Before PAX West 2022, I had never played one of Nintendo’s most popular modern-day franchises, Splatoon; that’s right, going into the Splatoon 3 appointment, I had not played Splatoon or Splatoon 2. Now, this might sound crazy to some, but to others, it would seem perfectly acceptable. So why now, why try Splatoon 3 right before its release? The easiest answer is curiosity.
That’s right, Splatoon 3 was previewed out of curiosity. Was the game franchise worth the hype or was it overblown due to being one of Nintendo’s fewer shooter IPs? As a former competitive shooter player and a fan of shooters such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War, I wanted to see why Splatoon had gained so much praise from the Nintendo Community. So how was the Splatoon 3 preview?
Yes, PAX West guests could preview the multiplayer on the show floor however, the closed-door meeting showed off a bit more. So, let’s dive into what we saw during this preview.
Splatoon 3 Single Player
The Splatoon 3 preview started with us jumping into the Single Player campaign. The single-player demo took us through the first three levels of the game teaching us Splatoon 3’s basic controls. This part of the preview only took up about thirty minutes of the hour-and-a-half meeting.
Jumping into the shoes of a new number 3, we sought out how to fight against the unruly Octarians while discovering the secrets of Alterna and the Fuzzy Ooze. The first three levels of the game do not really give much information about the overarching story; yes, you are introduced to some of the game’s characters but again it is about showing how to play.
With going into Splatoon 3 blind, these three levels were actually a blessing rather than an annoyance. They teach the player how to use the paint weapons, throw their friend, and move throughout the level in different ways. The levels were pretty easy to understand and complete but there is still the possibility of dying or failing if you don’t pay attention. These three levels actually would help when playing Salmon Run and Turf War. The funniest part was throwing our little friend off of a cliff, reminiscent of the Penguin in Super Mario 64.
Splatoon 3 Multiplayer
Once the Splatoon 3 Single Player preview was complete, Nintendo switched us over to multiplayer. The multiplayer section of the preview took up the remaining hour with thirty minutes of it being Salmon Run and the other thirty, Turf War.
With us only playing the first three levels of the single-player story, we did not experience much combat. Because of this, Salmon Rush felt like we were being thrown into the deep end. In Salmon Run, weapons and abilities are randomly assigned to the player. This made eliminating the different Salmonid bosses a difficult change. On top of that, we had to learn some of the mechanics that we missed out on learning from the single-player mode in order to clear the wave.
Each Salmon Run was composed of three waves with a variety of enemies spawning. In order to clear the wave, players are required to secure eggs and return them to their base; these eggs spawn after the boss has been slain. During our first two attempts at completing a wave, we failed due to players not bringing the eggs to the base. Additionally, we were unaware that a player could be revived by shooting them with paint. One run failed due to a player trying to turn in an egg while down. Once that was explained to us, we were able to clear the next Salmon Run.
Sadly, one player not knowing what to do can easily hold you back. During our fourth run, most of the team got a weapon they were unfamiliar with. The random itemization can cause the whole run to be F.U.B.A.R. The weapon changes also caused the secondary weapon to alternate so you might get surprised by your own grenade. Out of the five runs we attempted, we only successfully cleared the three waves twice. One run was lost by one point and that was due to a player just running around painting the map to move faster.
After playing five rounds of Salmon Run, we dove into Turf War. For Turf War, we were allowed to choose our weapons and accessories. During the first two matches, we swept our opponents on the other team. These two wins made me think that killing opponents was more important than covering the map with paint.
During the next two matches, a weapon change was in order. This would ultimately lead to our team’s downfall due to not knowing how to fight with said weapons. At the end of the day, knowing what to use was more important than experimentation. In the 4th match, we were decimated 80% to our measly 20%.
Despite averaging over a 3.0 KDA each match, it became clear that map coverage and team assistance was more important than overall KDA. The respawn timers were low allowing players to get back in the game and distract while others covered the map. For the final match, the teams were divided into boys vs girls.
This matchup would ultimately be unfair with our team decimating the girls’ team 85% to 15%. Now, the girls did pull off some great mechanical plays that made us go wow. What ultimately won us the match was one of our players solely focusing on painting the map with a roller. The roller allows for the most paint to be thrown down in continuous attacks. Wherever the combat was going on, he’d go the opposite way. He only died once but was probably the sole reason we won.
After playing through Splatoon 3, it is easy to see why Nintendo and shooter fans enjoy Splatoon. The game’s colorful nature and unusual mechanics make the game truly stand out. The game can easily appeal to children while appealing to fans of shooters; the game features a variety of mechanics that can appeal to those looking to have a good time vs those who are looking for competition.
With Turf War, you won’t know who truly won until the final score is tallied. This game focuses more on strategy rather than kill count. Yes, killing your enemy is important but as we saw in two matches, it won’t guarantee you the win.
As for the other two game modes. Single Player was a great way for us to learn some of the mechanics but with how little we got to experience it, it felt like we weren’t able to get a true feel of what to expect from the story. As for Salmon Run, it is possible for one player to solo carry the run, but it is a lot easier for a team to work together. Hopefully, there will be varying difficulties, otherwise, the difficulty at which we played will very easily become stale.
At the end of the preview, it made me want to go back to play Splatoon 2, however, with Splatoon 3 set to release on September 9th, we might just have to wait and play the third. Ultimately, Splatoon 3 can very easily be a fun party game and we look forward to playing it again in the near future.