If there is any singular problem with Splatoon 2‘s gear abilities, it’s how little information it actually gives you. Sure, sure: Ink Resistance means taking less damage from inked turf (though not weapons fire) and an easier time to make it out of the enemy territory and swim away. But by how much? How many more shots can you take? If you slap on three Bomb Defense main slots and nine sub-slots, can you tank an entire missile volley with your face?
Well, no, because of diminishing returns. To summarize: the more of an ability you stack up, the less effective they individually are. While two ability slots might double the effectiveness compared to only having one, the third ability will only get you a third more — and so and so forth, until you might as well swap over to a different ability type, as you’ll statistically gain a lot more that way.
That said: some of Splatoon 1‘s gear abilities’ diminishing returns were scaled just a bit oddly. There is a reason, ultimately, why Stealth Jump/Quick Respawn became the go-to gearsets during the waning days of the Splatoon 1 meta: Quick Respawn not only had a significant tactical edge, but it scaled so much better compared to every other ability. As was provided by Australian Splatoon 2 player FLC:
It seemed for a while that Splatoon 2 operated under a different rate of diminishing returns, but dataminer Lean discovered that “it’s actually the same for most abilities.” Only three were changed: Ink Recovery Up got nerfed to its pre-buff values in an earlier Splatoon 1 patch, Quick Super Jump now works faster, and Ink Saver Main has reduced diminishing returns for weapons that were already more conservative with ink usage.
So why wouldn’t you just run all nine sub-ability slots under one ability, like some players were doing in Splatoon 1? Not because of scaling differences, it turns out, but because of mechanical changes and specific weapon interactions. Said FLC:
It also seems like there are stricter requirements for an ability’s effect to kick in, as well. In Splatoon 1, Run Speed Up used to make you run faster whether you were shooting or not (with the only exception being that rollers and brushes didn’t get the effect while rolling). Now, some players have noted that Run Speed Up doesn’t seem to affect how fast you strafe with certain weapons.
The most notable of such changes were especially targeted at the last games’ standouts. Stealth Jump no longer works on close-up enemy players — you might be able to get a sneaky flank on them still, but you can’t use it to ambush-assist out of anywhere anymore (which would’ve especially been broken with new special ability Splashdown, let’s be fair). Bomb Defense is also a lot more useful now when everybody and their Inkling mothers are flinging around exploding discs at every full special charge — though its scaling may be a bit odd.
As for what the top-tier S+ class players are looking at, said flc:
At the moment though, there are some standouts:
- Bomb Defense has a very strong effect and works very well against some of the common subs (bombs, mainly) and specials (Tenta Missiles and Inkjet) – it’s looking like having at least a small amount is going to be a core part of any close-to-mid-range weapon’s build.
- Ink Resistance has a very strong effect, and is very common on a lot of close-range shooters. Its ability to keep you alive both through damage mitigation* and the ability to strafe more quickly is what makes it popular, but it could also be a training wheels ability that people will move away from when other abilities become more important.
- Stealth Jump was the strongest ability in Splatoon 1, and despite its nerf (the enemy team can see your jump marker when they’re close to it), the ability to jump in virtually anywhere (as opposed to asking your teammate for a safe jump, or looking for people who are in cover so as to not reveal the location of yourself and the player you’re jumping to) is always going to be effective.(edited)
- Swim Speed Up is an all-around solid ability. More swim speed helps you react to any situation faster; the only reason you wouldn’t use a bit is if you can’t fit it into your build.
- Object Shredder is currently popular because its damage bonus applies to the ever-present Ink Armour. This lets many short-ranged weapons, as well as Burst Bomb shockwaves, pop enemy armour in one shot.
- Ninja Squid is seeing a lot of use on certain fast-killing weapons like the Splat Roller and Tri Slosher. The swim speed penalty it applies is much weaker, and because Point Sensors are very rare (compared to Echolocator in Splatoon 1, which was ubiquitous), you can play very aggressively while still being relatively safe.
Mind you, all of that has a big asterisk in that it’s still week two, so we might see some of those abilities disappearing over the coming weeks. Run Speed Up came and went within literally one day last weekend, if Japanese solo queue is any indication.
*Specifically, of course, the Ink Resistance changes apply to turf ink.
With the first post-release Splatoon 2 Splatfest coming up, and Murch offering sharp discounts to scrubbings for Splatfest t-shirts, now is exactly the time to take stock of exactly what you want your ultimate outfit to look like. Of course, it’s probably worth noting that Charger mains probably shouldn’t be close enough to need Bomb Defense in the first place…