Nintendo Switch Review: Splatoon 3

Should you ink up for the next Splatoon?

Ink up the Splatlands in the next Splatoon game. Enter the Splatlands, a sun-scorched desert inhabited by battle-hardened Inklings and Octolings. Splatsville, the city of chaos, is the adrenaline-fueled heart of this dusty wasteland. Even in this desolate environment, Turf War reigns supreme and battles rage in new stages located in the surrounding wilds. Dynamic new moves help these fighters dodge attacks and cover more ground, along with a new bow-shaped weapon to sling ink.

With the sequel being a big hit with fans and even getting an expansion for extra measure, there was no doubt a third Splatoon would be hitting the Switch sooner rather than later. But can Splatoon 3 improve upon its predecessor or is it a case of “ink by numbers?”

Splatoon 3 begins with you designing your character and your new companion “Small-fry” who you can use to distract enemies or activate switches in the story mode by following Captain Cuttlefish down the sewer once you reach Splatsville. You can choose to either go straight into fights online or you can tackle the story, its entirely up to you. I chose to do the story first and let me tell you, while it isn’t the longest campaign out there, its still superb with some great levels to blast through and some tough boss battles that will test your skills to the limit.

The story mode does give you a good chance of learning the new weapons and moves, even if you don’t have access to them immediately in online play, so it’s almost like a training mode in a way. There’s also a Horde-style mode called Salmon Run which pits you and 3 other players against waves of enemies and defeat bosses to gather their Golden Eggs for your employer, Mr Grizz with a time limit to boot. There are a whole bunch of different bosses that will head your way with their own weaknesses that you will need to exploit to avoid defeat.

Turf Wars are still as tough and satisfying as ever with players trying to ink up as much of the map as possible within the time limit. Levelling up will naturally give you the means to get new weapons, perks from clothing and so on. There’s also a strategic card game called “Tableturf Battles” you can play that is hidden in the streets of Splatsville which pits you against AI to cover a 2D map with as much ink as possible within a certain number of moves, but some cards wont be playable depending on moves made by you or the opponent. It’s tough but if you can master it, it’s also quite addictive.

Finding the right weapon for you will take some time, especially since players online are highly skilled. It does take a while to unlock the weapons you want to try, which is why it probably is best to try the story mode and practice with them so you can find your preferred weapon and save up for it from the weapons shop.

A recent patch has made matchmaking faster and more reliable overall. I’ve only experienced a few drop outs and they were mostly from other players. Matchmaking will naturally improve via future patches, but the actual framerate of the game never dropped for me during matches which is naturally a big plus. The game also seems to have visually improved slightly from the last game with more vibrant maps to battle on.

The Verdict

Splatoon 3 adds to the series with an improved Story Mode and Turf Wars while adding in Salmon Run and Tableturf Battles to mix things up. It may seem mostly more of the same, but the new additions and improvements take this series to new levels.

Score: 9.0