I’ve said before in previous posts that I don’t really feel that every game needs to strive to be innovative or groundbreaking. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to play to your strengths and just keep doing what works. This is something that Nintendo is kind of known for with a lot of it’s games. Just look at the ‘New’ Mario series. A series that was a refreshing return to form for Mario, taking him back to his 2D side scrolling roots, that Nintendo ended up burning everyone out on as they just couldn’t stop releasing games in the series. Recently though, Nintendo has been taking more risks. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for example was a pretty big risk that payed off massively. After so many complaints about the linear nature of recent Zelda games, Nintendo did the complete opposite and gave us a massive open world with an insane amount of freedom. And the game was received extremely well for it, and helped sell even more Switch consoles. Splatoon kind of falls in between these games though when it comes to innovation. Each game adds enough to not get too stale but at the same time it’s very hard to say that each game in the series tries to be it’s own thing. But for Splatoon, I think that’s okay!
I’ll just come out and say it, if you’ve played Splatoon 1 and 2 you’ve basically played Splatoon 3. Nothing has really changed at the game’s core, rather there have been a lot smaller changes and additions that are very welcome for fans of the series. But if you weren’t a fan of either of the previous games, it’s safe to assume that you won’t be into Splatoon 3. But if you had enjoyed your time with the series already, or are wanting to jump into the series for the first time, Splatoon 3 will be very much up your alley! So let’s get to talking about the actual game itself now.
Splatoon 3, and the series as a whole, has both single player and multiplayer elements but it’s very clear that the multiplayer is what gets the most attention. It is what gets people to stick around and keep playing for years and years after all. But the single player shouldn’t be completely overlooked! Especially not when it comes to Splatoon 3 as I think it has the best single player in the series.
Like in previous games, the single player is level based with you going from level to level before eventually reaching a boss fight at the end. All of the levels are scattered around a hub world for you to explore and get some extra goodies as well. I was actually really worried that Splatoon 3‘s single player would follow in what Splatoon 2 did. Very straight forward levels without too much challenge or creativity. And while it does seem like that’s how it’s going to be at first, it quickly shifts gears and becomes a lot more like the Octo Expansion of Splatoon 2! The Octo Expansion was paid DLC for Splatoon 2 that offered up a new single player story. The main difference was that a lot of the levels were more challenging, plenty were optional, and most were very creative. And Splatoon 3‘s single player follows this template pretty closely. There are more optional levels than mandatory ones and the optional ones weren’t afraid to be challenging either! Which is exactly what I was hoping for.
I’d say the other big change to the single player comes in the form of upgrading your suit. Scattered across the hub world, you will be able to find items that will let you upgrade your suit. Well more specifically they unlock the ability to upgrade your suit. To actually get the upgrades you need to explore around and uncover more of the hub world itself. These upgrades mostly come in the form of passive effects, like not running out of ink so quickly or moving faster when you swim through ink. But some do offer a bit more than that. Such as giving you access to more throw able weapons or giving more health and damage to your Small Fry buddy, which is the last major inclusion to the single player. Their role is mostly to help you remove obstacles blocking off areas of the hub world, but they can also be thrown at enemies to do damage or distract them! They can also activate switches and other things that you would normally need to shoot with ink. And they are pretty good at finding hidden items in the hub world too. But above all else, the Small Fry is pretty cute which is truly the most important thing about them!
Beyond those things though, the single player is the usual Splatoon fair. You are off to save the world, get some help from some familiar faces, and get to enjoy some fun dialog all the way through! It isn’t too long either, I managed finish it with completing all the extra levels and fully upgrading my suit in probably around 9 to 10 hours which I feel was a good length. It felt like a very complete experience and didn’t leave me wanting more, and it certainly didn’t over stay it’s welcome. Overall, the single player was a really fun time! I don’t really see myself going back to replay levels or anything like that, but I also don’t really have much to complain about it. That being said, the single player isn’t really what most people play Splatoon for. The multiplayer is the real draw!
Multiplayer in Splatoon comes in a few different forms. Turf War is probably the first game mode that comes to mind when thinking of the series though. It’s a rather casual game mode where you just have to try and cover more of the field with your ink than the enemy team and it’s used in just about all the marketing for each game in the series. It’s always front and center when you go to join any kind of multiplayer game and honestly it’s the game mode I have the most fun with myself! That could just be because I have terrible aim so shooting at the ground is what I’m best at, but I feel like it’s a bit more than that. There’s a relaxing vibe around the game mode despite it very much being a competitive thing. But even when losing I don’t really have a bad time with Turf War! I feel like this is partly because of the way Splatoon presents itself as a whole, which is basically as a kid friendly shooter game where everyone is having fun winning or losing, and the fact that each game of Turf War is super short! The matches only last for 3 minutes each so even if you lose it’s really easy to just jump right back in and try again. Well, assuming you don’t get a connection error between games but we’ll talk about that later.
Beyond Turf War though, there are a lot more competitive focused game modes. These come in the forms of Anarchy Battles, the game’s ranked matchmaking. There are four game modes total that are rotated around every couple of hours. There’s Splat Zones, Tower Control, Rainmaker, and Clam Blitz. Each one returning from Splatoon 2. All of them are pretty different from each other when it comes to what your objective is but the one thing they all have in common is that they require much more team work than something like Turf War. Turf War is pretty easy to jump into with or without friends to play with. Again, the game mode is basically as simple as shooting the ground. But for the competitive modes it’s much different. Communicating with your team is very important for succeeding, especially as you get higher and higher in rank. These are very much the type of game modes for the more hardcore Splatoon players, which is why you can’t actually try Anarchy Battles until you’ve reached level 10 from playing Turf War. And I’m not going to lie, I’m not a very hardcore Splatoon player… I like to relax with Turf War and have fun there while only sometimes dabbling in Anarchy Battles if a game mode I like is currently open. This means I sadly don’t have a terrible amount to say when it comes to Anarchy Battles and how they compare to the ranked modes from the rest of the series. I can safely say though that all of the different game modes can be fun in their own way but they are also a lot more intense than just Turf War. Anarchy Battles aren’t really for everyone but that’s okay since you always have Turf War and the third, and final, multiplayer mode, Salmon Run!
Unlike Turf War and Anarchy Battles, Salmon Run is a co-op mode where you and three other players must survive three waves of attacking Salmon while collecting the golden eggs dropped by the bosses. It’s like an endurance test where you need to work with your fellow teammates to exploit the weaknesses of the bosses that show up to survive and collect enough eggs to move on to the next wave. This was a game mode that was introduced in Splatoon 2 as well and it’s largely the same as that version. The main difference now being that there are a few new Boss Salmon to spice things up! There are a total for four new bosses to take on with all the bosses from Splatoon 2 returning as well. Actually, it’s technically five new bosses but the fifth one is a bit more special than the rest! The Cohozilla is a special boss that will only appear after you get some wins. You can actually see a meter filling up when you are waiting in the lobby for another round of Salmon Run to start. Once the meter is fully filled, there’s a chance the Cohozilla will appear as a special fourth round where your focus is to take them down rather than collect golden eggs. In fact, the golden eggs dropped by the other bosses are instead used as special weapons to do extra damage! Beating the Cohozilla is also how you earn a new currency exclusive to Salmon Run. This currency is mainly used for getting cosmetic items only used in Salmon Run. Things like new suits as well as items to decorate your locker or name tag. Beyond all that though, Salmon Run works just about the same as it does in Splatoon 2. It even shares the same maps with it. Which, again, isn’t really a problem! The new additions like the new bosses and the ability to throw the golden eggs into the collection basket are really nice after all, and I didn’t exactly have much to complain about when it came to Salmon Run in Splatoon 2. A statement that can be applied to just about everything in Splatoon 3 actually.
Besides some minor changes and additions, Splatoon 3 is a lot like the games that came before it. And there’s really nothing wrong with that! After all, I really like the new additions even if most are, like I said, minor. It’s way easier to play with friends online now for example. It was a chore to try and get together and join the same game of Turf War back on Splatoon 2 but now it’s extremely easy to party up together. I also really like the new cosmetic stuff too. Name tags are a fun way to stand out and customizing your own locker in the locker room is way more fun, and has way more depth, than I ever expected! I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how long I spent looking at other peoples lockers to see how creative you could get with it. They even add a full on card game called Tableturf! It’s very much just a side mode so I didn’t think to dedicate much time to talking about it in this review but I can say that I’ve had a ton of fun playing it! It’s a great distraction for when you want a break from everything else.
So all in all, while Splatoon 3 doesn’t do much new, what it does do is a lot of fun! I’d say the biggest flaw with the game currently is the fact that connection errors happen somewhat frequently. Luckily, they haven’t happened for me when I’m in an actual game but it is still annoying to have one pop up just before I get into a game. I imagine this will be fixed down the line though, as many connection issues with newly released games are, but it still needs to be stated. Beyond that though, there really isn’t anything I can think to complain too much about!
Splatoon 3 is just another Splatoon game, meaning if you didn’t like the previous games there’s little chance you’ll like this one. But I think that’s more than fine. Games shouldn’t strive to be for every single person. If all games tried to do that each game would just be bland and lack it’s own identity. So while Splatoon 3 doesn’t do much to really separate itself from the other Splatoon games, that’s okay! Because at the end of the day, it’s still a ton of fun.
But those are just my thoughts! What are some of yours? Are you a fan of the Splatoon series? Does Splatoon 3 do enough to catch your interest? I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be shy!
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