Splatoon 3 is the follow-up to the smash-hit Switch-exclusive Splatoon 2, and it improves upon its predecessor in some subtle but meaningful ways. The sequel isn’t revolutionary – players are still able to ink the terrain and become cartoony squids to swim through the paint-like substance. The goal is still to cover more of the arena in your team’s ink to win in fast-paced multiplayer battles.
However, the presentation has been overhauled, the menus and features around the multiplayer experience are tighter and more modern, and the whole game simply feels more robust. It’s odd to say the third entry in a successful series feels like the first one to truly get things right, but that’s not a knock against Splatoon 3.
Splatoon 3 includes a handful of new characters, like the new idols Shiver, Frye, and Big Man. It’s also got two brand-new weapons, the Splatana and the Stringer, weapons based on classic samurai swords and bow and arrows, respectively. They each offer engrossing new gameplay styles that make them feel distinct from the primary water-gun-like weapons of the first two games.
The game also includes several new stages, enough to mix up the formula from its predecessors and keep things fresh for returning players. New players will appreciate how easy it is to navigate these new arenas, as their designs lend themselves to the chaotic online multiplayer gameplay very nicely.
Many reviewers took issue with the first two Splatoon games because of their clunky, outdated user interfaces. It was difficult to join a party with your buddies for multiplayer games, and the pre-game lobby was little more than a glorified menu screen.
Now, the third game offers a training environment that players can play around with before matches. It also has a more modern party system, allowing players to join up before going into competitive matches.
With few exceptions, Splatoon 3 has addressed the major complaints reviewers had about the second game. It’s an iterative experience, to be sure, but it’s refining an already-excellent core concept. If you were already a fan of the Splatoon series, you’re going to adore the changes here.
However, if the formula of ink-based multiplayer action didn’t already grab you, Splatoon 3 isn’t going to change your mind. Some players might also chafe at the $60 price tag for what might be a glorified expansion to the second game. However, for those willing to meet the new game on its own terms, it offers hundreds of hours of multiplayer fun and essentially limitless replayability.