UPDATE!!! Check out my Splatoon 2 Review! So, when Splatoon arrived a little over 2 years ago (no, seriously, it was May 28th, 2015!) one of the biggest complaints was the lack of content. Yes, the crux of the game was the Turf War Mode, and there were Ranked Battles soon after, and we did have the Story Mode (check out my preview of Splatoon 2’s Story Mode here!), but fans wanted more. So when Splatoon 2 was announced, fans wondered what Nintendo would do to up the content level, and then Salmon Run was revealed and was dubbed the “Horde Mode” of Splatoon 2. But is that what this is?
In a way, yes, and in a way, no, but it’s epic all the same.
Since we got a review code for Splatoon 2 (Thanks Nintendo!), we got early access to the modes, but for whatever reason, they waited to unlock Salmon Run, so when the time came to play it, I jumped right in, and if it wasn’t for a Splatfest, I would’ve kept playing for a LONG time.
Almost immediately, you notice just how different this mode is. Your “boss” is a talking statue called Mr. Grizz…ok, it’s not REALLY a talking statue, but rather a voice coming out of a bear figurine to make you wonder who is asking you to do these things. It’s still very different from all the other shops you go to. Anyway, once you show your interest, you’re whisked away to a special area to do some training. And trust me, you need to pay attention during this training.
Why? Well, because not only does it show you the ins and outs of the mode, it talks to you about the seven, yes, SEVEN, different Boss Salmonids you need to kill in order to get Golden Eggs. Each one of these bosses is not only beautifully designed but completely different in form and in tactics to the others. You can’t kill two in the same way. So pay attention! You need to remember their weaknesses!
Once your training is done, you’ll be able to jump right in. You can play with friends, play with local players, or just hop online and see who’s available to help you. Either way, your challenge has begun. Now, as you might recall from the E3 Treehouse Event, you can choose the difficulty in Salmon Run when you play with friends. In my runs, likely because I played with random people, the difficulty was chosen for me. But it was still tough.
Now, in Turf War and certain other modes, you don’t necessarily have to work together as a team to get the victory. In Salmon Run? You honestly do. For only united can you truly capture victory. You see, there are three waves that you need to complete to win the day, with each run asking you to get more and more eggs from the Salmonids. The trick is, you can only carry one Golden Egg at a time. What’s more, the Salmonids can actually steal eggs left unattended. So if you’re not working together? You won’t meet your quota, and Mr. Grizz won’t be happy!
What’s more, unlike the other mods, when you go “SPLAT!”, you don’t come back immediately. Instead, you become a life-preserver, and if your teammate inks yours enough, you’ll return. If all of you die? Game over.
The funny thing is, even with 4-players of decent skill? This mode is very hard. At times there will be multiple boss Salmonids that you have to deal. And since each one is different, you’ll have to work fast to kill them, else you’ll be overwhelmed. That happened to me three times, and we lost all three of those times.
One thing that I don’t want to get lost here is the level design of Salmon Run. Unlike the other modes, there’s only one map, a special island that the Salmonids happen to come up to it and invade. However, it’s full of ups, downs, pathways for you to discover, and in a fun twist, the size of the level expands, or recedes, depending on the tide. When it rises, you’ll find yourself with not much room to work with. But when it goes low, the land below the metal gives you more places to have fun with.
Before I wrap up, I want to talk more about the Salmonids. These gross little creatures (and their big bosses) are a perfect addition to the Squidlings and Ocatrians that fill up Splatoon 2. They’re gross, mean, swarm upon you like bugs, and you’ll feel no mercy in splating every single one of them. Their designs are really cool, and some of the bosses are truly epic, which is no doubt a big reason I feel Salmon Run is so fun.
Now, we know that this mode is going to be restricted as to when we can play it. But honestly, I can understand that. This mode is addictive. Best of all, you don’t have to have a fully party to play this. I got to enjoy it with just three people instead of four, and the round actually accounted for that in our quota. No doubt Nintendo wants you to play all modes and not just one this go around.
Splatoon 2 (complete with Salmon Run) arrives on Nintendo Switch on July 21st.