Splatoon 3 review: Nintendo's squid ink well has dried up

Splatoon 3 review: Nintendo’s squid ink well has dried up

Splatoon faces appear to guide players through a confusing and unsatisfying campaign.”/>

Enlarge / Familiar Splatoon faces appear to guide players through a confusing and unsatisfying campaign.

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Inside the crustacean-filled universe of the Nintendo shooter series Splatoon (sorry for the impending pun), something fishy is going on.

I don’t know what Nintendo was thinking with its push of Splaton 3this week’s brand new sequel, replacing 2017 Splaton 2. Where the last game added significant new weapons and modes to the series’ original online modes, this year’s new model adds a sprinkling of online-only content, which at best leaves the formula unfazed and at worst has an urgent need for rebalancing. And while Splaton 2 and its 2018 expansion pack delivered some of the Switch generation’s best single-player campaign content, Splaton 3The equivalent is a sloppy mess.

Thanks to limited online testing before release, I can’t definitively review this half of the game, and I wonder how much can be traded with post-launch support. But I’m pretty comfortable saying Nintendo dropped the ball for series fans. and created an unwelcoming mess for newcomers.

A bad case of crab (tank)

In online matches, drop ink of your team's color to claim
Enlarge / In online matches, apply ink in your team’s color to claim “territory”. This color is doubly useful as you can transform into a squid at any time and then swim in your ink color to both refill your ammo and move faster.

To explain how the series works, let me adapt the wording I used in 2017:

Splatoon has a few disparate parts: an eight-hour single-player campaign; a range of ranked and unranked multiplayer battle modes; and a “Horde”-style multiplayer challenge mode, in which you and up to three others team up to take down waves of enemies. The game continues to operate in a universe dominated by Japanese hipster “squid kids” who dress in “fresh” outfits and shoot paintball guns all the time.

The series’ default multiplayer mode, “Turf War” team battle, returns as a touchstone Splatoon live. Your team has three minutes to cover the floor of an arena with more of your paint color than the opponent’s, and any floor covered with your color becomes “swimmable”. Each player can press a button to switch between a gun-toting teenager or a fast-swimming squid. Squids can hide or swim through their corresponding ink color.

Splaton 3 is so similar to its ancestor that I didn’t have to modify any of this text; all I did was remove a redundant reference to the first game in the series on Wii U in 2015. My Splaton 2 the review went on to document clever changes to its online systems, which included a substantial expansion of available weapons, vastly improved level designs that emphasized verticality and sneaky tactics, and that original mode of waves of enemies (known as “Salmon Run”), which turned out to be a pretty fun, kid-friendly take on a mode made famous by the likes of armament of war and Halo.

What does mean Splaton 3 add to online game? Not a ton. The biggest change is a new selection of “special attacks”, which can be activated in an online game after dropping enough ink or causing enough damage to enemies in a single life. In my limited online testing, these abilities immediately felt unbalanced, though their tidal reversal powers don’t show up as frequently in combat, thanks to the time they take to charge, so that impression is hard to dismiss. quantify. One example, however, is easy to cite.

The “Crab Tank” allows players to temporarily transform into a slow, super-armored crab with unlimited ammo that fires at high velocity. I have already discovered that this tank is virtually unstoppable when facing one enemy at a time. it’s impossible to use the strongest melee attacks in the series and take down the crab before it can obliterate any melee combatants with its spray paint. The best a team can hope for is for their opponent to trigger crab tank mode while surrounded by opponents.

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