The Nintendo Switch has had a solid 2022, and Splatoon 3 has been one of the most anticipated titles of the year. The third entry in the still relatively young series from Nintendo has taken a lot of notes from its previous outings to help create quite possibly the best shooting experience on the hybrid console.
But how is Splatoon 3? Is this a squidiotic experience? Or is this the greatest multiplayer competitive shooter on the Switch today? Let’s find out!
Splatoon 3, like the previous two entries, comes in two forms: single player and multiplayer. The overarching story once again is that the Great Zapfish has been kidnapped, and it is up to you and your squidling familia to solve the mystery and save the world!
The characters this time around are a strong combination of old and new, and in the single player campaign, lots of fun and familiar faces return to make you smile and carry on with what is genuinely the best story mode yet. Lots of the lore that was teased in the first two games comes to the light, and many lingering questions get answered.
For the sake of keeping this review on point, I am going to split it up into two sections: the single player story mode and the multiplayer online modes. Splatoon 3, like the ones before, is truly a large game with loads of things to do, and it doesn’t matter if you are a single player gamer, a multiplayer gamer, or a combination of both, Splatoon 3 has it all and then some.
Splatoon 3 Single Player
The single player in Splatoon 3 is in many ways similar to the previous two games. You go into a manhole and meet up with Cap’n Cuttlefish, and he tells you of the great dangers that have happened when the Great Zapfish was stolen… and stolen again… and now stolen for a third time. This time, however, there is a mysterious hairy goo that is covering much of the world, and it will take you out instantly if you touch it. Cap’n Cuttlefish is convinced it is the Octolings once again, but oh contrare, that is not quite the case.
The story this time around is a riot that is full of fun twists and turns, and the length of the single player this time is much longer than before. There are numerous sites with various stages, some of which have bosses, and the stages are a wonderful mix of different Splatoon challenges, like using particular weapons, using as little ink as possible, destroying all targets within a time limit, no weapon stealth, and so much more.
Single player in Splatoon 3 rewards players with fish eggs, sardinium, and other items to help enhance you and your experience through Alterna. Your little buddy, Smallfry, is awesome, and they help you tremendously in both the stages and in the overworld, as they can sniff out secrets and such to make things a little easier for you. Granted, you do need Smallfry for a lot of the secrets, because they cannot be discovered without the little guy. Thankfully, the map does a great job showing you were places of interest are, so if you go to those areas and let Smallfry sniff around, you should be golden.
Splatoon 3‘s single player campaign is an absolutely awesome experience, and it is the perfect prelude to the multiplayer for those not familiar with the series or lack the chops to hang with the online competition. There is just so much to love here, and the bosses, particularly, are big, challenging, and loads of fun! There is something to say about how much Splatoon’s single player has grown, and Splatoon 3 is truly the best so far by a country mile.
Splatoon 3 Online Multiplayer
Although the single player campaign is great, the real meat and potatoes of the Splatoon series is in its competitive online modes. Thankfully this time around, Salmon Run is not a limited game mode but a permanent one, and that means the online multiplayer is permanently competitive and cooperative.
The competitive side of things has not evolved a whole lot since Splatoon 2, but that is not a bad thing, as Splatoon 2‘s competitive side was (And still is) stellar. There is still private battle, regular battle, and Anarchy Battle, and the lovely thing this time around is that connecting with friends from the competitive lobby is super-easy. Gameplay is just as fun as ever, but there are some subtle extras that make things a bit sweeter this time around.
For starters, Splatoon 3 has added lots of new weapons, including the brand new bow and arrow set called the Stringers (And Tri-Stringers), as well as the paintbrush variant known as the Splatana. There are lots of new variations on other types of weapons that have definitely added to the overall feel of the competitive online experience, and thanks especially to some of the new powers, like the fantastic Zipcaster.
Clothes and their inherent upgrades are much better done this time, too, which is so great for those who enjoy certain styles but want to customize them a bit more to their gameplay liking. The only issue with the clothes is that within the hub, they are not so easy to get to. But thank goodness a simple access of the map in the menu can take you straight to whatever store you would like to visit, and this time around the shop owners are all wonderful.
The other major online component is Salmon Run, the cooperative mode in the Splatoon series that is now a permanent part of the game in Splatoon 3. Salmon Run was honestly my favorite part of Splatoon 2, but its timely limitations were frustrating. Now that is no longer a problem, and the entire lobby for Salmon Run has been redone to feel like its own entity. There’s a practice room, lots of goodies to unlock, and outfits specifically for this mode.
Salmon Run is essentially a horde mode where waves of enemies come at you, and it is up to you and three other teammates to keep them at bay and collect fish eggs. This is the mode for those that lack the competitive spirit but long to play together with others online. Salmon Run is a blast, and the boss encounters and even the last wave of enemies, which usually consists of multiple bosses rushing at you, make for some frantic and good times. It was my favorite part of Splatoon 2, and it is absolutely my favorite in Splatoon 3!
Other Aspects of Splatoon 3
Splatoon 3‘s graphics continue in the same cute and colorful style that the series started off with. This time, however, there are loads more places to go, added areas to the online lobbies, and a stunning single player that has an impressive overworld with numerous areas that all have excellently designed stages. Splatoon has always looked amazing, and Splatoon 3 continues this trend by improving its visuals slightly from the previous entry. Cannot complain here at all.
And lest we forget, probably the greatest asset in all of Splatoon: the music! It is one thing to be enamored by the adorable squid voices and perfectly done paint and splat sounds, but the soundtrack in Splatoon 3 is incredible! As has been the case during the whole series, this “liquid” punk music, or however you want to describe it, is incredible all the way through, and it does not matter what mode you are playing. Every track is a banger, and the more you listen to it, the more you fall in love with the team that put it together.
At the end of the day, Splatoon 3 is an incredible package! The single player should not be scoffed at, as it is a legit experience that will entertain the player from start to finish. The online components do feel more like a Splatoon 2.5 than a proper sequel, but thanks to the addition of new weapons and powerups, the competitive side of Splatoon 3 still feels fresh while the cooperative side being permanent is the icing on the cake. And stickers and decorations make their debut so we can spice up our lockers!
Fans of the series will be in love with just about everything Splatoon 3 has to offer, but some may find the competitive side of things to be a bit of a letdown, as it is not a huge upgrade from the previous entry.
Despite that, Splatoon 3 is a massive package that is beyond worth the full price. There is so much to do here, and thanks to the dozens of quality-of-life improvements, this is the essential version and a game that will keep you busy for months and months thanks to it competitive and cooperative modes and free updates that are planned post-launch.
Splatoon 3 is another homerun for Nintendo in 2022, and I cannot wait to start inking up some squidiots again.
The single player experience is awesome!
Permanent Salmon Run
The same Splatoon aspects we all love
Hub area can be a bit confusing
Competitive side feels more like Splatoon 2.5
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.