What the Heck is Splatoon 2's Splatfest?

What the Heck is Splatoon 2's Splatfest?

Ketchup or mayo? Here's a little primer on Splatfests for the unenlightened.

Nintendo's always asking the hard questions in their Splatfests. Cats or dogs. Burgers or pizza. Spongebob or Patrick. Callie or Marie. Their inaugural Splatfest for Splatoon 2 proper (ignoring its demo that dared to ask players cake or ice cream), is no exception. This time around, Nintendo asks another hard-hitting question again: what you side will you take, Ketchup or Mayonnaise?

At first blush, the answer was apparent: ketchup, duh. But as I sat on the dilemma, I realized I honestly probably eat a helluva lot more mayonnaise than ketchup. I opted for what I perceived to be the underdog in this scenario. I chose mayo.

But if you're new to the world of Splatoon, or simply never participated in any of its Splatfests before, you might be wondering, what the heck is a Splatfest? Worry not. I got you.

So what even is a Splatfest?

At the core of it all, Splatfests are PvP events. Nintendo has more fun with it than say your typical PvP event, such as Team Fortress 2's WAR! update which pinned Soldier versus Demoman depending on the side players chose. Similarly, Splatfests measure winners by the amount of battles won, though while also taking into account a side's popularity and solo wins versus team wins. The Splatfests themselves are limited time events, 24-hour lasting marks of war: players choose a side in a cheeky battle, and are tethered to it for a full-day.

The battles are fought over the course of Turf War battles only, Splatoon's most basic battle mode where covering the ground with your own team's ink is the sole objective. Splatfests are dazzling celebrations on their own, temporarily suspending Ranked's many modes and Salmon Run's horde mode. Inkopolis Square fittingly shifts to a nighttime party with squid kids dancing everywhere and Pearl and Marina performing on a lavish makeshift stage protruding out of the lobby area. Splatfests are a lively time in Splatoon, and for Splatoon 2, they're no different.

If you loaded up Splatoon 2 at all yesterday, you might have noticed that the preparations for Splatfest have already begun. A giant stage is up and about. A mini screen (complete with digital pamphlets on the back of it) has been up for some time, allowing players to choose the side they'll splat for on the battlefield when the time comes. Splatoon 2's first non-demo Splatfest is indeed very, very near as it kicks off tonight.

Yeah yeah, I get it. But what's the point though?

What's the point? Well, for starters, you get a neato limited time shirt with an emblem marking your participation. Of course, the shirt is only emblazoned with your Splatfest team's logo until the end of the Splatfest, unfortunately. The Splatfest tee is either yellow for Mayo, or red for Ketchup, with a special doubling ability for all the unlocked abilities that appear across the three-tier tee.

For the winners of the Splatfest, you get a special new currency: Super Sea Snails. Super Sea Snails are worth a lot, surprisingly, but most notably can be used to upgrade your gear. Keen on the look of a single-ability slot item? You can use Super Sea Snails over where Murch the Sea Urchin sits, Spyke's alley-assistant. Murch can also reroll your ability slots, use ability chunks to add a certain ability to an accessory, and much more.

The amount of Super Sea Snails you get at the end of Splatfest depends on two things: how much you play to raise your temporary rank, and how well the broader side you lay on as a whole does. There are five tiers in particular for Splatfests: Fanboy/Fangirl (where you begin), Fiend, Defender, Champion, and King/Queen. Say if you were on Team Mayo, and Team Mayo was the overall victor, you would receive more Super Sea Snails depending on your tier. If Team Mayo loses, then you still receive a chunk of Super Sea Snails (the higher your tier, the more you get), though you wouldn't get as much as the winning side. In Splatoon 2, how a side's points are tallied up are a bit different, because in the sequel it's now accounting for players' solo wins as well.

The stakes sound high here.

Yes, yes, the stakes are technically high. But in the end, every player goes home with something at least. Even if you just pick a side and never emerge out of the Fanboy/Fangirl tier. The sides may get heated—take the intensely sketched pro-ketchup and pro-mayo drawings emerging out of the Miiverse-like social hub—but everything's in good fun. And you can join in the fun tonight when the first official Splatfest kicks off at 9pm PT/midnight ET tonight and wraps up at the same time tomorrow. I hope everyone has fun splatting, I know I will.

Except for all my ketchup-choosing friends that I can see in the SplatNet 2 app. You're all dead to me. #TeamMayo

Caty McCarthy

Senior 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 Senior Editor.

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