Many action games focus on competitive multiplayer, but none like Splatoon. Nintendo’s third-person shooter has consolidated itself in the market with just two deliveries thanks to a unique, original, refreshing, exquisitely designed proposal and an overflowing personality both in playability and in the art, already giving us dozens of hours of fighting against other players. At the same time, we fill everything with ink in agile, intense and entertaining games.
Luckily, the Inklings and the Octolings still have some time left, and this week Splatoon 3 is released exclusively for Nintendo Switch, a delivery that, without the need to reinvent anything, polishes and perfects the formula to offer us what it is; by far the best game in the entire series.
Thus, we find ourselves once again before a title that follows step by step the teachings of its predecessors, proposing to participate in games of just three minutes in which two teams of four players fight fiercely to paint the stage with the ink of their colour. Of course, we’ll do the latter with our weapons, and if we shoot down our rivals with them, we’ll disable them for a few valuable seconds that we can take advantage of to gain ground.
In addition, painting surfaces our colour also translates into much greater mobility since we can take the form of a squid (or octopus) to immerse ourselves in our ink, something that will help us recharge ammunition and move at full speed, make great jumps, climb walls and even camouflage ourselves with the environment to catch our enemies by surprise.
As you can imagine, the secondary weapons (they are usually different types of grenades that consume a lot of ink) and special weapons (the most powerful, although they can only be used when filling their corresponding energy meter) also return, which are once again associated with the primary weapon. That we use
With all this, we will enjoy a game that finds the perfect balance between accessibility and depth. Its gameplay could hardly be more intuitive and satisfying, so any rookie won’t take even the three minutes of a matchup to assimilate its mechanics and start having fun. What’s more, if we have difficulty eliminating other players, we can always support our teammates by painting the stage.
Now, mastering it is a very different matter since many different weapons have little or nothing to do with each other, peculiarities to take into account in their handling and effects, combat strategies that we can carry out and elements of the weapons themselves. Scenarios that we can take advantage of in our favour. All of this makes for a profoundly layered title that gets brutally intense and spectacular at high levels but doesn’t exclude anyone.
The victory goes to the team that has painted the most terrain of its colour at the end of the three rigorous minutes, and by its very nature, a game is never decided until its very end, so epic comebacks are at the order of the game. Day and in those 180 seconds, there is not a single moment we can relax.
You are probably wondering where the news is since everything we have discussed so far could refer to either of the two previous installments. The most obvious is the inclusion of new maps and new weapons. In the first case, of the 12 scenarios in which we can fight, five are entirely new to the saga, and the good news is that they are fantastic. They are exquisitely designed and feature very different battles that will force us to adapt to the terrain to win. Some even test our jumping skills to reach the most advantageous positions.
Regarding the weapons, to the gigantic arsenal of the first two games (which has been wholly retouched with new secondary and unique configurations for each main gun), we must now add two new ones with their variants: the Splash-o-Matic and the Slosher, the which we could define as a bow and a katana. We have found both of them hilarious to use. However, we are already warning you to get the most out of them. You are going to have to practice a lot with them, since they have particular peculiarities that you have to get used to, such as being able to shoot our “arrows” vertical or horizontal depending on whether we are in the air or on the ground and even diagonally if we calculate well during the change of position.
Of course, new secondary and special weapons have also been added, the latter being especially striking for how crazy, different and decisive they are. After all, we are talking about things like being able to pilot a deadly robotic crab that is very difficult to shoot down, ramming a shark that moves at full speed and explodes at the end of its path or, when we decide, placing a generator of waves that are sweeping with the ink of our colour to make it difficult for enemies to access specific areas or even benefit from a drink dispenser that boosts any player on our team that passes by for a few seconds, to mention some examples.
Add to all this the possibility of charging jumps on vertical surfaces and a new directional dodge in the form of a squid that allows us to repel the enemy’s ink. You will have a game that, without revolutionizing the bases of the series, puts at our disposal more “toys” than ever for us to experiment, develop new tactics and enjoy more varied, frantic and exciting games than in either of the previous two titles.
Changing a bit of a third, we have other novelties in the inclusion of a new city, Splatsville, through which we can move to access the different game modes and stores where we can buy clothes with which to equip ourselves to benefit from its power-ups and new weapons. . This city is considerably larger than those of other installments. Also, it adds a minigame called Carterritorial Fight that results in a mix between a puzzle game and collectible cards, allowing us to challenge the avatars of other players to face their decks.
In it, our objective is to place cards with different shapes to fill the board with our colour and try that at the end of the last turn, and we have more squares claimed than our rival. There are small rules to consider, such as the existence of cells immune to enemy ink or the possibility of charging attack points to carry out an offensive. Still, it is a minigame that we will learn to play quickly and has its progression system.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that we don’t feel like it adds anything to the whole, as the real fun of Splatoon is in its action, and, honestly, playing cards isn’t what we feel like most when we start the game. The good news is that it is an accessory and optional, so if you are not interested, you can completely ignore it. Of course, we warn you that it is not yet possible to face other players in online games, although Nintendo has confirmed that it is something that developers will implement in the future through a free update.
Beyond the Carterritorial Fight, some improvements have been made, such as the inclusion of a lobby that serves as a waiting room between games and where we can practice and change our team at any time, making the process of the latter is much more comfortable and agile than before. In addition, now, the broadcasts in which we are notified of the new map rotations that are taking place can be left in the background so that we are not interrupted while we make our arrangements.
Focusing now on its game modes, we have to point out that beyond the traditional territorial games, chaotic combat also returns, the competitive version of Splatoon in which we will get or lose points according to our victories and defeats. There is little news here at the moment since the available modalities are precisely the same as in the second installment, that is, Pintazonas, Tower, Golden Fish and Clam Assault, four different variants in which we will have to meet particular objectives that require a lot of collaboration from the players, either paint the marked area with our colour to keep it and score points, control a platform or a goldfish to take them to the base of the rival or collect clams to “dunk” them in the basket of the opposing team.
What we can confirm for you is that the new maps are great for this type of game, favouring extremely intense duels and all kinds of tricks to achieve our goal, and if you import your Splatoon 2 game, you can directly access these battles without having to go up to level 10. Now, Rank X, where we will only be matched with the players who have reached it to guarantee the most competitive and higher-level games, is not available yet and will arrive in the future with a free update.
Of course, the soul of Splatoon is in its competitive multiplayer does not mean that its individual and cooperative modes have been neglected. We have good proof of this in its excellent single-player campaign, the best the series has had to date. His story is once again wholly anecdotal; this time, we will have to explore a strange crater to investigate a new and hairy threat. This excuse launches us into a non-linear development adventure with many levels, challenges and secrets.
Similar to the Octo Expansion of Splatoon 2, here we will have a large central map divided into several islands from which we can access its different phases. However, at first, everything is covered with a fur-like substance that we will have to destroy using the points we get during the missions. Depending on the areas we are cleaning of hair, we will be able to move from one place to another and, consequently, access different screens while we make our way to the places indicated to us.
Thanks to this, we will have a lot of freedom to choose our route, which makes our progress very satisfactory, although this would not be of much use if the levels were not up to par. Luckily, this is not the case. The missions have an impeccable design that stands out for the enormous variety of situations that they show off, wonderfully combining action and platforms while forcing us to face them with different weapons so that we get used to them to handle them.
In addition, some of them offer us particular challenges that are a bit out of the ordinary. The bosses are quite a spectacle, the difficulty level is very well measured, a useful skill tree has been added to improve our character, and PlatinumGames could perfectly sign the final stretch, so we cannot fault a campaign with which we have had a great time.
Having such a non-linear development, its duration is very variable. If we reach the point and only complete the essential levels to reach the end, it will barely last us 4 hours. Still, if we do this, we will not see even a third of its screens, so the figure can triple (and even more) if we try to unlock them all, get all the collectibles and complete them with all the weapons, so there is enough for a comeback to extend your gameplay.
Finally, we have to talk about the return of Salmon Run, a cooperative mode in which we will have to survive several hordes of enemies and score points by scoring objects that drop the most powerful monsters. In general, his proposal is not very different from what was seen in the second installment, but there are two fundamental differences.
The first one is that it is no longer a limited mode at specific times, so it will always be available for us to play whenever we want. In contrast, the second lies in introducing new types of Great Salmonids, a series of large, unique creatures that we can only defeat in specific ways. Thanks to the latter, the games are much more frantic, chaotic and varied than before since we will never know what new beings will appear. Sometimes there are somewhat curious combinations of them that will quickly put us on the ropes if we do not know how to handle the situation, which helps make this way more fun and stimulating. Sometimes there are special rounds in which we will have to deal with these monsters while a powerful boss mercilessly overwhelms us, making us slog.
It is still not as fun as the competitive mode. Still, it cannot be denied that the improvement it has experienced is remarkable and that it is a very valid and attractive option to invest our game time when we do not feel like facing other players, so we have little complaint.
The art of Splatoon
On a graphic level, we once again find ourselves before a game that is eye-catching thanks to detailed modelling, scenarios full of details, good and successful effects, excellent animations and impeccable performance. However, what stands out is not its technical section but its spectacular art direction, which continues to exude an overwhelming personality with an aesthetic as fresh as it is recognizable that has surprised us again with the design of some of its new characters and settings.
The sound follows the same line as always with lively and alternative melodies that perfectly set our games, putting an extra point of frenzy through the music that helps make everything much more fun. The effects are also of excellent quality.
Splatoon 3 is, without a doubt, the best installment in the series. It doesn’t invent anything but refines and polishes a formula that, seven years after the first game’s release, is still some of the most fun, original and refreshing to be found on the market, thanks to near-perfect gameplay and depth that will never leave to surprise us. Virtues to which we must now add a large amount of content, more weapons, more maps, more clothing, more customization options, an impeccable campaign, a vastly improved cooperative mode, numerous quality of life improvements and an impeccable audiovisual section. And considering that there is already a plan to expand the game for the next two years through free updates and paid expansions, this will continue to improve over the months.
Perhaps the addition of the Turf War has not seemed particularly successful for a title of these characteristics. The fact that the map rotations are limited to only two per mode seems somewhat scarce, not to mention that there is a lot of recycled content. Still, they are details that do not tarnish a work that has kept us glued to the screen for hours that seemed like seconds without being able to let go of the remote. And that is the greatest compliment we can give to a video game hilarious.
We prepared this review with a download code provided by Nintendo.