Recently we were tickled pink to be invited by Nintendo to have a go at Splatoon 3, and as you might expect we accepted the offer.
We got to play for about an hour or so, running through a few of the single-player levels, two rounds of Turf War, and three rounds of the new and improved version of Salmon Run — but how did our short time make us feel about the game?
The single player was solid; we ran through three levels faster than anyone else there because we have to stoke the fires of our own egos from time to time, and there were clear inspirations from the wonderful Octo Expansion DLC for Splatoon 2. We were however a little bit disappointed that the entire structure of the single player is the same as the previous two games.
There have been improvements across the board, and we couldn’t say for a moment that we didn’t have a blast with what we played, but given the announcement trailer for the game teased us with an Inkling running openly and freely through a desert, having the overworld once again restricted to a series of islands is a bit of a letdown.
Having said that, there is a lot more to do in the overworld now. Areas are entirely covered by a mysterious ooze that turns you into a mammal if you touch it (no, that’s not a joke), and you need to use your Small Fry buddy to consume what we could only describe as ‘fruits’ on said ooze, causing it to dissolve away and further your progress. There’s also a variety of collectables and consumables to be found hidden throughout, so there’s definitely more on offer here… even if it wasn’t quite what we were hoping it would be.
There were clear inspirations from the wonderful Octo Expansion DLC for Splatoon 2
Turf War, on the surface, hasn’t changed much at all either, but after playing some rounds we noticed there have been myriad small changes throughout the entire experience that add up to an overall stronger-feeling gameplay loop. This is likely something that only hardcore Splatoon fans will notice at first, but we’re sure casual players will reap the benefits of these tweaks in the long run.
We had a pop at two of the new weapons too — the Tri-Stringer and the Splatana Wiper. The Stringer is a hugely versatile option, allowing you to act as a sniper or as a scattershot pressure powerhouse depending on how long you charge each shot. Don’t go getting up close and personal with enemies though, as they’ll make mincemeat of you.
The Wiper is a strange one as well, feeling mostly like a stealth-based weapon more than anything else. It truly excels in close quarters as a surprise attack, meaning that camping is likely to be a new and common technique with this weapon. Lobbing grenades around corners is going to be paramount in countering this single-strike killer.
Splatoon 3 is an evolutionary step rather than a revolutionary one.
Salmon Run is a similar story, with most of the changes being many minor improvements that add up to more than the sum of their parts. The big change that everyone’s gaga for, however, is the ability to throw Golden Eggs, but you might be surprised at how they’ve implemented this new feature.
In order to throw an egg, you need to have enough ink in reserve to throw a Sub-Weapon, as the cost is exactly the same. This means you’ll have to think twice about using up so much ink on what is absolutely not an offensive action if you’re surrounded by Salmonids. Even if you do manage to lob an egg you’d best still be on your toes, as Snatchers who come and steal unattended Golden Eggs can now fly directly to an egg’s location rather than having to slide their way up to it like chumps.
The takeaway is, and we’ve not exactly been hiding it, that Splatoon 3 is an evolutionary step rather than a revolutionary one. We wouldn’t want it to stray too far from the original notion as it’s still such a unique take on the genre, but we can’t deny that the lack of any truly wild and unexpected new inclusions left us excited, but not blown away after our time with it. There’s plenty new in Splatoon 3, and we believe hardcore fans will easily get the most out of it, but it’s much more of a question mark for the wider Splatoon audience.