Splatoon is on the way, and recent news that it doesn't feature voice chat in online play has gotten people upset – and for good reason, considering that it's a team-based online shooter. But two recent announcements (that it doesn't feature custom rules, nor gear that's transferable between online and offline play) may actually make the game better.
This is one of the subjects we cover on this week's episode of Nintendo Week, our Nintendo podcast here at Gamnesia. Check out the video above to hear our thoughts, or keep reading below!
The decision not to include voice chat was borne of good intentions, but embarrassingly misunderstands the nature of online team-based shooters: they all but require voice chat if teams have any hope of coordinating their efforts and to effectively play the game. They wanted instead to focus on "positive" elements of online gaming, but despite a few bad seeds talking about my mother, voice chat is not an inherently negative experience; and even so, they could still include an option for voice chat that's simply disabled by default. But two other stories have upset people who were awaiting Splatoon.
The first is that Splatoon doesn't feature customizable rules, which many have said is condemnable for an online shooter. But this really only conflicts with Mario Kart and Smash Bros.' approaches to multiplayer. The vast majority of online shooters don't have zany custom rules either, and if that's not the kind of game Splatoon is supposed to be, there's nothing wrong with that approach – and to force custom rules in a game where they don't belong would assuredly lessen the experience.
The second is that gear in Splatoon is not transferrable between online and offline play, so you can't take your achievements from the campaign into your online matchmaking. This is unlike most shooters, but it actually makes for a better game: online matches are determined solely by skill, and not by the amount of grinding a given player has done. This greatly lowers the entry gap for new players and rewards long-time owners for actually learning to play better, rather than more. Because this decision is so proudly different from other shooters' approach, it seems at first like a big mistake. But in practice, it's going to lead to a more fun experience for everyone.
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