Splatoon 2, much like its predecessor, is a technicolor shooter free-for-all. Once again, you play as an Inkling — a squid-human lycanthrope creature with an ink gun. Your job is to either shoot more ink around town than your opponents, or save the world from the evil Octarians. Or a little bit of both.
Also, your job is to buy hats and shoes and guns.
In Splatoon 2, it’ll take you a bit to find your way around both the map and the gameplay. But we’re here to be your tour guide for Inkopolis. Below, we’ll break down the places you can visit and what you can do there, explain the various game modes, tell you which weapon to choose, talk about the things you can buy and give you a few starter tips for the solo campaign.
Inkopolis Square: Finding your way around so you don’t look like a rube
Inkopolis Square is the main hub for Splatoon 2. Here, you’ll find the multiplayer lobbies, the solo campaign entrance and the shops. There’s a lot going on here and all the signs are written in Inkling, so it’s a bit overwhelming the first time you visit.
This is effectively your main menu. Inkopolis Square is where you go to shop for gear or pick a game mode. You make your choices by walking into a shop. If you don’t read Inkling (or have a terrible sense of direction like us), it’ll take you a few tries to figure out what’s where. But we’re here to help. The entrances to each section are marked on the image below, and we’ve got sections below that to talk about what each area is for.
Solo campaign: Save the zapfish, save the world
The solo campaign is where you go to save the world by rescuing zapfish from the Octarians. (We promise that sentence makes sense.) Look for the woman with the green umbrella who drops through the grate when you get close. Follow her to access the solo campaign areas.
Lobby: Paint the town neon pink (against a team trying to paint it neon green)
The ground floor of the Deca Tower is where you’ll go for online multiplayer matches. Playing these matches earns you the levels you need to unlock new weapons and clothes in the Galleria. You’ve got the choice between Regular Battles, Ranked Battles, League Battles and Private Battles.
- Regular Battles are where you’ll play Turf War in a four-on-four battles. Your goal is to paint more of the arena with your color of ink than your opponents.
- Ranked Battles are available after you reach level 10 in Regular Battles. These are a lot tougher and more competitive. You also get access to a few new types of game. Splat Zones are a zone control-type match, Tower Control involves a moving tower and Rainmaker matches are a kind of reverse capture the flag where you have to deliver an item into an enemy base.
- League Battles are available after you get a rank of at least B- in one of the Ranked Battles. These are team-based four-on-four matches where you team up with friends (at least one, in which case you’ll be paired with another duo). You’ll play through a Ranked Battle as a team.
- Private Battles are just what they say they are. You can set up a match for just you and your friends. You set the rules, arena and the type of match.
The Shoal: Reach out and splat someone
The Shoal is where you’ll go for the other kind of multiplayer matches. Local, private battles live here. You’ll need to be physically together to play these matches except during special events.
This is also where you’ll launch Salmon Run matches. These are three-wave co-op challenges against an Octoboss. For these, too, you’ll have to be physically together, unless it’s during a special event.
Grizzco: It puts the egg in the basket
In the dark alley just past Maria (where you start the solo campaign), you’ll find Grizzco. It’s the sketchy shop you were warned about during your introduction to Inkopolis Square. This is one of the two ways to play Splatoon 2’s Salmon Run game mode — the other being a local co-op game from inside the Shoal. Inside Grizzco, you’ll meet Mr. Grizz and get offered a job — basically, to go wherever Mr. Grizz sends you, shoot salmonids and recover power and golden eggs.
During a Salmon Run game, salmonids will march up out of the water and track their slime all over. Most of them will be low-level goons that you can just shoot once to collect power eggs. A few of them, though, will be boss salmonids. These drop golden eggs when defeated, which you and your team have to collect and return to Mr. Grizz’s basket to meet your quota.
After you complete your on-the-job training, you’ll have two ways to play Salmon Run — with friends (just like you can do in the Shoal) or freelance (with random other players doing the same thing).
Collecting enough power eggs to meet your quota isn’t just for Mr. Grizz’s benefit, though. Check your points and bonuses with the Y button to see what you’re working toward. It’ll take a lot of work, but you’ll be able to earn rewards daily and monthly for every 100 golden eggs you collect.
Grizzco is only open during certain times, so you won’t always be able to get in. You can tell it’s closed if the gate is down. Go into your menu, then over to stages, then down to Salmon Run to find the next date and time you can access it.
Galleria: Dress for success
Once you start playing multiplayer matches and gaining levels, you can start shopping for new weapons and clothes. You’ll use the money you earn during multiplayer battles to buy things. New weapons unlock with every level you gain starting with level 2. Clothes — hats and shoes — unlock once you hit level 4.
Murch: Mod your merch
Just to the right side of the entrance to the Lobby, you can meet Murch. He’s an urchin-looking merchant (oh, we get his name now) who will let you modify your gear. Every piece of gear you wear — your hat, shirt and shoes — has a secondary ability that you can unlock through online battles.
Murch lets you remove these secondary abilities by spending some money — 20,000 coins each. Removing an ability will earn you ability chunks. You can then roll the dice to get new secondary abilities or you can the spend the ability chunks you’ve stored up to customize your gear.
Murch also lets you order gear that you see on other Inklings walking around Inkopolis Square. He can only get you one piece a day, though, so choose wisely.
Crusty Sean’s: Even Inklings love food trucks
Throughout the solo campaign, you’ll find tickets that you can cash in for meals at Crusty Sean’s food truck. These meals give you a temporary boost to either the cash or the experience you earn during a multiplayer battle.
Let’s talk about weapons
The weapons you buy at Ammo Knights will determine the way you play, and you should consider the way you play before you buy a weapon.
Do you like to run-and-gun? Then the chargers are not for you because you want something with a higher rate of fire like the dualies. Are you a slow and methodical paintball (inkball?) assassin? Then the dualies will frustrate you because you need something with better accuracy and more range like the chargers. Do you like to just sloppily and haphazardly rain ink on your enemies like fire from on high? You want a roller.
There are seven types of weapons available in Splatoon 2:
- Shooters are the standard, base weapon. They’re not specialized and that’s a good thing. They’re easy to use and easy to understand. Pick these (you won’t have a choice at first) when you’re starting out, or when you just want something tried and true.
- Rollers are big, sloppy weapons. They’re not nuanced, but they’re not as targeted as shooters. Pick these if you like to get up close and messy.
- Chargers are sniper rifles. They’re good for long-range attacks, but they take some getting used to in close-quarters. (They’re also good for laying down a straight line of ink if you’re looking to squid-swim through an area in a hurry.) Pick these if you’re a little more patient and careful with your ammo.
- Sloshers are more like a grenade. They toss buckets of ink in a “to whom it may concern” approach. Pick these if you feel like swinging a giant paint roller is still too close to coloring inside the lines.
- Splatlings are heavy guns — like a gatling gun … maybe that’s why they’re called that. They deal a lot of damage, but take a long time to charge. Pick these if you’re willing to wait a couple extra seconds before you get to unleash a torrent of ink.
- Dualies are dual-wielded handguns. They’re a lot of fun up close, but don’t have great range. They do, however, give you a roll-and-dodge ability that no other weapon does. Pick these if you want to feel like a gunslinger crossed with a gymnast (crossed with a squid).
- Brellas are a defensive weapon. They let you create (and fire) a shield. Pick these if you’re into shielding your friends from ink, but also think “Mary Poppins should’ve been an action hero.”
Most of these types of weapons require a distinct style of play. Sometimes, that won’t match your personal style of play. Luckily, before you buy a weapon, Sheldon lets you try them out in a safe arena. Use this every time you buy a weapon. You don’t want to hobble yourself in a battle with a weapon you don’t know how to use.
This goes for your sub-weapon (grenades, usually) and special power as well. They’re unique and they take a little practice to get used to. Sub-weapons are all basically different flavors of grenade. You’ve got your normal grenades, sticky grenades and bouncy-ish, curling grenades.
Specials are similar — they’re your charged-up, crowd-control ability. It charges up as you paint more and more of the arena around you, then lets you unleash a lot of ink at once.
Currencies: Shockingly, none of them are called sand dollars
There are four currencies you’ll deal with in Splatoon 2. The most obvious one is the cash you’ll earn during multiplayer battles. You’ll use this cash to buy weapons or clothes in the Galleria.
The next currencies you’ll encounter are power eggs and sardinium. You’ll find power eggs all over the place in the solo campaign. Sardinium is a lot more rare — you’ll only find one in each level of the solo campaign. And you’ll only find them if you’re very, very thorough.
The last currency is the tickets that you’ll trade in at Crusty Sean’s food truck to pick up a buffing meal.
Solo campaign: Tips, tricks and how-tos
When you follow the woman with the umbrella through the grate, you’ll travel to Tentakeel Outpost in Octo Canyon. This is the first of several sectors you’ll work your way through as you rescue zapfish and save the world. After you rescue a certain number of zapfish, you’ll be able to take on the sector’s Octoboss. When you beat the boss, you’ll unlock the next sector. Rinse and repeat a few more times, and you’ll save the world.
Explore a new sector thoroughly
When you first start — and, later, when you unlock each new sector — take a few minutes to wander around and find all the level access grates. There’s always a bunch of balloons to pop that will earn your some power eggs. You’ll also find the occasional sardinium.
Wandering around and unlocking the level grates also lets you fast travel anywhere you want with the map. It’s not a huge hassle to walk everywhere, but when you’re on a roll, you’ll be thankful.
Smash every crate in every level
Sure, this is standard video game advice, but smashing crates should be a priority as you make your way through the solo campaign. Crates hold armor, power eggs and, very occasionally, sardinium. And you’re going to want every one of them. Armor lets you absorb and ignore a bit of ink/damage. Power eggs and sardinium can be used to upgrade your weapons at the Enhancifier in Tentakeel Outpost.
Sometimes, you’re going to have to go a little out of your way to find every last crate. It’s always worth the effort. Look behind things, look in less obvious places and on top of things and look for anything out of place. Some crates are hidden, but they’re ultimately meant to be found.
Match the weapon to the level and upgrade your arsenal
After you beat your first Octoboss on the fourth level, Sheldon from Ammo Knights will get involved in your solo campaign. He does two things for you: expands your arsenal and lets you upgrade your weapons.
For a while, you’ll have levels dedicated to each new weapon. After you’re through those, you’ll have the choice to use any weapon you’ve unlocked on any level.
Just like we said in the weapon section above, think about how you play. If you’re not the type to use sniper rifles, maybe don’t rush into a boss fight with a sniper rifle.
The other thing Sheldon lets you do now is upgrade your weapons, ink supply and sub-weapons. You do this in the first sector of the solo campaign, Tentakeel Outpost, by spending power eggs and sardinium at the Enhancifier.