Octo Expansion Review
Welcome to the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion review! Recently, I covered the main game of Splatoon 2, to include the campaign and multiplayer modes. This time, however, we’ll be going strictly over the paid expansion to the main game, the Octo Expansion!
Announced during a January Nintendo Direct, Splatoon 2’s Octo Expansion is the first paid DLC for the Splatoon series. While the main game gets frequent updates for balancing and adding new weapons, the Octo Expansion is meant to be for a storyline update. In addition, Nintendo also announced version 3.0.0 of Splatoon 2. This included Rank X in ranked matches for players who were Rank S+ and looking to go further beyond. You can check out all the updates featured in the latest version of the game here.
What’s in the Octo Expansion?
The Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion tells its own story. You’re an Octoling who wakes up in an underground subway. With no memory, you’re left to fend for yourself till you’re discovered by Captain Cuttlefish. You also discover a mysterious Phone who sends you on your quest. You’re put through trials to get above ground and into the “promised land.” Shortly after, a passenger car in the subway pulls up. You’re christened as “Agent 8” and must traverse the subway stations, which consist of various stages.
Each of these stages consist of varying goals. Some include a straight path forward, taking enemies out along the way like in the normal campaign. Others consist of certain tasks, such as rolling an 8-Ball to the goal, stealth missions, shooting targets, and even sculpting a piece of artwork. Certain stages also include remixed boss fights of past bosses, which include new, stronger forms than before.
One thing to note about the Octo Expansion. This mode is hard. No longer does it care about your feelings. You can feel like you’ve done everything right, but still wind up with a “Test Failed,” causing the amphibian on your back to explode, taking you with it.
The goal of Octo Expansion.
Progression isn’t about walking around a hub to find a level, like in normal campaign. Instead, you select a level from the map. After the first couple of levels, the paths begin to split. This mode encourages you to pick your own path – a blessing for those who prefer nonlinear world design. The more you unlock, the more you expand it. There’s 80 stages overall, and several different colored paths to take. The light blue one pictured below will likely be the first you unlock.
Despite being 80 stages long, luckily you don’t have to clear them all to finish it. Your goal is to find the four “thangs” to clear the story. You’ll discover these as you find different colored paths, and they’ll feature outward expanding rings to indicate their presence. In addition, if things get tough, Marina can also skip you through a level. While the “skip level” is a fleeting comfort for those wanting to progress, you will not gain the Mem Cake as a result.
Also, notice how every stage is called a “Station,” similar to the “Galaxies” in Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. Each one features some interesting background details, and you’re proceeding through them via checkpoints that you fly to. Very similar level design touch.
Collecting Mem Cakes
For those who wish to complete the story, there’s tons of things to do. Unlike main campaign, you don’t have to go out of your way to find things. Just clear the stage and you win. You’ll earn a “Mem Cake.” While these are physical manifestations of Agent 8’s memories, they appear merely as erasers representing features or characters of the game. Tasked by one of the passengers, Iso Padre, he rewards you for collecting them. He’ll reward you with Agent 8’s gear to wear in multiplayer modes as well as Cap’n Cuttlefish’s gear later on.
In addition, the more you progress, the more of the game’s lore you unlock. Not only do you get Mem Cakes to learn about Agent 8’s past or gear, but you can unlock chat logs. Pearl and Marina are your contacts throughout the game, and will interact with Cap’n Cuttlefish via chat room. Some of these conversations lead into depths of their lives, and some of them are outright funny. You’ll learn some things about the characters that you never expected.
Related, did you know Pearl had a side gig before she met Marina? This is one of her cuts.
What to expect from the expansion.
As mentioned earlier, Octo Expansion involves a whole new slew of stage challenges. As also mention, some are quite difficult. Sometimes the ball will roll off the stage, sometimes you can’t hit that last target, and sometimes Octarians will jump you, beat you to a pulp, and spit on your corpse – figuratively. The game allows you to choose from three weapons each battle, recommending one particularly over the others. Sometimes this nets you more CP (the points needed to progress) while others reward you less, but are easier to use. For instance, if you’re as bad at sniping as I am, you’ll find using other weapons will do the job just as well but much easier.
Octo Expansion takes what you know about Splatoon 2 and twists it around. You’re flipping switches, sometimes entire parts of the stage you’re on. As I mentioned before, I can feel some reminiscence from Super Mario Galaxy in the stage design. It’s highly creative, and no two stages are the same. While some have a similar goal, all of them are uniquely constructed. Also note that the further you stray from the path of a Mem Cake, the harder the stages become.
Heads-up for players!
Luckily, you have three lives per stage. If you lose them, you can always pay the CP fee and restart at a checkpoint. You can gain more CP for each stage you clear. I’ve never been in danger of running out. So if you find a tough stage, wisely move on and tackle a different route.
I mentioned it in the Splatoon 2 review, but I cannot stress using motion controls enough. Octo Expansion can be tough at times, but it’s not like you’re fighting live enemies. Despite some being heavily armed, this is the perfect chance to learn motion controls, regardless of which controller you use. I managed to clear a tough challenge playing it undocked. So once again, I strongly recommend going for it. Here’s the video for those who are interested in learning motion controls. The time it takes to take out a target while moving on grind rails might make a difference.
Rewards for clearing Octo Expansion.
More stages nets lore and new gear items. Also, the music you hear in each stage is admittedly pretty rad. There’s a ton of new songs to listen to, which will certainly keep the player hooked onto moving onto each stage. As you clear the game, the plot will thicken and you’ll come down to the last few stages leading up to the final boss. Some of these fights end up being quite tough, but the payout comes from the story, ending, and everything you’ve endured. In addition, those who chose to clear more stages can unlock a ton of Food and Drink Tickets at the Crust Bucket. You’ll also earn tons of money to spend on new gear!
Also, for those who went the extra mile to get all 80 mem cakes, you’re left with one final task. If you so choose, you can take Agent 8 to an open locker. Inside is a gold hairpin. Choosing to activate it brings you into a “flashback” fight against an incredibly tough boss. Those who are willing to attempt it will face their greatest challenge.
Pros and cons.
The Octo Expansion delivers more than 80 stages of new challenge. To be honest, I was glued to my TV for the next three days trying to finish them all. With all the interesting challenges, story, music, and battles, I spend between 15 and 20 hours doing them all. For $20, it’s a healthy challenge. Most of the levels are quite well-designed, intriguing, and challenging. And the rewards factor became a bigger incentive to keep me playing. I originally had little interest when I first saw the trailer, but purchased the expansion anyway. I ended up loving it more than I ever expected to.
However, I’ll also address that some of these stages were outright ridiculous. First up, the Octarian battle. You’ll battle nearly a dozen Octarians in one stage, while you defend an orb. Taking them out is easy enough if you use the Roller. Unfortunately, they’re not braindead like the main campaign Octos. They’re quite smart and damage you quickly. I spent roughly an hour clearing this stage. Using supers won’t help you, and the numbers gang up on you very quickly. Honestly, I hated this stage.
More than just challenging.
Secondly, the last sculpting stage. While it’s easy enough to just blast the orange crates, it took more time than it should have. For those with serious OCD and anxiety, know that one mistake on this stage will bring you back to the beginning, or your one and only checkpoint. While it feels satisfying crafting your new masterpiece, it’s also unnecessarily stressful for any player, not to mention long.
Finally, the aforementioned battle. I’ll keep this one brief. The A.I. is ridiculous, you cannot climb ledges, and they have no limits. They can use multiple specials and Autobombs, come in five phases, and become inherently aggressive on the last phase. Two hits can kill you, and “low health” mode can mean immediate death. I spent six hours over two days finally beating this boss. There’s a certain degree of luck involved here. Best to use YouTube and other guides to help you on this one. There is no good design to this boss. It’s just purposely there to frustrate the player. You don’t win by memorizing patterns and dodging, like most conventional difficult bosses. This was straight up infuriating.
Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion is a fine challenge. The worst parts of the game are thankfully extra content. For the completionist, however, that means nothing. Fortunately, all of them are beatable with the right mindset, patience, and yes, even luck. It’s kinda bull, but it is what it is. That being said, the stages themselves are a warm welcome to a game with an otherwise easy campaign mode, and the unlockables give you something to show off in multiplayer mode.
I enjoyed the challenge. The game kept me hooked and learning about the characters was nice. I listen to the music frequently on YouTube. I recommend a ton of tracks to my readers, and will happily link the Playlist here. That being said, most of the game isn’t extremely challenging besides a few parts, which can be overcome with patience. Beating the story is entirely possible for anyone who wants to beeline the story. I hope you all enjoy the Octo Expansion as much as I did because it’s worth the $20 price tag.
Thanks for reading the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion review! What’s your favorite part or song in the game? Did you beat the hidden boss fight? Let us know in the comments below!