Personally, I’d recommend both, but for different reasons. Both games have their strengths.
A lot of people are doomsaying Arms and its success. It’s not a top watched game on Switch, and it’s sales are slowing down. But just because it’s not a top watched game on Twitch doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place. Arms is much more innovative to me than Splatoon 2. Is Splatoon 2 more fun to watch? Possibly.
Does Twitch Viewership Mean Everything?
But if Nintendo or gaming companies or gamers themselves just only placed a game’s viability on Twitch viewership, we’d only be playing the same 5 games for years. CS:GO, DOTA 2, LoL, and now PUBG.
Is that what you want?
Splatoon 2 just feels like a better version of the first game, and it’s a completely different genre—so why compare them? That said, Splatoon is not “competitive” or more so than Arms at all.
Which is more Competitive – Arms or Splatoon 2?
Killing someone in Splatoon 2 is insanely short with small TTK ratios, and most battles where you kill someone you end up dying as well.
There so many weapons that are cheesy and unbalanced. A lot of the time, ranked battles are pre-determined by your team’s weapon choices. If you have an ink roller, chances are some sniper is going to own you, unless you can get up close. The game uses a “every gun is OP” approach, which is why the game feels addictive.
Arms uses three arms per game, and based on how fast your opponent is, you can counter them with game knowledge. Splatoon 2’s matchmaking makes this more randomized, since you can’t customize your gun untill you’re OUTSIDE of the game. The way matchmaking works in Arms is brilliant. It only requires getting past a certain level of difficulty in the main 1v1 campaign mode, and then you’re off to the races.
Matchmaking is quick, and it doesn’t feel too bad when you lose since the ranking system is generous when you first start (you don’t lose much points when you lose, and if you win you go up). Matches are usually quick and brutal, but the various match ups and champions feel fair once you learn counters to cheesy grab spams. It’s not pre-deterimed per se, whereas one champion just beats another since matches are based on your experience and play style competency instead of reliance of the design of a team-based game.
Learning how to curve putches, and getting off a special can feel really good. If someone is dodging a lot and grab-spamming, pick a faster weapon. If they are throwing tons of punches, pick a heavy arm.
Splatoon feels balanced more like paper-rock-scissors. If you have a long range gun you’ll die to a short ranged one up close, and vice versa. Not only that, but most of the stats on your clothes is randomized by a RNG system. Sure, Arms also has a RNG unlock system of the arms upgrades, but from the start, the basic three arms you get are perfectly competitively viable.
Modes like “Rainmaker” are often over in 10-20 seconds if your team wipes in the first few seconds.
That said, Splatoon 2 is a fine game with good style, plenty of unlockables and progressions, and an improved single player campaign (it still feels like a tutorial or just a springboard for unique level designs without much depth or story elements), but comparing it as a more competitive title with more depth, or as more of a balanced game is completely lopsided.
We don’t need more team-based shooters, or articles bashing new games that Nintendo is trying. I love how Arms at its core is a 1v1 game. That way, when I lose I don’t rage since it’s my own fault and not my shitty Splatoon team mates.
We should encourage Arms and innovative titles to see more online games that are outside the mold. That said, Arms could improve with a better single player campaign since there is literally 0 elements of story narrative. It would also be cool to see more unlockable costumes or cosmetics for characters.
I would pick Arms if you want the better competitive title that rewards you for skill, but I would pick Splatoon 2 if you’re more of a casual who doesn’t mind some unbalances in the matchmaking. Splatoon 2 offers more surface level progression with some cosmetics and different weapons (a lot of them feel the same), whereas Arm’s core systems and limitations provides for a more balanced 1v1 environment.