Since Nintendo released the Switch’s cephalopod third-person shooter Splatoon 2 in late July, they’ve been injecting the game with a continuous stream of excellent weapons. After finding my cozy comfort zone of Splatoon 2 weapons immediately after launch, Nintendo’s dedication to varying the game’s weapon arsenal is now inspiring me to try out different playstyles and strategies.
In Splatoon 2, guns aren’t just guns. A gun is also a well of floor ink, a bomb-type attack and a special. Immediately after Splatoon 2 launched, I, along with countless others, thought I’d found my all-in-one weapon and attached myself to the Aerospray MG gun, vowing never to give it up (except in Ranked Mode, sometimes). It’s got great range, great spread, enough killing potential to keep me alive and satisfying accuracy. Its suction bombs are powerful but have pitiable throw range and its curling bomb launcher is absolutely killer in regular Turf War mode, where the curling bombs can spread ink several meters in any direction. Truly, what more could I ask for?
A few things, it turns out. First of all, I was playing almost exclusively in normal Turf War mode, where, yes, the Aerospray’s ink spread regularly helped earn me first place on my team. Yet I kept my distance from enemies, which was good because I wasn’t too kill-focused, preferring instead to use my curling bomb launcher to cover up enemy ink.
If Splatoon 2 released a few middling weapons post-launch, it’s unlikely I’d have strayed far from the Aerospray MG and the play strategy it mandates. Luckily, Nintendo continues to release free DLC weapons that all entail completely different approaches to the game. A few of them have come close to unfurling my squid girl’s suckers from the Aerospray MG. That means I’ve picked up some sniping skills, learned how to occasionally survive close-range combat, figured out sneak attacks and, yes, ventured into Ranked Mode.
One of these new and revelatory weapons is the Sploosh-o-Matic, a favorite among original Splatoon players. It’s got a wide nozzle like a speaker cone that emits forceful bursts of ink. It’s wonderfully balanced, minus its range, and is deadly in close combat. The Sploosh-o-Matic can ink tons of territory, especially since it’s easy to suck ink from the curling bombs, which inks space out in front of me. Also, its Splashdown special, a sort of area-of-effect attack, gives the weapon lots of viability in Ranked Mode, where killing matters more than inking territory. Without straying too far from the Aerospray MG, the Sploosh-o-Matic forced a more aggressive and kills-focused playstyle on me.
The Classic Squiffer, which launched on August 19th, is a little more give-and-take. It’s a charge weapon with a very narrow scope, almost like a sniper rifle (which I, as someone with little patience, tend to avoid). But with a shorter range, the Classic Squiffer solves the typical sniper problem of being too far from the fray. It has a lot of power up close and charges somewhat quickly, but a lot can happen between its charge and its shot. If you’ve got high ground, it can work—unless your opponents are using something like a paint roller. Playing with the Classic Squiffer means being strategic instead of just spewing ink everywhere (sorry, Aerospray MG). I have to ask: What’s the best spot to camp for a moment? Am I vulnerable? Am I immediately visible?
Splatoon 2’s latest weapon—and in my opinion, the most interesting of recent additions to play in Ranked Mode—is the Sloshing Machine. In the words of Splatoon 2’s intolerable weapon peddler Sheldon, it’s “basically your normal everyday washing machine… except it fires twisting volleys of beautiful, messy ink.” Those volleys are deadly and feel immensely satisfying to land. Its Autobombs, which sniff out and pursue enemies, are similarly powerful. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of its special, the “Sting Ray,” which is the gun equivalent of very powerfully throwing an ink-covered stingray tail at enemies. Everything about the Sloshing Machine is killer. Since Ranked Mode is more about getting kills than spewing ink, the Sloshing Machine has eased me into Ranked when I’d usually steer clear.
Another success in Splatoon 2’s post-release content are its novelty weapons, like the just-out umbrella and the soon-to-be-released bubble blower. If anything is going to pull me out of my Aerospray MG complacency, it’s the question “What the hell is an umbrella doing here?” These constant changes, from viable weapons to more fun ones, are an unpredictable approach to a shooter. They give me faith that Splatoon 2 will continue evolving into a better and better game without ever taking itself too seriously.