Howdy hidey ho! I’ve been in the Splatoon series for a decent amount of time, probably around 300 hours or so. But Splatoon 2 already gave me that Call of Duty (CoD) iterative copy-pasta vibe and I went into Splatoon 3 with some concerns that it would be the same. Does the latest entry push the series into new ground, though?
…the core netcode is clearly the same…
Look, there isn’t any denying it: the game is fun and simple. The core mode is Turf War, and all you care about is splatting horizontal surfaces with all your colored cu-errr… ink. Then there’s some new equipment which the campaign is basically the tutorial for and does a good job of teaching you how to use them. And of course, once you’ve gotten the hang of things, ranked is where the real action is. Ranked is when it gets sweaty and intense as that’s where all the other game modes are and the sweats spend all their time. The overall shooting experience is simply THE most unique take on a third person multiplayer shooter out there and that remains the case. Unfortunately, many other things remain, too. For one, the core netcode is clearly the same they’ve been using all along, and I can show you for days examples of latency where enemies die a half second later and can lead to frequently questionable moments that simply shouldn’t be the case in 2022. What they HAVE done to some better effect is tighten the region and ping queues which means better matches happen more often where things simply look and feel as they should, but it really doesn’t solve the core netcode issue. As the hours roll by (because they really will, it is just so much damned fun!), something else starts to ink in: I realized how many maps I’d seen before. So despite the game’s first take on a proper vehicle and the enraging emotional damage of SBMM on solo queue players like me, it all happens on maps I know I’ve been on before which leads right into the next section…
…SEVEN, of the 12 maps are existing maps.
I recognize so many maps because 7, yes SEVEN, of the 12 maps are existing maps. Yup: the majority of maps you’ll play on are maps from previous games. Yikes. Not only that, but all the modes are also existing modes, too. This also includes the less sweaty co-op mode, Salmon Run. The only part that’s really all new is that campaign, and it’ll last you about 3-5 hours before you see the credits roll. It’s not long at all, though you could purposely try to get more time out of it by exploring more. Then you’ll find some of that new weaponry may not quite hit the same notes as some of the classic weaponry and you’re unlikely to see them in use very often. I’m saddened to report that content, while overall ample, looks very CoD after all. New maps and weapons are supposed to be coming, but as it is right now, existing Splatoon players like me have not much new to look forward to.
…intense fights still look and feel just like they should: wet and wild.
Welp, Splatoon 2 was on the Switch, so suffice to say you’re not going to get any real visual improvements. Naturally, this means don’t look too close at anything. That doesn’t change the fact that in multiplayer it clearly runs a solid 60fps where it counts, and those colorful splashes and intense fights still look and feel just like they should: wet and wild. Where the game needs a little work given this is its third outing, though, is the animation in the cinematics. They could have afforded to have given a little more love to these characters now that this is clearly an established series, something that doesn’t require better hardware. The story itself is also a bit lackluster, so even though most people come to this series for the multiplayer, if they ARE going to include a campaign, it could use a little more storyboarding. It’s still something you shouldn’t miss, though: you get to see how some previous characters have grown.
It clearly suffers from CoD-ism.
No, Splatoon 3 does NOT push into any new ground. One might say it doesn’t need to, but that’s really the copy-pasta syndrome we collectively hate CoD for. To say that someone could easily mistake me for playing Splatoon 2 if they weren’t intimate enough with the game is an understatement. It clearly suffers from CoD-ism. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the most intense, wet and wild shooting fun I’ll ever have each and every time and that it runs well with its eye-catching colorful splashes of cu-INK, of ink. But with dated netcode, no new modes, and a majority of old maps and equipment, what it brings new is not quite ample enough to call it “fresh”.