The Splatoon series has given Nintendo gamers their own unique multiplayer-shooter experience that encapsulates exactly what the company is all about: creativity, charm, and that unique twist that makes everything feel more unique than similar releases in the genre. There’s no other shooter out there that feels quite like Splatoon, whilst the fact that it’s also a LOT of fun to play makes it feel even more special.
Whilst Splatoon 2 managed to improve upon every facet of the original game, Splatoon 3 takes it to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no dramatic new game-changing feature here that makes a significant change to everything that came before it, but the new additions, more robust single player campaign, and general improvements across the board help ensure that both fans of the series and newcomers alike will have a blast playing.
Check out some screenshots down below:
If you’re unfamiliar with what the Splatoon series is all about, it sees rival teams face off in three-minute showdowns where the goal is to cover the arena with as much of your coloured ink as possible. Sure, you can blast other players if you want to, but you’re not looking for kill-counts here; instead, victories are calculated by having the higher percentage of the arena smothered in your colour, so you’ll want to spray EVERYWHERE. It sounds simple enough, but the fact that both teams will constantly be blasting their own ink across the map whilst also trying to take each other out makes each showdown feel especially intense, whilst there’s plenty of room for strategy with the clever level design and variety of weapons and abilities at your disposal.
The traditional game mode is Turf War, that sees two teams face off in a standard showdown. However, there are also the Anarchy Battles, which offer similar ink-slinging gameplay but with an extra twist. This might mean trying to target a specific area of the map in Splat Zones, controlling towers across the map in Tower Control, or grabbing clams and blasting them in your opponent’s goal in Clam Blitz, just to name a few, with each challenging players to do something a little bit different to spice up the experience. They’re all fun to play through, whilst the way that each mode rotates within Anarchy Battles ensures that there’s an element of surprise as to what you’ll be doing each match.
The only issue with these game modes is that returning players would have seen them all already. Splatoon 3 doesn’t introduce any new game modes across its conventional gameplay, and whilst what it does offer remains fun (especially with some of the game’s new features and maps), it would have been nice if there was something that felt a bit fresher.
“Who’d have thought that introducing a third team could make the action so much more manic? These tri-colour battles are some of the best in the game and really show there is plenty of room for innovation in the series.”
However, the Splatfests (which occur on a regular basis and see players picking one of three factions to fight for) do change things up by introducing matches that see three teams of four face off in showdowns. Who’d have thought that introducing a third team could make the action so much more manic? These tri-colour battles are some of the best in the game and really show there is plenty of room for innovation in the series. It is a shame that it’s limited to the Splatfest periods only, but at least it gives players an extra incentive to jump back into Splatoon 3 if they drop off for a little while.
Oh, and the first Splatfest for Splatoon 3 saw ‘Rock, Paper and Scissors’ battling it out as factions… Rock won, which I was proud to represent. Rock for life, yo.
Those who prefer a more co-operative experience will be glad to see Salmon Run return, which sees players working together as a team to collect eggs, defeat enemies, and then face off against bosses. Previously, this was a mode that was only available for certain periods of time, but thankfully Splatoon 3 makes it a permanent fixture that can be accessible at any time. It has always been one of my favourite ways to experience what Splatoon has to offer and the co-op focus offers something a lot different to everything else in the game, so it’s really cool to see that there are no limitations in place – just good ol’ salmon blasting action. Without context, that might sound bizarre, but believe me, it’s a real hoot in-game.
Those hoping to use new weaponry in Splatoon 3 will be pleased to see the introduction of the Stringer (a bow-like weapon that allows players to blast out three projectiles at once) and the Splatana (a sword-like weapon that can unleash a beam of ink or hit enemies up-close), with each allowing players to alter their approach in-battle. Personally, I think the Splatana is one of the coolest weapons I’ve seen across the series, though the flexibility offered with the Stringer allows players to cover a greater range of targets within a fixed area. There are also a bunch of special weapons to use that offer powerful effects, whilst all previous weaponry from Splatoon 2 make a return too. New moves such as the Squid Roll (which offers players a quick jumping-turn with brief invulnerability) and the Squid Surge (which allows players to blast up inked walls quicker) offer a lot more fluidity when traversing through areas too, which is sure to please returning players who were hoping to have a few more tricks up their sleeves. I found the Squid Surge especially useful when catapulting in the air and taking out enemies from above by surprise, but each adds an additional layer of tactical nuance to inking up your surroundings.
“Whilst there’s no denying that some players are going to feel a sense of familiarity, the series never needed to completely revamp itself; instead, it made improvements and additions in the right places to ensure that it remains more exciting (and perhaps a bit more addictive) to play than ever.”
Between the three-team madness in Splatfest, the accessible Salmon Run, the new weapons, and fresh abilities at your disposal, Splatoon 3 brings plenty to the table to ensure that players will be just as hooked in this time around. There are twelve maps available at launch (made up of old and new locales) so there are plenty of arenas to battle across, but be warned: map rotation is still a thing, so choice can be limited depending on when you’re playing. Again, it’s something you expect from Splatoon so it’s no surprise it’s here too, though it would have been nicer to see the game switch between three maps in that rotation given there are more available this time around.
With everything on offer though, Splatoon 3’s multiplayer feels better than ever to play. There are more options, it’s more flexible with its game modes, there are cool new strategies to embrace thanks to the new additions, and, most importantly, it’s still a fun and unique experience that nothing else has managed to replicate. I’m completely hooked into the ink-fuelled showdowns, whilst the short length of each match makes it perfect for quick pick up and play sessions.
When it comes to the single player, Splatoon 3 has seen massive improvements across the board. The single player campaign has always felt like a meagre inclusion just to show players the ropes in previous titles in the series, but this time around there’s a kooky story to see unfold with plenty of little twists, an array of cleverly designed levels with fun set pieces that utilise the different mechanics of the game in creative ways, and some satisfying boss encounters that can really test your skills. It felt like a robust single player experience that had some meat to it, and if I’m being honest, I found myself more engaged by it than the multiplayer during my early hours with the game. It’s an impressive step up and goes a long way in establishing Splatoon 3 as a meatier experience that doesn’t rely solely on its multiplayer to keep players hooked in.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Add to that the slick city hub of Splatsville where you’ll get to hang out in-between matches and customise your character, the Tableturf Battle mini-game that sees you collecting cards and challenging other players in showdowns, as well as the promise of plenty of post-launch support that’ll keep bringing content to the game, and it’ll become clear that Splatoon 3 is one mighty release that’ll keep players very happy. Whilst there’s no denying that some players are going to feel a sense of familiarity, the series never needed to completely revamp itself; instead, it made improvements and additions in the right places to ensure that it remains more exciting (and perhaps a bit more addictive) to play than ever.
Splatoon 3 Review
Splatoon 3 strengthens the series in a multitude of ways, with the new additions and excellent campaign ensuring that it’s the best entry yet. Whether you’re battling it out online in the Turf Wars or in the new three-team showdowns in the Splatfest, showcasing your skills with some of the new weaponry and abilities, or simply indulging in the kooky but brilliant adventure offered in the single player campaign, there’s plenty here to keep both newcomers and long-time Splatoon fans VERY happy.
It is guilty of feeling a bit familiar in places and it is a shame there aren’t a few additional modes to play, but why fix what isn’t broken? Splatoon 3 doesn’t change the formula too much, but it does more than enough to ensure that it stands out as another fantastic release in the series.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)