Playing Splatoon

In June Nintendo announced that Splatoon had sold more than a million copies. I’m not surprised. Splatoon is a surprisingly well made game, and many Wii U owners hunger for shooter-like games. Since release Splatoon has seen two new game modes added to the initial Turf War. Let’s discuss these online modes, how they affect the gameplay, and more general game tactics unique to Splatoon.

Ink is Awesome

Splatoon is not Call of Duty, Halo or any other shooter for that matter. Yes, you can splat your opponents, but in Splatoon – splatting the opposition is just a means to an end; your team doesn’t necessarily win by stacking up a high splat count.

Ink is the universal ammo of the game and the only way you interact with other players. Ink is what separates Splatoon from other shooters and makes it unique. Inklings (players) use ink to:

  • Increase swim speed
  • Increase ink reload speed
  • Hide
  • Swim up vertical surfaces
  • Reveal and detonate mines
  • Reveal Bad Guys
  • Slow down Bad Guys
  • Splat Bad Guys
  • Help your Teammates

I’m not entirely sure of this, but I believe shooting at a friendly player removes enemy ink – which otherwise would cause the inkling to show up on enemy GamePads. Which, if true, gives you a second good reason to ink your own team (or at least those that are pulsating on the GamePad).

Game Modes

The only way to play more than 2 players is to go online. Currently Splatoon offers three online game modes: Turf War, Splat Zones and Tower Control. All modes pits 4 players against 4 opponents, they all use variations of the same maps, and all modes add a time limit to the match. However, only Turf War cannot be won by knockout.

A Knockout occurs when a team reaches the winning condition before the match timer reaches zero. In the event of a Knockout, the loosing team doesn’t get any points – otherwise both teams earn points, and the team with the highest score wins.

The interesting part of these three modes is how they affect the tactics deployed to win.

Turf War

Stage 1 in red; expand coverage by spreading out. Stage 2; convene by the bottle neck, or edge of your controlled area and push toward opponent spawn.
Stage 1 in red; spread out to cover maximum turf. Stage 2 in blue; convene at the front to maintain perimeter.

The winner of a Turf War is the team with the most ink on the ground (walls do not count). Keep in mind that the winning team is often determined during the final 40 seconds of the match.

During the initial stage of the match, shown in red, the players spread out to cover as much turf as possible. Usually it’s a good idea to have at least two players make their way to the front to secure the bottlenecks, leaving no more than two players coloring the back.

When the home half of the map is sufficiently covered, stage 2 of the match begins (shown in blue). All four players convene at the front of the controlled turf (shown in blue), where the entire team work together to keep the front intact, maintain control of the bottlenecks, and splatting any bad guys that breaks through the perimeter.

Splat Zones

Stage 1 in red; using different paths, convene at a zone. Stage 2 in blue; spread out to maintain control of the zone by adding ink to the area around the zone.
Stage 1 in red; using different paths, convene at a zone. Stage 2 in blue; spread out to maintain control of the zone by adding ink to the area around the zone.

This mode is about coloring one or two smaller sections of the map with ink for 1 minute. If there are more than one zone, all zones must be controlled by the same team for the countdown to begin.

The team should use different paths to convene at the splat zone (red arrows). If there are more than one zone, use the GamePad to pick the least risky zone. Get the zone under control by covering it with sufficient ink. If you find yourself outnumbered, swim to safety or target the other zone.

When the zone is under control spread out to maintain control from a safer distance (blue arrows). At this stage focus on closing down bottlenecks and hunting down bad guys preparing an attack from the flanks. With no opponents near you location, focus on expanding the inked area around the zone – as that will make it harder for the bad guys to launch a surprise attack.

At all times try to avoid getting covered by enemy ink as you’ll become visible on the GamePad. Don’t ink more turf if you want to avoid to revealing your position to the enemy.

Tower Control

The goal of Tower Control is to move a tower from the center of the map all the way to the tower zone on the enemy side of the map. The tower keeps moving towards the enemy for as long as it’s controlled by your team; when no player rides the tower however, it stops. If you wait too long while the tower stands still, it’ll begin moving back to start (the center of the map).


This mode is currently by far the most chaotic. Though some of the chaos is caused by the tower itself (disorienting and frustrating camera clipping issues), the tactics practiced by most players is the bigger issue: everyone are mindlessly rushing to reach and ride the tower, hoping to brute force their way to victory.

This tactic adds very little to the game. Even worse, it reduces the ink to little more than ammo – which is a pity, as ink is so much more.

The cause of this tactical choice is the small point of interest – the tower – and the fact that it is always moving, preventing players from establishing themselves on the map. However, when players get more familiar with this match mode, we’ll hopefully see better teamwork emerging.

The goal of any tactics deployed should be to take better advantage of the awesome powers of ink.

Stage 1 in red; players spread out to defend the tower, no riders at this stage. Stage 2 in blue; advance to next positions when one team member moves in to ride the tower.
Stage 1 in red; players spread out to defend the tower, no riders at this stage. Stage 2 in blue; advance to next positions when one team member moves in to ride the tower.

Stage 1 (in red) should be to spread out to cover turf that leads the team to good tactical positions. From these positions the team splats the opponents.

When at least half of the opponent team has been wiped out stage 2 (in blue) begins: Move up to better tactical positions around the tower rail, while focusing on preventing the opponents from reaching the tower both directly (splatting foe) and indirectly (inking turf).

Never have more than one concurrent rider, and try to always be prepared to step onto the tower within seconds after your friendly rider is taken out.

Finally, when the tower is within the friendly half of the map, don’t try to ride it back to the center of the map! Instead simply get the enemy riders off the tower, and position yourself to simply keeping it clear. When the tower is back to start, one team member moves in while the rest of the team endeavors to keep the friendly rider safe.

So, what do you think?

Categorized as Gaming

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