Two years ago Nintendo launched their colourful competitive shooter Splatoon on the Wii U, but since then quite a bit has changed, or should we say switched. Nintendo's new console means a new Splatoon game, one that'll eventually be gracing the Switch this month, and we got some time with the Hero Mode recently, a mode that flings you into a single-player campaign for the first time in the series, acting as a sort of tutorial for the rest of the experience, putting you in several challenging levels over five hub worlds of increasing difficulty.
To give a bit of an outline of what Hero Mode is, this is more of a shift away from the multiplayer aspect of the game, in which you have to cover as much ground as possible in paint, for instance, and instead gives you something more akin to platforming courses that require you to use a variety of different skills and abilities to conquer. You won't be fighting other players, then, but AI controlled enemies like squids and Octolings, all in a quest to try and find out what's happened to Squid Sister Callie, who's recently gone missing.
Before we got to squirt ink over everything in sight, though, we were introduced to the menus and, more importantly, the customisation options for the characters. Players love to be able to kit their avatars out not only with the best weapons, but also with some cool cosmetic items too, and this applied to clothing, headwear, and footwear in Splatoon 2. We didn't get to sample all of these in the short time we had, but there were a number of options like bicycle helmets and Converse-like trainers to choose from, and the great part about this is that they were all varied, not just different skins on the same thing. All of this will also be available to buy with in-game coins from the Inkopolis hub world, if you were wondering.
Variety comes into play with weapons too, except this choice must be more carefully considered than that of, say, what shoes you're going to be rocking in battle. Your bog-standard blaster, for example, will do medium amounts of damage and cover an average amount of ground, so is pretty ideal for newbies, but branching out, there are far more tactical options available. The roller (a paint roller, would you believe), for example, is great in the sense that it covers a lot of ground, but it's not that impressive when you get into combat and need to defend yourself. On the other end of the spectrum, though, there's the Splat Charger, which covers little ground but is great for sniping at long range.
In Hero Mode these weapons are gradually introduced to you, and in some levels you're even forced to use them by the weapon salesman Sheldon, who claims he needs to get weapon data for them. This means that by the end of the Hero Mode you're pretty well-versed in the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon, and in what scenarios each is good for. At the same time it also keeps things fresh and varied too, meaning you don't get tired of one weapon, nor do you get complacent by picking the same one each time.
Another way Hero Mode acts as a kind of tutorial is that it also introduces both newbies and existing fans to the mechanics of the games and the features they'll be interacting with, like sponge blocks, rolling platforms, grind rails, and more. On top of all this, there's also secrets to discover for those completionists out there, so we're looking forward to seeing how the Hero Mode develops when the game launches.
Overall what we saw of Splatoon 2 showed a lot of promise, and the Hero mode specifically was a great way to start getting to grips with the mechanics and weapons in the game. We're also looking forward to seeing the other sides of Splatoon 2, and turning into a squid to dive back into the action.