Splatoon is conceptually one of the most inventive and creative experiences in Nintendo's vast library. Splatoon 3 is a brilliant follow-up to the wildly successful Splatoon 2 that released in 2017.
Although Splatoon 3 may not approach Splatoon 2's 13.1 million sales, it deserves to top its 83 metacritic score for expanding upon everything that made Splatoon 2 one of best multiplayer games and complete packages on Switch.
Gameplay Mechanics and Top Modes
Splatoon 3 is a complete package from both a single and multiplayer experience, but it is especially one that shines from a single player's perspective in a mostly multiplayer package. As someone who doesn't typically play online multiplayer games, Splatoon 3 offers the solitude of playing a solo experience while also being interactive in an online multiplayer setting, which makes it perfect for people who prefer playing solo, newcomers to online multiplayer or even children.
While multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Apex Legends, to name a few, are often more cooperative multiplayer experiences, Splatoon 3 easily allows a player to operate more as a loner and play their own way without impacting the rest of the squad. The reason for this is because of Splatoon's main selling point, which is pure chaos in the four-on-four Turf War mode.
In this multiplayer mode, players are tasked with simply inking more ground and walls in their team's colored ink to win the match. To start a match, one of the best parts is simply finding out which vibrant color your team will represent and battle against in the match. By not allowing players to pick their color, it provides a simple, but fun, guessing game to start each match. The same goes for each stage being random, although it's on a more limited rotation compared to the many colors available.
Unlike most online shooters, taking out the opponent is not the main objective of the match, which allows players of all skills to still feel like they can make a difference in the match even if they are being taken out for a few seconds. When taken out during a match, players spawn back into the action within seconds. This keeps players engaged and feeling like they can still make a difference in the matchup without letting their team down, but enough time passes to give the player the itch of wanting to get back into the battle.
The three-minute time limit is the perfect amount of time because it keeps each match fast-paced and doesn't force a team to dwell on a loss. These matches are short bursts filled with non-stop mayhem that create some of the most fun online matches in gaming.
Splatoon gameplay is unlike any other shooter on the market.
Nintendo managed to take simple third-person shooter mechanics and morph them into a vibrant, intuitive and smooth gameplay experience for all ages to comprehend. The Switch also allows for the use of gyro controls, which are among the best implementations of such controls in shooters. The gyro controls may take a bit of time to get used to but will eventually feel second nature to those who commit. However, Nintendo provides the option to turn it off and play as a more traditional third-person shooter with the analog sticks for accessibility.
Players move and shoot in a traditional manner with the analog sticks and triggers, but the reload function (ZL button) is by turning your character into a squid to soak up ink to fill your weapon. This same mechanic allows players to move quickly through the ink during battle to escape enemies or maneuver the battlefield.
It is a simple, yet brilliant, mechanic that is among the most fun reload mechanics in gaming, up there with Kratos recalling his Leviathan Axe in God of War or reloading a weapon in Gears of War.
Splatoon 3 enhances the gameplay by introducing a vast array of different weapons and subweapons to give players a plethora of items to keep the action fresh. From a sniper rifle to a bow to katana brushes to a crab tank, Splatoon 3 has the most fun arsenal in the series.
Of course, unlockable gear is also a big feature for upgrades that can enhance specific attributes, such as respawning quicker or becoming more resistant to enemy ink. The new stages also have an increased emphasis on verticality to allow players to strategize compared to previous installments.
Salmon Run is another multiplayer experience that most players will find themselves returning to aside from Turf War. This returning mode allows players to team up with friends or random players online to combat against enemy AI. The objective is to take out enemy bosses to obtain gold eggs and fill their basket before time runs out or be eliminated by the enemy. There's a host of bosses all with unique ways to take them out to get their eggs.
These matches are not as intense as Turf War, but the final round is when the action really ramps up because the stage shrinks and players must stay alive until the time runs out even if they've obtained all of the eggs needed to win.
Like Turf War, Salmon Run is a cooperative experience that still allows players to ultimately play their own solo game with minimal interaction with others, so it creates a fun way to play online with others without having to overly strategize or communicate. The random enemy bosses are the big appeal of Salmon Run, but each player's weapons are at random too, which keeps players on their toes and interacting with different mechanics.
The biggest difference from Splatoon 2 is that Salmon Run in Splatoon 3 will always be available to play. This is a much-needed change from Splatoon 2 in order to give players access to more gameplay options.
Turf War and Salmon Run are two exceptional modes returning from Splatoon 2, but perhaps the most competitive mode will be the new Anarchy Battles. This new mode literally has players wager their rank to compete against others in a series of matches until one team has won five battles or one team has lost three battles.
Another mode called Tableturf Battle is a completely new spin on gameplay as it sees players compete in a turn-based card game instead of the traditional third-person shooter gameplay. At launch, this mode will be strictly for single players against the CPU, but it will eventually be updated to allow players to compete against each other.
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Get ready for a dazzling deck duel with Tableturf Battle, a 1 vs 1 competitive<br>card-battle spinoff of Turf War you can play on the go! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Splatoon3?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Splatoon3</a> <a href="https://t.co/Oo9AQhV76n">pic.twitter.com/Oo9AQhV76n</a>
Although players will likely spend most of their time in the multiplayer suite, Splatoon 3 also offers a single-player story mode. It's easy to skip past this mode in Splatoon because the multiplayer modes are so much fun and rewarding, but the dedicated single-player mode is well worth checking out because it is filled with unique, bite-sized challenge stages and boss encounters.
These levels offer a ton of puzzle encounters that will help teach players different mechanics when it comes to utilizing different weaponry that will help them in online battles. There's a mechanic reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine during story mode in regard to clearing out a form of toxic to make progress. This requirement will keep players engrossed in doing the challenge levels in order to unlock different secrets, paths and more levels.
From a performance perspective, Splatoon 3 is near flawless. It looks and plays exceptionally well on TV or handheld mode. More importantly, there is no lag or framerate issues during online matches, which is crucial for an online multiplayer game that is conducted in such short bursts.
While it is understandable there were a few times when a match would end because a player would drop out or be disconnected, the most egregious issue is the rare time there will be a connectivity issue after a match ends that will result in no rewards or points being awarded. However, that instance was extremely rare and matches are so easy to dive into to play that it isn't a major concern or drawback to the game.
Splatoon 3 is one of the most vibrant and stylish games in Nintendo's vast library of remarkable exclusives. It is the perfect "just-one-more-match" multiplayer game because of its easy-to-understand third-person shooter gameplay mechanics. Battles are different every time and quick enough that they keep players excited and wanting to dive back into the action.
There are more than enough gameplay modes to allow players to explore a plethora of weapons across diverse stages. Splatoon 3 is necessary for fans of Splatoon wanting to experience a more refined and evolved game, but also perfect for players new to Splatoon.
It's the perfect game to introduce gamers to online multiplayer experiences because it excels in allowing players to still feel like they're playing a single-player experience. Splatoon 3 is easily one of the top multiplayer games and one of the most creative offerings on Switch.