Splatoon 2 (opens in new tab) looks bright and breezy at first glance, but under the hood there’s a complex multiplayer shooter that can be difficult to get to grips with. Here’s our top tips for mastering the game and ranking up quickly. Most of this advice will apply to every game mode, although some will focus on Turf War, which is the main mode you’ll be playing when you get started. Happy splatting!
1. When the whistle blows, head for the centre of the map
Yes, it’s important to splat ink across the whole map, including near your spawn. But when the game begins, make a beeline for the centre. Why? Well, if you arrive before the enemy team you can gain control of the middle of the map, and in doing so fill up the meter for your powerful special ability.
Often, if your team arrives first and gets their specials ready, you can catch the other team off guard as they approach, and get a few kills. Then you can backtrack while they’re respawning to paint the parts you missed, or wait until later in the round.
The best way to arrive quickly is to spray a line of paint straight in front of you, jump, and squid dive into it. When you get to the end, immediately jump and start spraying again. Then, land in squid form in the line you’ve just created, and jump when you get to the end. Spray, squid, swim, repeat.
2. Watch the ground to know when enemies are super jumping
Super jumping is essential to success in Splatoon 2 – when you die, hit X to bring up the map, select one of your teammates with the directional arrows, and press A to jump from spawn to their location. It’s an excellent way to get into the action quickly.
As you fly through the air, your landing spot will be marked with a large arrow so that allies know you’re inbound. But enemies can see it too. That’s dangerous. So when you’re choosing an ally to jump to, make sure they’re safe – if the ground around them is quickly filling up with enemy paint they’re probably in trouble, and if you jump to them the other team will simply wait for you to land and splat you as well.
Use it to your advantage when you can – if you see an enemy jumping in, focus your fire on their landing spot to send them right back to spawn.
3. Use broad strokes when covering the map
Every inch counts in Turf War, and the difference between winning and losing can come down to whether you bothered to spray that tiny, bare patch of ground in the corner of the map.
However, in general you want to focus on the broad strokes: laying down as much paint as possible in an area quickly, and moving on to the next one. It’s the most efficient way to build your special, because if you’re shooting for every corner your paint will inevitably hit areas that you’ve already covered. That’s essentially ‘dead’ paint. And besides, covering most of an area still makes it difficult for the enemy team to get a foothold.
Use downtime – when you’ve killed enemies with your special, for example – to fill in the gaps.
4. Cover the escape routes
When you see an enemy it’s easy to get excited and start spraying wildly in their general direction. Sometimes you’ll get the kill, but often you won’t.
So, before you engage think about where the enemy might run to and, if possible, splat their escape routes. Often, players first reaction to getting shot will be to squirm into squid form and try to get away. If there’s nowhere for them to go they’ll panic, and that’s when you’ll get the easy kills.
If you’re right up in an enemy’s face then this isn’t the best approach – just spray them down before they splat you. But if you’ve got a bit more time to think about the situation, laying the groundwork will pay off.
5. In the main hub, hit X for easy navigation
Inkopolis Square, the game’s central hub, is a fun place to explore, especially when your friends share their doodles with you. But every time you leave an area, such as one of the shops, you’ll be teleported back to the start. Having to do the same walk over and over can be a drag.
So here’s a simple one: just hit X when you’re in the square to bring up a menu of all the destinations you can visit. You can then choose one to be instantly taken there.
And when you’re in the Galleria, hitting the L/R bumpers will switch between the shops for hats, shoes, and weapons. I didn’t realise you could do this for my first few hours, and thought you had to jump back to the main square every time you wanted to browse a different type of clothing. Don’t be like me.
6. Get out of lobbies where there aren’t enough players
One of my criticisms of Splatoon 2 is that once you’re in a lobby, there’s no way out. Even if you can tell that there won’t be enough players to make up a game, you have to watch the timer tick down to zero. It’s frustrating.
While the game offers no solution, there is a workaround. If you press the Switch’s power button, or hit the home button and browse the menus for a few seconds, Splatoon 2 will kick you out of the lobby. All you need to do is return to the game and you’ll be back and ready to search for another. Valuable time saved.
7. In Turf War, constantly check the map
The thrill of splatting enemies means it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger goal in Turf War: to ink as much of the map as possible. You should always be pressing X to look for untouched areas. If you see blank space, go and fill it. You’ll add to your team’s score and fill up your special meter fast.
Similarly, if you see a teammate in trouble nearby and think you can help out, lend them a hand.
8. Go into stealth mode
Most of the time you’ll want to hop around the map, diving in and out of squid form to access new areas and dodge enemy paint. But sometimes, being stealthy can pay off.
If you hold ZL (the left trigger) in a spot of your own paint and stay still, you’ll pretty much be invisible to the other team. Try it when you know an enemy is coming around a corner. If they walk past, pop up and spray them in the back for an easy kill – then ink over any paint they laid before they died.
It’s risky, but it can be extremely powerful, especially when your special ability is ready. There’s nothing more satisfying than catching a group of enemies unawares, rising into the skies in a Jetpack and wiping them all out in one giant splodge. This works particularly well on Splat Zones and Tower Control, I’ve found, where enemies tend to bunch up together. Give it a try!
9. A rule for your special: Pop it don’t drop it
Specials can turn the tide of a game. They’re so powerful that it’s tempting to hold onto them until that dream moment where four opponents line up in a row for a quad splat.
In reality, that rarely happens. If you wait for too long you’re going to die without using your special, wiping out most of its charge. It’s a big waste.
Instead, try and use your special at the first opportunity you get. Even if it only nets one kill, it’s worth it, and you can refill it fast. Plus, respawns in this game are so quick that you’ll often find more enemies charging in while your special is still active.
10. Match your weapon and gear to your playstyle
As you level up in Splatoon 2, you’ll probably find you gravitate towards a natural playstyle. I’m not too bothered about getting frags with my primary weapon – I like to distract and harass the enemy on the front line, and then occasionally drop back to cover large areas and charge my special.
So for me, the Aerospray MG is perfect: low damage, but a high fire rate that lays down a lot of colour. I pair that with a fetching red jumper that boosts the power of my special, a curling bomb launcher that can rack up kills quickly. Make sure you try different combinations to find your perfect setup. You unlock one gun at every level, so give every new one a few goes before you toss it aside.
On clothing, hit ZL to find out an item’s attribute-boosting characteristics. And when you buy items, try and pick those that have the most hidden abilities, represented by a question mark. These will unlock as you play with that item equipped – the more, the better.
11. Flank your enemy on Tower Control and Splat Zones
On both Tower Control and Splat Zones, which unlock once you reach level 10, you’ll want to stick with your team. With all the action concentrated in one area, being a man short really shows.
However, if the time is right – if your team has just killed one enemy, say – then flanking works too. Teams will often focus solely on the control area or the tower, and ignore what’s behind them. Exploit that by coming around the back and knocking them out with a well-timed special, or spray two of them down before they know what hit them.
Those were my tips – what are yours? Leave them in the comments below.