Splatoon 2 is a deceptively deep game. With it, Nintendo has created an accessible game where every player can find a unique way to contribute towards their team’s victory, but also one where veterans can keep learning new things about the game.
As a complete beginner, even after going through the tutorial you might feel overwhelmed by the complexities of the game. It’s always good to just jump into the game to get your tentacles wet, but be wary: while it will be fun to carelessly paint the floor and occasionally get some kills, it can also be discouraging to constantly get killed and see all the ground you painted being covered by the other team’s paint, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
For times like these, I’d like to provide you with four things to focus on first and foremost: climbing and jumping, shooting, painting, and fighting. As you do these things more comfortably and confidently, you will win more and have more fun with the game.
Climbing and Jumping
Besides getting comfortable walking and squidding in ink to move more quickly, you should practice climbing up walls. To do this, you must first paint a wall before squidding up on it. Pressing the jump button while climbing a wall will make you climb it faster. The importance of climbing walls lies in the access to different routes they give you, as well as a high ground advantage over your opponents, a better view of the landscape (and your enemies’ positions), and a good escape route from your opponents. Just make sure you learn to recognize the walls that you can’t climb so that you don’t end up flopping like a squid out of water at a bad time.
Jumping is also very important in Splatoon 2. In some cases, jumping while walking and shooting will be useful, but mostly you will jump while squidding, as it allows you to jump over long gaps. Every map has certain routes and shortcuts that are only accessible through jumping while squidding, so make sure to try it on suspicious places. The video below is for the first Splatoon on the Wii U, but all the same principles apply. Never mind how experienced the player is, just keep in mind that you can do cool things by squidding and jumping around that you can’t do by walking normally.
There are other things that you need to become comfortable with: developing a rhythm of painting and moving helps you get to wherever you’re going more quickly; sometimes you will be forced to retreat from enemies you’ve just encountered, so knowing how to move quickly through the environment can save your life; and finally, keep in mind that you can fall through grates while in squid form, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to chase an enemy or escape from one and you have to pass over a grated area.
Sticks or Gyro Aiming? You should always use what you’re most comfortable with. But you also won’t ever get comfortable with a superior input method if you never use it. My advice is to at least try to play with gyro aiming for a few hours before you decide whether it is for you. Not just one single match, not just one hour, but several hours of trying your best. Muscle memory takes a long time to develop, but once you develop it you will start to discover the potential behind the input method.
If you do decide to use gyro aiming, try to keep in mind these things: resting your arms on your lap or knees will make your aim more stable; you should recalibrate your center with the ‘Y’ button any time your aim feels a little off, but make sure that you are holding the controller in the most neutral, comfortable position you can when you do this; train yourself to use the right stick for big camera movements and the gyro for the actual aiming that is done when shooting a target; adjust your sensitivity settings so that the right stick allows you to spin the camera as fast as you can handle, and your gyro allows you to use your wrists natural movement to quickly track a target in your view.
All of that being said, playing with Dual Analog aiming won’t hold you back from having fun with the game until a very high competitive level (and even there, anything is possible with skill). If you do choose to stick to Dual Analog stick aiming, you will have to think about what’s more important for your weapon and playing style: do you need to land your shots accurately, such as with your Splat Charger, or do you need to rotate the camera quickly to see your enemies better, such as with the Splattershot Jr? Lower or increase your right stick sensitivity accordingly.
Another important skill to develop is strafing while shooting. You might be inclined to simply move towards or away from an opponent while shooting at them (and sometimes these are the right choices), but you should know that strafing left or right while shooting can also help you land your shots when your aim is slightly off.
Painting is the main way that you earn points in this game. On top of that, painting is also how you build up your Special Gauge that lets you use your Special Weapon, so it also contributes to your ability to kill others. Walls don’t give you any points or build your Special Weapon, however, so only paint walls that you mean to climb on (don’t worry, we all made the same mistake when we started).
Some weapons paint more easily than others, and learning how to paint effectively with a weapon is as important as knowing how to kill opponents with them. For example, the Splat Roller paints evenly and quickly when you hold the fire button, but flinging the roller by tapping the fire button can paint more quickly in very short bursts, so you always have to be thinking about the right way to paint effectively. Once again, developing a rhythm of moving and painting makes both more efficient and gives you an advantage.
There are some questions that you should be asking yourself when painting: Am I painting over the same area my teammates are painting? You should be picking a different route to be more efficient. Am I focusing too much on painting every nook and cranny? You’d be more helpful painting contested areas near the frontline. Do I need my Special Weapon right now? Depending on your Special Weapon, it can be more or less wasteful to continue painting when you already have a full Special Gauge. Am I going to get killed if I keep painting this area? If it’s dangerous to paint, you should get out before somebody kills you and ruins all your work.
There is no sense in painting the entire map if you let your opponent walk all over you and undo all the hard work you’ve done. Knowing how to defend yourself from your opponent’s attacks will ensure that your painting doesn’t go to waste. Likewise, you sometimes need to take the initiative and attack your opponents so that you can paint more areas and control more territory.
Most of the time, you’ll find yourself in a confrontation with nothing but your Primary Weapon. You need to learn to use it well – Is it stronger in short range or long range? How many shots does it take to kill an opponent? Does it run out of ink quickly? How accurate do I have to be with my aiming? These are all things you’ll have to keep in mind during every encounter. Realizing that you’re about to run out of ink and probably won’t be able to finish off an incoming opponent, for example, can lead you to choose to retreat from the battle. This is far better than dying and having to wait to respawn. Often, it’s decisions like that which determine the winner in the last 20 seconds of the match.
But you should also keep your Secondary Weapons in mind. Experiment with your Secondary Weapons to find all their uses; A simple grenade can kill an unaware enemy, help you push him out of cover for an easy kill, or just prevent him from chasing you if you’re retreating. Every Secondary Weapon has unique ways that it can be used to aid you in combat, so get creative.
Finally, Specials Weapons are truly special in a fight. Every Special Weapon is unique, but in general they’re not very good at killing people directly. For example, it’s a rare day when an enemy stands still long enough for the Tenta Missiles to kill him. But, you can use the Tenta Missiles to force an enemy to move, while you take advantage of their distraction to cut them off and shoot them. Just don’t try to shoot Tenta Missiles at someone that is already chasing you, or they’ll catch up quickly and kill you. On the other hand, the Ink Baller is very difficult to use offensively, but will give you a good chance of escaping from the enemy and live to fight again. Lastly, do not be stingy with your Special Weapon, as you will lose half of your Special Gauge upon death.
Finally, let’s talk a bit about how Turf War, the game’s basic gamemode, works.
First of all, remember that you don’t win by painting more than half the map, you win by painting just a little bit more than your opponents did. This makes painting and killing both very complicated.
In terms of the score, painting over your enemy’s ink is better than painting empty spaces. Think about it like this: if you paint over blank spaces, you earn one point; if you paint over your enemy’s ink, you earn one point and your enemy loses one point, creating a difference of two points. In the scramble before the match ends, you should always be doing your best to paint over enemy ink as much as you can, instead of blank spaces.
But sometimes you need to paint your own empty spaces to control more area and fill up your special gauge. If you have a Special Weapon that can turn the tide (like a barrage of Tenta Missiles that kill two of the enemies), then the time spent safely painting over blank spaces is totally worth it, as it allows you to push your enemy back and paint a whole lot more.
That said, even if you manage to push your enemy back, painting near their base is not always good, since it’s easy for them to repaint it. If you spend 30 seconds painting their base while trying to survive, then they kill your team and repaint all of that in the 20 seconds it takes for you to get back to the center, that’s a lot of your work undone. In some cases, a smart enemy will simply avoid your team through a flank route and paint your base, in which case the tables have turned against you. It’s fine to paint a little bit into the enemy’s base, but only while keeping yourself safe, and understanding that what you’re painting is only going to slow the enemy down, not count toward the final score.
Painting all of your own area is also not always good, because it takes time away from controlling other contested areas. If you spent the last minute painting every edge and corner of your base while your teammates fought an uphill battle of 3 versus 4 in the center, you might be the reason the match is lost. Help your team control the important zones in the middle first, then go back and paint your base for those guaranteed points.
Now on that last point, what does control mean? You don’t have to be a stone cold killer sniping people left and right to control an area in this game. By painting over an area, you essentially create a barrier that your enemy has to paint over if they want to cross it, and if they don’t want to lose the match for a lack of points. But an area that is well painted also gives your team greater freedom in moving back and forth while squidding, which translates into easier fights and an easier time reaching areas that need to be repainted.
There is much more to say about the strategic and tactical depth of this game, but we have already gone deep enough in this basic guide. Go forth and conquer, my little squids, and I’ll see you in our future Splatoon Guides.