Splatoon 3 - A Splattergun Preview
With the Splatoon 3 Splatfest World Premiere coming this weekend for the world, Nintendo very kindly gave me the opportunity to try out some of the upcoming third-person shooter in advance. The Splatoon franchise has been one of Nintendo’s shooting stars since the first franchise entry debuted in 2015 and the rapid ascent has continued since then. An endearing cast of squid-like Inklings, Octolings, and more, combined with a vibrant colour palette, and deeply engaging visual and gameplay design, as well as additions like Splatoon 2’s Salmon Run PvE mode have helped the game’s “Staaaay Fresh!” Now, with the third entry on the eve of launch the anticipation is high for the latest chapter, Splatoon 3.
The time with the game granted me access to a few fairly simple single player levels to begin with, tutorial missions in their nature, that for someone such as myself who had played both prior titles, but it had been a few years, were exactly what I needed to refresh myself on the controls and the various mechanics. These tutorial missions introduce the new tri-stringer weapon, a bow & arrow class weapon that has a highly effective, and focused charged punch, as well as a strategic delayed effect. Being called a tri-shot quick shots fire three sharp, horizontal blasts, meanwhile with a quick jump you can pivot that shot to make it a vertical blast. The levels get players to explore some of the more basic elements of platforming, shooting, and the unique qualities (and risks) of being a squid in this universe. There were some mild allusions to the “Return of the Mammalians” narrative if you went diving deep enough, but that plot will of course be worked through in the core release, a few short weeks from now.
Of course, Splatoon is primarily known for its competitive multiplayer, and so, the core territory control mode, Turf War is back in a big way. Though the core moment-to-moment action is exactly what we’ve come to know of previous Splatoon titles, with some much appreciated cosmetic touches being added. Players can now customise their Splashtags, as well as to interact with emotes during the matches. The tug of war component to the turf war mode always presents exciting challenges as you try to soak clean terrain in your teams coloured ink, while also wrestling back turf that has been splattered by your opponent’s colour. The temptation is always there to lose yourself to splatting opposition players, but don’t lose sight of the objective at hand, and only look to take down your opponents if they’re getting between you and the terrain you’re looking to dowse in your team’s vibrant colour. Of course, as has been the case in previous Splatoon entries, the use of those starkly contrasting colours makes for a stunning battlefield to look upon.
One of the newest additions to the franchise, Splatoon 2’s Salmon Run returns for this new entry, and Salmon Run Next Wave backs up the efforts of the last game superbly. As well as taking on awesome new boss salmonid like Flipper-Flopper, which presents a fun new variable to need to just to mid-round, the game also adds cool new team-first features like the egg throw which will allow you toss any egg you’ve collected either directly into the basket, or even to a teammate who is in a better position than you are. As well as the incredible arsenal, it was this feature that I felt brought the most to the mode, and helped make the 3 x 100 second waves to survive feel all the more engaging.
While the changes coming to Splatoon 3 aren’t going to revolutionise the experience at all, they’re great quality of life additions that are bound to elevate the quality of matches, make for even more social-media-worthy shares, and enormous smiles upon millions faces. The game’s three primary pillars are all looking and feeling the part, and while we didn’t get to experience new features like Tetris x Turf War inspired ‘Tableturf Battle’, it seems that Nintendo is firing on all cylinders with this one, and has some aces up the sleeve to keep us on the hook even longer.