With the fourth Testfire session, new Thoughts and Stats from DrFinkelstein can be found on page 3. Click the link to check those out or continue reading from the start right here. You may or may not know this but over the weekend Nintendo pulled off something really cool that hopefully sets a precedent for the future. Nintendo put together an online testing event called the Global Testfire for their upcoming 3rd-person team-shooter game, Splatoon. In Splatoon you'll find yourself as a squid-like humanoid character whose primary goal is to cover the land with ink. The game releases on May 29th, 2015 and will feature a wide array of stages, weapons, enhancements, and more. Nintendo hasn't really created a game like this before from a genre standpoint and their execution of the premise is quite strong based on the three hours I spent with the game. Full disclosure, I already felt pretty strong about this game before the demo occurred. I had been growing more and more interested in the game and when it was finally given a release date, I decided to pre-order on the presumption I would want it Day One. However it wasn't always that way as my first impression was honestly skeptical back when the game was first revealed.
Last week Nintendo surprised us with a Nintendo Direct whose focus was solely on this game. It didn't feature Mr. Iwata and in fact it was even kind of weird in presentation. The Nintendo Direct detailed upcoming facts about the game, some explanation on it's summer-releasing of content, amiibo functionality, and most importantly it detailed the Global Testfire event. The event occurred over a 25-hour period this past weekend in three separate hour-long intervals. All someone needed to do was to download their special app on the Wii U and be present at the time of the events. I work a typical work week and was home well in time for the 11 PM eastern-time start of the first match on Friday. My girlfriend and I hung out for a while but she works weird hours and was quite tired so she went off to bed leaving me to hang out with my squids. I alerted the forums about the event in terms of myself playing and encouraged folks to join the Negative World Chat during it. I was psyched to see many of my friends join me for the event. Ploot, Cryojin, VofEscaflowne, chrisbg99, Jarsh, nate38, and Super_Conzo joined myself and I'll clue you in on the general feedback shortly.
First I want explain my first experience with the event. The splash page was up and the clock struck 11. We all frantically hit ZL + ZR to get the thing going but came across a few errors. First there was some kind of server is full bull crap and then some kind of server work error. Maybe it was the other way around. Either way, it was probably bogus as they were simply turning on the servers. Quickly we all jumped in, myself, my friends, and the world.
The demo started with a test aimed to get people used to the controls. It was a skate park and it took you through all the basic controls. I took my time and picked up on the controls pretty well. I haven't played much of the shooter genre in a while and so I didn't have a lot of habits to change. Thus I grew accustomed to the motion controls pretty quickly. You move with the joystick but the aiming is affected by tilting the Wii U Touchpad. This may seem tricky but it's way more comfortable than you'd expect. I found it requiring only mostly subtle moves but even the more grand gestures weren't out of my range of movement. I did have a little hard time remembering which button was jump but I got over myself. Index-triggers were used for shooting ink and going into squid-form for quick swims. Overall I felt it was quite intuitive. Once I realized I could throw my special with R I became instantly more tactical and a better player. By the end of the first hour I was feeling pretty good about how things went and my ability to tackle the task at hand (except for jumping; which got better in later rounds).
The only mode that was playable during the weekend was the Turf War mode which is where teams of four enter an arena for the sole purpose of covering it with ink. You get points for covering naked ground with your ink but you can subtract points from your enemies at the same time if you cover their ink after they've placed it down. All this happened in fast and frantic three-minute cycles. I don't know if you can change the time limit in the full game but I felt like three minutes was enough time to get in, get coverage, fight for coverage, and engage with enough people and space. The matches flew by though because I was having so much fun and I loved checking the results after each match. Despite the subtle indicators, you never really know who is winning (unless there's an obvious slaughter going on). The map they have on the Wii U Game Pad shows the match live and it's easy to tell where you need to be focusing your efforts. You may not want to take your eyes off the action but hiding in some ink for a quick glance works well. The touch screen is also used for choosing where to Super Squid Jump. When you perish you get sent back to home base. This takes you out of the action but long enough to be a punishment but not long enough to be truly punishing to the fun. The jump helps you get right back into the game by essentially warping in a really dramatic leap to wherever a fellow teammate may be. Your choice though as you can choose who to go near or you can just leave from the base. Very neat setup.
The demo only had two stages and throughout my weekend I found myself in one more than the other. First up was Saltspray Rig which is more or less a mirrored A-style level with each team starting in the bottom of an A-leg. It took a few plays but I learned I could shoot ink on the walls and swim up to some great vantage points. This was explained in the demo but I was only able to realize with this level just where and how it could be used. I'm excited for the future of the vertical levels. The level is oil-rig-themed and there are a lot of ways to flat out fall off. Thus you have to be careful. The second level was Walleye Warehouse. This was completely closed off, like any normal warehouse, and had a lot of nooks and crannies to sneak around. Boxes would find themselves as cover or platforms. I played this a lot more than the other level, at about a 3:1 ratio. This wasn't by choice but the demo was simply random about it and that's how it broke down. Naturally I found that I had quite a great strategy for starting the level and I knew which areas were being neglected by the other teams. I felt quite adept at this level compared to the Rig and for that I think I liked it more. However in time I know I'll love Saltspray too. It has a lot of great aspects to it as well.
To accomplish all of this ink-spraying the humanoid squids use a variety of weapons. The demo had four to choose from, each with their own sub weapon and special weapon. Once I realized how to use the latter two, I found myself much more adept and tricky for foes. The four weapons we had to choose from were the Splattershot Jr, the Splattershot, the Splat Roller, and the Splat Charger. The Splattershot Jr. was easily my most used weapon and my weapon of choice. It's a rapid-fire short-range weapon which required me to really keep moving and get up in the faces of others but being brave I did so and was quite effective with it. The Splattershot is different but similar and I don't quite know how… I mean, it felt like the Splattershot Jr. naturally but I didn't enjoy it as much. I also didn't enjoy the sub weapon as much as I did with the Splattershot Jr. I think in the final game you should be able to adjust fully your 'package' weapon and swap out one sub-weapon for another but I don't know the facts on that. The Splat Roller was quite a cool one too. It's essentially a giant paint roller which has a large coverage and covers as fast as you can run. You can flick it to toss ink at enemies and on walls but that range is vastly nerfed. You can steamroll over unsuspecting enemies with ease and initial reports were that the weapon was overpowered. Even I thought so at first but by the second match on Saturday morning I found that not to be the case. I learned to counter it with relative ease. I'm not invincible when I'm up against it and I didn't spend enough time with it to know if I'm effective with it either. The special weapon and sub weapons are pretty cool for it though. The special weapon is a giant satellite dish type ray which kills in a wide spread in front of where you place it and the sub weapon is a timed mine of sorts with a unique sprinkler-style blast radius. The final weapon was the Splat Charger and I plain suck at using it. I saw a few folks using it well but it's not something I plan to use much. I used it once, had such a cruddy time with it that I chose not to use it again for the rest of the weekend. I only used it once on Friday night in that first half hour. It's essentially a charged up sniper rifle with long but narrow range. I can see where it's great for quick escapes through enemy territory and surprise head-shots of sorts but for me… it's too slow at actually claiming Turf. I kind of liked when one person on my team had it though as it felt like somehow it rounded out the event.
Back to how everyone in the chat enjoyed it, we all frantically typed in between battles exclaiming things like "Got destroyed.", "fun fun fun", and "omg we owned that one". People generally were excited with the whole percentage aspect of each round and the feelings were wide spread. Quickly folks had commented on the weirdness of using the motion controls and each weapon was generally appreciated. Midway through the night VofEscaflowne told us "i can't stop smiling". He wasn't alone. I was having the same sentiment as were everyone in the chat. Near the end I was worried that the roller was over powered (which was a sentiment that followed in the Splatoon thread later). We were pretty upset to see the time running out. The psychology of the time limit was interesting. I am excited to own this and have that not be a problem any more. Suddenly everyone experienced some kind of lag or issues and BAM time was up and we all were booted. While it was only midnight for me, it was five in the morning for Super_Conzo and late for many others. Ploot commented he had some minor lag in one match but most of us experienced no issues what-so-ever. Cryojin was someone else who had lag but only in the final match. VofEscaflowne finished the evening with pretty much the best way I could have summed it up too… "I don't think I've ever played anything and walked away just wanting so much more". Three sessions later I certainly still agree. I've been watching a lot of other people's play throughs of the demo throughout today. I've been showing my nephews this too but still I'm getting a ton of enjoyment out of it. Alas, the first night finished with me disappointing the room with my lack of Star Fox love and then we went to bed.
I only nabbed about five and a half hours but I had so much fun with the first round that I had to jump in on the second. Plus this was such a rare event I just felt like I should be a part of as much as I could. r_hjort was the only buddy to show up. For him it was much later in the day but for me it was 7 AM on Saturday morning. I hadn't had a lot of sleep the previous night either because of the ZooBrew (which was freakin' great, thanks for asking). r_hjort was eager to try it with all the glowing impressions which found themselves on Negative World from the night before. He was worried as his internet was a little unreliable. We spent the hour having fun and sharing experiences. r_hjort had already heard that the Splat Roller was overpowered but he didn't find it to be so when he played. I commented that on one match it was me on the Splattershot Jr. with three rollers and we cleaned up house. They did the coverage and I covered their butts. Before we knew it the time was already up. It flew by even faster than the night before. r_hjort and I talked about character gender and style and I realized that while I chose to be a pale white male with brown eyes (like I am in real life) perhaps I should change it up for fun. I wonder if the final game will have you pick one and stick with it but in the demo you can change each time. We said our goodbyes and I went off to clean the house and grab some Jimmy Johns for lunch.
I made it back home in time to eat a #16 with avocado spread and jump online for the third and final session. r_hjort had said he would try to arrive and arrive he did. I was concerned that others wouldn't join. Not that r_hjort isn't great company but I wanted us to share with more folks. Mop_it_up joined quickly and we were pleased. She changed her name to 'Splat_it_up' which was funny so I changed mine to DrFinkelsplat. r_hjort later changed his name to 'splort'. Super_Conzo joined and eventually changed his name to 'Splatter_Conzo'. For this round I opted to darken the skin up a few levels, became a female humanoid, and colored my eyes yellow. I looked badass to be frank. I started my run pretty strong. I was the MVP of my group on the first round and a few there after. By now I felt confident in my skills. Splat_it_up was using the Splattershot since it shot farther but at a slower rate. Something weird happened though and I was booted from the match. That was fine since two characters on the opposing team had clearly flaked out so I bet they left the match early. Then I lost big time in a match where my team was pushed back to the spawn point. Splat_it_up won a match by a mere 0.6% percent! Wow! We had a ton of fun and by the time it all ended we stuck around to chat about the game and our relative desire for it. Some might hold off at launch due to the fact the true game is being rolled out over the summer in spurts and the default buy is kind of light, while others are more in my camp and are so happy to just play some more Turf Wars, there's no way we can wait later than May 29th.
If you've made it this far into the article, I thank you. Hopefully it's been at least a fifth of the fun reading about Splatoon as I had playing it. After every single match during the play test I had taken a photo of the percentage screen, which is how I knew many of my stats later on. I did a large handful of calculations to see what was happening and here were my results.
Biggest Win %
Biggest Loss %
I played quite a lot of games in my short three hours with the game. The demo tutorial at the skate park became a mad-dash to start at the end of this thing. I should have spent more time in there but I wanted to get into the action. I felt proud at having a nearly 75% win record. My biggest win percent was pretty strong but clearly sometimes you can lose by a lot too at under 20% of the overall level claimed.
Most Common 'Good Guys' Color
Most Common 'Bad Guys' Color
Most Common Color Overall
I found the color choices to be quite interesting. Overall I saw seven different colors. In no specific order there was Green, Orange, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Purple, Yellow-Green, and Pink. I checked each match against itself and saw that despite the seven colors, of which would allow 42 total combinations, there was actually only ten used. Technically there was only five but a special pattern arose proving that the opposite colors were used too. In light of this, I had been Orange a considerably greater amount of times than any other color. I had only ever been Pink once. I have no idea if this is important or if there is any method to the madness. Still, the five true color combos are what exist as far as we can see now.
Maybe there are more in the final version but perhaps these are deemed the optimal five as far as Nintendo is concerned.
Avg 'Good Guys' Overall %
Avg 'Bad Guys' Overall %
Avg 'Good Guys' Win %
Avg 'Bad Guys' Win %
Closest Match Difference
Widest Gap in a Match
Biggest % of Untouched Land
Smallest % of Untouched Land
Average % Untouched Land
These were just easily calculable stats based on the win/loss percentages I wrote down. It shows that every match can truly vary and I think that's the fun of this game. Things can turn at any moment with a good team. It also shows that you can easily win without covering more than half the map with ink. The fact that some of the map is usually not covered means it's not a race to 50%. I think this is a good thing.
Most Common Stage
Stage with Most Wins
Rounds Completed in Session 1
Rounds Completed in Session 2
Rounds Completed in Session 3
My Highest Score in a Match
Weapon of Choice
Alas the final stats and the end of my article. I had a ton of fun with the Splattershot Jr. and enjoyed some great fun in the matches. I don't know why the Walleye Warehouse showed up way more than the Saltspray Rig and I wish I could play that level more. Alas… in time… in due time. I think it's funny that I fit in an extra round every successive hour. I craved more and more and more! I hope you found this interesting enough of a read. It's a lot of text but clearly I can't get Splatoon off my brain. I never expected to get hooked but I'm squid-brained to the max.
Very nice write up! This is only making me want the game more. It's definitely one of the freshest new IPs to come around in recent years. Very colorful, extremely fun, a shooter yet somehow not over the top violent and family friendly. It's like the complete opposite of what we've come to expect from the genre and delivers something that captures the attention of so many people in a unique way. I was really unsure about the game before the demo test but I just can't wait to give it a shot again come May 29th.
I do have some worries about how the game's different modes will be rolled out but I'm still curious if it'll somehow extend the game's replayability due to enjoying more of what it offers in small bites and not rush all the modes at once within a couple of weeks.
Good post! I read it all. I'm one of the few here who actually attended all three Testfire sessions as well (pretty sleepy during the 6 AM one), but sadly I couldn't join the chat since my Wii U and computer are in different rooms, and I didn't want to use up any of the hour not playing Splatoon (even its little minigame! Speaking of which, how far did you get in that? I reached stage 10).
I did quite well in session 2 but people started to really learn the game in session 3 and I lost more than I won there. I agree that the Splattershot Jr is great, although I mainly like it for the Bubbler sub weapon. It's just nice to have temporary invincibility, especially when you get the feeling of helping your teammates, and ESPECIALLY when someone's charging you with that evil glint in their eye and you're all "Nuh-uh!"
I believed in this game from the beginning! The E3 demo played very similarly except that everyone had the same weapon set. Pretty surprising that it's done by the Animal Crossing team since it feels completely different. Maybe Squid neighbors should show up in the next AC game?
You won't be able to change loadouts in the final game. The devs said that this was for balance purposes, which makes sense. I think a Roller with a Bubbler would be a super-deadly combination that might be a little too powerful. However, several sub-weapons and special weapons are shared between main weapons (so Roller isn't the only one with Killer Wail, etc).
While you definitely have me beat in % of games won, I do remember getting a score of 1345 in my best game! I think it was with trusty Jr--I had taken the big middle area in Saltspray Bay and held it up well.
All in all, I'm definitely feeling the excitement for this one despite a few small concerns (I'm not too worried about voice chat, but the lack of bots and 2P local co-op online breaks my heart). I might just watch the Direct again to catch some new details.
Wow! What a write-up for such a limited demo/server stress test! I got to play the first and the third. In one of the other threads I said I thought the roller was overpowered. I may have changed my mind a bit after the 3rd session, I found a lot of people countering the roller with a well timed bubbler. Also, there were a few matches where I encountered some players that had a pretty good handle on the splattershot too. Man, I hate getting sniped. Can't wait for the full release!
My sweet squid lord Cthulhu, you weren't kidding about the stat collecting! I love it! Great impressions! Makes me remember the good old days, when we were young, and played Global Testfire...
EDIT: Like you say, I was a bit worried about my somewhat unreliable internet connection before the games began, but everything ran smoothly for me in the end. I think I may have encountered one instance of brief lag throughout both hours I played, so either my connection had an exceptionally good day, or Nintendo's done a good job with their servers and/or hiding the lag. Might have been of both, but either way I feel very optimistic.
I only noticed the mini game late in the experience and I tried it for a minute but I was busy taking screen photos and chatting between matches. Really didn't play the mini game(s). You're right that the Bubbler is a great little thing. That's another thing I enjoy about the Splattershot Jr load out. You nailed it on the head regarding using it at the last moment to screw with the enemy. I did that once when surrounded by two guys... who perished shortly after.
I'm okay with the loadouts not changing. It does help keep balance and it allows people to experiment more instead of picking their favorite three and just staying with it.
1,345 points in a single match!? Nice! That's higher than any score I had seen at all online. Well done!
All in all, I'm definitely feeling the excitement for this one despite a few small concerns (I'm not too worried about voice chat, but the lack of bots and 2P local co-op online breaks my heart).
I'm in the same camp as you. I didn't miss it at all. The matches happen so fast that I don't feel like voice chat would add that much to be honest. I won't miss it I think but the lack of bots and/or a 2P local co-op is sad. But that's only online in the latter eh? Can my girlfriend and I jump in for some local co-op?
While they have said nothing of the sort, one can hope they'll do this again before the launch of the game. Word of mouth has spread and one more weekend like this would be a positive I'd think. They can see how well word of mouth worked. I hope you'll get to try it! Do you plan to pick it up at launch any how?
My internet is slower since I moved last year but I still had no real problems. Haven't heard reports of anyone really encountering significant issues so I get the feeling Nintendo has worked hard to make this a rock-solid online kind of experience. I do hope that people who drop out wont cause the whole room to crash but I wonder if that'll be the case after the one match where suddenly I was dropped. Someone wasn't moving at all and then we all kinda got weird and then finally we were kicked back to the lobby.
@DrFinkelstein I had that one match where we were eight people in the lobby, but as the game started two people had disappeared leaving my team with two players versus four, and that match lasted the full three minutes. Not sure what caused the imbalance, so that might not be indicative of anything, but at least the game didn't end, for better and for worse.
I only played the first Global Testfire demo. I went in with tepid expectations, but I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would and pre-bought it. Something about this demo just resonated with me...and I think I'm really going to enjoy it.
Looks like you got pretty skilled at the game in such short time, though it also looks like you were able to find good teammates. I seemed to have trouble with that, as I'd often be the top player on my team during losses, so I think I played fairly well. Unlike with, say, Call of Duty, I don't think one good player can carry a team, they've all got to work together. I felt like I played each map about evenly split, I didn't keep track but I didn't feel like one was showing up more than the other one.
I didn't know about the chat thing for the 11PM one or else I would have jumped in on that too.
While I agree I played quite well, I also agree with your assesment on my teams. I was occasionally the top player, maybe 2-3 times per session, but I often had equal or better players on my teams as well. I feel like the team as a whole made the difference and one exceptional or poor player doesn't make a difference to the overall outcome.
It would have been gleeful madness had you joined us on Friday night. I think I posted in the thread, but probably close to starting time.