Splatoon 3 Review
Splatoon 3 is easily one of Nintendo’s most anticipated games of this year, and definitely the biggest this fall / holiday season. The primarily online paint shooter has become wildly popular through the first two releases, and Nintendo is looking to cash in on that success again here. Many would argue the jump from Splatoon to Splatoon 2 was pretty minor, so how do things shape up as we move towards the launch of Splatoon 3? Let’s find out!
Simplistic, Accessible Controls
One thing that Splatoon franchise has done very well is making the world of online shooters very accessible. While there are weapons that require precision and skill to use, anyone can grab and average blaster and have a ton of fun inking various arenas. Nintendo has perfected the balance between accessible controls for the average player, as well as putting in challenging options that seasoned veterans can enjoy. Players can take their time learning the ins and outs of Splatoon 3 and if they decide the regular blasters are all they want to use, it’s still an effective way to play.
But the accessibility of the game extends past the controls. While everything looks complex when you are first dropped into the hub world, it’s all very simple. There is a place for weapon customization and load-out, somewhere to change your appearance and outfits, a location to setup various online game modes, and of course the sewer you can climb down into in order to access single player content.
It’s laid out well, it’s easy to move around and understand, and while do enjoy complex cities with hidden gems around every corner, this isn’t the game for that – leave that to 3D Mario and Zelda.
Robust Single Player
Once you’ve played through the tutorial and are dropped into the hub world, you basically have two options – head up to the battle arena for some online fun, or head down into the sewers after the old man to see what lurks below. While heading straight to the arena is probably the move of Splatoon veterans, playing through the single player campaign is actually a great way to train up for less established players.
The story is nothing to write home about – did you really think it would be? – but the entire experience will teach you manuever techniques, how to best utilize specific weapons, and so much more. I loaded it up and treated it as an extended tutorial, and while you don’t get handle holding like you do right when you start, there is still things to be taught, and things to be learned.
It’s not a cake walk either, as many of the levels will pose a challenge. May be not for someone who has sunk 100s of hours into the series, but for relative newcomers, it’s a great way to enjoy the game offline.
It wouldn’t be Splatoon 3 without some online madness. Nintendo of Canada was nice enough to setup online matches for us last week, but unfortunately a last minute emergency stopped us form attending. While I plan to update this section with my own thoughts, it’s worth noting that in conversation with colleagues who are also covering Splatoon 3, the online matchmaking was working well, and the game modes were as fun as ever.
While I originally signed up to play Turf War, come back in a few days to see my impressions of all the various multiplayer modes in Splatoon 3!
New New New
On the surface, it’s easy to say that Splatoon 3 doesn’t look any different from previous entries in the series. With a new release comes new stuff, as was the case when Splatoon 2 launched. Salmon Run is back, but improved with new gadgets and new enemies. Those gadgets carry over to multiplayer and single player alike. Using the brand new Tri-Stringer was a lot of fun. Although it took time to master, firing ink off into three directions was really fun, and can be effective if used at the right time!
The Ink Vac was also an interesting new piece of equipment. As Nintendo detailed, The Ink Vac is equipped with a massive nozzle capable of inhaling the ink from an enemy’s attack and sending it back via a powerful counterattack. The more attacks it inhales, the more powerful the Ink Vac becomes!” The brand new Crap Tank and Zipcaster were also great additions to the game. Even if you don’t like some of the new weapons, it’s unlikely you won’t find at least one to love and master!
To top it all off, the game comes with a brand new single player campaign that dives even deeper into the backstory of the Splatoon franchise, and more places to ink in multiplayer matches. Nintendo didn’t just add a number and ship a product – Splatoon 3 offers enough new and innovated ideas to make the game feel familiar, but fresh.
The Small Things in Life
Really though, it’s all the small things that made me laugh and enjoy my experience even more. There is character customization, allowing players to have more creative control over what their specific character looks like. And there are things to see around the hub world, even if it doesn’t feel that way on the surface. Ultimately, though, this really is just more Splatoon – if you are coming into it looking for something brand new and refreshing in and out, you won’t find it. This is a classic case of, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Nintendo has done enough here to make the game engaging and fun, and like past Splatoon titles, that will be the case for the next few years.
A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo of Canada for this review.