Kelp Dome's unusual non-linear design makes this map quite different from the rest. The grates provide handy alternate routes, but one risks exposing themselves to enemy fire.
Unlike conventional maps like Urchin Underpass and Walleye Warehouse, which has both team's bases at far ends of the map and players clashing at the midpoint, Kelp Dome is shaped more like a donut. Either team's bases are situated on the outer rim of the map, enveloping the central area. The spawn point is located on a very high pillar with a large grate extending out from it, and there's a large raised area that players can only reach by dropping down from the spawn point. There are two paths leading away from the spawn point, left and right, while in Ranked modes there is also a third, direct path leading to the central area through the newly-added metal box. The area behind spawn has a ramp that leads out into the left path.
Going down the left route is a small square area, with a narrow opening leading into the neutral combat area and a ramp going over the wall and on to the map's grate network. On the right is an enclosed area with two ramps leading out of it. One connects to the grate passages, while the other is a one way drop into the corner regions. These two corner regions are where players of both team's leaving their base without using the grates meet. It is a simple square area with simple cover and an inkable wall for squids to swim on to the grate network. There is a wide path leading into the middle region. The grate runs above this path, branching off into either team's inner base.
At the center is a wide open area that is broken into halves by a tall cylinder in the middle, with two arms extending out from it. The entire structure can be inked so that players can get on to the platform from below. It is also where the grates on either side of the map ends. Two inflatable barriers are placed in either corner of the arena for cover.
Unlike in Ranked, there is no metal block for a shortcut into the center arena. One of the inflatable barriers in the center has also been rotated by 90 degrees, meaning that the map is actually slightly asymmetrical in this mode. The large raised platform behind the spawn point is typically neglected in other modes, but contributes significant turf when inked. It's a good place to drop a Sprinkler on, or to Inkstrike the enemy's when the match is nearly over.
There is a fairly large chunk of either team's base that is hard to access by the enemy, due to the limited paths into the area around the spawn. Therefore, the areas that you will be contesting for the most part is the arena at the center and the squares at the corners. There are multiple paths leading away from spawn and thus you may run into more foes than you can handle if you rush out from the start. Use the inking patterns on the minimap to infer how many enemies you'll face when taking your initial path.
The central column is a key area to secure. It is situated at the center of the map and has a good view of enemies coming in through the corners as well as the grated walkways, making it a great spot for a long-range weapon to control the general area and harass enemies. The column is pretty wide, so there's a chance to escape flanking foes engaging you at close range as well. The battlefield around the column is quite large and it's difficult to keep the entire area turfed when both teams are equally matched, but can be scary to push into if the enemy team manages to claim it entirely.
The corners have a larger emphasis on close quarters combat. The obstacles form narrow paths and tight corners that let you slip around and circle opponents, giving fast killing, short-ranged weapons a great advantage. Meanwhile, the wider center and the inkable column benefits weapons with mobility. The grates are risky to use as foes can shoot at you from directly below much more easily than you can do so from above. However, it is an alternate path to push into enemy territory. It's risky to stay inside the enemy base due to the proximity to spawn, but a flanking weapon can make great use of the corners to hide and ambush unsuspecting foes.
The zone is at the center, shaped like a square and divided perfectly by the central pillar's "arms". Small metal boxes have been added on to the grates for players to hide and refill ink while staying on the elevated passage. A wall is added beside the ramp off of the area behind spawn, providing cover. There is also a small patch of raised ground added in the corner arenas.
Kelp Dome's zone is huge, consisting of the entirety of the pillar and the ground on either side, so it really requires a team effort to claim the zone. The only position where you can see and ink the whole zone is on the pillar itself, where you're rather exposed, whereas elsewhere the pillar obstructs or at least partially obscures the view of the opposite half of the zone. While being on the pillar makes you a priority target, it is also great for controlling the space around the zone, either by securing the entrances into the zone as a sniper or by drenching ink down on to enemies around the point as a Slosher or Roller. The pillar is also a great place for flankers to get the drop on foes.
If you're fighting around the zone, use the pillar to your advantage. The pillar's arms create a minor chokepoint where you can ambush players rounding the corner to paint the other side. If you keep your half of the zone inked, foes on the pillar will also have a tough time spotting you if you hide close to the pillar. Long-ranged weapons have some great spots to ink the splat zone without having to get close to the chaos going on around the pillar. The grates give you a view of both the pillar and a third of the zone below that you can ink, and the newly added blocks give you both cover and a spot to refuel. If you have the range, peeking out from where the grate crossed the wall out of your inner territory will let you paint and secure a good chunk of the zone while being relatively safe. The path connecting the corners and the center is also a good place to attack from a distance, but you are much more exposed to flankers.
The tower begins on the middle pillar, descends to the ground and travels into the corner regions. It then makes a loop around the inkable wall and passes through the bottleneck into the defender's base, with the goal situated right in front of the defender's closest ramp from spawn. All of the map additions from Splat Zones return here, although an additional metal block has been added to the top of the ramp at the left branch leading on to the grates.
Contesting the tower while it is in its neutral position is a standard affair. However, the tower's position on the pillar creates an obstruction that can be used as cover from enemy fire while limiting your movement on the pillar itself. Attempting to push the tower while there are still enemies swarming around the center is unwise, because as the pillar begins to make its descent, enemies on the pillar can drop on to the pillar to take out any tower pushers. Once the tower reaches the ground and starts travelling away from the pillar, it just becomes a matter of the attacking team clearing out enemies in the path of the tower.
Around the 70 point mark, the tower starts to exit out of the central area and into one of the corners. Here, both teams have a quick, straight path from spawn to the tower, though the defenders do have a slightly shorter path, so the tower often stagnates in this area. Most players will be travelling straight to the corner the tower is in from spawn, though it's worthwhile to take an alternate route to claim map control at the center in case the push fails, bearing in mind that the tower's current progress is still top priority.
The last 40 points is a real challenge to push through, but it's not any easier on the defending side. The tower must squeeze through a chokepoint leading to the defenders inner territory, with the grated walkways as the only alternate route of attack. The defenders have a slight advantage in that they can enter the center quickly using the block in front of spawn, from which they can deal a devastating blow to the attacking force from behind, whereas the attackers have to take a much longer, indirect path to do so. The grated path beside the chokepoint is a risky route best taken by long-ranged or mobile shooters to take down enemies positioned behind the wall. On defense, the ramp becomes a strong sniper spot to fire at foes coming into the base, particularly through the chokepoint. Killer Wails from either side are quite effective at clearing the path around the tower as well.
The Rainmaker is located on the center cylinder and must be taken to the goal in front of the spawn point. A blockade has been added on the grates at the first branch from the center. There are also more cover added around the spawn point.
At the start, the Rainmaker bubble will force players off the column once it starts expanding, so most of the fighting will be on ground level along with some longer-ranged weapons that can shoot at the bubble safely from the grates. Since most players will be on the floor around the pillar, flanking your foes is a risky task as you may run into multiple enemies at once, due to how the pillar splits the center into two halves. It is slightly safer to engage the enemy once the Rainmaker's shield has been popped, as you can now move freely on the column and make use of the height advantage to get the drop on foes.
Your options are limited when carrying the Rainmaker: either attempt a hard push into enemy territory from the map's corners, or take the dangerous grated route for a great potential reward. The opening into the enemy base from the corners is pretty tough to break through due to its narrow chokepoint, but this also makes it very easy to cover with Rainmaker shots, often resulting in stalemates at this point of the push. The defense has a small advantage here in having an alternate path in front of spawn that takes them behind the attacking force for a surprise attack that can cripple the push. You can also consider taking the grated path beside the ground-level opening while carrying the Rainmaker. You'll have a greater field of vision due to your height which prevents enemy ambushes, but you're also more exposed to enemy fire as well.
The risky alternate path is to get on the grates connected to the pillar and beeline into the enemy base. Since the carrier has to walk across the grate and there's barely space for teammates to protect the carrier, such a push is usually stopped early if there are still enemies at the center. However, if the carrier makes it over the wall, the only choice for defenders is to squid jump back to spawn or follow behind the attackers on the same risky grated walkway. The walls in front of the defense's spawn also create a chokepoint, so it can be tough to approach the Rainmaker carrier for the defenders. However, it is also much harder for the attackers to sustain a push, since they have to take a more indirect and exposed path from spawn.
Due to the map's layout, the Rainmaker's progress between teams can be quite volatile. If the Rainmaker push ends anywhere around the defender's spawn area, they'll be able to pop the shield in relative safety and quickly start a push of their own by dropping off the ramp to the right of the spawn point, where they can immediately start pushing into the foe's corner chokepoint. If the timer is running out and the team with the lead has the Rainmaker, they can camp on the ramp at the right side of the spawn area to make it very difficult for the losing team to reach the Rainmaker and mount a comeback.