Nintendo surprised more than a few people when the company unveiled Splatoon at E3 2014. It's a four vs. four team-based third-person shooter that features humanoids called Inklings that transform into squid-like creatures. The premise of the title is to use ink to cover as much of the arena as possible. At the end of the match, the team with the most coverage wins the game.

At first glance, Splatoon will likely remind you of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. It's a similar arena-based team shooter that uses a third-person perspective. It also has the kid-friendly feel that Splatoon sports and that Nintendo has always been known for. While the development team plays Battlefield and Call of Duty as research, it seems that the final product will have quite a few things in common with Garden Warfare.

While covering the arena in ink is your primary goal, there are several abilities that add a considerably amount of depth to the game. When players are in humanoid form, they move at a steady pace until they reach the opposing team's ink. When walking through these areas, players will move much slower. However, if you change into squid form, players can swim through their own ink at a rapid pace.

This one feature opens up a considerable amount of strategy that isn't normally present in other shooters. For example, a team may opt to send one player out to lead the way as they make a path of ink for the others to follow. It also becomes important to interrupt the opposing team's path by covering it with your own ink in strategic places. Splatoon is a relatively fast-paced game, which means that you may not have time to completely cover an area in your own ink. However, you should have time to cover just enough to stop the opposing team from using that area as a high-speed expressway.



Similar to other shooters, you can target the enemy directly and send them back to their respawn point if you cover them in enough ink. There are also multiple weapon types that have varying effects on the arena and the opposing team. This is also where more strategic gameplay is had. At any point during a match, and especially after you've respawned, you can look at the Wii U GamePad, locate a teammate and instantly fly to their location. This adds additional value to having one player pave the way for the rest of the team.

In addition to the online multiplayer focus of Splatoon, Nintendo is working on offline modes. While very little is known about the single player aspect of Splatoon, the local multiplayer will offer a very different experience compared to the online multiplayer. While some variation of the online multiplayer will likely be available for offline play, the main focus of the offline multiplayer is a more intimate battle between two players instead of a full, four-on-four team battle.

The development team is still working out the details of the local multiplayer modes, but at the very least, it's going to be more stealth-based. Players will find more value in hiding in the ink and sneaking up on an opponent rather than simply attempting to cover the ground with ink. Hopefully, this more intimate one-on-one mode makes it into online multiplayer as well, just to provide additional variety.

In the online multiplayer modes, the GamePad provides a map of the arena that updates on the fly to give you a constant look at which team covered more ground. In local multiplayer, one person will use the GamePad, while the other will likely use the Pro Controller. In this situation, only one player has access to the map, which is one of the reasons why Nintendo is offering a different style of play for local multiplayer.

The development team behind Splatoon is younger than most of the development staff at Nintendo. This gives Splatoon a slightly different vibe compared to most other Nintendo titles. With a release date planned for sometime in early 2015, it won't be long before fans can get their hands on Nintendo's unique third-person shooter. In the meantime, keep a close eye on Prima Games as we continue to look at Splatoon from a strategic point of view, providing all of the tips you'll need to get the jump on your friends when the game releases next year.