Splatoon 3
Nintendo

Everything We Saw in the New ‘Splatoon 3’ Direct

The latest trailer for 'Splatoon 3' showed off new maps, new weapons, and even more awesome features. Are you ready to get your feet wet with Nintendo's popular multiplayer shooter?
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Splatoon 3 is only a few months away, and Nintendo finally graced fans with a new thirty-minute Direct presentation on the game. It’s shaping up to be one of the biggest releases in an already-stacked year for Nintendo. The game joins heavy hitters like Fire Emblem: Three Hopes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Bayonetta 3, and Pokemon Violet and Scarlet to help round out a massive second half of 2022 for the Nintendo Switch.

Splatoon burst onto the scene in a spectacular fashion in 2015 on the ill-fated Wii U system. The first game was a critical darling, but due to the Wii U’s poor sales, failed to amass any real popularity. Splatoon 2 came out on the Nintendo Switch in 2017, earning much better sales numbers and improving on the series’ rock-solid multiplayer fundamentals in nearly every way. Nintendo realized it had an outright phenomenon on its hands and hastened to create a third entry in the now-beloved series.

Splatoon 3 is only a month away, and it’s already shaping up to be one of the best-looking multiplayer games of the year. What can fans expect to find when they dive into the Splatlands and get acquainted with all the new features and weapons in the third outing? Strap in because this one looks like one wild ride.

What Is Splatoon?

If you’re new here, you’re in for a treat. Splatoon is primarily a multiplayer party game, ostensibly a third-person “shooter” in which you play as a “Squid Kid.” There are both Inklings and Octolings, giving you a choice in either six-legged or eight-legged cephalopod configurations, but this distinction is purely aesthetic. Either way, your avatar is a stylish kid who can transform into a squid (or octopus) at the push of a button. This is much smoother in practice than it sounds, and it forms the mechanical backdrop of the entire series.

While in “kid” form, you wield some variety of ink-spraying weaponry. Not squid ink, though, but colorful, bubble-gum-like ink that adheres to walls and “splats” enemies. When you get low on ink reserves in your weapon’s tank, you just take a dip in the ink you’ve sprayed on the map, turning into a squid and soaking up plenty more ammunition. While in your own ink, you can move more rapidly and hide from your opponents.

The main gameplay mode, Turf War, is a four-on-four multiplayer match in which two teams battle to get more of the arena covered in their team’s color of ink before three minutes are up. There are other gameplay modes, too, like a story-driven single-player experience, a four-player co-op mode, and even a ranked battle mode for serious multiplayer competitors. 

A New Locale

At the end of Splatoon 2’s live updates, the developers held a massive final Splatfest–a community event where players choose between two teams and then duke it out over a limited time for supremacy. The final Splatfest had players choose between “Order” and “Chaos,” and, unsurprisingly, the anarchic Inklings and Octolings of Inkopolis sided overwhelmingly with Chaos. This seems to have bled into the design of Splatoon 3, which has leaned fully into this theme with a Mad Max-inspired desert landscape and a free-wheeling sense of style.

The new hub location, Splatsville, looks like a bigger, more involved version of Inkopolis Square from Splatoon 2. Here, players will be able to visit vendors to buy new weapons and outfits, check out other players’ custom messages and loadouts, and jump into local and online lobbies. 

Likewise, a new location means there are plenty of new maps for players to battle over. The Direct presentation showed off twelve new maps, though some are returning favorites from earlier games in the series. Notably, fan-favorites Hammerhead Bridge and Mahi Mahi Resort are making triumphant returns. Some of the new stages, like Hagglefish Market, look inspired and extremely fun to play on, featuring shifting platforms that help the arena evolve over the course of a match.

The New Weapons

The meat of any new Splatoon game will always be the new weapons and gear available to players. Thankfully, the third game won’t disappoint on that front. While prior entries shook things up with long-range ink snipers, dual-wield paint guns, and roller brushes loaded with ink, Splatoon 3 takes things in an old-school direction. One new weapon, the Stringer, is the Inklings’ take on the classic bow and arrow.

The Stringer can be drawn quickly for a short shot, fully drawn for a long-range attack, or fired while jumping for a verticle spray. This makes it something of a hybrid between scoped weapons and rollers from Splatoon 2 and will give players new options in competitive play. Another new weapon, the Splatana, looks like a new twist on the classic Inkbrush weapon. It’s essentially a windshield wiper loaded with ink and wielded with precision to let out a volley of close-range damage. 

The Direct event also showcased another new Special Weapon, the Splatoon equivalent of an Ultimate Move that can be used only a few times per match. The latest Special Weapon, the Tacticooler, is much more support-focused than some of the more explosive options from previous games. It’s a fridge loaded with four stat-boosting drinks that your entire team can grab for a quick speed boost! Think of it like a slightly remixed version of the tried-and-true Ink Armor Special Weapon. 

Salmon Run

Many fans loved the new Salmon Run mode introduced in Splatoon 2. It allowed four players to tackle multiple waves of AI-controlled Salmonid bad guys, rushing to defeat Boss Salmonid and gather up their eggs in time to meet quotas before the round ended. It was essentially Splatoon’s take on the beloved Firefight mode from the Halo series. 

What fans really didn’t love, though, was that Salmon Run was only available during specific windows of time. If you logged on at the wrong time, you’d be out of luck–multiplayer lobbies for Salmon Run were simply unavailable outside of these windows. The reasoning for this decision was always nebulous and unsatisfactory, so fans will be pleasantly surprised to hear that Nintendo is ditching this periodic availability for Splatoon 3.

In addition, there will be several new Boss Salmonid monsters for players to try their hand against. Some of these, like the Slammin’ Lid and Big Shot, look like new variations on some classic designs. Others, like the terrifying King Salmonid, will function as end-of-run raid bosses that will challenge players before they can leave the arena after a successful haul. 

More Customization Options

Splatoon is all about self-expression. This time around, players will once again be able to upload their own illustrations to show off their artistic talents and their love of the game. Likewise, the stat-boosting stylish clothing from the prior games will also return. It’s not a Splatoon game without fashionable Squid Kids populating a vibrant hub world! 

Moreover, the third entry offers even more ways for players to express themselves. A new feature will allow Squid Kids to decorate their own lockers in the hub world, which they’ll be able to see between matches. You can add your weapons, favorite clothing options, screenshots, and plenty of other fun items to your locker. Moreover, your friends will be able to see your locker–and you’ll even be able to see recent players’ lockers, too!

This will also give you a chance to get a glimpse of some top players’ loadouts. Previously, Splatoon has allowed you to see this gear after matches and order it from in-game shops. Now, you’ll not only be able to see the gear but also the locker space of the person you just saw tearing up the arena in online play! 

Deep Cuts and Splatfests

The new trio of idols who will act as hosts this time around is called Deep Cut. They’re a pop group comprised of Frye, Shiver, and the giant manta Big Man, and they’ll act as the announcers and main personalities on display in the game. This makes them comparable to the Squid Sisters from Splatoon or Off the Hook from Splatoon 2

Additionally, since there are now three idols instead of just two, that means that Splatfests will now have three options instead of two. As an example, the first Splatfest, which will also be a pre-release demo of the game, asks players to choose between rock, paper, and scissors. In addition, these events will even allow for (completely unbalanced) three-way Turf Wars. The winning team from the event will be sandwiched between the other two, creating a fun two-against-one dynamic that will keep things interesting even late into the Splatfests.

Nintendo even revealed that there will be a minigame within the game: a new in-game collectible card battler called Table Turf Battle. There will be over 150 in-game cards for players to collect and build decks with! In short, there’s a lot of awesome stuff coming for Splatoon fans when the third game splashes down on the Nintendo Switch on September 9.