SPLASH or CRASH: Ballpoint Splatling
Joseph "WALKMAN" Hamdan
Jul 22, 2018
Back at it and this month gave us two brand new weapon classes in the Ballpoint Splatling and the Explosher to explore. It’s always exciting when new weapon classes get released because you never know if they will become staples in the meta or not. Nonetheless, it is my job to predict just how good the Ballpoint Splatling is or will be in the current state of the game. So let’s get started!
From the get go the Ballpoint Splatling is unlike any other Splatling because of its two firing modes. One mode resembles a Mini Splatling which is efficient at turfing and quickly splatting enemies close by. The second mode which activates after about ¼ of a charged circle has been released has much longer range and turfs in a narrower path. Both modes of fire deal 32.0 damage per bullet at their optimal range so it is a solid 4 shot to splat weapon, pretty standard for a Splatling. Delving deeper into its short range mode we actually find one of the best features of the new weapon in my opinion, it can splat faster than any other Splatling from a neutral position. This means that if you are flanked without your Splatling charged, which is a situation we’ve all faced one time or another, you may have a better chance of splatting your opponent with this Splatling over any other. In technical terms it can splat in 25 frames from neutral position which is slightly faster than the Mini Splatling. If it has a full charge ready it is capable of splats in 11 frames, the second quickest of any Splatling losing out to the Hydra Splatling by 1 frame.
(First)- Image shows the Ballpoint Splatling's effective splatting range during short range firing mode, barely 2 test room lines. (Second)- Image shows the Ballpoint Splatling's effective splatting range during long range firing mode, a little over 4 test room lines.
Another huge benefit of playing this Splatling is its mobility while having a charge held. It can zoom across the map while charging its barrel just as fast if not faster than every other Splatling. However, once you start shooting and enter the long range firing mode your movement will decrease significantly. Therefore, experienced players will have to know when exactly to alternate between charging and shooting in order to maintain proper distance away from enemies. Because of the high mobile capability of this Splatling, it is recommended that one stack some Run Speed Up on it, probably about two to three mains worth in order to truly achieve some strafing speed. One other intriguing factor of the Ballpoint Splatling is that it can shoot continuously for a long period of time until it runs out of ink. Before the most recent patch it was capable of charging quickly even when out of ink, but this is no longer the case as the charging time when out of ink has decreased significantly. In my opinion this was a significant nerf to the weapon as before you were practically able to play the weapon as if the main weapon costed no ink.
One point about the Ballpoint Splatling that I believe is understated is the fact that you can’t shoot in long range firing mode right away, you have to first pass the short range fire. There are definitely going to be situations where you want to shoot quickly at an enemy that is further away like you can with a Heavy or Hydra Splatling. Maybe that half a second or so where you are shooting the useless short ranged bullets isn’t a big deal, but in a game as fast as Splatoon you never know if it means the difference between a splat or not. You also have to take into account that perhaps shooting those initial bullets gives away your position before you start shooting those that reach your opponent allowing your opponent to react to you accordingly. I know you can just shoot behind a wall or other object before actually revealing your location, however I still believe it is both a benefit and a detriment to having both of these firing modes on the same weapon without the ability to specifically choose which one you want at any given time.
(First)- Ballpoint Splatling (right) short range mode turfing range comparison to a Mini Splatling (left). (Second)- Ballpoint Splatling (right) long range mode turfing range comparison to a Hydra Splatling (left).
Honestly, this weapon confuses me more than any other because it really isn’t the best at anything, just good or above average at several. Comparing it to other Splatlings I would have to say its short range firing mode does have its benefits over a Mini Splatling because it can splat faster and can potentially spew out just as much ink for turfing if not more just based on main weapon alone. However, you think about it a little more and you realize if you want a weapon that slays for your team why not just choose a frontlining shooter, Dualies or Blaster that are much more consistent at the job. Then for the long ranged firing mode, in my opinion it is not any better than the Heavy Splatling or Hydra just on par with them really. A fully charged Hydra will always be scarier than a fully charged Ballpoint especially since you have to pass the short ranged mode to get anywhere near the Hydra’s range. If there is one thing that the Ballpoint Splatling has over the others is that it is incredibly mobile compared to them and players should use this quality to their advantage more than any other. This may make it the go to Splatling on maps with a lot of uninkable surfaces where high running speed may be a quality attribute to have.
The main of the Ballpoint Splatling is a solid enough to where you can't completely disregard the weapon. However, we still need to determine whether or not the kit of Toxic Mist and Inkjet supports the weapon well enough to help it see some play or not.
Starting off with the Toxic Mist, as a sub weapon it can be an incredibly valuable part of a weapon’s arsenal in a variety of ways. It helps stop enemy pushes fairly well for just a small fee of 60% of your ink tank. Which gives you plenty to still use for your main weapon compared to some other subs. There are choke points on pretty much every single map that a Toxic Mist can cover completely. Think about the main area to push the Rainmaker on Kelp Dome through the very narrow door into the enemies spawn, if a Mist is thrown here strong pushes can crumble easily. The same scenario may apply for Clam Blitz as well. On Tower Control, no one wants to be on the tower while it is in a Toxic Mist so often times throwing one is enough to stall out a push which gives your team time to build Stingray or other specials that will help you take out the enemy.
The downside to having Toxic Mist on this weapon is that because you will be using your range at times you may not be able to adequately trap someone in your mist and finish them off. One reason might be they are not in range of your mist in the first place, while another may be you aren't be able to finish them off due to not having your Splatling charged after throwing a mist. It is fairly likely that the enemy escapes your mist if they are out of the range of your short ranged mode because once again you have to shoot past that to even reach the long ranged mode. Basically, there are plenty of other weapons that have a better follow up to Toxic Mist than this weapon even though the Ballpoint Splatling can be a threatening force up close.
Another factor to take into account for this weapon is that because of the most recent patch decreasing the charge speed while out of ink, you do have to play a little smarter with your ink. You can’t always expect to be able to throw out Toxic Mists constantly and shoot your main weapon. It may not be a big deal for experienced players of the weapon who have a good feel for how much ink they will need to keep in their tank for certain actions or circumstances,however it is something that needs to be thought about and it is possible that ink efficiency abilities may be incorporated into standard Ballpoint Splatling builds.
While controlling the top of Shellendorf Institute with your highly mobile Ballpoint Splatling, Toxic Mist can help secure a lock down of certain choke points on the map as in the image above.From this location you can also shoot your long range bullets at any misted enemies safely.
Transitioning over to the special is where things can get a little more shaky than they already are. While you may have heard that Inkjet is very much in the meta and you see them used by at least one to two players in pretty much every competitive team, it is very questionable that the Inkjet is a good fit for this weapon. The Ballpoint Splatling is a sort of flex backliner, yeah it can splat opponents up close fairly well thanks to its fast splat time, but it isn’t exactly why you want to pick the weapon. The Inkjet as a special is very much an in your face special or at the very least used to be aggressive during pushes. The Ballpoint Splatling should be using its mobility supplemented with its effective long range to be pushing back enemies, not being up in their face all the time. In my opinion the inkjet in my opinion is not the strongest special to go on this weapon though it could be worse.
Returning to the idea of effective team compositions already having one to two inkjets on a team, you have to wonder whether or not another Inkjet from a weapon that really doesn’t synergize well with the special fits into team comps. This weapon paints really well and has a solid option to splat at longer range meaning it can play the mid to backline fairly well. A special that complements this playstyle would be preferred. I don’t think giving this weapon Stingray like many backlining weapons in the game really accomplishes establishing this weapon its own niche. Personally I would prefer this weapon to have Inkstorm because it can charge it quickly and the combination of main weapon and special outputs a lot of ink. Additionally, the quick damage the InkStorm racks up may help you 3 shot with your Ballpoint. Yeah the Zink Mini Splatling already has Inkstorm as a Splatling but I think there is enough difference between the two weapons to give them their own benefits on different maps and probably make the Ballpoint Splatling the better of the two as well.
These two images show a fairly safe place to Inkjet from on Shellendorf Institute Clam Blitz while controlling the top glass and pushing into enemy territory. You have some decent sight lines from here while your teammates possibly score from below and you can use your high mobility to back out and continue to control the top glass with your main weapon.
Overall the Ballpoint Splatling is an intriguing weapon as a whole. Although the kit doesn’t have perfect synergy, I think it doesn’t take away so much from the weapon as to render it useless. The mobility of the Ballpoint while also having a long range option sets it apart from both support and backlining weapons. The Toxic Mist is good at forcing movement, stopping pushes, and limiting your enemies mobility while increasing your own amazing mobility. The Inkjet while putting you in some awkward scenarios may also help on certain maps and unconventional team compositions. In the end the Ballpoint Splatling is not a weapon to be used all the time and therefore should not be anyone’s main weapon that they stick to. The Ballpoint as I mentioned before has a chance of seeing play on maps with a lot of uninkable surfaces or grating that it can zip across to its advantage. Because it does have some solid strengths that allow it to shine on certain maps, the Ballpoint Splatling is deserving of a SPLASH as it satisfies a usable niche in the game.
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