Splatoon is like a Nintendo-friendly Call of Duty, and while it doesn’t come out each year with a new game, its past installments have brought back the same tried-and-true mechanics of the original with a fresh story mode and a few additions to its multiplayer. It’s a series that knows what it’s good at and capitalizes on this to stand out from your average shooter.
Years after the original, Splatoon 3 feels similar but offers some polished multiplayer features, more modes to play with, and a single player mode that challenges you enough to make it a blast to complete. Its light upgrades and refined mechanics make it a solid addition for fans and the best way for newcomers to get down and dirty.
More Multiplayer Action
Like previous Splatoon titles, this first-person shooter lets you wield various weapons that are loaded with ink with the object of multiplayer matches being to paint as much of the battlefield in your team’s color before the clock runs out. Because your characters are part squid (and octopus) you can also swim through the ink you splatter and even up walls that you splash with ink. Enemy ink, however, is deadly so if you are hit too often you’ll die and respawn after a few seconds. Safe to say, the basics remain unchanged, but small touches make this experience feel a lot more sleek.
- Sleek and polished features, menus, and visuals;
- Addicting multiplayer modes and new maps;
- Clever story mode levels.
- Waiting two hours for maps to rotate is annoying;
- More of the same.
For starters, weapons feel more balanced, and each one offers you a unique way to shoot your ink. Certain weapons let you be sneaky and snipe enemies from afar, while others are more melee-based like a brush that lets you whack enemies with it or a roller lets you chase down enemies and run them over. Depending on the weapon you use, your strategy in a fight may change, but you also have to use the playing field to your advantage if you want to win.
And, thankfully, levels offered in Splatoon 3 seem huge and offer you plenty of room to run around, hide, or plan your attack in overthrowing the enemy team. It’s still annoying to have to wait a few hours for the available selection of levels to rotate, but its bite-sized matches lasting just three minutes make for quick and rewarding plays that keep you coming back for more. In fact, the more you play, the more money you unlock to purchase gear for yourself including accessories that give you an edge in battle and weapons that offer you more ways to experiment with different playstyles.
It's a system that worked two games ago and continues to give the series a solid foundation to stand on. 12 Turf War maps including both old and new locations come alive when the match starts. You’ll play inside a supermarket, skate park, and various other urban locations filled with structures that offer elevation and hiding areas that let you plan your attack. Even regional Splatfest events have received an upgrade in the form of Tricolor Turf Wars letting three teams go at it to claim the most turf. This mode offers a more adrenaline-filled experience than normal matches heightened even more during the final minute where every bit of surface area counts.
Dripping with Improvements
Despite multiplayer feeling familiar, you can tell Nintendo spent time refining the way the game looks, loads, and even sounds. Menus are sleeker, matchmaking takes little to no time, and even the squishiness of swimming through ink and splattering an enemy in your color sound delicious. The game also runs at a smooth 60 FPS, though there are times roaming around the new hub world of Splatsville when things can get spotty. Luckily, you can bypass walking around altogether and simply quick travel to anywhere you want using the handy menu shortcuts.
Besides its core multiplayer, Splatoon 3 also brings back Salmon Run, a multiplayer PvE experience that has you teaming up with others to fend off waves of Salmonid enemies while stealing their eggs to score points. Now, you can access this mode whenever you want without the restrictions of past games. Waves feel tougher the more you last, and you can now throw eggs into the goal offering you a new way to score and work with your teammates.
Story mode is also an impressive improvement and offers you plenty of levels that let you not only practice with various load-outs that prepare you for multiplayer battles, but also offer ingenious puzzle-like platforming that feels like you are playing a different genre of game with a surprising amount of variety. If you have played past Splatoon games, some levels may feel familiar, but most offering unique designs and a gimmick that challenges you to reach the goal.
Some levels require you to defeat enemies using specific weapons, while others are more puzzle-like and force you to make it to end with a limited amount of ink or play around with sponge platforms that change in size depending on how much you soak them in ink. One level in particular strips you of your weapons and forces you to complete it with just your secondary ability and story mode pal, Smallfry, a weird piranha fish of sorts that attacks anything you throw you him on.
Splatoon 3’s quality-of-life touches improve the general flow of the game, and its plethora of modes will give everyone something to enjoy. While it doesn’t offer any revolutionary features or modes that will take it to the next level, its refinements and addicting multiplayer are good enough to make it the best game in the series so far.
The goal of each level is to make it to the end to gather Power Eggs that let Smallfry power-up and clean up the sludge that pollutes the islands you visit. Doing so unlocks more levels and gets you closer to finishing the story, which won’t wow you with its plot, but does give you a reason to play through all its levels and even fight off some exciting bosses. Along the way, you can also unlock collectibles and even decorations for your new locker that you can show off to other players online. At the end of the day, this mode offers a nice break from its main multiplayer appeal.
With Nintendo planning two years of future updates and paid DLC, Splatoon 3 will only get more varied over time. One of its biggest draws, after all, is leveling up, playing through its ranked Anarchy Battles, and climbing the leaderboards. Of course, for those who are more into friendly yet still aggressive Turf Wars, there are also plenty of goodies to unlock. Considering the game’s addicting nature, you will have your hands full.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
Just like the ink you splatter all over the place, Splatoon 3 is a sleek and colorful game that gives you more of what we have come to expect from the series. Its quality-of-life touches improve the general flow of the game and its plethora of modes will give everyone something to enjoy. While it doesn’t offer any revolutionary features or modes that will take it to the next level, its refinements and addicting multiplayer are good enough to make it the best game in the series so far.
Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com