Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action, First Person & Multiplayer
Release Date: June 8, 2018 (Worldwide)
“We’re going deeper underground!”
Since the very first Splatoon game debuted on Wii U systems and Nintendo gamers decided the Inklings are fashionably cool, the Splatoon fan base has been pretty unanimous when it comes to one particular thing, playable Octolings. Some fans even went as far as hacking Splatoon 1, just so they could get their fix. But, even though there are players who even hack Splatoon 2, for playable Octolings, hacking is no longer a necessity, since Octo Expansion, has arrived. But what is it, and why should it appeal to you if you’re a Squidkid?
Well, if you were paying attention during the March 8, 2018 Nintendo Direct, Octo Expansion is a different kind of DLC that Splatoon fans are used to. Instead of being more of the same in the sense of constant updates, new weapons and stages, Octo Expansion is the kind of DLC you have to pay for, but don’t worry, the purchase is justifiable.
The one complaint most Splatoon fans have when it comes to the series, is that the main campaign and associated story, isn’t all that good. Yes, the development team saw to it, to improve on the story for the series’ second outing, but ultimately Splatoon 2 is another one of those shooter games where the majority of players, only really play it for the online gameplay and didn’t really bother with seeing the single-player campaign, through to the end. (Not that we’re blaming you.)
But because the third time can be the charm, instead of Nintendo looking to expand on the story of Splatoon even further, with a Splatoon 3, it was decided Octo Expansion would be the kind of story-telling that has been absent from the games since the beginning and to its credit, it damn-right is. So, let’s talk about the story, shall we? Octo Expansion tells the tale of an Octoling, looking to escape the big bad underground and make it to the paradise land we refer to as the surface. But, getting out won’t be easy, because between the playable Octoling known as User 10,008, there are 80 challenging levels, 4 thangs that need to be discovered and a whole manner of weird and wonderful, deep sea marine life that call the Deepsea Metro, home. So, it’s a good thing that help is on hand for the Octoling, as the Legendary Cap’N Craig Cuttlefish and Agent 3 of Splatoon 1 fame, just so happen to be down in the depths with User 10,008. Although, Agent 3 really has a small part in the campaign. There’s also Off the Hook’s Marina and Pearl, as well, but more on their involvement later.
The first you ever hear of Agent 3, is in the beginning, when the Octoling wakes up with Cap’N Cuttlefish standing over User 10,008, telling the Octoling about a battle they had with Agent 3, only now, 10,008’s memory is gone for good and if you’re wondering, this is the point in the game where you get to choose the sex of your Octoling. Given the fact I prefer the design of the female Octoling over the male version, I choose to be a she and because of that, from now on, every time I refer to as the playable Octoling, I will be referring to her as a she, as opposed to a he.
But, because User 10,008 is a mouthful, Cap’N Cuttlefish just calls here Agent 8 for short. With the guidance of Cap’N Cuttlefish, the first trial players will face is getting to the actual Deepsea Metro, which is easily done, once you’re able to pick up a weapon, locate a key and use said key to open a gate. Once in the station, a phone will ring and if you answer it, it will talk to you. Telling you that in order to escape, you will need to collect the 4 thangs and gives you a CQ-80 and CQ Card. With these in hand, it’s time to board the train and undergo the 80 levels that await you.
For the players who are in a rush to get the Octoling as fast as possible, there is something I will say to you now: You do not have to play every level. You should as they are every bit as fun as they are insanely challenging, but it is not necessary as you can focus on taking the shortest routes possible to get all the thangs you need and immediately move onto the Metal Gear Solid phase of the game. We’re talking 7 phases of hell that will require your Octoling to become a master of stealth, a master combatant and do battle with one of the greatest characters in Splatoon lore.
Should you win that Special battle, there’s a big bad boss that is ready to put you in your place, destroy Inkopolis and you’re going to need the help of Pearl and Marina, in one of the weirdest boss fights in a video game ever, which in Splatoon fashion, includes a Turf War. (Say what?) Only, if you are able to survive and succeed, will a playable Octoling be yours to weird and as tempting as it is to take advantage of the squid option that will be presented to you, you’ll only be cheating yourself.
In terms of general gameplay, there is hardly any difference between Octo Expansion and how Splatoon 2 is played. Your Octoling has a tank on her back, she uses ink to fire and can still use Special and Sub-Weapons. She can swim through her own ink trail, except being an Octoling, she takes the form of an octopus instead of a squid. So, there’s certainly no new button combinations you will have to learn. On a visual scale however, although the graphics are the same, with the setting taking place deep underground, there is a darker tone present than what players are used to and there is a darker soundtrack to compliment it and together, they work beautifully. The locations are intriguing, there are game consoles and more in the background and it is just damn near impossible not to like this new dwelling. But, that’s enough about that.
Being as though Octo Expansion takes place in the Deepsea Metro, there is of course a train that you can ride around on, for free, which will take you anywhere you want to go, provided you have met the requirements to access stations, with the requirements asking you to complete the station or stations, in immediate proximity to you. Once you’ve done that, more stations will open up and keep on opening up until you’ve opened them all. You will also open up new lines for the train to take you on, of which there are 10 and every time you do, you can earn CQ points from C.Q. Cumber.
CQ Points are very important, as although you can ride the train for free, getting off will cost you. To play each one of the Octo Expansion’s levels, you will need to pay for the privilege and depending on what line the current station is on, can cost from 100 CQ Points upwards, just to play the level. Depending on which level you pick, at the beginning of each one, you will often get the chance to choose between multiple weapons, with one being recommended.
If you are able to succeed the challenge and kill all enemies Octolings, dodge the incoming projectiles, or guide the 8-Ball to the end (all actual challenge types,) you can earn CQ Points for beating the level. There are weapons that will allow you to earn more points than the recommended weapon, but you will need to remember that you only get a set number of lives, so failure to complete the level will result in you having to make a choice. Do you quit and head to another station? Do you quit and try the current station again? Or do you spend 500 CQ so that you can restart with all your lives, at the last checkpoint you reached? Obviously, the latter choice is the one you will want to select every time, but on the levels where it costs 1000 CQ Points just to play, there does come a point when you must ask yourself if personally beating the level is worth it
Well, in addition to the CQ Points you can earn for beating a station and the other stations you can open up, you can also earn yourself a Mem Cake. Not only do Mem Cakes look like Lucky Charms marshmallows and allow Agent 8 to regain part of her memory, but if you have a complete set of them, you can trade them in to Iso Padre for some really cool gear that your Octoling can use when she makes it to the surface. Should a particular level prove too much for you though, and you’ve already failed it twice, when Pearl and Marina are working with you and acting as surface support, they will help you to hack the level you’re on, so that you can advance, but the Mem Cake you’ll get for doing this is faded. You can still trade it in, as part of a full set, but it’s just not the same.
In the event some levels leave you with the shakes after beating them, as some are incredibly frustrating, you can always sit back on the train and enjoy the ride a little by reading through the chat logs between Marina, Pearl and Cap N’ Cuttlefish. He may be old, but he’s not too old that he can’t use a chat room and engage in such illuminating conversations that will open players eyes even more so to the lore and history of a location we have come to fall in love with and tell the story of how Off the Hook was first formed. Some could argue the chat logs are unnecessarily, but just like the game over screen you will get during the final battle if you fail, it all adds to the experience and makes Splatoon 2 all the more better for their inclusion. But yes, Octo Expansion may not have been the Splatoon mode we asked for, but it is definitely the one we need in our lives!
Although it should be obvious, if you already own Splatoon 2, getting Octo Expansion is an absolute must. It has more than double the number of missions in the single-player campaign. It can take 5-7 hours to beat it, if you’re just going after the thangs and up to 20 hours, if you wish to get and do everything, but it is simply ink- redible. Yes, the challenges are quite a lot like the shrines from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but this mode is pure brilliance. The new character it allows you to play as, and the gear you can get for the Octoling are downright awesome and if you were to look up the definition of value for money in a dictionary, a picture of the Octo Expansion is exactly what you will find. So, don’t delay, hit buy and become an Octoling today, you know you want to!
THE VERDICT: 8/10
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