The launch weekend has come and gone. Splatoon 2 has been unleashed on the world. Plenty of people are now coming together to enjoy the game. Which means now we have a far better idea of how it functions online. The good news is, things mostly work well. However, it also serves as a reminder that the game is best when you can arrange for as many people as you actually know to be in a match as possible.
In Turf War, this isn’t as big of an issue. Splatoon 2 is in its infancy. Most people are under level 10. There isn’t as much disparity in skill levels when heading into a brief match online. Sure, there will be some instances where the other players aren’t pulling their weight. However, with the initial money and experience Crusty Sean coupons, people who are really going to dedicate themselves to the game are probably already at level 10 and ready to start being paired with people they know.
I was able to experience some rather extraordinary matches in Turf War on Saturday evening. It started after seeing two of my friends were in Turf War games together. Though I did have to wait through two three minute matches before a space opened up, I soon found myself paired up with three people who were not just good people in general, but also good Splatoon 2 players. While the game never randomly assigned all four of us to the same side, each of us was often in the top two on our team. We spent an hour splatting together, and it was wonderful. Once we managed to find one another, it was easy to stay together and enjoy.
Things get a bit messier when it comes to Splatoon 2’s competitive play. You need to be at level 10 to head into Ranked Play, and you receive separate ranks for each kind of Ranked Play. (These are Rainmaker, Splat Zones, and Tower Control again.) You need to reach rank B- to unlock League play, where you can put together a team or two or four with people you know and fight against others. Since everyone starts at C-, it means it can take hours to finally get to the point where you can play with a set team. I am fighting that fight now and find it is rather trying. When you are a C-, C, or C+, you are stuck with people at that level. Those who are already C+ know what they are doing, but those who are at C- and sometimes C… might not be as helpful. Which means it can take a while to reach the plateau you want and need.
But the greatest woes come from playing Salmon Run with strangers. While 80% of my Turf War and Ranked experiences are ones I would call positive, I would say Salmon Run with strangers has a 50/50 shot of leaving me disappointed and possibly getting your performance tainted by people who aren’t pulling their weight. One of the first things people should do is help out by inking paths to the places where you will need to place eggs, so you can quickly run them back after gathering them. Next, when a round starts, you should be seeing where the enemies are coming from and then, this is important, pressing up on the D-pad to say, “This way!” If you die, move your life preserver toward the other players and press on the D-pad to say, “Help!” In almost every match I have played with random people, no one communicates. More times than I’d like, after reaching the Part-Timer rank, I have found myself alone in front of three golden eggs, looking around for the other players to grab the other two, and find no one. Everyone has died, no one is saying “Help,” and I have to try and get us to the next wave. You need reliable coworkers in Salmon Run. You need people you know.
Now, as for the issue of disconnects. It is something any Switch owner fears. Especially since Mario Kart 8 Deluxe had some problems. Not to mention Splatoon 2 is a game that will penalize people for wrongfully disconnecting, making it impossible to play for a short time after. I have been disconnected a total of four times since I began playing online on July 13, 2017. One of those times was actually my own fault. I was in handheld mode and in the middle of a Turf War match. I needed to head to the door to let someone inside, and the distance caused a spotty connection and disconnect. The other instances were likely due to launch day demand. These past few days I have had a disconnect once in Salmon Run and twice during Turf Wars while my console was docked. The first disconnect was during a Friday evening Turf War, while the Salmon Run and second Turf War disconnect happened Saturday afternoon. While I have had six instances where I couldn’t connect to the other user’s console this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, things have seemed mostly stable.
With Splatoon 2, you want to start getting people together. You need to pull together. While some modes, like Turf War and Ranked, can be quite enjoyable with random folks, your experience will be far better the moment you can get even one other friend with you for Turf War. And with Salmon Run, I’d almost say you should do your best to always only play with friends. You want to maintain your paygrade and rewards, and teaming up with random folks leaves too much to chance. It’s a fantastic game, as usual, and best when you can convince people you know to join you.
Splatoon 2 is available for the Nintendo Switch.