Splatoon Hands-On Preview [E3 2014]


One of Nintendo’s more out-of-nowhere announcements during their E3 stream was the reveal of Splatoon, a brand-new IP exclusive to the Wii U. Not only is it uncommon for Nintendo to step out of their comfort zone and create a new franchise from scratch (outside of smaller downloadable titles), but Splatoon is also their first full-on venture into the world of competitive multiplayer third-person shooters, though its unique central mechanics make it far less violent than the likes of Call of Duty.

I honestly had no idea what to make of the game upon its initial announcement, but after myself, fellow WGTC editors Chad Goodmurphy and Chaz Neeler, and several others got the opportunity to play two local matches at Nintendo’s booth during E3, my interest has gone up significantly. Splatoon has the potential to be a very engaging and original game, at least if Nintendo can deliver on the potential I saw in the preview build when they launch it next year.

Players will control humanoid characters known as Inklings, each equipped with guns that fire some sort of colored ink or paint on both enemies and the actual environment. Inklings will be color-coded to better fit into each of the two opposing teams that make up each match. Unlike just about every shooter already out there, the primary goal in Splatoon isn’t to rack up a high kill count, but instead, your team is aiming to cover as much of the environment in their color as possible. At the end of each timed match, the game calculates and displays a percentage-based total describing how much terrain each team managed to cover, and awards a victory to whichever team has the higher percentage.

Besides their default weapons, players will be able to find more powerful temporary guns in each level, capable of covering more ground in less time. Players will also be able to take out opponents in each match using their weapons, which will cause them to respawn back at their home base and use up precious time getting back to where they were before. Also, another unique mechanic will be the Inklings’ ability to turn into a squid and swim through any spot covered in their team’s color. Not only will you move faster and be harder to see this way, but you can climb up walls as well.

Nintendo has confirmed that Splatoon will have online functionality, but has yet to go into details on how in-depth those features will be compared to the likes of other recent Wii U titles like Mario Kart 8. It was also recently confirmed that some sort of single-player mode will be incorporated, along with a one-on-one local multiplayer mode.

The time I spent with Splatoon was fast-paced, energetic, and most importantly, very fun. Hopefully the final game, which will be a full retail title instead of digital-only, will incorporate plenty of maps and alternate modes to keep replay value high.

Splatoon will launch exclusively for the Wii U next year. We will keep you updated as more details on the game become available.