It seems like only yesterday that the first Splatoon game was announced at a Nintendo Direct. Splatoon 3 is the third installment in the series, following the huge success of the first Splatoon and its sequel. This IP has recently skyrocketed in popularity, becoming one of Nintendo’s best-selling series in Japan and the rest of the world. It has broad appeal, and both children and adults like it.
Splatoon 3 follows the same formula but attempts to broaden the scope in a big way. Going from Splatoon 1 to 2 may not have seemed like a significant enough shift to warrant a sequel, but Splatoon 3 seems like a worthy successor in many respects. The modest hub region of Inkopolis and the semi-open world style for the main story are no longer present. Splatoon 3 is larger in practically every way by placing the player in the heart of Splatsville city and expanding the story.
It is by far the most polished game in the series, oozing presentation and personality at every turn. The opening prologue is a prime example of this. You begin the game by customizing your main character, and it is effectively a fluid menu screen where the character changes based on your selections. This is not a static screen like in Elden Ring, but rather a completely dynamic menu that leads to a tutorial and concludes in a gorgeous cinematic.
The core design loop is the same as its predecessor. Your Octoling/Inkling lands at Splatsville at the start of the game, and you have the option of moving straight into the multiplayer mode or tackling the main story mode. There are no restrictions on how you may travel around the main hub, and there is even a menu that allows you to effortlessly teleport between key locations. Depending on your preference, you can begin with multiplayer fights or the story mode’s trials and tribulations.
Splatoon 3’s story mode is well-executed. It has a Metroidvania-style progression system, different maps, and a wide range of levels. While these are shorter in duration, there is a lot of variation here, with a focus on platforming, shooting, and puzzle-solving skills. Although the primary gameplay loop remains the same, the enemy diversity is kept fresh. You may choose from a range of weapons with varying shooting styles to splatter your color on any surface for navigation or on enemies to destroy them while liberating a zapfish at the end of the stage.
Splatoon 3 brings back some amazing boss battles that are always entertaining to watch. Just like in the previous game, these boss fights can be quite fun to experience. The key to each boss fight is determining the boss’s vulnerability. There is generally an ability that may be utilized to exploit the vulnerability, and studying the boss’s attack pattern is also vital to defeating most of these battles. Some of the boss fights can be difficult, but the game has a checkpoint system to assist the player continue if they fail.
While I won’t disclose any of the plot twists, the first level is not reflective of the full game. It’s only a prelude to educating the player on the fundamentals and introducing them to some of the new features. One of these is the ability to use a little companion called smallfry to make normally inaccessible areas accessible. It can aid in the removal of the path-blocking fuzzy goo, which is hazardous to touch and can result in a quick death.
Splatoon 3’s multiplayer mode places the player in a lobby where a match may be simply initiated from the main menu. There are several matches to choose from, and most of them are contested in teams of four. These are variations on popular multiplayer games such as capture the flag or checkpoint. The big distinction here is that we will be spray-painting the enemy and marking their places with our weapons.
Turf Wars is the major multiplayer mode in Splatoon 3. As the name implies, this will put two teams against one other to see who can cover the greatest ground on the multiplayer map. This is performed by spraying ink throughout the map while simultaneously eliminating the enemy squad. There are several new weapons, skills, and tactics to utilize in such matches in the sequel. Because of a new spawn drone feature that allows the player to respawn anywhere on the battlefield, the battles seem frenzied and fast.
There is also an experience system linked to unlocking new weapons, thus playing more matches means gaining experience and powerful new weaponry. These weapons will still rely on your playstyle. Matchmaking is now more fluid, with a practice arena serving as a lobby in which to kill time until the game finds a match. There are also several additional customization options for our Octolings/Inklings.
Splatoon 3 is without a doubt the best game in the series. It boasts an excellent presentation, beautiful visuals, and an addicting multiplayer mode. Those who want to play it alone will have a wonderful time, with the single-player mode giving hours of entertainment and the multiplayer mode’s skill-based matchmaking allowing them to enjoy the multiplayer even if they are unable to grasp the fundamentals at first. This is a good starting point for the Splatoon series.