The final Splatfest of Splatoon 2 is over. Chaos won, but everyone has gone back to their respective corners. Now, questions of what comes next are starting to circle, with discussions of a third Splatoon already bouncing around. But where does that leave Splatoon 2?
For some, it might seem like the end of the world. The actual Splatpocalypse. There are certainly some doomsayers in the Splatoon camp, but for longtime players of the series, the final Splatfest was a celebration more than a farewell.
Hardcore, competitive players like Charles "NineWholeGrains" Whitehead have been around and playing the game for a long time. Splatfests are often the occasion that brings casual fans back in, and this was no different. But there was extra fervor around a perceived conclusion to the game, as well as the potential effect it could have on a Splatoon sequel's story.
The first Splatoon ended with a popularity showdown between Callie and Marie, the game's two host characters. The outcome determined the story of Splatoon 2-with Callie missing, and Marie trying to find her with your help-and so Splatoon 2 fans felt this last Splatfest might hold similar bearing to future narrative. It stirred a huge community outpouring leading up to the event.
"I've never seen any in-game event generate such large amounts of fanart, video content, or overall discussion," Whitehead says. Players were split between Chaos and Order. Each side campaigned for their respective side, creating fan art and promoting their team. It was reminiscent of the first Splatoon's finale. On Whitehead's part, he assumed the role of a dystopian leader, spreading propaganda on his Twitter account and streaming for Team Order.
It all led up to the actual event, which was essentially one large party. Inklings and Octolings were dancing in the streets of Inkopolis, in-game art dotted the landscape, and players were dressing up for the end of the world. And then it flared out. Chaos took the win, and as Splatoon 2 players await one more major patch, the question of how Splatoon 2 will live on hangs overhead.
Splatoon 2 was announced within months of the first Splatoon's finale, but Splatoon 2 players don't feel they need to hold their breath. Sendou, a competitive Splatoon player, tells me they fully expect to wait a while for what they feel is an all-but-guaranteed Splatoon 3, but that's fine.
"There just isn't any other game that plays like Splatoon, which will keep the community playing it," Sendou says. "While Nintendo is done adding content to the game as far as I know, what people in the community are doing there is still going to be [something] to look forward to if you like playing Splatoon."
For Whitehead, a commentator with a similar competitive foundation, he keeps coming back because he's still enamored with the core gameplay. The variety of weapons, gameplay mechanics, and approaches to each map and mode allow for seemingly endless variations. As Sendou also says, there's simply nothing else like Splatoon.
"Given that the series is only four years old, I think it's encouraging that there are so many people who haven't stopped playing it since it's started, and I'd like to think that passion can and will continue into the future," Whitehead says.
For competitive players, there's still ranked and balance patches that will reportedly roll out in the future. Casual players seem less inclined though.
In a Reddit thread talking about the Splatfest as a "going-away party," one user laments how the lack of Splatfests highlights the in-game hosts (here, Pearl and Marina) as stand-ins, rather than characters.
"As someone who has played both splatoons, it is never really the same after the final Splatfest," writes another. "[Splatoon 1 hosts] Callie and Marie didn't feel as real anymore, it was the same lines over and over. Plus we then lost being able to post on Splatoon which made it feel even more lonely after that."
In other threads, players are already discussing ways of keeping that living world vibrant. The coming patch is set to add Shifty Station and Splatfest modes into private lobbies, so community members are talking about hosting their own Splatfests. Others are encouraging players to explore ranked gameplay, where instead of the common Turf War mode, players compete in various objective-based matches that require a different mindset, but can be really rewarding to master. Considering there are still some players playing the first Splatoon and the Switch's popularity, Splatoon 2 has everything set up for a longer lifespan. It's how Splatoon 2 lives on that now resides in the community's hands.
"If players continue to feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie, they'll be more willing to stick with the game itself," Whitehead says. "That's how older games stick around in this modern age of updates and constant content; by doubling down and investing in the people who've experienced the game and want it to be a part of their lives."
Is a Splatoon 3 inevitable? It seems that way. But Splatoon is something you can't recreate or find anywhere else. Its mix of area control tactics, reflexive shooting, and colorful battles stand out in any crowd. So while a casual fan who hops on for every Splatfest-maybe even only for the final one-might find new horizons, there's a segment of players who found something they can't find anywhere else in Splatoon 2. And while they're happy to celebrate the end of the game's festivities, it doesn't seem like they're saying farewell anytime soon.