Splatoon 3
Year: 2022
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Third-person FPS (i guess??)
Ratings
Gameplay Design *****
Environment Design *****
Music / Sound Design *****
Fun-Factor *****
Overall *****

this released a few days ago and i already love it! full disclaimer: i've played splatoon 2, but not the original. so i have moderate experience with this series already.

summary

splatoon 3 is the third in the splatoon series. though the original was made for the wii U, both its sequels (2 and 3) were published for the nintendo switch. the game revolves around human-squid people that use ink to mark their territory recreatively. it's like a paintball match. except you can kill each other... kind of. (it's "splatting", not "killing", thank you!)

you don't really need to play the other two titles to enjoy splatoon 3, thankfully, though it does give a little more context to the story mode. the game is "post apocalyptic", in a world where humans were eliminated and squids (kids? squid kids?) became the new dominant species. along with some other funny sea creatures.

gameplay

there's three game modes: story, turf war, and salmon run. and also with the release of splatoon 3, there's a fourth - tableturf, a card game minigame. there's something for most people here, i feel like!

i won't spoil the story mode (as of writing i have barely scratched the surface of it anyway!), but it's a fun narrative mixed with novel gameplay. if you played splatoon 2's octo expansion dlc and liked it, boy, you will LOVE splatoon 3 story mode! (also the captain is nonbinary. we love to see it!)

turf war is basically just what it says on the tin. you're placed in a 4v4 match to cover as much turf as you can on a map before the 3 minute timer runs out. you get a range of weapons to choose from - roller-paintbrushes, actual paintbrushes, the standard gun (but with ink), snipers, etc... lots of variety for various kinds of gameplay. each weapon has a sub-ability (throwing grenades, setting up a soda fountain, etc) and a special ability (throwing torpedos, long-range low-accuracy AOE attacks...) that varies between killing and inking.

at the end of the match, the game scores up how much turf both teams inked and the higher ink number is the one that wins. you also get up to three accolades ('medals') depending on your main role in the match - whether you were the number-one target, the long-distance runner, or the number one user of a special, you get some recognition to show what you did great at during that match.

you earn currency to purchase new weapons, clothes (to power your skills up), or buy decorations for... wait for it... your personal locker!! but i'll get to that later.

salmon run is a game that will convince you to form a union at work. you join a team of four (including yourself) borrowing special weapons (four set weapons per salmon run season, but randomly given per round) to eliminate salmonids (big fish guys) and get salmon eggs for your boss (mr. grizz, who speaks through a wooden bear figurine).

it's definitely the more chaotic gamemode between it and turf war. you get three rounds and they get progressively harder. and sometimes you'll get the newly-added boss round at the very end, where you fight against a kaiju salmonid! it's a really difficult game mode but it's also extremely lucrative and rewarding. lots of cool gear and money etc to earn through it. don't neglect it!

then, finally, we have the tableturf minigame added in this installment of splatoon. it's out of the way - which makes me sad, because it's so fun! - but definitely give it a try if you enjoy something slower-paced.

in tableturf, you go up against an ai opponent with a deck of cards and a playing field grid. you get four cards in your hand, each with a different grouping of squares put in various shapes. your goal is to fill the board with shapes (kind of like a bizarre tetris, or one of those flip-the-tile games) while also blocking or taking over your enemy's side.

the ai gets really aggressive in later levels. cool jelly level 3 is the bane of my existence. but i feel like putting together a good deck is very rewarding, and there's a nice variety of shapes and playing fields.

the devs plan on adding a multiplayer mode at some point, which is exciting to me! i hope they also add a menu option that will take you to the tableturf area faster. i don't like walking there. (maybe a cardgame-type shop, yu gi oh style.... 👀 👀)

community

to start, you'll probably see those funny drawings in your starting area. those are splatverse posts, the descendant of the miiverse (RIP) that used to run the posts on the original splatoon. basically you can just draw something and people might see it in their plaza. it's cool! and you can rate them by freshness. you'll need to post them to social media too, though.

you can also more easily play with friends and join on them in turf war/salmon run. you can have a snack that increases rewards for the whole group you play with, too. wow!

this installment introduces a couple other new features, as well: lockers and splashtags!

splashtags are basically like discord handles. you get a name followed by a hashtag and 4-digit number sequence. this makes it easier to add people through splatoon, since you don't need to get their friend code (which is usually much longer or harder to memorize).

splashtags can have background images, titles (like AC:NH), and stickers (i believe only earned through story mode). just a little splash of color!

lockers are... lockers! you can put things in them. it's like a personalized box. you can buy stuff for it through Hotlantis (run by harmony, previously known from her work as a music artist in earlier series entries).

here's what mine looks like at the time of writing.

world design

extremely solid. you'll see a lot of excellent exterior-work in the story mode especially, with a lot of attention to detail. try walking out of a puddle of ink in the snow! you'll see the ink footprints fade into snowprints, which will then fade away entirely.

the performance is still pretty killer too. despite some frame drops in the square (understandable, with so many animated characters and props!), the game runs really smoothly. the switch has some pretty nice capabilities when given the right optimization, and this game really sells it.

i especially love the detail of... if you walk around during a splatcast (instead of watching it) and run over to the recording booth, you can *see* the idols doing the same poses etc that they'd be doing in the broadcast. incredibly satisfying to me. wow!

lots of characters have idle animations that cycle around. nothing feels dull about it, not too much repetition.... which reminds me of a tweet i saw:

generally speaking this game has an excellent, cohesive 'style' that really acts as its bread and butter. it's a bright and vibrant world.

oh yeah, AND there's a photo mode now. it's great. lots of stuff to take photos of, and the controls are intuitive!

final thoughts

this is really splatoon 2 but with improvements that make the game more bearable and accessible than it was. disconnects mid-match don't punish connected players, you can view your stats post-match, you can run around while queueing (or practice your splatting techniques).... so much nice stuff. it really is appropriate as a sequel rather than dlc to splat2n, and plays just as smoothly as splat2n did. lots of quality of life stuff (especially in terms of balance, and adjusting it so weapons take tickets instead of cash...).

anyways. i wholeheartedly recommend splatoon 3. one of the few recent games worth the 60$ pricetag!