We have an Inkling this will be exciting! So, get your paint ready as we give you our Splatoon 3 review.
It’s been seven years since the first Splatoon game was released, back on the Wii U at the end of its life cycle. While it didn’t have the large audience that Splatoon 2 would bring, it stood out amongst the crowd thanks to its unique and family-friendly style as well as the bright visuals. And the popularity of the franchise only grew when the sequel landed on the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Now, the latest game in the series has arrived with the release of Splatoon 3.
Splatoon 3 moves from the Inkopolis hub of its predecessor to that of Splatsville, and while there aren’t too many changes from the previous games, there’s a lot of content to get through. Let’s not waste any more time and get into the rest of our review.
Splatoon 3’s story mode, also known as Hero Mode, has long been a way of simply easing people into the main serving of the series, the multiplayer. While it doesn’t really change here, Splatoon 3’s single-player mode offers a more expansive offering compared to the previous titles. For instance, there are plenty of bite-sized levels throughout, most of which only take a couple of minutes, and the order you can tackle these is mostly your own choice.
The main thing blocking you from heading straight to the end is this fuzzy ooze that covers the land. Fortunately, you have a Salmonid called Little Buddy, or Smallfry, that can clear up the ooze if it has enough Power Eggs to do so. You’ll earn this currency by completing missions, which keeps certain levels locked off until you play enough.
While many of Splatoon 3’s solo missions are almost extended tutorials, there are plenty of interesting levels within the campaign. I found that, most often, the side content provided more of a challenging design, but I love the fact that Splatoon 3 allows players to simply make the quickest path to completing the story mode. That respect for my time leaves a much better experience, without taking away from completionists who will want to finish every mission possible.
At first glance, you’d be forgiven to think that Splatoon 3 doesn’t differ from its predecessors enough. In fact, under the ink, you’ll find that the third game finetunes everything to almost perfection, and with a lot of content to boot.
The core gameplay of Splatoon remains the same. Players must win battles against other players by using a variety of painting tools. That’s right, instead of firing bullets or lasers, you’ll be using gallons of paint to defeat your enemies. There are a few categories of tools to use, each with their own sub and special weapon, many returning from previous games but there are some new additions to make fans of the series happy.
“Splatoon 3’s gameplay is incredible. From the quick and chaotic nature of its many battles to the satisfying gloop whenever your ink lands on turf.”
But what about ammunition? Well, you can continuously fire or shoot your paint at enemies or turf, but you’ll run out quickly. To refill your paint, known as Ink in the game, you can turn into a squid and swim in your team’s paint. This adds a reliance to having more of your own paint covering the ground, even outside of the standard Turf War mode which requires you to cover the ground in order to win. Painting turf also gives you the ability to use your special weapon faster, which can be a game changer in tight battles.
Splatoon 3’s gameplay is incredible. From the quick and chaotic nature of its many battles to the satisfying gloop whenever your ink lands on turf. They say you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, and the third game takes that to heart. as everything that felt great in previous games remains mostly unchanged. However, plenty of quality of life changes make the entire experience more enjoyable, such as less frustration whenever maps and modes get updated, to the more expansive lobby.
Speaking of modes, Splatoon 3’s offering of a rotating schedule keeps the game feeling fresh and exciting. Rather than having all of the game modes and maps constantly available, it’s always a surprise to log in and see what is waiting. This refresh happens every two hours so, unless you’re playing all day, you’ll find yourself with different options. While Turf War remains a core game mode, the Ranked game mode (also known as Anarchy Battles here) is changing the mode and map frequently. Therefore, you’ll need to be at the top of your game to keep your rank rising.
“It’s a treat to the eyes to see large bubbles of paint splatter over enemy turf, and areas that have a mix of the two paints look absolutely stunning.”
Of course, Splatoon 3 isn’t perfect. I’ve had various issues with the servers since launch – something to be expected. It can especially falter with the ranked mode, such as crashing with a disconnecting player, and then that counts as a loss for you. It appears that Nintendo is working on an update for this, but it’s not clear if this will entirely fix the issue. You also have some weapons being clearly the best option, which means you’ll see players with the best Dualies or the best Charger constantly.
That being said, Splatoon 3 may offer a lot of returning content from previous games, but it is easily the biggest launch offering for any Splatoon game. You also have the new locker mechanic, which allows you to personalize your locker in your own way, and other players can see it and mark it as fresh if they like it. And with Nintendo planning additional free and paid content for the next two years at least, there will be plenty more to come. For the price you pay, you certainly get what you asked.
Graphics & Performance
Splatoon 3 is easily one of the best-looking games on the Nintendo Switch. Not only that, but it sticks at 60 FPS both in docked and handheld mode without many drops at all. It feels like magic to be able to get that level of performance out of a console that was arguably outdated when it launched back in 2017.
The visuals, especially the colors of the paint, pop and really stand out. It’s a treat to the eyes to see large bubbles of paint splatter over enemy turf, and areas that have a mix of the two paints look absolutely stunning. Even the models of characters and NPCs have a unique flair to them, making them more timeless than any realistic-looking game will ever have.
“Splatoon 3 is a must-have on the Nintendo Switch, and every player needs it in their library.”
Splatoon has long oozed style, something that Nintendo has proven it is great at for years. And that all culminates with Splatoon 3 offering my favorite stylistic flair of any game. Of course, it’s not a huge difference from Splatoon 2, but it still looks amazing whenever you get a moment during those chaotic battles.
Splatoon 3 doesn’t reinvent the wheel of its predecessors, but rather expands upon it. That satisfying and great core gameplay remains unchanged apart from some much-appreciated quality of life changes, and even for long-time fans, it’s clear that this is the best Splatoon game of the three. While the servers have been rocky to start off with, and some fans may have hoped for newer content, Splatoon 3 is a must-have on the Nintendo Switch, and every player needs it in their library.
Review code provided by Nintendo for the purpose of this review. Check out our Review Policy for more information.