How to survive and flourish in 'Splatoon 2' Salmon Run

Splatoon 2 Salmon Run
Nintendo

Splatoon 2 offers much of the same on the Nintendo Switch, but if you pick it up, you’ll notice one major addition: Salmon Run. Our Splatoon 2 Salmon Run guide will help you learn how to play, and then master, this new game mode.

Salmon Run tasks up to four players with rounding up golden eggs and placing them in a designated basket. If your team of squid kids meets the golden egg quota and survives (at least one player must be alive at all times) the 100-second onslaught from hordes of enemies, you move onto the next round. Do this three times, and your team wins. As you go along, you’ll also receive points that go toward ranking up and allow you to inch closer to tiered gear and item rewards. No two missions in Salmon Run go exactly the same, though, so let’s take a look at how to maximize your odds and improve your strategies en route to coming out on top consistently.

Accessing Salmon Run

splatoon 2 salmon run guide splatoon2 scrn salmonrun03

As baffling as it may sound, the online Salmon Run mode can only be accessed during specific time blocks set by Nintendo. If you head to Mr. Grizz’s place of operation — the man who wants you to secure Golden Eggs for him — outside of the set windows, his shop will be closed. Thankfully, as of now, Salmon Run is open for at least 12, sometimes 24, hours at a time on most days. We’ve seen windows of 7 a.m. – 5 a.m., 1 a.m. – 1 a.m., 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. thus far.

To check out the Salmon Run schedule, press X in the plaza to get into the menu, and navigate over to Stages. Under the Salmon Run category, you’ll see the current or next Salmon Run time up top followed by the next four Salmon Run intervals.

Salmon Run is available all the time for local co-op, but Splatoon 2 doesn’t support split screen multiplayer, so each of the 2-4 players need to have their own Switch console to take advantage of this.

One other thing. As of now, only one map is available each day for online Salmon Run. Luckily, there’s enough differentiation in the mode to avoid weariness of playing a single map on repeat.

Getting Started

splatoon 2 salmon run guide grizzco industries

When you first step foot into Grizzco, Mr. Grizz will take you through two short tutorial missions before he sends you out into the field. These missions are designed to show you how Salmon Run works, and they do a fairly good job at that.

The first tutorial shows how waves of small Salmonids converge on the map, while the second one grants you a look at seven of the nine bosses.

Once you complete the tutorial, you’ll have at least an idea of how to succeed in Salmon Run. Then the fun, and the challenge can truly begin.

Before you play, you can also check out a 30-minute demonstration of Salmon Run from E3.

Gathering Golden Eggs

splatoon 2 salmon run guide splatoon2 scrn salmonrun08

As stated, your main goal in Salmon Run is to retrieve golden eggs. The only way to gain golden eggs is by taking out Salmonid bosses. Each boss drops three golden eggs when defeated. In your first few matches, you may only be asked to collect three to five golden eggs, and since Salmonid bosses at least drop three golden eggs, you only have to take out one, maybe two bosses, per round. As you continue to play and win matches, however, you’ll frequently need anywhere from 7-10 golden eggs to complete a round. With high golden egg demands, you’ll need to dispose of bosses diligently, and in quick succession.

To pick up a golden egg, simply run into it, and your squid kid will throw it into their makeshift mesh bag. Take it back to the basket and press A to deposit it. You can only carry one golden egg at a time.

Before that, though, you must take out bosses. Here’s how to approach each boss. Keep in mind, you will be randomly assigned one of four weapons each round. While some weapons like the roller are designed for short range, and others like the sniper rifle are long range, you can use each and every weapon with success against Salmonid bosses.

Stinger

A sniper boss, Stinger sits atop a series of swaying metal pots. Stinger will not wade deep into the map; instead he sprays devastating streams of filthy ink across far stretches of the map. To take Stinger out, you need to chip away at its pots with ink. One by one it will shrink until all that’s left is head. The whole process only takes a few seconds, a full tank of ink or less.

Steelhead

This hulking boss cannot be damaged by ink thanks to its protective scales. Steelhead repeatedly produces ink bombs from its head, and tosses them over the nearby radius. If one of these bombs falls near you, make sure to create a little distance so it doesn’t knock you out. In order to take Steelhead out, you need to splat the bomb before it leaves his head. It doesn’t take very many shots and once it explodes, Steelhead dies instantly.

Steel Eel

This long mechanical serpent locks onto you and your teammates and slithers towards you while spewing hazardous ink its wake. Maneuver to its tail, and splat the Salmonid who controls the contraption. Steel Eel doesn’t take many hits to kill, as getting to its backside before he turns is the real challenge. We suggest splatting the area around it so you can sneakily travel as a squid to his tail quickly.

Scrapper

This compact, heavily shielded boss moves rapidly towards you at first. While your ink attacks to his frontside will yield damage, it takes more than a few tanks of paint to sustain any crippling damage to Scrapper’s frame. When Scrapper’s defenses fall, he can no longer perform any movements besides swiveling. To take it out quicker at this point, flank him to shoot at his backside, which will now be uncovered.

Maws

This monstrous, and hungry Salmonid attacks from below. You’ll see a flashing circle where Maws will emerge. Make sure to be just outside of that circle. When it comes up, spray it profusely. It takes several rounds of this process if other teammates aren’t splatting Maws as well. Alternatively, you can throw a grenade where it will appear.

Griller

Griller actually isn’t shown in the tutorial. During a round where Grillers exist, they are the only boss you will see. These giant jellyfish-like creatures weave across the level. Don’t get too close! If you get caught under its acid shower, you die instantly. The only way to take Griller’s out is to shoot the tail that sticks out from under its head. The tail will spin around in circles, so don’t waste ink when the tail isn’t in range.

Flyfish

This boss hovers above with a garbage can-esque canister on each side. Each can holds four missiles that explode into poisonous goop. Each time Flyfish gets a missile off, make sure to move because chances are its targeted at you (he can target two nearby players at once with up to four missiles). Hopefully, you won’t let Flyfish get many missiles off. Once the lid to its cans open, you have to toss a bomb into the containers. Hold R to aim the bomb before launching it. Flyfish dies when both cans are blown up.

Drizzler

Covered by an sturdy umbrella fashioned with a missile canon, Drizzler’s missiles produce a rain-like pattern of goop, making it hard to move quickly around it. When you a missile emerging from its umbrella, fire at it. If your timing is precise, you can blow up the missile and kill Drizzler with ease. If you’re a little slow on the draw, don’t worry. Once Drizzler attacks, it exposes itself attacks for a few seconds before returning to cover under its umbrella.

Glowing Salmonid

Not shown in the tutorial, this boss looks like a regular salmonid but it glows. You’ll only see these bosses during rounds covered in darkness. Like regular Salmonids, splatting it a few times with any weapon will kill it.

Tips and tricks

splatoon 2 salmon run guide splatoon2 scrn salmonrun02

Beyond understanding how to take out each boss efficiently, here are some general tips and tricks on how to maximize your rewards while staying alive in Salmon Run.

Splat frequently, but smartly

It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of incoming Salmonid bosses, but don’t forget the core tenant of Splatoon 2: Splat and splat some more. You and your team will have a much easier time navigating if you drop as much paint as possible. That being said, when you are in hot pursuit of a boss, it’s best to restrain yourself so that you won’t have to wait for your tank to refill. After you knock a boss out, replenish the area around you with paint as you pick up and carry a golden egg away. The more area you splat, the more points you get at the end of a successful mission.

Stick together

Don’t be a lone wolf. While some bosses can be taken out easily on your own, there’s strength in numbers. There’s also a reason why each boss drops three golden eggs. You’re supposed to stick together. Sometimes this is easier said than done when playing with randoms, but that’s why the call outs are in the game. If your teammates want to win, they will stick with you.

Use call outs

When a boss comes ashore, press up on the d-pad to signal “This way!” so that your teammates can follow you in pursuit. You can also press down on the d-pad to let out a “Booyah!” While the latter simply provides moral support, you never know how handy that may be for other teammates. You can only use the Nintendo Switch’s somewhat convoluted voice chat when you are playing with friends online. But if you do play with friends, obviously you will have more robust communication. To set up voice chat on Nintendo Switch, check out our guide. The Nintendo Switch Online app for either iOS or Android is required for voice chat.

Getting knocked out and reviving teammates

If you get hit with enemy goop too many times, you will get knocked out. When knocked out, press up on the d-pad to signal for help. When knocked out, you move as a life donut with a flag attached to the top. Significantly, you can still secure a golden egg when knocked out (and retain the golden egg you have already), so make sure to move about towards eggs, and towards teammates to be revived. On the alternative, if a teammate gets knocked out, shoot paint on them to bring them back into the fray. When a teammate goes down, your first priority should be to revive them.

Bosses above all else

When a boss is incoming, head that way immediately. You want to take out bosses as quickly as possible, not only because you need the eggs, but because you don’t want an accumulation of Salmonid bosses on the map at one time. As you progress, you will have multiple bosses (three, four, five) on screen at once. Focus your attention on one of them before proceeding to the next one.

Lure bosses near the basket

To be even more efficient, you can lure bosses towards your egg basket. Since most bosses follow you, while you’re taking them out, be mindful of how you can attract them closer to your egg basket in the process.

Take out the pests, too

While bosses should be your main priority, keep in mind that when bosses come, swarms of minions come ashore as well. Ideally, you should take them out while approaching a boss. If you let too many small Salmonids pile up, you could end up getting splatted by enemies as tiny as Smallfry. Plus, regular Salmonids give you power eggs, which add to your overall point total at the end of a run.

Collect lots of Golden Eggs, within reason

Once you reach your quota of golden eggs, you will advance to the next round (or win overall) no matter what. The more eggs your team collects, the more points you get at the end of the match. Still, if the match is getting particularly chaotic towards the end of a round, it’s best to go on the defensive and avoid swarms of enemies if it’s getting out of hand. A couple of additional golden eggs isn’t worth putting the mission at extreme risk.

Don’t leave eggs unattended for long

Each boss drops three eggs, and if it’s a team effort, you should be able to secure them quickly. If, however, you took out the boss solo or with just one other teammate, there will be a straggler egg(s). Hurry back or call your teammates over to your location, because if you wait too long, an opportunistic Salmonid will scoop the golden egg up in its clutches and take it back off the map.

Don’t leave your teammates high and dry

When you collect a golden egg, your first instinct will be to head back to the basket to drop it off. If you’re close to the egg basket, this isn’t much of an issue, but if you’re far away, help your nearby teammates before heading back. Some of them may have fallen during the chaos, while others may still be blasting away smaller Salmonids or other bosses. Don’t be selfish.

Use special moves wisely

Going into a session, you will have two special moves at your disposal. We recommend using them when multiple bosses swarm, or when you take one on solo. Also, don’t use them near the end of the round when your quota has already been met, unless you feel you need to in order to stay alive.

Beware the conditions

Most rounds won’t have peculiar conditions, but sometimes you will have to deal with environmental quirks as well. When it’s foggy, you have to be more deliberate in your movements in order to avoid unwittingly jumping into a chaotic situation. When its nighttime, stick close to your egg basket, as that likely means a “rush” is on its way. Lines of Salmonids will come at you with fervor, meaning that you and your team should stick together and wait for the enemies to descend upon you. When there is high tide, your playing area will shrink, and when there is low tide, it will expand.

For more on Splatoon 2, check out our beginner’s guide and full review.