‘Splatoon’ Demo Hits Wii U This Weekend, Free DLC Planned Post-Launch

Splatoon Global Testfire (Wii U)

A Nintendo Direct event on Thursday revealed the company’s plans for its ink-filled online shooter, Splatoon. Nintendo laid out plans for Wii U owners to try the game out this weekend before it is released later this month along with how it will support the game with free content updates post-launch.

Wii U owners can download the Splatoon Global Testfire from the Nintendo eShop for free starting right now. This is as much a beta test for the online multiplayer shooter as it is a demo. Play times will be open for limited one-hour windows this Friday and Saturday.

The Splatoon Global Testfire will drop players in four-on-four Turf War battles on Friday night from 11 p.m. to 12 p.m. ET and on Saturday, May 9 from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Nintendo’s press release states that it chose these as “optimal times for global play.”

While it’s disappointing that the Splatoon demo will be very limited, Nintendo appears to be stress testing its servers. Holding brief one-hour long events help ensure that a large number of people will log on to play at the same time. Splatoon will come with five Turf War stages when it launches on May 29. Nintendo plans to continue to support the game with free new stages through the summer along with new weapons, battle modes, and gear.

“A major game update event in August will add two additional matchmaking options, including the ability for friends to form four-person teams and search for other four-person teams to battle against,” Nintendo announced. “The second option lets eight friends join up to battle in four-on-four matches on any stage and with any rules they want. The August update will also deliver a new battle mode and additional gear for characters to wear.”

The ability to form a group with friends online and battle other pre-set groups will have to wait for an August update. Splatoon players can still play with friends though, just not in set teams.

“After each four-on-four match, players are randomly reshuffled to form new teams, so sometimes players will be working with their friends and other times they’ll be looking to take them down,” Nintendo revealed.

At launch, players can expect to play lots of Splatoon’s Turf War mode. The game will have two stages available to play in four-hour blocks. When the four-hour period runs out, another two stages are used that will require different weapons and tactics. There’s also a Ranked Battle mode that sees players battle over control for a specific piece of turf. Splatoon players have to reach rank 10 in the Regular Battle mode first to participate though. Additionally, the mode will remain locked until Nintendo determines that enough players have reached rank 10.

Splatoon will also feature special events called “Splatfests.” The first event will take place on June 20, and players choose a side through a question, such as do you like dogs or cats. They’ll then represent the side they chose in online battles that are separate from the Ranked Battles. Those that rank high enough will get a “Super Sea Snail” item that is used to upgrade gear.

Nintendo is putting a great deal of marketing effort into Splatoon, more than it usually does for a non-Mario or Zelda title. It’s even gone so far as to include the game as part of a special Best Buy exclusive Wii U bundle. What do you think of the House of Mario’s spin on the online shooter? Sound off in the comments below.

[Images via Nintendo]