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SPLASH or CRASH: Hydra Splatling

Joseph "WALKMAN" Hamdan

Dec 02, 2017

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Disclaimer: Everything in this article is written from my own point of view and the current meta within version 2.0 of Splatoon 2. Future patches may invalidate what I say or I can just flat out be wrong in the current patch. Likewise it is a prediction and should not be taken as fact. I also 100% encourage people to find and explore new metas within the game, this is just one guy’s take on a weapon.

If you haven't participated in our early access and did not read the first installment of the SPLASH or CRASH series be sure to check it out out here "Foil Flingza Roller" for more details on what the series aims to do.

Alright, the moment everyone has been waiting for, the long awaited hydra splatling has been released. But will the hydra be any good, is it going to be the go to splatling, or was its release over hyped? Let’s analyze that shall we.

The Hydra has the longest range of any splatling or non-charger weapon, being right under an unscoped splat charger and above the jet squelcher. The hydra's charge time is incredibly long, but as a tradeoff maxed charged shots splat in 3 shots as opposed to 4 when uncharged. This makes the hydra unique, as no other weapon can shred down enemies and lock down a position like it can once it’s charged up. With chargers phasing out of the meta, you would think that the hydra is untouchable. Sadly, this isn’t the case. There are too many factors in the current meta such as stingray, tentamissiles, inkstorm, and even just autobombs that will force a hydra to stop charging and reposition. You know what the hydra isn’t doing in that time, painting or holding down its position, the two things it’s made for. If a team isn’t packing those the hydra can set up anywhere it wants, but how likely is that. Most teams pack a sloshing machine, range blaster, splat brella, or plenty of other weapons that carry these items. More likely than not a hydra will be up against at least 1 or 2 of these specials forcing it to constantly keep moving. If a hydra is moving, it can’t hold ground or charge its 3 shot splat.

Let’s shift to the hydra’s kit, with its autobombs and splashdown. I’ve been hearing a lot of debate surrounding this kit’s viability. Some say it’s bad because it doesn’t play to the hydra’s strengths of long ranged support and locking down areas, while others say it is good because it helps the hydra cover its major weakness in close quarters combat through the splashdown. Both are valid points, however let’s breakdown the kit further.

alt text The sub weapon of the hydra, the autobomb, is a strange option to me. Autobombs are great at holding down positions and creating space if a hydra needs to escape. On the other hand, one toss of the autobomb leaves you with about enough ink for only one full charge. For the most part with a weapon like the hydra you want to have its full charge at the ready and be able to have another one available to charge with enough ink, the autobomb doesn’t really allow that. Sure you can pack ink saver sub or main builds. But remember, splatlings often utilize a lot of run speed usually at least a pure or more commonly about 3 mains. Therefore, your gear will be focused on only these two abilities and not any others. Also, the lack of ink efficiency means you are recharging ink more and leaves your opponent free to waltz down the area you were supposed lock down. Autobombs are used to move an enemy out of position or cover, but the hydra doesn’t have any quick follow up if the enemy rushes it down while no splashdown is charged. A better option would probably be to just hold your charge and force the player to stay there scared of you

An active sub weapon just doesn’t seem to be the best option for the hydra, a more passive sub weapon like the sprinkler or even ink mines may be a better fit. The sprinkler allows a hydra to constantly keep their charge while painting and building special. If the sprinkler and splashdown were paired that means more splashdowns and a bigger threat to approaching enemies. If it had ink mines one could place them down, forget about them and carry on with a full ink tank to work with after recovering. Ink mines also cost less ink meaning more to work with on that initial tank. Additionally, they can track flankers and do enough damage that those uncharged shots still kill if only 3 connect.

Moving on to the hydra’s special weapon, the splashdown, we see that it has ups and downs. As mentioned earlier, people have been talking about how it covers the hydra in close quarters combat and it’s true, but why would you want that player near you in the first place? Why in a game so dominant on special usage would you want to hold onto your special just in case someone breaks through your team’s hold? If they broke through things are already going wrong. Of course there will be some flanker that catches you off guard and the quick panic of the splashdown may save your life, but what happens if you don’t kill the player. Your long charge and autobomb aren’t going to save you from being rushed down. You can run away and reposition, but that’s the exact opposite of what a hydra wants to do. You just gave your position to the enemy and the hydra isn’t the best weapon at gaining ground, hence why hydras aren’t frontline weapons. It’s strength is holding ground and it does a great job at doing so, splashdown doesn’t help here. There are some benefits to having splashdown like it makes the hydra more capable of riding the tower, as enemies approaching is more likely. It is a fail-safe option if things get bleak, but the hydra is a long ranged support weapon and a supportive special would most likely benefit the weapon more.

Tentamissiles, stingray, inkstorm, or my personal choice for the hydra ink armor would all be more beneficial specials to the weapon. All of which allow the hydra to utilize its special from a position that it is more comfortable with, in the backlines. These specials reinforce its strengths rather than fixing a weakness you don’t want exploited to begin with. Sprinkler and ink armor, reminiscent of the custom hydra in the original Splatoon, in my opinion is the dream hydra kit. The sprinkler allows the hydra to build up its special more effectively and that only means more ink armor for your team while you hold down your position. What was that big threat that splashdown was supposed to protect against? Oh yeah a flank. Well if your team has ink armor they will win more fights and not let flanks by. Armor may also allow you to beat that flanker yourself. Ink armor may be a better special for hydra than bubble in Splatoon 1 ever was, because you will be giving armor to your whole team from the backline while bubble required you to be near them. In the end the hydra honestly may have gotten one of the worst possible specials for it, but if the variant kit gets a special like ink armor I think the development team made an interesting choice in allowing for a hydra with a different playstyle even if it may not be its best

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You may be thinking “ hydra was a fairly good option in Splatoon 1 why wouldn’t it be the same here?” That was then, this is now and these are vastly different games. Look at Splatoon 1’s specials. First, the kraken and bubble which it could almost always outrange. Echolocater told you where the hydra was, but you probably already knew where the inkling standing out of ink charging a giant splatling on its back already was, the real problem was approaching them. The bomb rushes might’ve helped reposition the hydra depending on the map. Then the three specials actually capable of affecting the hydra, the inkzooka, killer wail, and inkstrike. Though, in the inkzooka’s case one could just hide or pop their bubble while charging their hydra. The killer wail could move you for a couple seconds, but were easily avoidable. Lastly, the inkstrike was a minor nuisance at best to long ranged weapons. It was rare that a hydra actually worried about these, now look at Splatoon 2 specials. Stingray, inkstorm, tentamissiles, none of which care if you are behind a wall and stingray is harder to avoid than wail or inkzooka ever were so good luck hiding. These specials force people to move around frantically and reposition. It’s the development team’s way 0f putting all long ranged weapons in check, not allowing them to shut down areas anymore. Thus, the hydra, like other long ranged weapons, often falls short in certain situations and becomes more baggage for the team to carry rather than a benefit.

Although everyone craved the hydra, it didn’t really release during the best meta. Right now inkjet and ink armor are gaining usage again, but with stingrays and inkstorms still as strong as ever the hydra faces an uphill battle. If you are having trouble with a pesky hydra player just switch to these specials and keep them in check. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hydra finds a small niche on some map/mode combinations, but for the most part I don’t see it becoming the meta. I think hydra’s best chance at being usable are gametypes with well defined sides where the enemy team can’t reach it easily and where the middle of the map is flat so the hydra can cover it all. Maps like Inkblot Art Academy, Starfish Mainstage, possibly Sturgeon Shipyard, Manta Maria and Moray Towers. It would have been dominant on Port Mackerel where it could hold an entire lane by itself, but good luck in stingray city. In my eyes the hydra won’t be making a SPLASH any time soon, more like a ripple at best, and therefore sadly I am going to have to say the hydra splatling will CRASH, not the most devastating CRASH but a CRASH nonetheless.

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BinaryAlto

Dec 03, 2017

Well written and every entertaining. I agree this. esp. about the kit..... its special wont really do much its extremely situational and it missed its time to shine already. :/

Overlord X

Dec 03, 2017

Definitely have to agree with this, hope the Custom is what we ant

David#5859

Dec 03, 2017

I read the last part!

WALKY#4742

Dec 03, 2017

David I love you

Rigu

Dec 04, 2017

Well, first of all, the Hydra is amazing. And the way I'm using splashdown most of the time is, since I'm in the back lines and am seeing the whole match ahead, I can comfortably decide the best time to superjump to a teammate ahead, and kill the person camping my marker. It's also good for a quick zone cap/Rainmaker bubble breaker, or tower clearing. About the Autobomb, yeah sometimes I'd rather have a more quick exploding bomb, but it's not that bad. I like it as a zoning tool.

Chaotic 💚💜#1868

Dec 04, 2017

nice

Dia#0877

Dec 22, 2017

2.1.0 has been released between this comment and the article. However this patch barely touched weapons or specials. Only a Brella nerf, and Range Blaster special nerf happened. Some stages were also slightly revamped. Overall I feel this patch is similar enough that what is stated in this article is still relevant to the attitude around the Hydra. Hopefully this will clarify a bit about the weapon from the side of someone that plays it. After giving it some time, and being able to play the weapon I think there are some serious misconceptions about the weapon and its kit. Overall the weapon is going to be confined to specific maps and modes, but that is no different to Splatoon 1 in my opinion. It will never be the top meta weapon, but I think it definitely is better than most people are giving it credit for. Obviously the meta has shifted a bit since you wrote this moving towards more Armors. While Stingray is still prevalent it isn't quite as overbearing as it was a bit ago. This definitely makes it a bit stronger as the full charge breaks armor in one shot (theoretically, in practice it's really inconsistent). On some maps it's still able to shut down key areas and make life for the enemy hard. The range combined with the time to kill is pretty crazy when paired with the shot time. The main issue is of course turfing. This is where it needs support from the team. It can't paint well enough itself, so a turfing weapon needs to be paired with Hydra if used. I still consider the main weapon to be among the strongest in the game. Ink efficiency isn't an issue in my experience, but it does rely on Run Speed. I could see a mobility buff be all it needs to be among the best weapons in the game. The kit is the most divisive part of the weapon. After having some time with it, I still like the kit. Splashdown IS good for Hydra, but it isn't the best it could have. Also contrary to popular belief Hydra can follow up a Splashdown, but you need to hit your shots. 2 shots is about a 1/16th charge and will kill if you got the minimum damage on them from Splashdown. It's not Burst Bombs, but it isn't bad if it's just you and one other person. I think the only issue is it doesn't help with pushes all to well, but the Splashdown allows you to be more aggressive, so you can move forward and use your range to push people back. Inkstorm, Sprinkler is the best kit this weapon could realistically get. Covering the turfing issue is huge, and Storm also allows you to help push with your team. Autobombs are almost universally considered a poor choice, but once again I don't think that's quite accurate. Kill bombs are almost always good to have on a team, and while Hydra can't make the best use of them in general if it gets a kill bomb Auto Bomb is the best choice. This is because Autobombs are the kill bomb that take the most time of the enemy, giving you time to charge. This time gives you a chance to build range to get the splat. I definitely think they are useful for the weapon. Outside of Sprinkler and Burst Bombs, I would consider them the best sub for the weapon. The synergy between the Special and Sub is definitely something that can be criticized though. Splashdown and Autobombs don't really synergize in any meaningful way. The only good synergy is Splash letting you move up to throw them at snipers or other long range, but that isn't much of anything. Overall I think both are good on their own, but together they lack synergy dragging down the kit as a whole. This lack of cohesion between the sub and special hurts the weapon, and is the worst part of the kit by far. While Autobomb -> Splashdown -> Autobomb is fun, it is never a good use of your special. Maybe a super niche case in capping zone and pressuring a sniper, but I don't see it. There are maps that the Hydra will excel on, and on those maps it can control a match. Right now I think Hydra will be able to make a home on Kelp Dome, Blackbelly Skatepark, Sturgeon Shipyard, Manta Maria, Humpback Pump Track (Heavy Deco still outclasses it here though), Snapper Canal, Mako Mart, Starfish Mainstage, and Walleye Warehouse. This gives it 6 maps it does really well on, one it still does good on while being slightly outclassed by Heavy Deco, and 2 or 3 it shouldn't be used on. Moray Towers is still an awful map for Hydra, The Reef is bad since you don't have many areas to take cover and exploit your range, and than there is Port Mackeral. Port is weird since Stingrays are so good there, almost guaranteeing you go up against at least one. I think it works if paired with a super supportive Nzap for paint and armor spam, along with a pure of QSJ to get out of tricky situations. Obviously not optimal, but it can put up so much pressure in the opening it has a chance to work. As for modes I would say TC is a weak spot, while CB and RM are it's strong suit. The weapon can stop pushes easily by holding corridors by itself. Splashdown makes it effective at pushing in CB as well since you can jump to teammates with a football and Splashdown. The random scatter weakens this a bit, but if there's a teammate there you should be fine. Overall I think the weapon is good and likely to get stronger as the meta continues to shift. The new maps seem to be helping it. Mall was great for it in Splat 1, so hopefully it will still be able to exert dominance on that map even with the changes. I would say this will be a niche pick by a few players that take the time to learn how to hold their own when rushed. Not meta defining, but not bad. The lack of turf in any form, and a kit that synergizes with each other poorly are the main marks against it. This is a weapon all long range splatling players should have in their pocket. If you can pull this weapon out it is a better option than Heavy on some maps.


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