Welcome to Inkopolis Plaza! This place is a major hub for squids looking to gear up and duke it out in battle. You can walk around and check out what other players' rankings and what they're saying on Miiverse, and interact with the various locations. You can also quickly travel to any place on Inkopolis Plaza using the Gamepad screen.
Housed within Inkopolis Tower is the Battle Lobby, the online matchmaking feature of the game. You can select from a couple of matchmaking modes as well as check and change your gear. You can also press to enter recon mode, letting you preview the layout of a map in rotation before playing it.
The various modes you can select are:
- Regular Battle: Join players around the world in a 4-on-4 Turf War. This is the default option of the Battle Lobby and the one immediately available to every player at the start. There are no stakes in winning Turf War matches, so it's all for fun. While there is no visible ranking, the game tends to match you with players around your skill level and players that share your playstyle. At the end of the match, your score is determined by how much turf you ink.
- Ranked Battle: Play with people across the globe in one of three modes: Splat Zones, Tower Control or Rainmaker. The mode you get depends on the rotation, but all three of them have more focused goals than Turf War. You'll also be given a rank that goes up as you win matches, and down if you lose. The rank runs from C- to S+, with each rank giving more point bonuses than the rank before, and you'll be matched with players similar to your rank. Your relative ranking at the end of a round depends on your overall performance, so you'll be higher on the scoreboard if you've been doing consistently well for the past few games. Ranking up or down forces you to rejoin the lobby to match up against players closer to your skill.
- Join Friends: If a friend on your Wii U Friend List is currently in a Turf War game, you can use this mode to join their lobby. You'll only be added to the lobby after their current match is finished. Even though you'll be in the same lobby, you and your friend may be put on opposing teams.
- Squad Battle: Form a squad with up to 4 players from your Friend List to play Ranked Battles and get matched with other squads. Seperate 2-player squads pair up to form a full team, while 3-player squads either fight other 3-player squads or take on 4-player squads with a reduced respawn time. Each player can change their weapons and gear between matches, and you'll see your squadmates' weapon choices. This mode is a great way to play coordinated games with an organized team. You cannot rank up past S in Squad Battles if you're from a lower rank, while you can't derank out of S if you're ranked higher.
- Private Battle: Play an entirely custom game with players on your Friend List. You can freely pick your map and mode to play on. Players choose to which team to join, then get a chance to change their weapon and gear before the match starts. Scrims and community tournaments are run in this mode.
While playing multiplayer battles, your performance is loosely tracked with the Vibe meter. You gain vibe by winning matches and reduce vibe if you lose matches. As your vibe gets higher, losing a match causes you to lose more vibe per match. It's not a meaningless measurement however, as you can talk to Judd at the entrance of the Inkopolis Tower to get some extra cash. Judd will always give you the money reward for the highest Vibe you attained each map rotation, even if you dropped to a lower Vibe afterward.
Once every few weeks, Inkopolis celebrates Splatfest, a traditional Inkling festival featuring a performance from the Squid Sisters! The Splatfest topic is usually announced a few days before the event, where players are forced to pick a side to fight for. Players will be given a special Splatfest Tee with 3 ability slots that they can level up before the fest. On the day of the Splatfest, only Splatfest Battles and Private Battles can be played in the Battle Lobby. Splatfest Battles are similar to Turf Wars, but take place in special nighttime versions of maps. Players on the same side are grouped together and ranked based on performance, and there's a special ranking that grants players a title based on how much they're played and won. Players can only wear the Splatfest Tee, but no other gear restrictions apply.
There are 5 titles arranged in ascending order: Fanboy/girl, Fiend, Defender, Champion, and King/Queen. When the Splatfest concludes, both sides' performance will be calculated based on their popularity and the success of either side. The winner is announced a few hours after the Splatfest ends, and Super Sea Snails will be awarded to all participants. Players with a better title gets more Super Sea Snails, and all players on the winning side gets additional Super Sea Snails.
As of July 22nd 2016, Splatfests are no longer held in Splatoon.
Down a grate by Inkopolis Tower takes you to Octo Valley. This is the single player campaign of Splatoon where you must retrieve stolen Zapfish from the evil Octarians. You are equipped with special weapons and armor in this mode, which you can upgrade using Power Eggs collected from playing Octo Valley stages. Progress through Octo Valley can also unlock exclusive weapons for use in multiplayer battles.
Four shops line the west end of Inkopolis Plaza, selling fashionable gear and cutting edge weapons. Money that you've earned from playing on Regular or Ranked Battles can be spent here to get equipment that improve or change up your gameplay. There are 4 shops that can be individually accessed from the plaza, and you can jump between shops while on the shopping screen by using and .
- Ammo Knights: This shop is manned by Sheldon the horseshoe crab and stocks every weapon in the game. You gain the ability to buy more weapons as you level up, with the weapon cost increasing as you level up more. You can also choose to test out weapons that you've unlocked for purchase in a special testing range.
- Cooler Heads: Run by Annie the Anemone and her clownfish companion Moe, this shop only sells headgear and accessories. As with the other shops that sell gear, the inventory changes daily and you'll find gear of higher rarities when you're at a higher level.
- Jelly Fresh: Jelonzo the jellyfish is the shopkeeper of this store, which sells shirts, jackets and all other manner of tops.
- Shrimp Kicks: The trendy shrimp Crusty Sean manages Booyah Base's resident shoe store.
On the second floor of the eastern part of the plaza is the Battle Dojo. Here, two players can duke it out one-on-one locally, with one playing on the Wii U Gamepad and the other on the TV using a Wii U Pro Controller or a Wii Classic Controller. Your objective is to shoot at balloons scattered around the map, each highlighted with a bright column of light. Each balloon is worth 1 point, which doubles as the match nears its end. Only a small selection of weapons (which includes their own preset gear) are available, as well as a tiny pool of maps in their incarnations from release.
While the Gamepad natively supports motion controls for aiming, this feature can be emulated by tying a Wii Remote Plus or a Wii Remote with the Wii Motion Plus accessory to the TV player's controller. Pressing and while holding down and will enable this hidden feature.
Spyke the sea urchin
Down an alley beside Inkopolis Tower is the shady Spyke, who provides some special services relating to gear. Spyke lets you order gear from players in the plaza for a slightly higher price, including gear that you already own. There is a small chance that the gear you've ordered will come with the same sub-abilities as the player you ordered it from, but you need to unlock the gear yourself. Not all sub-abilities may be carried over, though the chance of each increases with your level.
Spyke also provides an additional service if you provide him with Super Sea Snails. For gear with less than three sub-ability slots, he will unlock a slot on said gear for one Super Sea Snail. Otherwise, he will reroll all three sub-ability slots at the same time. Once you've reached level 20, Spyke will offer to perform this service for 30,000 coins instead if you're out of Super Sea Snails.
Miscalleneous areas of interest
At the back of the plaza is the amiibo box. Scanning either the Inkling Girl, Inkling Boy, or Inkling Squid will let you play exclusive challenge levels based on stages from Octo Valley. Clearing challenges gives you both exclusive gear and even arcade minigames. Said minigames can then be played at the arcade machine at the left side of the plaza outside of battles, or on the Gamepad screen while waiting in a lobby. Lastly, the mailbox in front of Inkopolis Tower can be used to post thoughts and drawings to Miiverse, which will be shared with other players on the plaza and as graffiti in battle stages.