By Daniel Velázquez / May 10th, 2015
Nintendo is not your typical video game company. They don’t do things in the so-called “conventional way.” So, when they announced a demo for their upcoming team-based shooter Splatoon, we got out our schedules and marked down three hours. On Friday and Saturday, we got a chance to play the Turf Wars mode with seven other people, but only during those times. As of now, if you have the demo installed, it’s just taking valuable space in your Wii U’s hard drive.
So, a crack team of Operation Rainfall staffers was assembled and given the task to try out the so-called Global Testfire demo and report with their impressions. So here’s Tyler Lubben, Brandon S. Rose, Andrew Mathieu, Jacob Dobbs and Daniel Velázquez with what they thought of Nintendo’s new game.
So, we all had a chance to play the Testfire demo which was on at various hours over the past day. What where your expectations going into it?
Jacob: I was baffled by Nintendo’s decision to limit our opportunities to play the demo. I thought they would have had it open and available for everyone to try and not restrict it to time periods. I understand they did not want the servers to crash, but you need as much traffic as you can to test out your servers. Splatoon is a new IP and its needs all the exposure it can get. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I started up my demo.
Andrew: I was excited about the Testfire, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I really wanted to play Splatoon and was grateful I’d get to try it before launch, but I was not sure about the controls, how multiplayer would be, and whether it would hold my attention.
Tyler: I’d say the Testfire was about what I imagined it’d be. It let me play around with a few of the basic weapons, explore a couple of Splatoon’s arenas and get a feel for the game mechanics (though I wasn’t expecting a tutorial, so good on them for that). What really surprised me, though, was how polished everything was. Granted, the game is coming out in only a few weeks, but, considering this seemed to have been some kind of server integrity test, I was astonished by how solid my connection was. Perhaps I’ve been soured from less-than-optimal online experiences from other Nintendo-run titles like Smash Bros., but I noticed absolutely no stuttering or slowdown whatsoever in this case. I can’t say how many people were trying to connect during these small timeframes, but, if my experience is indicative of the full game, it’s going to be a fine time indeed.
Daniel: I guess I was more towards the “surprised due to my lowered expectations” side. I almost thought it would crash, be postponed and we would be playing again next weekend. But it went really smooth and I was having a lot of fun. Of the 20 or so matches I played, only 3 ended up being blowouts and I expected to lose more than I win, as per my shooter abilities. But that wasn’t the case. I didn’t have any connection issues at all and the game ran really smooth, which I wasn’t expecting at all.
Brandon: I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make all of the Testfire windows on my schedule, but I was able to make it to the first and third sessions of the weekend, and I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed. If performing a stress test for the servers was the end goal, I’d say that goal was met with flying colors (pun very much intended). In my case, I only had two disconnects during the first session, and I didn’t have any in the last session until I was playing a match that extended beyond the cutoff time. Lag seemed to be nonexistent, as well. There were a couple instances where it seemed like there was a cross-counter incident and both myself and someone on my opponent’s team splatted each other after one of us had already taken a glob of ink to the face, but any delay was minimal. There was no drop in the frame rate, no stuttering in the audio, no glitches, no anything. If this is just the stress test, I can imagine that Nintendo will be more than ready for the amount of people joining in on Splatfest.
As far as my expectations go, consider them exceeded. Splatoon is probably the most unique game I’ve played in a long time. Right away I realized that I’d have to un-learn a lot of the habits that come from playing a more by-the-numbers shooters where cover and circle-strafing are key to success. Rather than follow the Halo or Gears of War formulas that are seen across most other shooters today, Nintendo has built a fast-paced game where mobility and teamwork are keys to success.
Moving on to the two stages and Turf War mode that were available, what where our impressions there?
Tyler: Of the matches I played the first night and yesterday afternoon, only one was played on the oil rig-centric Saltspray Rig. I was also using a weapon I sucked with and we lost horribly (I also fell off into the ocean once), so I’m a bit biased against it for the time being. However, I had a much better time in Walleye Warehouse; a solid, straightforward arena that I got to know pretty well. I felt this was a much safer map to ease players into the game with also, since the game’s Turf War mode gave everyone plenty of surfaces to splatoon all over (can we make this a verb now?). Plus, I absolutely loved the ability to super jump to a teammate after respawn, allowing you to get back into the action quickly without having to hoof it all the way.
Daniel: I also fell to my death a couple of times on that darn map. But I played on both maps pretty evenly and liked that they feel made for two things: shooting and painting. When you start looking for ways to climb up stuff and get the upper hand on terrain and opponents, they feel completely different from ordinary multiplayer shooters. It makes it easy to be a part of the team when the objective is not to be the best at shooting, but the best at assessing the situation and knowing where to move around the map which have a ton of options to get around. They feel great for right players, which was something I wasn’t sure about when they announced it.
Andrew: I was able to play the first two testfire sessions. I really, really liked it. It’s so much fun and I’m sad I had to miss the last one for work. I like the combination of gyro and analog controls. It has some unique movement that feels fluid and not disorienting. The game looks amazing, probably the best looking game on Wii U, dethroning Mario Kart 8 in my opinion. The music is fantastic and I really enjoyed the variety offered in the two stages. Specifically, I really liked the verticality of the shore stage and the simplicity of the warehouse stage.
Brandon: Rather than an out-and-out deathmatch (splatmatch?) where body count is king, the Turf War gameplay turns the entire map into a battle for control. I was skeptical about matches only lasting for three minutes at first, but, once I got into the zone, that seemed like the perfect amount of time to play. The game is meant to be played quickly. With reloading being done by taking a dip in your own ink and Super Jumps to get back into the fray after respawning, Turf War doesn’t seem like it’d be suited for a marathon. As for the stages, I very much enjoyed finding little nooks and crannies to mark that others have overlooked. Because some matches can come down to the wire, every little bit of coverage helps.
Jacob: The Saltspray Rig was a fun open arena with plenty of platforms, walls to scale and paths to take. There is a multitude of strategies to use to try to win against your opponent. The Walleye Warehouse was fun, but everyone always took their fighting to the middle of the stage. All in all, it’s a fun mode. The key to Turf War mode for me was to spray everything you could at the beginning and then overtake your opponents and cover up their ink. Then, wisely use your secondary weapons. Most of the matches I was in ended up being close victories or close defeats. Then, the key to winning in Turf War is to have a balanced team and spread out to cover all ground. If everyone had chosen one particular primary weapon, (like the Splat Roller) it always guaranteed a loss.
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