Splatoon 2's New Clam Blitz Mode Is Probably the Closest I'll Ever Get to Understanding Football

Splatoon 2's New Clam Blitz Mode Is Probably the Closest I'll Ever Get to Understanding Football

Nothing like splattin' the ol' pigskin around.

I don't understand football, or most sports, really. The only one I watch on a semi-regular basis is basketball, because from a glance, it's easy to comprehend: different areas of the court dictate how many points players get for a shot. It's fast-paced, exciting, and I feel like I often understand what's actually going on. (I root for The Warriors, because I am unabashedly a bandwagon fan and Lil B lifted his curse on Kevin Durant after he joined the team.)

One sport in particular that's always eluded me, even attending dozens of Super Bowl parties in my lifetime, is football. In football, teams of players—all with specific roles—run across a big-ass field, throwing and running with an obtusely shaped pigskin. I don't understand the rules or the moves they're allowed to make. I only know that sometimes they kick it, and sometimes they touch it to the bare ground: both usually net the teams points. That's football in a nutshell, I think.

On December 12th, Splatoon 2 ushered in its first new Ranked mode since launch, called Clam Blitz. Clam Blitz is far more frenetic than the Ranked modes already in the game (Tower Control, Rainmaker, and Splat Zones). Instead of sticking to a particular area, such as Splat Zones' mode, or the linear pathways of Tower Control and Rainmaker, Clam Blitz has a lot more in common with Turf War. The mode feels like a free-for-all, with any route prime for the splatting.

To describe Clam Blitz succinctly, your squid kid sleuths across a map, collecting all the "clams" (they're football-shaped) they can muster. Collecting ten of the little ones nets you a "Power Clam" (or, normal-ish sized football). Your goal is to swim to the opponent's side of the map, small clams or Power Clam in tow, pop the barrier on their net that looks like a hot air balloon with the Power Clam, then throw any clams in your clutches into the net. After a certain amount of time, the barrier will return. Usually though, I've been splatted by the enemy team at that point anyways.

The result is a wild sort of game mode that feels unfocused compared to the ease of the other game modes. It's pure chaos, with players scavenging the map from all different angles and vantage points. It's also one that feels balanced though, and doesn't seem like it's easy to roll over an opposing team. Like Rainmaker, it's an easy mode to make a comeback in, even when you think all hope is lost.

In the hours I've spent playing Clam Blitz since its debut this week, I've found myself enjoying the change of pace. It's a more hectic sort of Ranked mode, one that depends more on actual teamwork than the lone wolf who gets really lucky with a Rainmaker. But with the chaos comes problems; just like football, at a glance it's hard to know what players are supposed to be doing. It's in watching your fellow inklings do their thing that it thing actively clicked with me; I understood that I needed to break the net before just throwing clam-footballs in its direction.

Maybe more like basketball than football, but whatever.

It's not exactly like football, of course. There are no quarterbacks or running backs or whatever else. I still only have a vague understanding of the real-life sport anyways. But in a way, inklings take on similar roles. The ones who net the Power Clam are essentially quarterbacks who must be protected by their teammates at all costs. Other inklings prioritize other sorts of plays like protecting their home base, so that others can push forward and score additional points. It's a sort of makeshift sloppier version of football, with inklings naturally falling in and out of specific roles. Of course, it'd be nice if it was more seamless to talk to teammates easily.

It's a mode that displays the beauty of Ranked mode, which I wish from the start had more than just three rotating modes. Rather than having a simple ink-all-turf field of view, it tweaks and mixes the Splatoon formula into unexpected directions. Clam Blitz is the game's first foray into sports-like territory, and with how much fun it is, I hope it isn't the last. Maybe a basketball-like mode could be next, like Arms' own Hoops mode (a highlight of the game).

In the meantime, two more maps are still headed to Splatoon 2 of the three that were revealed during its big content reveal in late November. MakoMart, the first of the new maps, was released that week. Splatoon 2 is also having its next Splatfest tomorrow, kicking off at 9pm PT and ending December 16th at 9pm PT. The topic for the Splatfest is one familiar to most; which holiday present is preferable: socks or sweaters. (I chose socks.)

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Caty McCarthy

Features Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's official altgame enthusiast.

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