From Before I Play
- Definitely play the single player campaign. There are several guns you can only get from single player, and they're some of the best ones. Also the single player is surprisingly fun, feels very much like Mario 64 with guns, and the boss fights are INCREDIBLE. I'd almost recommend playing the whole thing before you try multi so you get a feel for the controls, but you can switch back and forth if you prefer variety.
- If you use thumbsticks, modify the sensitivity and try to find what works best. Try using the motion controls, even if they're awkward at first, its almost impossible to be as accurate with pure thumbsticks as you can be using the motion controls, almost everybody in the splatoon thread swears by them.
- There's a LOT of stuff that got patched into the game over time, which for you is going to seem kinda overwhelming, but don't worry about it too much. There's lots and lots of guns to unlock and buy but most are sidegrades instead of flat upgrades, so you shouldn't be at a gigantic disadvantage even with the starting gun. Still, options are good to have.
- Lots of different weapon types feel very different and are almost like different classes in a game like TF2. The roller plays different than the normal super soaker which feels different than the slosher or the mini-gun or the snipers. Each takes finesse and practice, find what appeals to you and play with it a lot until you get better.
- Don't overlook the usefulness of grenades and things like that. Also look at what your armor bonuses give you, although looking totally fresh is the most important thing. Bonuses stack but primary bonuses (locked) are worth a lot more than the secondary bonuses (random, can be re-rolled). Also any armor is ultimately end-game viable, at first some only have 1 bonus ability while some have 2 or 3, but participating in 'splatfest' tournaments gets you sea shells which let you add stars to existing items or re-roll them.
- The best abilities IMO are ink resistance (you take less damage walking through others' ink), squid ninja (you're invisible while in squid form), ninja jump (players can't tell where you're fast-jumping to), and run speed up. Damage up is okay but often doesn't do much, depending upon the weapon and breakpoints.
- Use the gamepad to keep an eye on the battlefield and remember that at any time, not even just when you spawn, you can tap on another teammate to jump to them, but if that teammate is surrounded you'll almost assuredly die before you finish landing.
- Casual is played as "turf war" where whoever has the most of their color at the end of the match wins. NOTHING else matters. Kills do not matter, except to delay enemy players. Focus on painting. Using the paint-nuke at the last second to paint over your enemy's colors is a very viable and extremely common strategy.
- Ranked is played using objectives like "tower control" (you have to stand on a point to move it to the enemy base) "rainmaker" (there's a paint rocket launcher that looks like a fish and somebody needs to spike it into the enemy's end-zone like a football) and "zone control" (you have to keep one or two spots painted to earn points, first team to X points wins)
- Ranked tends to be a bit more focused while turf war is pretty random and just kinda a good time. Casual you earn money based on your performance with the winners getting a big bonus, while in ranked you don't get anything at all unless you win, but you get more if you win.