I apologize for being so late to the party getting this out. How do I go on about this one without sounding redundant? I don’t know that it’s even possible at this point but I’m going to try. Sometimes the best moments of creativity and innovation come about when your back is against the wall. Other times, they come about from analyzing what you have and refining it. The original Splatoon came about in an environment of the former. The Wii U was not a big seller and in a bid to move the needle, it became something of a phenomenon. It took a popular genre, the third-person multiplayer shooter, and combined it with the fast pace of the classic PC arena shooters. But it also created its own unique gameplay loop with its core Turf War mode.
With that one stroke of genius, it made a competitive genre palatable to not only hardcore veterans who had played since the days of DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D but to the many who had barely touched the genre. Because the focus was now on an objective that anyone could do. You might not be confident in your ability to hold down a giant flashing letter in Battlefield, but you could look down and paint a floor. And doing it contributed something. But Splatoon didn’t end there, you had a well-rounded package. It eventually had Ranked Battles, modes that were akin to those in its contemporaries, as well as one that was a microcosm of the Turf War in Splat Zones. Now you didn’t worry about the whole map. Just designated areas in the center. But it also included a campaign with a lighthearted tone atop a surprisingly deep and dark storyline. It had characters nearly everyone who played the game fell in love with, and it began a tradition of stealthily teaching multiplayer mechanics through its Super Mario Galaxy meets Metal Gear Solid level design.
PROS: New mechanics. New weapons. New specials. Greatly expanded lobby system. Stellar campaign. Salmon Run is no longer limited to specific hours. TableTurf card battles.
CONS: Connectivity issues. Not all of the improvements are visible at face value.
DEEP CUT: The latest idol group is a trio, and bring along some real bangers in the soundtrack department. But they haven’t forgotten about Off The Hook or the Squid Sisters either.
Splatoon 2 would follow 5 years later and that game was the latter. It added a lot of new stuff to an already great formula. It too had a great storyline campaign mode. But it expanded upon it. It also stealthily taught beginners the basics and gave them a lot to do. Every multiplayer mode returned from the original and it introduced Clam Blitz, a new mode with elements of Unreal Tournament 2003’s Bombing Run, and the Salmon Run horde mode that became very popular with a segment of the fandom. Splatoon 2’s Octo Expansion gave the single-player 80 challenges that played like a combination of Splatoon 2’s main campaign and puzzle stages with the tone of something like Portal. And clearing it lets fans play as the Octolings introduced in the original game’s storyline. Clearing 100% of that Expansion Pack unleashes one of the toughest secret boss fights of all time on you as well. And successfully completing that gives you a multiplayer item that tells the world you did it.
So with all of these improvements and iterations, one can only wonder what they could possibly add to make the game even better? And the answer to that is quite a bit. Not everything is going to be obvious to everyone at face value. The graphics are improved a lot over Splatoon 2, but in such a way you have to start to analyze it. Geometrically it isn’t a major leap, but the texture work is much sharper. There are improvements to some of the special effects, and it all runs at a pretty solid 60 frames per second. At least in the actual game modes. Once again you’ll spend time in a hub world upon booting up the game in any instance after the first one, and it has much more going on with background details and animation. The emphasis on the new city and the world that gets explored reflects this and so you’ll be running around half that when in Splatsville.
By now, Splatoon has settled into a formula that long-time fans will be familiar with but is easy enough for newcomers to get a handle on. When you first turn on the game, it immediately hits you with an important question. At least it does if you’ve played Splatoon 2. That question is “Would you like to import your Splatoon 2 data?” Choosing to do so nets you a few benefits. The first is that you’ll be given Sheldon Licenses. These will let you gain early access to some of the weapons you would normally have to grind for. If you mained a weapon in the previous game, it is nice because you can jump right in and use it. All of the base weapons from Splatoon 2 are here, and I know I’m very late getting this published, so at the time of this writing there are already some new ones you can try. Speaking of new ones, this game introduces a new bow class of weapons where you can shoot ink arrows in horizontal shots or vertical shots. The latter happens when you fire while jumping. The other is the new Splatana class, where you essentially have a weapon you would brandish like a sword. There’s a stamper and a windshield wiper for example.
Beyond getting your hands on weapons early, importing your data means that you can enter Ranked Battles earlier. In Splatoon 3 they’re called Anarchy Battles, and you can play them in either a single match called Open, or you can do a first to five called Series. Normally the game would have you grind up to level 10 in the general Turf War mode, then open up the Ranked Battles. The Ranking system has been slightly altered from the previous game. Whereas Splatoon 2 had a system that went from C to S with a -, standard, and + sub-rank in between before moving on to S+ and then X where you had a four-digit ranking Splatoon 3 does not. Instead, Splatoon 3 goes from C to S+. Recently, X was added to the game. X Rank works the way it does in the previous game, where you’re given a four-digit power level that goes up or down based on your wins and losses. However, it is separated entirely from the other letters.
That said, to access X Rank mode you’ll have to attain an S+ Rank. One thing that makes the goal a little easier in one respect is that you won’t rank down from losing games. Should you fight your way to an A+ Rank, for example, losing too many games will not take you back down to A or A-. Instead, the game has a point system in between the grades. You’ll need to attain enough points to enter a Rank Up series where you need to play three games and hope you earn enough points from that to get you over the top. If you manage to get to S+ you’ll unlock the coveted X Rank.
All of this means on paper, that the Ranking system is easier and will be more beloved. But it isn’t the whole story. Because the inability to lose rank also means that you can’t be sent back down to people with the same level of talent should you find yourself unable to win enough points to move further. Especially if you lose so much that you go into a large number of negative points. To alleviate that issue, the game does reset ranks every season, by knocking every player down by one grade. You can also get one mulligan to knock down if you choose to do so once per season. So it isn’t quite as simple as things would seem.
With all of that out of the way, during your first boot-up of the game, you’ll be tasked with creating your avatar. You can now choose to be an Inkling or Octoling right out of the box. You then customize the look of your character. This time around they’ve expanded the starter options. There are more hairstyles than there were in previous games. Eye color is a new customization option and you now get a pet salmonid (One of the enemies from the Salmon Run mode introduced in Splatoon 2.) that you can also customize. You then guide your character through a brief tutorial to get you used to the basic controls. At the end of which you catch a train to Splatsville, the new hub world that resides a long way from the desert you begin in.
Once you arrive in Splatsville, you’ll find the concept of the hub world has greatly been expanded upon. You’ll have the manhole cover where you can follow Captain Cuttlefish down to play through this iteration’s campaign. You’ll also see the shops where you can purchase weapons, clothing items, and new to the series, locker equipment. Splatoon 3’s city block hub also has a new card battle minigame you can play. And there’s also the returning Salmon Run mode. And of course, there is the expected tower you can enter to go play various modes online.
It’s recommended most newcomers to the series play the campaign first, though even veterans may want to as there are a few new mechanics to learn here. The story mode in all of the Splatoon games stealthily teaches you the game mechanics while giving you a substantial single-player experience to play through. In Splatoon 3, you don’t have to have played either of the other Splatoon titles to enjoy it or understand it. But for those who have played them, there are loads of nods to the older games, with a lot of little details that tie the three games together. One of the ways the games have allowed the players to affect the storyline is with their Final Splatfest events, which I’ll get to later. But the winners of that event in each of the games have driven the development team on what theme to lead the next title’s storyline with.
In Splatoon 2 that event was Chaos Vs. Order and with that battle, Team Chaos won. As such, Splatoon 3 has elements of chaos throughout its story mode campaign. The setup this time is that many of our favorite characters have left the upscale area of Inkopolis to visit the city of Splatsville. Splatsville is surrounded by desert landscapes, and the city embraces its fair share of the musical counterculture. This is reflected in the soundtrack, which continues the influences of punk rock, and hip-hop. But there has been a bit more of a new wave influence in many of the campaign stages with some synths and bass lines you could almost mistake for the likes of Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, or Simple Minds. There’s also a continuation of electro-pop and some post-punk influences as well.
There are two hub worlds to go through. These work like the previous games but they’ve been expanded. There’s a prologue set where you’ll see the familiar kettles you enter throughout a small map. Each of these leads to an individual level where you’ll have to get from the beginning to the end. Most of these work like a Super Mario Galaxy level structure, with you facing platformer challenges in a linear fashion with checkpoints you’ll continue on from if you lose a life. Each level gives you three lives. If you lose all of them, you’ll lose points (represented by power eggs) as you’ll have to spend some of them to continue.
In this iteration, you’ll find a lethal fuzzy substance all around the hub map. Much of which covers the kettle entrances to levels you’ll need to play. You may be wondering what purpose your pet salmonid serves as it follows you around the hub worlds and levels of the game. What he does is remove the aforementioned fuzz. You’ll have to spend a different amount of power eggs on each removable portion. This stuff also appears in some of the individual stages. So keep note of that.
In addition to helping you remove fuzz, the salmonid can find secrets within the levels for you to uncover. They’re often invisible and can hide anything from more eggs to sunken scrolls that tell you more of the lore to locker decorations which I’ll also get to later. Once you get to the end of the first hub world you’ll face a boss who is familiar to players of the first two games. Beat this encounter, and you’ll find yourself in a subterranean arctic world called Alterna.
You’ll move on as you did in the previous hub world. But Alterna is much, much larger. At the end of each section, there is a pipeline that takes you further into subsequent hubs. Think of them like the worlds of a Super Mario game’s structures. Sometimes you’ll be given a branching path, and each of these pipelines costs eggs to enter. So not only do you have to worry about removing all of the fuzz, but you’ll have to keep earning enough to continue onward. If you run out of cash though, fear not. You can go back and replay earlier maps, perhaps even looking for secrets you may have missed originally, to earn more.
The other thing that changes is the fact that in Alterna not every stage follows the same formula. Taking a page from the previous game’s expansion pack; Octo Expansion, some of these stages take a challenging approach instead, which gives things more of the first-person puzzle stage feel found in games like Portal. All of this gives the game a lot of variety. Beyond that, each of these stages whether they’re a platformer, puzzle, or boomer shooter-feeling horde battle, will teach you many of the game’s mechanics.
Splatoon 3 also continues the trend of larger-than-life boss fights where it’s one part arena shooter and one part pattern memorization. Some might feel familiar to those who played earlier titles, but many of them are entirely new experiences. Some actually reference some other Nintendo games, so for fans of Nintendo IPs in general, they are nice nods.
As for those mechanics I talked about, they can become pretty complex and deep. The basics are you can, of course, shoot floors, and swim underneath your own ink. But swimming also reloads your weapons, allows you to move faster, and at higher levels learn how to trick jump around areas faster. Splatoon 3 adds two new moves into the mix. A squid roll that allows you to parry shots fired at you, should you become proficient enough. Quickly jumping in the opposite direction while swimming can net you a free hit during a small window of animation. The same can be said about the squid jump, a move where you can charge while swimming to get an extra boost. Useful when climbing walls.
Going through the campaign can get you acquainted with the basics of each of these, but of course, playing online matches is where you’ll really learn the advanced mechanics and unorthodox uses of the different move sets. Not only will learning these kinds of things benefit you in online matches, but there is also a super-secret surprise waiting for you if you 100% the campaign. One that opens up after the credits roll and will require the use of every aforementioned mechanic to overcome. If you can pull that off you will get a nice little perk for multiplayer.
All of the major multiplayer modes are back as expected. Chief among them is the Turf War where both teams vie for control of the map by painting all of the floors their respective team colors. It is the flagship mode most will be familiar with. There are a wide variety of different weapons to use to do so. At the end of the three-minute battle, the team with the most paint laid down is the victor.
Beyond that are the modes we mentioned earlier; the Anarchy Battles. Anarchy Open battles are single rounds of the game’s ranked modes. As in Splatoon and Splatoon 2, the modes and maps are cycled every hour or so which means every combination is eventually played. The difference here is that the Anarchy Open battles can be played by anyone of any rank at any time. Whereas the Anarchy Series will still pair people up in solo queues with other players of the same rank, Open matches are a little loose with it. That’s because, in the Open, you can pair up with friends of all stripes.
Ranked Modes in Splatoon 2 could only be played with friends of the same skill level unless you were all B+ or above and played in a league together. Or, if you wanted to stick to private matches where none of you would gain experience to level up. In Splatoon 3 Anarchy Open changes things by letting your friends join up on you even if you’re all from different ranks. What’s nice about this is that not everyone is going to have the same interest level in the competitive end of the game. If you’re someone who wants to grind your way to S+ so you can play X rank, but you have 2 friends who don’t, you can still enjoy the modes together. Beyond that, it also gives newer players and casual players incentive to go beyond the base Turf War mode.
Anarchy Series battles are where individual players will want to play the ranked modes when they want to push to level up. In these battles, you’ll be tasked with getting five wins while paired with three other random people. You’re allowed to lose up to three games. If you win the majority of the series you’ll get a lot of points to level up. If you lose, you’ll lose a number of points. Consistently losing as I mentioned earlier, can get you into negative points, but if you get a good streak going you’ll reach the point level needed to enter a Rank Up series. If you can win that you’ll make the next letter grade.
Returning are Tower Control, Rainmaker, Splat Zones, and Clam Blitz. Tower Control works similarly to push cart modes seen in other shooters. There are paths set up along the map that the tower follows. Getting to the tower and standing on it moves it along that path. The goal is to move it to an endpoint in the enemy base for a win. There are checkpoints along the way you’ll need to capture in order to progress.
Rainmaker is similar. It’s a bit like a combination of a push cart mode and an escort mode. There’s not a set path in the map, but like the Tower Control mode, you’re tasked with moving an object from the center of the map into an endpoint in the enemy team’s base. The difference is that this time it’s a giant gun shaped like a fish that can shoot a powerful blast of ink. Each team is trying to get ahold of it. Once someone on your team gets it, it’s up to the others to escort them across enemy territory to get it onto a podium. That means constantly shooting down the opponents who will be trying to kill them to take it for themselves.
Splat Zones is a competitive microcosm of the Turf War. Unlike Turf War, you’re not tasked with painting the entire map. Rather, you need to paint one, or two very specific zones in the center of the map and control them until a timer hits zero. If the enemy team takes control of it from you, you’ll have penalty seconds added to your timer for if and when you take control back of them. If you do, they too will be penalized with extra seconds. Get to zero before time runs out and your team wins.
Finally, there’s Clam Blitz, where each team tries to invade the other team’s base and fill a basket with clams peppered throughout the map. In order to do this each team will need to destroy the opposing team’s shield with a football. How do you get a football? By collecting enough clams you’ll create one. Chaos then ensues as both teams shoot at any football they see, as you can’t carry a football under the ink with you, and it gives away your position. So it’s up to each team to divide duties between escorting football wielders into enemy territory and staying behind long enough to play goalie against enemies charging into your team’s territory.
All of these modes can involve a wealth of strategies to employ. It’s astonishing how deep all of them become at a high level where analyzing the maps, weapons, and how the gear system ties into all of it really come into play. For those new to Splatoon, the gear system is another one of the series’ hallmarks. When you go into the shops to buy the costume options you’ll find each of these has a perk. Which is referred to as gear. Some of these perks may refill your ink faster when you’re swimming. Some may fill your special meter faster. Some make you run faster. Or a number of other perks. You will also see question marks on these clothing options. These will be filled by random perks after so many experience points gained in the competitive online modes.
Advanced users have some other options when it comes to gear. One can go to a character in the plaza hub named Murch, who returns from the last game. Except now he’s older. Murch can put specific perks on your gear if you have enough ability chunks to do so. You get these by either grinding them in online matches or having him scrub your gear off of clothes you’re not using. You can also get gear randomly when you go into the tower to go into online matches. There’s a vending machine you can spend points you earn in online battles on the machine for random items and sometimes those items may be a bundle of a variety of ability chunks.
If you have at least 10 chunks, you can have Murch place them on one of your question marks. So it gives you the opportunity to build a very specific set of perks over time. If you have clothes you want extra question mark slots on for more perks you can also have Murch place those on them. But you need to give him Seasnails. You get these through the Splatfest events Nintendo runs throughout the year.
In these special events, the city hub will turn into a late-night block party and when you go online you’ll be placed on a specific team you choose at a table. This table will give you three options to choose from, and once you do, for the duration of the event you will play Turf War on behalf of that team. During the Splatfests, there are different variants of the Turf War. There are the open battles that are open to well, everyone hence the name. In open battles, you’ll be able to group up with friends. Similar to how you can with the Anarchy open battles where you play the various ranked modes.
Then there is the Turf War Pro mode. These battles work the same way as the open ones, except you can only play them in a solo queue. You’ll have to be paired with three random teammates and try your best to get the big win by being a team player. Probably more so than in the open version because there are more clout points at stake. More on that in a moment. As it does mimic the Anarchy series battles in that you have to play it with random players, you’ll find a lot of the people you’ll be playing with are more competitive. That’s because in the Anarchy series players are trying to grind their way up the ranks. That mindset will likely translate to the Splatfest open Turf War battles since the ranked modes are disabled during the event.
After the latest patch, they began opening up the option to play in Tri Color Turf War battles after the halfway point during Splatfests. In these matches, one team of four faces off against two teams of two. It’s still very much a Turf War. Where things change up a bit is that at the center of the map, a beacon will spawn. Two teams will have to attempt to get them when they appear. If either of those teams manages to get one or both of them, a giant octopus-shaped sprinkler will appear on the map, automatically giving them a big boost in acquiring turf. The defending team not only has to stop them from getting these super sprinklers, they also have to come away with more floor coverage than their opponents. The attacking teams have a disadvantage as they’re two-person teams against a four-person team. But anything can happen. The two underdog teams can temporarily align themselves to ensure the defending team doesn’t have said numbers advantage. But they can also go into business for themselves by trying to sneak away with both of the sprinklers.
All three of these Splatfest Turf War variants will give your team a number of clout points. Clout points are a big deal during the event because the winning team in each category will get a point toward victory. Each of those three modes ultimately adds up to three points. Beyond those points, there is one given for the most popular team (ie: the team most people joined). and one point for whichever team ended up with the most conch shells. Not to be confused with the sea snails mentioned earlier. These shells are picked up whenever you update your catalog level during the event. Which you may want to do even outside of the event as you’ll unlock some cool stuff for doing so anyway.
There are also the Festival shells you’ll get if you end up in a 10x battle and win. these give you a better chance of getting into 100x or 333x battles. If you get into any of these multiplier matches and win, you’ll gain a lot more clout points on your team’s behalf. So it really behooves you to take what would normally be seen as the most easy-going match type a little bit more seriously. That’s because, at the end of the event, you’ll be rewarded with a certain number of sea snails depending on how much you leveled up and where your team placed in the event. You can then take these snails to Murch who can boost your star power on clothes with them to get you more slots.
As you can see, this gives competitive people more depth to work with as they shoot toward higher levels. “What kind of gear should I pair with what weapon?” they may ask themselves. As far as the weapons go, there is a wide variety to choose from as denoted earlier. Every weapon class returns along with the new ones. So between the weapons and gear, you’ll have to decide what kind of role you’re going to attempt to fill in each match type.
When you do go online to play in a Turf War or the Ranked modes the lobby system has also been greatly expanded upon. No longer do you simply stand in an elevator, select your mode, and move on. Instead, when you enter the tower you’ll find a large room where you can practice on training targets. There’s also a training dummy you can turn on to practice combat with. The Targets work like the ones in Sheldon’s shop in the first two games. But by being in the lobby you can do some aiming drills while you wait to connect to other players in a match.
Connecting to friends is also, much, much easier now. Where the old games required you to plan to be on at the same time to coordinate a league battle so you could play the other modes, form a lobby for Turf War, or even set up a private game, Splatoon 3 gives you some quality of life updates. As I mentioned earlier you can easily choose “With Friends” options on Turf War or Anarchy Open battles. If you see any of your friends listed as online and in a game of either, you can join them on the fly. You won’t always be on the same team, but you can surprise them. The game does still let you set up lobbies. But they don’t have to be League Battles. Now you can ping your friends to join your lobby be it a public or private game. In a public game, you’ll usually wind up alongside one another too.
The online experience also lets you record your matches for a period of time so you can watch replays of them and see the perspectives of every player involved. This is a fantastic tool for people who want to go back and find their mistakes so they can rectify them in future matches. Next time, they may expect a splat bomb around a certain corner. Or realize that a wall they thought obfuscated them from a sniper’s perch actually didn’t. Plus they can give you codes you can give out to friends that they can punch in and watch the same replays. The feature also works with the Nintendo Online phone app. As in Splatoon 2, you can also use the app to find brief windows to get clothing items the in-game shops might not have at that particular moment. You can still use it for voice chat, but that seems pointless when you can just conference call friends or use an app like Discord. Still, the integration is nice in some respects.
Also returning is the LAN feature. This is actually a key one because it allows for people to not only host an offline LAN party in the vein of a late 90s fare like Rise Of The Triad, DOOM or Duke Nukem 3D but also for tournament organizers. Splatoon had a more niche scene due to the low base of the Wii U, but Splatoon 2 quickly became a noteworthy title on the Switch. One that had a notable scene grow up around it with several high-profile events from Nintendo among others. Splatoon 3 has already eclipsed those numbers and has gained traction, growing that community further. So retaining this feature is big.
Another addictive feature of the lobby is the locker area. Once you level up enough a room opens up where you can fill a locker with stickers, posters, collectibles, weapons, and other decorative models you can get at the new store they opened in the hub world. Run by a character named Harmony, the store gives you a catalog level as you splurge on more stuff. It’s mainly a silly side thing you can take part in to personalize your lobby experience a bit.
Speaking of personalization, Splatoon 3 adds some stuff other popular shooters have had for a while. Now you can get your own banners that display behind your name at the beginning and end of matches. You can also get titles in prefixes and suffixes that you can combine over time. Some have direct references to in-game lore, while others are more about other aspects of the game. And you can also decorate your background banner with badges you earn by completing challenges and objectives in any of the game’s other content. On paper, it sounds small, but in practice, it’s quite endearing.
And while you may miss Crusty Sean and his food truck of wonder. You can still get drink and food tickets. The lobby does have a snack bar where you can purchase them with the money you get from online battles. They’ll also sometimes show up in the balls you get from the vending machine of random chance using the same money. Speaking of that machine, you can also use concha shells (not to be confused with sea snails) you earn during Splatfests to get random chance capsule balls from it as well.
I can already hear some people screaming about the other stuff I haven’t mentioned yet like the return of Salmon Run. It returns from Splatoon 2 and is the series’ take on the player vs. environment horde mode popularized by games like Gears Of War. You and three other players get sent on extermination missions by Grizzco CEO Mr. Grizz to continue gunning down waves of salmonid sea creatures and their boss counterparts for power eggs. To truly succeed you’ll need to survive three waves and within each bring back a certain number of power eggs to your team’s basket. You’re all given random weapons every wave, and you have to work together to survive. Especially when bosses show up as they all take different strategies to defeat, and they tend to hold the power eggs. If you can survive all or most of the waves you’ll be rewarded with experience to level up. Salmon Run has its own separate ranking system and you can also unlock certain costume options that are only available to attain in that mode. Since you can use them in competitive modes, it gives fans of PvP a reason to jump into PvE. Periodically you may get a bonus wave where a mega-boss salmonid shows up like Godzilla and takes a ton of punishment before you can put them away.
Rounding all of that stuff out is the new TableTurf Card Battle minigame which is found in a separate part of the hub world. You’ll earn cards over time that represent different weapons and sprays as they’re placed on a board in a turn-based card game. The idea is to cover most of the board with your ink the way you would cover a map in a Turf War. Some cards do more work than others, and depending on where you place them you can take over some enemy turf. You also can’t place them anywhere. They have to line up on a grid in very specific ways. It takes some getting used to, but when you do it is a fun break from the other modes.
And they also brought back the plaza posts from the other two games. There’s a mailbox you can visit that brings up a rudimentary drawing program. I highly recommend you use it in handheld mode so you can draw freehand with a stylus rather than trying to draw with a thumbstick and buttons. Once you’ve created something you can upload it to a Facebook or Twitter account and in doing so, your art may appear in someone else’s plaza or even a match.
One other enhancement they’ve made is that the recon mode has been greatly expanded. You don’t have to be in an online queue to access it anymore, the same character in the lobby selling tickets is out in the plaza for you to visit. And they’ll allow you to choose any map in any mode to explore for up to an hour. This is really nice for anyone who wants to study the map layouts or experiment with unorthodox means to get around them. Very handy for anyone who wants to get a little bit more competitive with friends or strangers.
As you can see, Splatoon 3 is much more than a facelift to the previous game. It’s a lot more apparent to longtime fans than it might seem to newcomers. But it truly is fantastic in almost every way. I have to say almost because there are a couple of Mr. Grizz-sized elephants in the room. The first are some of the bugs that were thankfully caught early. Some of these potentially ruined certain modes, as they were forced off until the bugs were fixed. One of which made Rainmaker nearly instant winnable by achieving a single checkpoint. Another affected certain brush weapons. Nintendo is usually very good about catching this sort of thing before release, but sadly some of these slipped through during the launch weeks.
The other that has improved for me a bit, but not for everyone is connectivity drops. Sometimes you will be disconnected for seemingly no reason. The game will think you lost an internet connection when you haven’t. And while this doesn’t happen every day you play for a few hours, the frequency is random and can be really annoying when it happens. Especially if you’re about to win a ranked match, and then you lose points because the game thought you disconnected on purpose in a fit of rage quitting. While it’s great it punishes actual rage quitting, it is a pain in the neck to get a false positive.
Fortunately, post-release the more egregious problems have been patched out with the latest updates. And the connection issues have been greatly improved. But it still isn’t perfect. You’ll run into the occasional disconnection. Sometimes you may have a night where you see several disconnections close to one another. In which case exiting the game and rebooting the game may temporarily keep them at bay. And while it’s a lot better than it is in other Nintendo Switch games like Super Smash Bros Ultimate, it still isn’t perfect. Over time they’ll hopefully, get the situation to a better state. As it stands it’s almost gotten on par with Splatoon 2’s occasional drops.
Ultimately, Splatoon 3 is a major upgrade over Splatoon 2. At first glance, some may make the mistake of seeing a prettier version of the last game. But as you can see, digging beneath that superficial surface reveals that it is so much more than that. While this could have been pointed out a bit better by Nintendo’s own marketing, at the end of the day it didn’t seem to hurt much as it has already eclipsed the numbers the previous entries put up. The enhancements to Salmon Run make the mode more viable. The tweaks to the ranked modes and the process of leveling make them more viable for the general audience to dabble in whereas in previous games they may have stuck with Turf War. The new catalog system, locker system, tags, banners, and emotes give the series a lot of customization and personal attachment. The soundtrack is excellent and brings back familiar songs from its in-universe character bands, to entirely new efforts most anyone will love. One of the best is Deep Cut’s “Til Depth Do Us Part.” which plays during the Splatfest events. There are always great puns in Splatoon games.
The new mechanics add a lot of new utilities for the more competitive end of the player base to experiment with and master. Particularly the ability to parry with the squid roll. The Tableturf card game can be a fun diversion from shooting each other, and it can even be a pretty substantial mode in its own right. The expanded Recon mode and returning mailbox feature may seem like small things, but really can be greater than they appear at face value. The connection issues keep it from being perfect and it’s a shame some issues weren’t addressed until after release. But this is still one of the best games you can buy for the Nintendo Switch despite its faults. Whether you’ve poured thousands of hours into Splatoon 2 or you’re a shooter fan new to the series, Splatoon 3 is an easy recommendation.
Final Score: 9 out of 10