Summer is here and, for the second year in a row, Splatoon 2 is going to have a key role to play on the Nintendo Switch. The meat of this third-person shooter is in the online multiplayer matches, but next up it's the single-player campaign which is getting an update. Yusuke Amano and his team have developed this expansion thinking about those going on holiday this summer without an internet connection and who plan on only taking their portable devices. That's not the only incentive to sit down and paint the town red (or whichever colour you prefer), as you'll get a brand new character to play with as a reward too.
Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion is an offline single-player mode in which you take the role of Agent 8. She's an Octarian, but she's not an enemy in this expansion and if you succeed at completing all 80 missions being an octopus (and not a squid) you'll be able to play as an Octarian in the multiplayer part of the game. We got to try some of this out for ourselves recently and got to see what changes have been made as well as play a number of missions from the expansion.
The first one we tried, called Iceman Station, left us a little confused since it wasn't strictly about shooting, the goal instead being to get through an obstacle course with a jetpack full of ink; you'll need to use this makeshit propulsion system to stay afloat or else you'll die. You'll have to fight a series of enemies too, but given how the ink in our jetpack is unlimited it isn't really a great challenge, although it did help us understand that this expansion isn't just a story mode made up of interconnected epic battles.
We should mention here that the Octo Expansion isn't free, and we're not talking about the DLC price but rather its in-game cost. To get into this mission you'll have to spend 500 tickets, and if you lose all your lives you'll have to pay again in order to get some more. The good news is that the reward's are quite big: 1,300 tickets in this case, which is more than double the amount of tickets spent in every mission we played.
The goal of the second mission, Breakdance Station, was to destroy five enemies, but the real concern is the platform, as beneath you there are a few cages in the shape of the game's logo that are easily destroyed by the ink, so you have to be careful with your shots and movements to avoid tumbling down. The weapons are also a problem since we're only armed with the Slosher and explosive bombs or the Roller, so we had rather limited range.
The game will let us choose from a variety of weapon loadouts for each mission, so we'll be given greater freedom without actually being unrestricted, so weapon selection becomes very important. There's also a default setting if you want to keep it simple, but we must say that we weren't very successful with the Slosher in the previous mission. By the way, The Octarians and the Inklings are controlled exactly in the same way, so there are no classes or skills, don't you worry.
After this veritable tightrope-walking, the next destination was another challenge, called Swass 8-Ball Station, which required us to guide a massive 8-ball through a series of more or less open locations to get to the end of the level. As you'd expect you'll need accuracy to avoid hitting it too hard or in the wrong direction, and there are also some enemies that will try to shoot it off course. It may be simple, but it's cheap to try: only 200 tickets.
If at this point you're questioning whether this DLC lacks intensity and action, don't worry, we thought that too, but the challenge arriving right after these three missions gave us second thoughts. It was so difficult that we had to leave it half done. It's a mission for Splat Charger lovers during which you'll need to be very precise with your weapon and also coordinate your actions according to the environment. First, you're on a little platform at the beginning with a barrier in front of you and two balloons full of ink on the sides, but against you are about 15 fully-equipped enemies standing on cubes and rotating whenever you hit the balloons. In the middle there's a tiny area to approach, so if you make one false move you'll fall down and have to start again. Shoot, charge, dodge, and repeat.
Our first look gave us some insight into the types of missions and the variety of the challenges, but what's not yet clear is the role of the underground system that we saw in the images. Another thing we want to know is if the expansion will have some kind of story. The Octo Expansion is more like a series of arcade missions in the style of Splatoon 2, providing quick and straightforward fun, and we won't have to wait long until we can get our tentacles on the full thing.