Splatoon 3 Review-A Fintastic New Entry

A look at what Splatoon 3 adds to the franchise

Nintendo

Nintendo

Splatoon 3, the latest game in Nintendo’s squid themed third person shooter series launched in September on Nintendo Switch. The bright, colorful franchise stands out from others in its genre, and the newest entry is no exception. I’m here to tell you all about what makes this game differ from the previous two, from big additions to minor improvements.

Nintendo

Of course the change that’s gotten everyone excited is the new version of Splatfests. It instantly sets this game apart from its predecessors and gives it its own identity. Rather than the idol duos from the previous entries, Splatoon 3 introduces Deep Cut, a chaotic trio of new characters, Shiver, Frye, and Big Man. And with three idols, that means three teams for Splatfests. Jacob Dell, a second year Landmark student expressed excitement over this, saying “I think it’s cool that now Splatfests are actually three teams instead of two”. But it’s not just an additional team that makes the new Splatfests stand out. While the event lasted 24 hours in prior entries, here the length has been doubled to 48, something previously reserved for special occasions like Splatoween. When players pick a side based on questions like “What’s your go to move in rock paper scissors?” and “What would you bring to a deserted island?”, they’ll find themselves competing in both the standard 4v4 battles, and the brand-new tricolor turf war. The new mode is a 2v4v2 battle in which the team in the lead at the halfway point has to defend themselves from two teams of two. Unfortunately due to balance issues during the testfire demo, the matchmaking chances for tricolor turf war have been temporarily decreased until they can be fixed. I didn’t get matched into a single one during the deserted island splatfest, and I’m sure it was especially disappointing for people who didn’t play the demo and thus have never experienced this exciting new mode. But hopefully the issues will be fixed and the rates returned to normal before any future splatfests, such as the Pokémon themed one coming up in November.

Nintendo

The other big improvement to Splatoon 3 is the brand-new single player campaign, “Return of the Mammalians”. While previous games had a fairly simple structure, with the Great Zapfish being stolen by DJ Octavio and the player being tasked with retrieving it, Splatoon 3 goes for a more ambitious take on the premise. Though starting out very similarly to the standard formula, it builds off of the older campaigns to subvert audience expectations. Splatoon 3 also takes a lot of influence from Splatoon 2’s DLC, Octo Expansion. By combining the standard Octo Canyon with the relatively newer Octo Expansion they’re able to bring something fresh to a part of the franchise that’s been previously lacking. The plot isn’t really anything meaningful, instead focusing on just being as insanely over the top as possible. I don’t want to get too specific to avoid spoilers, but I was practically screaming in excitement at the final boss. And that’s really all Splatoon needs. Not every game needs to be a masterpiece in storytelling, sometimes you just want to listen to the latest version of the iconic Calamari Inkantation as things escalate to a ridiculously awesome degree.

Nintendo

And then there’s Salmon Run, the co-op mode originally introduced in Splatoon 2, which returns as Salmon Run Next Wave. Once again four players try to gather golden eggs while fighting off waves of enemy salmonids, but it’s a little different this time. For starters, the schedule system from the previous game has been eliminated. Players now have access to the mode 24/7, rather than having to wait for specific predetermined times. There’s also plenty of gameplay changes such as the ability to throw golden eggs. Though seemingly minor, it completely overhauls how the mode is played. A lot of strategy goes into throwing your eggs to your teammates and the basket. There are also brand-new boss salmonids, such as the Fish Stick, and two new known occurrences, mudmouth eruptions and giant tornadoes. But the biggest addition is the Xtrawave, which has a chance to happen after the third wave. Players have to fight against an absolutely massive king salmonid, while still having to deal with the usual boss salmonids. Rather than having to meet an egg quota, players chuck golden eggs at the king salmonid to deal damage. There’s also a mysterious event known as Big Run, which takes place on the standard stages instead of the salmon run ones. It was shown off in the Splatoon 3 direct back in August, but has yet to appear in game at the time of writing.

Customization is a key aspect to the Splatoon franchise, as its colorful atmosphere and fun style are a big part of the appeal. So there’s obviously plenty of brand-new ways for players to customize their cephalopods. In character creation there are new skin colors, eye colors, tentacle styles, and pants, as well as the new eyebrows. And excitingly, these options are no longer gender locked. Instead of picking their gender, players are now prompted to choose a “style” picking both their species and whether they are using the masculine or feminine model, with all pants and tentacle styles available for both models. In further degendering, amiibo outfits that previously looked different based on your character’s gender are now split into separate items.

Nintendo

But your character’s appearance is no longer the only thing for you to customize. Players now can create custom splashtags, choosing from various banners, badges, and titles. Their splashtag will be displayed at the start of matches, to the people they splat, and when they win. Speaking of winning, your victory animation is no longer just based on what weapon you use. Instead you can now unlock different emotes, giving your cephalopod the ability to dab. There’s also the locker room, where you can decorate your locker and view the lockers of your friends and people you’ve played with. As you level up you’ll unlock bigger lockers, allowing you to decorate even further to show off your style. And the brand-new catalog is filled with items for your locker and splashtag, as well as gear, ability chunks, victory animations, and cards for the new tableturf battle minigame. It’s seasonal, with four being released a year. As you play the game, you’ll level up your catalog, and there’s a new prize every time you do. In total there are 100 levels in the catalog.

And it wouldn’t be a new Splatoon game without new weapons and stages. The game introduces two new weapon types, the stringer and splatana. The stringer is a bow that can fire ink horizontally and vertically, depending on whether or not you’re in the air. And the splatana is a sword like melee weapon, allowing for quick horizontal slashes and charged vertical swings. Rather than replacing all of the special weapons like Splatoon 2 did, this game brings in a mix of old and new. Along with entirely new specials like the ink vac and crab tank, there are ones returning from Splatoon 2, and ones inspired by the specials from the original Splatoon. There are 12 stages at launch, with 5 of them being brand-new and the remaining 7 being returning stages from the first two games. Battle it out in locations like Hagglefish Market and Eeltail Alley, with more coming in future updates, such as Splatoon 1’s Flounder Heights.

Nintendo

All these big changes are super exciting, but Splatoon 3 also adds a lot of small tweaks and additions that speed up the pace of the game and as a result decrease frustration. The game is quicker and more streamlined than its predecessors, allowing you to jump right into the action packed gameplay. The equip menu loads much faster, and when closing it you’re now returned to where you were before instead of bringing you all the way back to the start of the hub area. The lobby is now a physical location instead of a menu, allowing the player to pass the time while waiting for matchmaking by testing weapons and running around with their friends. There’s also the new respawning system, in which players choose where to jump to rather than having one set spawn location which in addition to speeding things up, decreases the chance that the enemy team will trap you in your spawn.

Then there’s all the various UI improvements that don’t really stand out, but do a lot to help gameplay flow better. Icons now appear to indicate where your teammates have used special weapons, allowing you to better keep track of the current situation and easily locate things like the tacticooler and big bubbler. A message now shows up when an entire team has been splatted. And in ranked mode (renamed to anarchy battle) the UI now gives players clear indicators of things like who has the rainmaker, which team is in the lead, and how many clams their teammates have. At a glance Splatoon 3’s core gameplay might look very similar to Splatoon 2’s but looking closer reveals that a lot has been done to make this the best version of Splatoon.

Splatoon 3 is such an exciting game, and there’s so much I didn’t even have time to talk about. I barely touched on things like anarchy battle and tableturf battle. It’s a shame I can’t tell you more about this inkcredible game. But hopefully I’ve peaked your interest and you come join the millions of other people already in Inkopolis. I highly recommend it.