Yeah, I know, I’m about two months late. Better late than never, right?
Splatoon 3 was a game I was very excited about ever since watching the gameplay trailer back in April. The fast-paced combat and improved specials made me think Splatoon finally achieved its highest form. Did it? Well, that depends.
Splatoon 3 and Splatoon 2 are very similar in a lot of ways. Granted, you could argue that all Splatoon games are similar to each other, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s the addition of weapons, new stages, and overall balancing that makes each Splatoon unique. Of course, the single-player campaign is different in each game as well, but let’s face it, that’s not the reason you buy a Splatoon game.
This game also introduces lockers, a customizable locker that adds nothing to the gameplay, but it sure is fun to decorate. In fact, I found myself addicted to this game partially for the locker system alone. It was fun spending money at the general store to buy stickers, items, and colors for my locker. At levels 15 and 30, your locker size will increase, giving you even more room to decorate, fueling your addiction. Pls help.
It is also unique in that you can test out weapons while waiting for a match to start. While I do miss the minigames from the original Splatoon, it is a step up from Splatoon 2’s nothing. No, pressing buttons to alter music doesn’t count.
Splatoon 3’s single campaign is also very addicting. This was the first single-player campaign where I felt encouraged and excited to try out new weapons. The way the stages were designed made me have a blast playing with weapons I normally would never touch. The stages were also very well thought out, and none of them were particularly boring or so difficult that I found myself rage-quitting. The story was also a breath of fresh air, finally focusing on something that wasn’t the Great Zap Fish or the Octarians. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the final boss, I had a blast with this mode.
But by far, the biggest improvements of this game are the quality of life improvements. Battling with friends has never been easier. Gone are the days when one person would join a lobby and the other three or four would be sitting there, waiting for a slot to open just to be disconnected the moment the match started. No, now you can create a lobby that your friends can join and search from there. My only question is… Why can you switch gear in Turf Wars but not League Battles? This is especially infuriating when playing with a group of friends. If one person wants to switch out gear, everyone has to leave the lobby, wait for the host to recreate it, and rejoin, just so that one person can change their weapon. Seriously, fix this.
Disconnecting has also been fixed. Somewhat. If a player disconnects within the first minute of the game, the match immediately ends in a draw. Okay? Part of me finds this more annoying than having one less player on my team. Why couldn’t they add an AI player instead? Not to mention if you’re playing League Battles and a player disconnects three minutes in, you’re either severely disadvantaged or have a huge advantage. Overall, I think this could have been handled better.
League Battles have mostly remained the same as they were in Splatoon 2, with Clam Blitz receiving a slight update, from what I’m told. The only thing different now is that you have one shared rank between the modes. This change actually confused me. I imagine the ranks were separate in previous games to avoid a wonky balancing system. Say one person was extremely good at Splat Zones but terrible in Clam Blitz. They could play Splat Zones all day and get to A+, and then decide they want to do a match of Clam Blitz, which subsequently is now A+. Levels are hidden in Turf War, and so are ranks in League, so I’m not entirely sure if players are still being matched with other players their same rank.
Finally, it all comes down to the gameplay. I think the specials have been balanced far more than any previous Splatoon game. Bomb Rush being removed was a big improvement, especially with how common it was in Splatoon 2. None of these specials make me feel like I’m screwed with no way out. Except for Reef Lux. Please, nerf this thing. It kills me every time.
The biggest change to the gameplay, however, is the speed. EVERYTHING is so much faster now! This is the Smash Melee of Splatoon. And it is for this sole reason that Splatoon 3 has become my least favorite in the series. Everything is way too fast and I no longer have time to think or react. All of the weapons I used to play in the previous two games I now hate, because I can’t play them the same way. I’ve been forced into playing weapons I don’t usually play because I essentially have to relearn the game to find what does and doesn’t work.
I know this is more so a personal problem (even if a couple people have told me they have the same problem), and I don’t by any means think this game is bad. This game is amazing in a lot of ways, as previously stated. Me, personally? I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love so many of the features that were tweaked or added, but because of this one change, I find myself playing it less and less. In fact, I have been playing the first two games a lot more recently, and I’m finding the first game to potentially be my favorite. It doesn’t have a lot of Splatoon 2’s spammy specials, but it also has fewer weapons and fewer techniques. That’s okay. I don’t think Splatoon necessarily needs to be a flashy game with precision perfect moves.
Splatoon 3 is a fantastic game, but it’s not for me. I hope this review helps shed light for anyone who is currently struggling with the newest entry on why this game feels so different than the last two, or why you’re finding certain weapons don’t work for you like they used to. For anyone who hasn’t played it, I would still highly recommend this game, especially if you do prefer faster games!