Splatoon 3 puts online gaming, fashion and hair front and center

Despite feeling uncannily similar to the game in previous installments, Splatoon 3 it’s packed with clever changes and updates that will likely lead to people, or at least me, keeping the game in rotation for a lot longer than before. I was able to play over an hour of the game’s various modes before its release on September 9, including just a few main story levels, a few rounds of Salmon Run (the game’s surprisingly difficult but rewarding horde mode), and Turf War (splatoon face a four-on-four deathmatch).

You’ll notice a welcome change in quality of life right when you turn it on. Instead of being forced to attend an introductory presentation of the latest in-game activity announcements every time you restart the game, as in the past splatoon games have done, you can simply click the left stick to listen to the send while doing other activities.

Multiplayer is where most of the game’s biggest changes are easy to spot, though they might not seem that big of a deal if you’ve played other modern multiplayer shooters. For example, the Salmon Run mode, which supports four players online to survive as long as possible against waves of enemies and bosses, can now be started at any time. In splatoon 2, the mode was available only at select times. You’ll be forgiven for never trying it before, as it’s inconvenient to schedule your life when a feature is available. There seems to be a lot of added variety here in terms of enemy types and new random events to keep it exciting.

Splatoon 3

Before you jump into an online game with your team, you can paint the city red (or, in this case, yellow) on the shooting range.
Image: Nintendo

Right before starting a game of Salmon Run or Turf War, you will land on a shooting range, one of Splatoon 3The features that excite me the most. As the game resolves the connectivity and everyone prepares their weapons and equipment, you can test the weapons on the shooting range. It’s reminiscent of the way that Fortnite dump all the players in a free-for-all lobby before sending them to the island in the battle bus. On paper, it’s a minor change, but it keeps my brain and fingers busy while the game loads.

Loading up my first match of Turf War, I was struck by all the familiar pitfalls of modern multiplayer shooters. Splatoon 3 has “Splashtags”, little cards that let you customize the background, title, and badge with in-game unlocks to show off. There are also unlockable emotes to equip that can add more personality to your character. Fashion has always been a big part of splatoonand Nintendo says it will release free seasonal catalogs filled with new clothing, accessories, and more.

Splatoon 3

There seem to be a lot of Splashtag components to unlock through gameplay.
Image: Nintendo

The moment-to-moment action in Turf War felt just as hectic as before, and I was able to employ the game’s new moves with relative ease. There’s the “Squid Roll”, where you can roll back on a dime when in squid mode (jump while reversing the direction of the left analog stick), granting you a brief moment of invincibility. I also liked the “Squid Surge”, which allows you to supercharge a jump while in squid mode on a wall to surprise an opponent.

The game also handles custom spawn points a bit differently than the predecessor. Every time your character respawns, you can point to the location within the spawn point where you want to start over (either with the motion controls or the analog stick). Or, you can jump to a teammate’s location on the map. Two other notable improvements here are that you can jump into Turf War with friends and stay on the same team without being split up, and the game can record match replays, allowing you to get up close to the action to make clips or study strategy.

I was also able to see some of Splatoon 3 story levels, which are cleverly designed to familiarize you with the new weapons. They’re short and sweet, as always, and this time you’re helped by a little fish buddy named Smallfry on your back. You can throw Smallfry to chip away at the health of enemies, then beckon it back with a button click. reminded me of God of WarThe ax remembers but is cuter and a little less badass.

Splatoon 3

A frame taken from a level inside Splatoon 3the campaign of
Image: Nintendo

My time with the story was limited and I was well on my way to avoiding plot details, but I’m intrigued by the game worlds you see between levels, which were riddled with hair-covered octarian enemies, for some reason. Hair is contagious and deadly. Your character will die in a hilarious way if you touch it.

Have only one hour to play Splatoon 3 It was a bit of a joke, as there were many things that I couldn’t see. Nintendo jumped me into different single-player zones, and I couldn’t freely roam Splatsville, the overworld that lets you buy cosmetics, interact with characters, and seemingly much more. However, from what I’ve seen of the game, it seems that Splatoon 3 could be the most feature rich version of splatoon even.

Splatoon 3 will be released for Nintendo Switch on September 9.

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