A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Splatoon 2 is a third-person shooter. It's a multiplayer-focused game where players use paint guns and bombs to take down enemies, who disappear and re-spawn. There's a sizable single-player mode that functions as a lengthy tutorial for how various tactics can be deployed in multiplayer modes, and it also yields items that can be used to provide experience or loot boosts in the online modes. Players can challenge each other online, but in-game can only communicate by a handful of simple reactions to celebrate victory or moan about defeat. An upcoming smartphone application will enhance matchmaking and allow for voice chat options. Some female characters can wear some midriff revealing or suggestive clothes, and the game supports amiibo characters that can be purchased separately to unlock additional content.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
SPLATOON 2 doesn't have much detail for its story, but instead focuses on Inkopolis and the efforts you must take to regain balance between two warring factions. In single-player, you seek to wrest control back from the Octarians, who are stockpiling zapfishes. It's essentially a context for you to learn the game's controls and various gameplay mechanics. The more you play, the more gear and weapons you unlock, and the more adept you'll become at painting levels with your arsenal and traversing all kinds of terrain. The online modes, where most of the gameplay lies, let you compete against other players in timed matches, which are variations on capture the flag, king of the hill, or most territory captured wins matches.
Is it any good?
This kid-friendly shooter is an absolute blast to play and can easily get players covering their opponents in ink for many hours. This is especially true online, where you can join friends and enjoy either facing off against them or teaming up. Easily the best online mode is turf war, where two teams of four have three minutes to splat ink on as much territory as possible while strategically submerging themselves in their team's color and blasting enemies. It's also a prerequisite to play this mode for a while, as horde mode and league battle don't open up until after you've won enough games and leveled your character up sufficiently. While these modes have a certain mystique and prestige due to the difficulty in unlocking them, the reality is they're variations on capture the flag and king of the hill. Fortunately, new events, weapons, gears, and stages are all promised as free roll-outs postlaunch.
That said, what's here is a lot of fun. The game has an innate ability to melt hours, having you vow to play "just one more game" until it's 1 or 2 a.m. before you know it. That said, the game is probably best experienced in short bursts, because even though it's hard to put down, it'll easily start to feel repetitive. Still, there's no beating just how fun turf war is. The levels in all online modes get swapped out depending on the hour, and the sheer amount of gear and weapons you can unlock, level up, and invest time into learning all invite you to test multiple strategies out so that you can get better. Sometimes you'll want to hang back and play defense; other times you will understand why and how offense can be more important. If you're looking for a fun, addictive, and engaging shooter that the whole family can enjoy, Splatoon 2 has easily got you covered.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "kid-friendly" violence. Are games like Splatoon 2 a gateway to younger players to eventually crave or be curious about more "mature" shooters?
Why do you think the main characters in this game are kids who can turn into squids? Do you think it's just silly and weird, or does it say something about a part of us all as human beings, wanting to hide or turn into something else to face problems or confrontations?
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