Splatoon 2 is a shooter for people like me that are embarrassingly bad at shooters. The goal isn’t to shoot other players, although you can and do if they get in your way of painting everything, but you shoot them with paint which makes it seem so much less… shooty. Your goal is to cover as much of the map as possible with your paint color and there’s a myriad of guns and tools to help you achieve this, as well as different pieces of clothing that give certain skills advantages. The thing I love about this game is that while it is competitive, the scale is much smaller than any other co-op shooter, so for people (like me) that suck, it’s not at all intimidating to begin as a new player. I’ve had my Switch for all of a month, so I’m still very much a new player, having never played the original Splatoon. I also appreciate the simplicity of the game. While there is a story and lore (some of which was influenced by the outcome of the last Splatfest of the original game) you don’t need to know it to enjoy the game. There are a few different game modes; the online multiplayer turf war type, another where you do work for some fictional company which I don’t really understand, and a solo campaign, which to be honest, I also don’t understand. All three are entertaining though, and all three center around covering things in paint.
In the online multiplayer, you’re divided into two teams in two distinctly different colors. This is handy for me, as in most shooters I just shoot at whatever moves near me because I don’t know what’s what and I just want to win for once in my life. But when everyone you’re working with is neon pink, you really can’t screw that up. There’s not much of a need for visual cues, as your team color is the visual cue and the opposing team color is what you paint over, and there are some handy emotes that allow you to give basic directions and info to your teammates, although given the size of the map, everyone can kind of do their own thing and still achieve the goal. There is player communication in the form of voice chat, but from what I’ve read, it’s kind of a disaster even for hearing players, because you need a special contraption with headphones and cords and the mobile app on your phone, and I’d be surprised if anyone went to all this trouble to talk to their teammates for a very short game.
The on-screen text that keeps you informed of what’s going on (like my death by yellow paint in the above image) is very easy to read whether you’re playing on a large screen or on the portable Switch console.
And there’s not a word of intelligible language spoken by anyone in the game, so captions are necessary for everyone and therefore very well done.
There’s a quick little TV show type broadcast that plays every time you turn on the game that lets you know a bunch of pertinent info, like which maps are playable, league info, etc., which is captioned as well as everything else because Pearl and Marina don’t actually speak either.
All important info, such as how badly you lost, your level and level gain, and any gear you’ve unlocked, is clearly displayed and very easy to interpret without a word of dialogue, which makes Splatoon 2 very deaf friendly. I think it’s the first shooter I’ve ever played where I didn’t feel I was at a slight disadvantage because I’m deaf, which is a nice change!
All in all, Splatoon 2 is fun, lighthearted but still scratches that competitive itch, and really completely accessible to deaf/hoh players. Voice chat seems to be terribly implemented so I wouldn’t say we are missing anything in terms of player communication, and it’s a VERY visually oriented game without any missteps in accessibility that I can see.
Captioning is needed for all players, so it's very well done
The entire game is a very visual experience, so there's no need for extra visual cues for deaf players to be up to speed
Available emotes are simple and helpful
Player communication for deaf players is lacking but it's not all that necessary here