Splatoon 3 Review: the most playful and stylish shooter ever

splatoon has always been something of an outlier for Nintendo. Here’s a company that’s notoriously bad on the internet, yet still managed to create one of the most adventurous and unique online shooter franchises of the past decade. Even now, years after the series debuted on the ill-fated Wii U, there’s still nothing quite like the gooey mess of one splatoon turf war. turn 3 for the Nintendo Switch, the formula doesn’t change all that much. It’s not the kind of sequel that takes its predecessor in a brand new direction. Instead, it builds on that solid foundation with some clever ideas – and eventually adds to the story splatoon Campaign many of us have been waiting for.

For the uninitiated, the splatoon The games take place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has disappeared and been replaced by squid creatures called Inklings who act like skate punks and play a lot of paintball. Where the series differs from its contemporaries is that it’s a decidedly non-violent shooter. Instead of firing bullets and grenades, you hit enemies – and the levels themselves – with colorful inkblots. In the game’s main multiplayer mode, Turf War, the goal isn’t to kill your opponents, but to cover the map with as much paint as possible from your squad. You can still hit the enemy team with a well-placed snipe, but you can also run through the level with a giant paint roller to make sure everything is the right shade of blue. It’s a structure that brings the often intimidating world of online shooters to a whole new audience.

That still applies in turn 3and at first glance it doesn’t look much different from its predecessor – which isn’t a terrible thing since turn 2 was a great game. But there are some important new things here. Most notable, at least for me, is the single player mode. splatoon always had pretty anemic solo options. That changed for a bit with the Octo expansion turn 2which added a campaign for an additional fee after launching the game. turn 3The offering of is similar but more extensive, with players taking on the role of a squid agent fighting his way through an underground city.

Image: Nintendo

The levels are a mixture of platforming and shooting, similar to crossing Super Mario Odyssey with a cover shooter. They’re also a great showcase for Nintendo’s level design talent: the stages are teeming with ideas, constantly forcing you to use the various weapons and movement options in different ways, as if the level itself were a puzzle to be solved is applicable. One of the more memorable stages doesn’t even involve enemies or dangerous jumps; Instead, you must destroy wooden crates to duplicate a giant block sculpture. At some point, you control a crab mech that transforms into a giant rolling ball – over watch Fans who love Wrecking Ball will feel right at home – and other stages have you riding flying balls at dizzying heights. It’s a great mix that keeps things from getting even remotely monotonous.

Some of the levels can get extremely difficult – good luck on the timed shooting phases for those who aim badly like me – but the structure is also pretty open-ended. You earn Eggs for completing levels (among other tasks), which can then be used to open up more areas of the map. Whenever I got stuck I always had a few other options to play through rather than the phase that was worrying me. The campaign even has a skill tree where you unlock new skills as you progress through the campaign.

Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that we’re getting a real story here. That splatoon The universe is fascinating, and over the years we’ve learned snippets of humankind’s demise and the rise of squid species. turn 3 makes that narrative a much larger part of the experience. Over the course of single player, you’ll fill out a scrapbook full of remnants from the ancient world – from classic paintings to comic pages to ripped-out magazine ads – which you can use to piece together key moments from humanity’s waste. As you progress through the levels, you’ll also gain access to new computer logs, centered on the futuristic and mysterious city of Alterna, which are much clearer about what happened. Many times I found myself being pushed through a really difficult level just hoping to get a single juicy set of lore. The effort has always paid off.

A Splatoon 3 level filled with ink.

Image: Nintendo

Apart from that, of course, is the main attraction splatoon‘s competitive multiplayer experience. Basically not much has changed. There’s still the classic Turf War, a four-on-four battle to claim as much territory as possible, as well as Salmon Run, Nintendo’s version of a horde mode (which thankfully is now always playable, as opposed to only certain times as in turn 2). There are new weapons including a very satisfying bow and a smudge that also hurls paint as a katana. These additions are joined by some nice quality of life improvements, such as: B. a lobby that doubles as a shooting range where you can practice while waiting for a match. Even better, you no longer have to watch a short broadcast every time you start the game. There is also a beautiful new center to explore called Splatsville.

Unfortunately, since the game isn’t out yet, I was only able to get a taste of it through some matches with other press and people from Nintendo. Turf War was as fun as ever, but it’s impossible to properly judge an online experience until it’s out in the world. I haven’t even had a chance to try out the amazing new universal deck. How will the new weapons and maps affect the meta? Will Nintendo keep things interesting with timed events like the iconic Splatfests? How much time will I spend unlocking the perfect outfit for my squid kid? These are all impossible to answer now, and it will likely be weeks or months before we really know if turn 3 has legs. (Expect more from me in the future as the game’s online experience becomes clearer.) Nintendo is at least saying the right things, promising regular free weapon and gear updates for the next two years.

as it stands turn 3 has pretty much everything I could want in a sequel – and my real hope is that it’ll be a nice, long while before we see another one. The online space has changed dramatically since then splatoon debuted in 2015, with almost every major multiplayer game essentially doubling as a live-service experience. The living, breathing worlds of games like Fourteen days Player expectations have changed. I’ve spent a long time perfecting my craft (and wardrobe). turn 2, and now I essentially have to start over. Hopefully, turn 3 has the kind of life – and support from Nintendo – that means I won’t have to do that for a long time.

turn 3 Coming to the Nintendo Switch on September 9th.

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