What is Splatoon 2?
Packing both a substantial, brain teasing single player mode, and a frantic, close quarters online multiplayer offering, Splatoon 2 is a brightly coloured third person shooter. Putting you in the role of an Inkling - a half human, half squid character - this a game that whacks an ink gun in your hand, packs in plenty of terrible fish related puns, and asks you to paint the town (or at least the floor) red/blue/yellow/green, or whatever your team's colour is. With the ability to change into a squid at the touch of a button, and swim through your team's ink - letting you not only get around quicker, but even scale vertical walls - this is a fish themed splat fest!
How do you play Splatoon 2?
Splatoon 2 is a divided up into two very different chunks - a single player "Hero Mode", and a series of online modes designed for up to eight players.
In Hero Mode, the game takes on a more platformer-y feel, as you figure out how to get around the game's often expansive, and surprisingly vertical levels. Packed with challenges and puzzles that'll push you to use your ink, and your squid form in new and unusual ways, Hero Mode is packed with moving platforms, humongous obstacles, and clever challenges that you'll need to use your brain to overcome - not to mention plenty of bad guys to splat.
Online, the game's main mode, Turf Wars, is a simple contest of covering more ground than the other team. Split into two teams of four, it's up to you to help your team coat more of the walls and floors in the tightly packed arena than the opposing team - meaning if anything, splatting the floor is even more important than splatting other players! In Ranked play, Splatoon 2 offers a few more objective based modes - Rainmaker (a capture the flag style mode, where you have to steal the "Rainmaker", and get it to the opposing team's base), Splat Zones (a King of the Hill mode, where you need to splat and "own" various areas on the map to reduce the opposing team's points) and Tower Control (climb and splat a giant tower to get it to trundle towards enemy territory - if it reaches their base, you win), although you'll need to reach level 10 before you can play these.
How easy is Splatoon 2 to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Splatoon 2 is fairly easy to pick up and play, although it does have a slightly steeper learning curve than other shooters, as it's so different to anything else out there. As with many games though, the difficulty here depends on whether you're playing online or off.
In single player, the game requires some fast reactions and quick timing, as you'll often have to speedily string together moves, track an object while moving, or zip through a narrow gap in order to progress through levels. Each level in Hero Mode contains several checkpoints, but the game only gives you three lives with which to reach the next one - if you fail, you'll have to start the level all over again.
Online, Splatoon is arguably simpler (in the main Turf War, all you have to do is help your team splat the most territory in their colour to win), but how tricky you'll find it will depend on who you're playing against. Against a team of similar level players, Splatoon's battles are tight, competitive, knife edge contests - but as the game doesn't stream players by ability, you may find yourself coming up against players who are a lot more experienced, and who have much better weapons than you, from the beginning. While up to eight players can play together online, including in a team of friends (depending on the mode you're playing), we should note there's no support for split screen play.
In terms of mature content, there's little for parents to worry about in Splatoon 2, with no swearing, violence or sexual content. In fact, as far as shooters go, this is one of the least violent out there, as there's nothing in the way of bullets. Players instead fire ink (which looks more like paint) at each other using a variety of weapons, with players simply splatting and disappearing when hit.