SPLASH or CRASH: Hydra Splatling
Joseph "WALKMAN" Hamdan
Dec 02, 2017
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.
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
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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