It’s been over 5 years since Splatoon 2 was released on Switch and the third entry in the series has been highly sought after. With the game almost here, Nintendo invited us to their Australian offices to check out gameplay, including the return of the mammals, the turf war, and the salmon run, so single player, PvP, and PvE. While there was a lot we got to see, there are some things we can’t talk about, so let’s get on with what we can.
The rise of the mammals
It’s fun, but even though Splatoon is more focused on multiplayer, I’ve always been drawn to the single player aspect and the fact that I got to enjoy a good bit of it early on was a real treat. While we weren’t able to delve into the story aspect, why are there furry octolings around, why do you have a little one with you? We were able to enjoy three of the initial stages. The first played more like a tutorial, with some light puzzle elements and some platforming to enjoy, but it was the second and third where things went great. Right off the bat, the levels themselves feel more like the Octo Expansion from the second game, in that you can choose a weapon loadout and get an easier or harder time depending on which weapon you choose. The second stage was mostly a refresher on combat, with most of the enemies running towards me as I got closer, but the third was fun as it offered a new weapon.
This new weapon required a bit more tactical thinking, because its alternate fire mode depended on whether you were jumping or not. Load up the bow-shaped Tri-Stringer and fire three explosive rounds at once, along a vertical path, however jump and those shots will be horizontal instead. It took me a bit to get used to, because there were new elements that required the use of charged shot and proper timing. The charged shot lands and deals some damage, but about a second later, they explode and deal even more damage. If you time your shot perfectly, you can take down a group of enemies in one shot. If you miss the timing of the shot, as I did quite a lot, the enemies get an alert and start looking for you and shooting. Other than the new weapon, pretty much everything else felt pretty familiar, climbing walls and grinding rails, there’s more I could see, but sadly to avoid any surprises, I can’t speak to that.
When you think of Splatoon, it’s very likely that the first thing you think of is Turf War, it’s the mode that Nintendo loves to show off and it’s the one that people continue to play online. In my time with the mode, I was able to experience one of the new stages, Scorch Gorge, and was able to come out on top three times, in three matches. If you’re reading this and have no idea what Turf War is all about, the basic gist is that the team with the most ground covered in their ink, at the end of the match, wins. The first round was a disaster, with my team winning by more than 20% of the ground covered, the second by just under 20%, but the final match was so close that only 1.4% split the scores. I mention those results, so you can understand how quickly the tables can be turned, it’s crazy, but the best part is that the mode is always fun.
Between rounds, I took some time to review the new weapons and equipment, each of which, of course, offers different benefits for your character. While I’d love to be able to break down the changes from one weapon to another, it’s been so long since I’ve played a multiplayer Splatoon that I couldn’t begin to tell you what’s changed. What I can tell you is that the new moves, specifically the Squid Surge, make a huge difference when it comes to moving. The movement is simple, just hold down on the jump button to charge it up and then once it glows release it and go up. While executing it is simple, taking advantage of the height it offers will take some getting used to, because if you’re not prepared for it, you can easily miss your shots by hitting the ground. The other new move, the Squid Roll, wasn’t something I tried to complete, it takes more precise timing and practice, it’s not something I can worry about in a limited time event. After three rounds of Turf War it was time to move on and all I can say is the mode is great fun, it’s fast and furious and if you were a fan before then you’ll enjoy it.
Salmon ride the next wave
The third game mode we enjoyed was Salmon Run, now with Splatoon 2 this was the mode I played the least as they always had random rules on when it was available. Fortunately, in Splatoon 3, it will be available whenever you want it, so don’t wait any longer until the stars have aligned. With the setup in place we did two rounds of the helicopter race and honestly it was great, just like the first time it came on. Both rounds were played on the new stage, Sockeye Station and between each wave the water level changes so the paths that were around can be removed in the next wave. The egg basket also relocates between waves, but that’s not really a problem as the game will now allow you to drop your golden egg. Oh yes, I should explain that the purpose of Salmon Run is to collect a set number of golden eggs each wave, as more and more enemies swim towards the stage to take you out. In Splatoon 2, once you had an egg, the only option was to swim back to the basket to deposit it, and while you can still do that, throwing it means you can stay involved in the action.
In addition to the new stage, we also got to see some of the new boss-type Salmonids, the most common being the Flipper-Flopper, but the others also appeared. By far the most interesting was the Fish Stick, a large pillar with some spinning salmonid attached to the top, because as your weapons are randomly provided at the start of each wave, it took teamwork to take it down. . The most dangerous of the new bosses wasn’t Slammin’ Lid, which since he can crush you, seems hard to figure out, but for me it was Big Shot. This Boss will launch large, heavy items onto the stage from somewhere along the edge and create waves that can deal damage if they touch you. Since the boss can shoot some of them, if you don’t pay attention to where they land, he can catch you and deal a lot of damage. After two games, with wins in both, my time with Salmon Run came to an end, as did my time with the game in general.
Splatoon 3 is shaping up to be a great addition to the game, the multiplayer has a very familiar feel to it, but there are enough superficial changes to make it feel fresh, though I’m sure pro gamers will find more changes. The single-player gameplay feels deeper than the previous two games, and while it pulls a few more aspects from the Octo Expansion, there’s still plenty of new stuff to enjoy. The fact that Salmon Run can be played at any time is already a huge win for the game and I’m sure fans of the mode will be itching to jump in. Time with these hands is never enough and so is this one, but with Splatfest coming up and the game launching in a few weeks, the wait isn’t much longer for this one.
Splatoon 3 comes out on September 9th, but before that we have this weekend’s world premiere of Splatfest, later this week there’s the Splatoon 3 OLED Edition limited console, and there’s even amiibo on the way later this year. . As always, check out our guide to deals for the cheapest copy of the game and all the accessories that come with it.