As one of Nintendo’s biggest games this year, Splatoon arrived with an ample amount of hype and hope from longstanding fans of the company. Wii U owners, and even those simply intrigued by the unique third-person shooter, waited on the game’s arrival to see if it was really worth checking out. Upon the game’s arrival, however, many gamers and critics were quick to find out that it was very light on content, ourselves included.
While the gameplay managed to offer something wholly original, Splatoon felt like it was pushed out in a hurry to appease consumers that picked up the hardware in the Holiday 2014 wake of Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. The online wasn’t even comparable to other titles in the genre, the campaign was noticeably short, but the game did something that those tried-and-true shooters didn’t – something that managed to capture the core of Nintendo by just being fun. Then something funny happened, it started growing.
In the months following the game’s release, players have been treated to several waves of free content to keep them continuously playing in the weeks following. Some of it as minor as a new weapon, others being as noteworthy as a brand new multiplayer map, and more still as exciting as a brand new multiplayer mode that completely changes the way fans engage with one another online. The very ecosystem of the fictitious Inklings has continued to evolve, and it’s all thanks to a solid game plan and continued support from the Big N.
Now the title is dealing with the biggest surge of content it has seen yet, and it appears to all be based on feedback from the community surrounding the the software itself. One highly requested feature is the ability to team up with one to three other friends, and it’s is now possible thanks to the Squad Battle mode. Not content with just that, those that want to avoid ink battles with Internet randoms can do so thanks to the new Private Battle mode. Meanwhile, the level cap has been raised from 20 to 50 and skilled players can now jump into two entirely new ranks to test their mettle.
All of this is a natural next step for the game’s unique online combat, but it doesn’t appear to be stopping there. More weapons, gear, maps, and modes are set to arrive for Splatoon well into Fall 2015, at which point the game will have been given continuous updates for roughly six months – all of which will have been free of charge. This kind of content pacing is one of the only reasons gamers will continue to keep playing Nintendo’s newest IP right up until the Holiday shopping season, long after its fifteen minutes of fame would have very likely warn off.
In a world where players are charged obscene prices for different colored weapon skins, additional multiplayer maps, and more, Splatoon stands out as a bonafide diamond in the rough. While there’s a strong possibility that the company held back on some content for the sole purpose of releasing it later, the strategy seems to have paid dividends thus far. If ever there’s a dip in activity, Nintendo just releases another small piece of content. It’s an incredibly fascinating system, and it appears to be working so far – as sales for the game have continued to go on strong.
With other games like Halo 5: Guardians hoping to follow suit with 15 free post-launch multiplayer maps, it appears to be a strong strategy that even Microsoft hopes to emulate. That said, there are still some points that Splatoon must overcome to keep its community pleased and active, and from that perspective it still has room to grow. The lack of voice chat, for instance, reduces the appeal that the new Squad Battle mode brings with it, while the non-existent class-making options makes customizing Inklings with different gear and armaments a less engaging environment from a competitive point of view.
There are a lot of features that could be added to Nintendo’s shooter, but the best part about the onslaught of continuous updates is that the game doesn’t have a ceiling. It’s entirely possible that all of the concerns voiced thus far won’t simply fall on deaf ears, as more gratuitous DLC continues to pour in. Only time will tell how this free content will shape the final product, but for now fans can rest easy knowing that there’s still much more to come.
What do you think of Splatoon? Do you think the game has only gotten better in the months following its launch? Get at us in the comments.