'Splatoon 2' Open Beta Impressions: Global testfire shows Switch owners what to expect


The Splatoon 2 global testfire open beta is underway. Owners of the Nintendo Switch can finally play Nintendo's cartoony online shooter on the new console, but there's a catch. 

The Splatoon 2 online demo is playable around the world this weekend only and during very specific times. After March 26, you won't be able to play the game again until it officially launches this summer.

We played the first hour of the three-day Splatoon 2 open beta period. How did it hold up? We'd say pretty well.

Splatoon 2 open beta: One weekend with Nintendo's premiere shooter game

Xavier Harding/Mic

This is the Splatoon you know and love. The Inklings are here, as are the colorful graphics. The only mode available during this part of the testfire was the classic Turf War and the premise is still the same: fill the field with more ink of your color than the opposing team when times runs out. Additionally, take out enemy painters with your weaponry as much as possible.

What's different? In addition to finally being able to take Splatoon with you on the go thanks to the Switch, this rendition presents players with new weapons and attacks to use against enemies. New moves like Splashdown, along with new weapons like the Sting Ray and the Tenta Missiles, offer fresh ways to dominate your opponents with — or lose repeatedly to, in our case. Some of these kids online are just too good at games...

Playing Splatoon 2 during the open beta largely felt like playing the original. The button layout is entirely the same: ZL to turn into a squid, ZR to fire your weapon, left analog to move, etc. Your system's motion controls can be used to aim, or you can use the right analog stick. Playing on the Switch Pro Controller is the best way to play, especially since Nintendo now equips their pro-level controller with motion controls (unlike the Wii U Pro Controller). The Joy-Con were usable, but much more so when thrown inside the Joy-Con Grip. Playing with one Joy-Con in each hand felt odd. Only the right Joy-Con controller was used for aiming and doing so never felt natural. 

If you plan on getting serious about Splatoon 2 and can get your hands on a Pro controller for the Switch, do it.

Splatoon 2 open beta: New weapons, same ol' Splatoon

Xavier Harding/Mic

The open beta for Splatoon 2 didn't last especially long — players couldn't walk around the world of Splatoon, upgrade weapons or find friends in the game to create matches with other internet players —  but this weekend's testfire offers a fair sense of what to expect. Ultimately this is the same Splatoon you've come to know and love (or hate, depending). If you had a blast shooting paint at your friends in the last one, you will in this one, too. If you were bad at the last one, you're bad at this one. The big difference here is portability: Splatoon 2 is the first game in the series that you can take with you. 

The added benefit of being able to cart around Splatoon, like for many games, opens up many possibilities. Considering Splatoon 2 will be one of the first Nintendo Switch games to make use of online multiplayer, it highlights the disappointing fact that the Nintendo Switch doesn't offer an option with both Wi-Fi and cellular support. Being able to play online even when away from wireless internet would stretch the possibilities for Splatoon 2's reach even further, but settling for semi-portable Splatoon is good enough for now.

Check out more Nintendo Switch news and coverage

Looking for more Nintendo Switch news? Check out how blind gamers are using the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo's left Joy-Con issue turns out to be a hardware problem, find out how to solve it. Find out how to buy one amidst the recent restock. Learn why the Switch cartridges taste so bad. Check out our comparison photos sizing up the Switch to the Wii U GamePad (part one and part two), find out how to make use of ethernet without the dock and the best way to get alerts when new stock arrives