As I said in my Fortnite review, I didn’t really understand the craze when I played the game on PlayStation 4. My experiences were always pretty sour — I’d either follow my squad around and die, hide and die, try to shoot enemies and die, or pick up some ammo and get called obscenities over voice chat… And then die. It turns out that being able to play with friends, or simply watching Curb Your Enthusiasm while playing handheld, has breathed new life into the title for me. The same goes for Paladins, essentially, although I had never played it before the fantastic Nintendo Switch version.
Fortnite and Paladins have supplanted Splatoon 2 as my competitive online shooter of choice, so much so that I really have no desire to pick up Splatoon 2 again.
The issues with playing with friends in Splatoon 2 have been documented ad-nauseam, and they can somewhat be overlooked when the main competition was the similarly-inept Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but they really come to the forefront when free games like Fortnite and Paladins are lightyears more advanced than Splatoon 2. The fact that you may or may not be on the same team with your friends is silly — and that’s if you’re able to join up with them in the first place; Splatoon 2, unlike just about every other online game (excluding Nintendo-developed ones), does not have a lobby function where friends can party-up. There’s also the odd matter of voice chat, where Splatoon 2 forces you to use a smartphone app only in a private match with friends, while Fortnite allows voice chat with anyone — including cross-platform players — just by plugging in a headset. Paladins doesn’t have a voice chat option at all, unfortunately.
In fact, both Fortnite and Paladins have super seamless lobby systems and both titles let you get into a match quickly. Splatoon 2, on the other hand, tries its damnedest to dissuade you from playing as it forces a long-winded conversation between two characters that was cute the first time in Splatoon but has since grown tired. This is a more petty complaint, I’ll admit, but that and the difficulty when joining friends had me reluctant to play Splatoon 2 even before Fortnite and Paladins hit the scene.
Friend stuff aside, the biggest reason that I’ve eschewed Splatoon 2 in favor of Fortnite and Paladins is that Splatoon 2 is just far more repetitive than the other two. Despite only having a single map, the range of possibilities in a single Fortnite match are seemingly endless — from the drop location, to weapon spawn points, to whether or not you’ll die immediately or get five kills if you drop in Tilted Towers. Even Paladins, with is wide range of heroes to command and plenty of maps, feels more fresh on a match-by-match basis. In Splatoon 2 you’re stuck inking the same turf across two maps. Competitive modes shake things up a bit, although the only one I care for is Clam Blitz — and the lack of voice chat really hurts it.
That’s not to say Splatoon 2 is a bad game — it’s just not on the same level as Fortnite and Paladins. The game’s inking mechanic is pretty ingenious, but matches are short, maps are tiny, and there’s no team mechanic both because of the lack of voice chat and because Turf War is just about running around in circles inking everything. Occasionally you’ll be on a team that knows how to lock down the opposing team, which leads to boring 600 personal score games, or you’ll be put up against that team and lose with a score of 900-1000. There are some real tactics required in Clam Blitz, but again, you just have to assume roles when there’s no way to communicate.
Paladins has a simple zone-control mode that’s basically ripped from Overwatch, but with a neat little twist: you have to be physically inside the zone, regardless of whether or not your team controls it, to actually accumulate points to win. A lot of the zones have a level above it where the enemy can pick you off from, but going up there to take them out — or camping there yourself — negates your point accumulation.
Some people probably prefer Splatoon 2 as their more casual title (Fortnite is tough to get started with) but for me, Paladins is the casual shooter I play with a podcast in the background.
Has anyone else dropped Splatoon 2 in favor of Fortnite and/or Paladins? Let us know in the comments below.