feelings hurt then put some masking tape over that part of the screen so you can't see it or go play something else. I HATE that I have to go to some external app (although I can't because lol let's put it on a couple of other platforms that only a subset of Switch owners will have access to) to get the full information from each match.

    At the very least they can make it an option for people to enable or disable if they please. Combining both kills and assists into one number is stupid, omitting deaths is stupid, number of specials used is a near-useless statistic to include in place of either of those, and turf inked would also be incredibly handy to know. There is a ridiculous amount of wasted space on the post-match screen and there is absolutely no reason for it to not look like the in-app match screens other than Nintendo just trying to get people used to relying on this app before they make it a paid feature.

    Let me be able to properly analyse my performance of each match, you asshats.

      If you don't want your feelings hurt ...

      It's less about hurting feelings and more about displaying useful metrics. The number of times you die doesn't matter in the objective of the game mode...

      You could have the best K/D ratio on the planet, but it wouldn't matter if you keep letting your team down to pad your stats.

      Last edited 18/08/17 1:11 pm

        By that logic, why are they even showing kill counts? That doesn't contribute to the objective either, may as well scrap that too.

        And if these metrics aren't at all useful, why are they still being tracked in the app despite being removed from the game?

          Because showing K/D ratio encourages people to stay over 1 and prioritize killing. Kills are only useful in Splatoon for controlling an area and actively pursuing kills over other objectives is more likely to contribute to the team losing than winning. Showing kills without deaths is just a minor ego boost and harms no-one.

      And what, pray tell, is the purpose of analysing your performance beyond "was that fun?"? Do you need to add it to your CV or something?

        Hey if you don't want to improve yourself, then that's fine. Me, I'd rather get better at the things I enjoy than stagnate.

          And you can't do that without seeing stats? So... you can't improve your aim, knowledge of the map, (when applicable) knowledge of your skills/opponents', movement patterns, reactions withOUT your k/d ratio?

          I never said 'sit down and stagnate', I merely asked what the point was of 'analysing' your performance. I mean, you know if you missed shots you shouldn't have, or picked a stupid route to approach, or the wrong weapon by distance, 'analysing your k/d ratio' isn't going to provide any further meaningful feedback.

            It's not about any one thing though. The combination of kills, assists, deaths, specials and turf inked paints an overall picture of the entire performance, and leaving out any part of that just isn't in any way helpful. And there's been plenty of times where I thought I got about a million kills but then saw at the end I actually got hardly any, or thought I didn't die at all but at the end found out I actually died heaps. Can't trust anything taken from the heat of battle. Plus after a while you'd get an idea of what your typical stats tend to look like, so would be able to recognise if there's been an overall shift in how you've been playing.

            It's like how some people are visual learners and others are auditory or tactile or whatever. I need hard explicit details to help me out, otherwise it's all a vague gist that I can't quite grasp.

              Fair enough, and I'll take your word for it. A death count actually has an opposite effect for me, I end up focusing so much on the numbers I "forget" to learn/practice skills I've identified are lacking.

              So instead of thinking about WHY I died or what I need to focus on (Aim, movement, awareness, etc?), I hammer the respawn button to try and 'fix up' my stats (That just tanked because of a death). And you can imagine where THAT train is headed.

              But that's me, and as I said, I accept that you need a different set of information to gain the same benefits.

              Middle-ground solution? Allow players to see their own stats in full in-game (As normal), with the option of turning the display and tracking (because I'm a curious bastard who won't be able to stop himself from peeking) off.

                That would be best. Too bad Nintendo's still so allergic to options.

        By that token you're also saying there's no point knowing who won either or what your final point score is because they don't answer the question: "Was that fun?"

        If you want to improve though, learning from the mistakes of the past is a good way or so I've heard.

          If your summary for your mistakes was "I died 4 times" I have news for you: You will NEVER improve. No amount of 'learning from the past' is going to help you if all you know to do is 'die less'.

          Mistakes (And the subsequent required learning) such as picking the wrong weapon, approaching from the wrong direction and getting caught out of position, or simply not hitting your target aren't actually assisted nor informed at ALL by knowing how many times you died.

          You actually need to pay attention to WHAT caused your death, whether there's a little number that goes up when that happens doesn't help in pinpointing where you need to improve.

          What number of deaths DOES provide is a nice target painted on someone to pin the blame on for a loss, or just to have a vent at. I've never found it to be in any way constructive, and it really is just noise that can be left out.

      Yo @alexwalker apparently I've got another reply here somewhere but it's not showing.

        Probably means the reply was auto moderated.

          Yeah, was hoping to have it bumped out instead of left in purgatory.

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