Like its predecessor, Splatoon 2 is a multiplayer third-person shooter in which players control characters known as Inklings and use colored ink to attack opponents and clear goals. Inklings can alternate between humanoid form, during which they can shoot ink with their weapons, and squid form, which allows them to swim through ink of their own color in order to move quickly and replenish ink supplies. The sequel adds new standard, sub and special weapons to the game, including dual-wield pistols, that allow the player to perform dodge rolls, and jetpacks. Like the previous game, the game features the Turf War modes for Regular Battles, and a rotation of Splat Zones, Tower Control, and Rainmaker modes for Ranked Battles, which are now ranked individually. League Battles allow players to form teams with friends. A new mode, Salmon Run, allows up to four players to team up co-operatively to tackle waves of enemies called the Salmonids.
The game features a single-player campaign, Hero Mode, in which the player must battle through various levels fighting the evil Octarians. Unlike the previous game’s single-player campaign which had a pre-determined weapon set, the player can now earn various weapons, some of which are required when playing levels for the first time. In addition to scrolls that unlock artwork and in-game lore, players can collect Sardinium to upgrade their Hero Mode weapons and tickets that can be exchanged for temporary reward boosts in multiplayer battles, such as increased experience or money.
Players can play multiplayer online through an internet connection or play locally, although local play requires multiple consoles and copies of the game. The game also features LAN support with an adapter accessory for local private tournaments. The game support Amiibo figures, which allow players to store their Inkling’s custom look and unlock additional content, and free post-release updates and Splatfest events are also planned.