Nintendo’s full-on commitment to online gaming has been a long time coming. While complete details of its planned Nintendo Switch online service probably won’t arrive until its Fall launch window draws nearer, we now have a sense of how voice chat is expected to work when playing Splatoon 2. The setup appears functional, but leaves something to be desired when it comes to elegance.
The headset details were tweeted out by Japan’s official Splatoon Twitter account, showcasing a fairly stylish, wraparound green design and, as evidenced by diagrams in a followup reply, a small mess of cables. Nintendo’s planned online service is smartphone based, meaning the headset pulls audio from both the Switch itself and your phone via an included audio splitter. Notably the device is made by Hori, not Nintendo proper, so its odd means of connection may not ultimately be the best way to play. Check out the tweets below to see for yourself.
— Splatoon（スプラトゥーン） (@SplatoonJP) June 1, 2017
While the setup may seem needlessly cumbersome, Nintendo is faced with a dilemma due to the Switch’s hybrid nature. Of course, if voice chat were handled console-side rather than on your phone the situation might be simpler, and fully solvable if the Pro Controller contained a headphone jack. While a portable setup using the new headset should work fine thanks to Switch’s own on-device headphone jack, docked mode might not be as easy for headset users looking to access the very same jack.
To be fair, we don’t have official word on the exact details of Nintendo Switch’s online service yet, and thus conclusions about how it works ought not be jumped to. Alternatively, Nintendo should consider sending Switch’s own audio to smartphones over Bluetooth or wifi, eliminating the need for an audio splitter. What’s shown here is simply Hori’s solution to simulate what you might find on PS4 – in the end, you may be better off just plugging a headset straight into your phone for chat and getting in-game sound from the speakers connected to your TV. Either way, Splatoon 2‘s new headset certainly makes some odd insinuations.
Splatoon 2 is coming to Switch July 21st, which means there’s still time for Nintendo to clear up how this works well ahead of schedule. Online play for the game will be free for the remainder of Summer after its release, so at the very least players will have time to decide if they consider paying for a service with a potentially bizarre voice chat setup worthwhile. As for me, I’ll probably end up using Skype with friends as I do for most games, or zero voice chat at all. Hearing actual humans talking tends to ruin the fun of Squid Kid roleplay.