How to Play Splatoon 2

Have an inkling to play Splatoon 2? Our guide will get you up and painting.


Splatoon 2 isn't your run-of-the-mill, team-based shooter. Like the Wii U original before it, Splatoon 2 for Nintendo Switch offers competitive play focused more on territory control and less on "frags." Movement is the cornerstone of Splatoon 2, as you would expect from shooters, but Nintendo put a twist on movement by letting players swim through the ink bathing arenas, providing an exhilarating combination of quick movement and tactical options.

This guide covers the basics of how to play Splatoon 2, including general controls and some tips and tactics that will get you up and running—or rather, swimming—whether you want to play online or go through the game's campaign.

How to Play Splatoon 2: Shooting

Anyone who has played competitive third- or first-person shooters on consoles will feel at home in the bright, colorful world of Splatoon 2. Shoot ink from your currently equipped gun by squeezing the ZR trigger on your Switch Joy-Con or Pro Controller. There are several different weapons available, each with unique attributes such as rate of fire and power.

Unlike other shooters, shooting your opponents is only one way to use your weapons. Each team sprays ink of a specific color. In most matches, the team that covers the most ground wins, so don't be afraid to open fire on the environment even if no opponents are in sight.

How to Play Splatoon 2: Movement

Splatoon 2 incorporates motion controls for snappy, precise aiming. Motion controls are enabled by default; tilt your Joy-Con or Pro Controller to aim the camera. If you prefer to play Splatoon 2 with a more traditional control scheme, go into the options menu to turn off motion controls.

To refill your ink, or to move fluidly through the environment, step into any patch of ground painted in your team's color and press ZL. You'll enter Squid Mode, diving into ink and swimming below the surface. When you pop back up, your weapon will be topped off.

How to Play Splatoon 2: Secondary Fire

The R trigger on your controller of choice is used to throw bombs. Press and hold R to get a look at a bomb's trajectory before you lob it, or tap R to drop a bomb near your position when opponents get too close for comfort.

Now that you've got a handle on Splatoon 2's basic controls, the game world is your canvas. Consult our Splatoon 2 guide hub for info such as how to start the campaign and everything you need to know about Amiibo gear.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

Hello, Meet Lola