Splatoon 2 is coming out on July 21 on Nintendo Switch, and today peripheral manufacturer Hori revealed a new headset for use with the game. The problem? The setup showcases the Switch’s problematic approach to voice chat.
【2017年7月21日発売予定】「ステレオヘッドセット エンペラフックHDP for Nintendo Switch」がSplatoon2と同時発売予定です！ゲーム内のギアを再現したヘッドセットで、ゲーム音とボイスチャットをミックスさせて聞くことができます！(税抜￥3480) pic.twitter.com/q1T4Oy3Sr3
— HORI /ゲーム周辺機器のホリ (@HORI__OFFICIAL) June 1, 2017
If you can’t read Japanese, that’s okay. The Splatoon 2 aesthetic is cute, but the primary takeaway is the image at the top of this page, demonstrating that players need to plug their headset, Switch, and a smartphone into a (squid-shaped) junction in order to make voice chat function. This allows both chat audio and game audio to come through the headset.
We already knew that Nintendo was planning to offload voice chat to a yet-unreleased phone app. Though this process doesn’t seem difficult, making players juggle an additional cord and device is unconventional, and has the potential to be a hassle.
Hori’s accessory has not yet been confirmed for a release in North America.
The original Splatoon didn’t have any voice chat, so this is technically an improvement, I guess? Most gamers are accustomed to simple chat solutions, where you plug in a headset and start playing. The extra baggage associated with this one might not be a dealbreaker, but it is inelegant (at best) and just seems like a backwards approach to facilitating a smooth online experience. We’ll have to wait until Nintendo gets the Switch’s online functionality fully implemented before making any final judgments, though.