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Splatoon 3: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more

Whether you’re a squid or a kid (or both!), get ready for the next splat-tastic entry in the hit Splatoon series! Originating on the WiiU, Splatoon was a hit for the struggling console. It was a rare game for Nintendo, being a mostly online-focused, third-person shooter, but it was given a unique coat of ink. Rather than your normal soldiers fighting it out with guns, Nintendo flipped the concept into something far more colorful and friendly by pitting two teams of squid kids against each other with ink-based weapons. A sequel came early in the Switch’s life cycle and was an all-around improvement on the first, adding more weapons, maps, and even a single-player mode.

Early in 2021, Nintendo revealed that we would be getting a new Splatoon game on the Switch. At the time, it was simply known as Splatoon 3, and we got a small reveal trailer that both answered and raised a host of questions about this sequel. After the reveal, we have gotten a few bits and pieces of information about Splatoon 3. If you’re ready to dive into all the details about this new colorful shooter, we’ve got all the info you need.

Further reading

Release date

Three inklings model new fashion in Splatoon 3.

Splatoon 3 has been known about for a while, but the latest update we got on the game’s release only narrowed down the window to summer 2022. However — and take this with a grain of salt — some eagle-eyed viewers noticed a QR code hidden in the trailer that, when scanned, displays the date of August 18, 2022. As it turns out, that date was still a bit off. In an official Tweet from Nintendo of Europe, they dropped the full release date as being September 9, 2022.

Platforms

A team of Inklings in the air.

This is the easiest question to answer about this game. Splatoon 3 will be a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Nintendo has never shared its first-party games with other platforms, or even PC, so this one will be no different.

Trailer

Splatoon 3 – Salmon Run Next Wave Trailer – Nintendo Switch

Our first real look at Splatoon 3 came from the Nintendo Direct in September 2021. This trailer, called Return of the Mammalians, focused heavily on the game’s story mode. The reveal trailer already set the stage for the world of Splatoon being in some sort of post-apocalypse Earth where Inklings have evolved to be the dominant life form. However, as the trailer goes on, some new furry creatures begin to appear as the footage cuts and glitches out.

Nintendo itself has put out a small description for Splatoon 3 on the official page, saying, “The theme of Splatoon 3 story mode appears to be ‘return of the Mammalians.’ Wha?! As far as we know, mammals have disappeared from the surface of the planet (minus a couple of cool cats, of course). What does it mean for these Inklings?” This heavily implies these Mammalians will be the new, or additional, threat alongside the established Octarians.

The trailer otherwise showed off a few new environments, including some psychedelic cities, snowy beaches, and Japanese-inspired areas. There are also plenty of familiar characters making a return, with the Squid Sisters Callie and Marie and Cap’n Cuttlefish. How this story will play out, or even any of the major details, is being kept a secret for now. The only thing added was that this is set to be the conclusion to the saga.

Splatoon 3 Direct 8.10.2022

Nintendo hosted an entire direct dedicated to Splatoon 3 on August 10 that gave us a full 30 minutes of new footage and information and what you can do around Splatsville.

Sheldon sells weapons for Sheldon Licenses by leveling up and using the same weapons. You exchange one license per weapon, but spending a lot at once may earn a special weapon reward.

Gnarly Eddy sells headgear, Jel la Fleur sells tops, and Mr. Coco sells shoes. Gear comes with abilities like run speed up. Abilities can be swapped between clothing, and any gear combinations can be saved in sets to easily swap them out.

Frye, Shiver, and Big Man form the Deep Cut. This trio makes up the new hosts for the local news program that gives tips and updates that you can check on your cucumber phone.

Nintendo Treehouse: Live | August 2022

Right before release, Nintendo hosted a Treehouse live event that partially focused on Splatoon 3 and its single-player component.

They begin showing us the world of Splatoon 3 and the main character, a new Agent 3, and emphasize that you don’t need prior knowledge from the previous games to jump into this installment.

Fuzzy ooze, as shown off, is coating the area. This is the main mystery the story will be focused on solving. They then move on to a new stage where you get three choices of equipment that each gives a different amount of power eggs for beating the stage with that loadout. The loadout they chose first showed off a weapon called Small Fry, which is a little creature you can throw and recall to deal damage over time if you land it on an enemy. Other stages, however, are designed around specific weapons and only have one loadout to pick from.

Along the way are crates that you can destroy for things like armor. Your goal is to navigate to the end of a stage before running out of your three lives. Once done, you get your clear time and a first-time bonus (if it was, in fact, your first time completing it). You also apparently do not need to complete every single stage to fully beat story mode.

Aside from more turret-style enemies, you will again be faced with Octolings from time to time that are much more challenging opponents.

Outside of the normal stages, you can track down Sea Scrolls for more lore and details about the world of Splatoon 3.

Gameplay

An Inkling breakdancing.

As much intrigue as there is in the story, it’s the gameplay most people come to Splatoon for, and that will be the thing that people stick to Splatoon 3 for, too. In both trailers, we can see that the core of the Splatoon formula will remain the same. You will take control of your Inkling from a third-person perspective to coat stages in ink with your weapon of choice. We got a good look at the most popular mode, Turf War. As it did in the previous games, this mode pits two teams of four against one another to try to cover as much of the map as possible with their team’s ink color.

Included in the newest trailer were some crazy new weapons and what looks to be some sort of robot crab called a Crab Tank you can pilot that rolls around like a ball and opens up to blast ink out of a cannon or fire a more rapid-fire ink shot. This doesn’t last for very long, though, and you’re not invincible while in it. Other new weapons and devices included the Big Bubbler, which creates a shield over an area; the Zipcaster, an inky grappling hook you can zip around the map with; the Killer Wail 5.1, which will automatically shoot lasers from a series of megaphones; an umbrella shield; and a bow and arrow.

As part of this mammal theme, a new mechanic to Splatoon 3 will be something called Fuzzy Ink. This is described as something that “pulsates like a life-form, but doesn’t actually seem to be a living creature.” In practice, it will coat any Inkling that touches it in fur, coating them to the point where they’re temporarily unable to control their character. We’re unsure if this is just a single-player mechanic or something you will be able to use in online multiplayer as well.

New maps have also been confirmed. We saw an urban-neighborhood-looking stage called Eeltail Alley, the Museum d’Alfonsino, and a desert level called Scorch Gorge. Certainly more maps, old and new, will also be available upon release.

The only gameplay trailer we have is of the Turf War game mode. At the opening, we see each player, who can have a little player card with a title of sorts like Clocked-Out Turf Warrior or Inkless Office Drone that we can probably unlock in different ways. Otherwise, the majority of the gameplay looked very familiar. Each team ran around trying to paint as much of the map as possible, as well as splat opponents. If you do get eliminated, you get a nice look at all the gear the person who took you out was wearing.

We get a little look at a vacuum-style gun that charges up for a big blast, plus the bow and arrow weapon, along with plenty of returning favorites. When the match ends, you get a lineup of the winning team but also a list of what medals you earned during the match.

The weapons at your disposal this time around will include every basic weapon from past games, plus the bow-like Tri-Stringer and Splatana Wiper. The Splatana can fire in two modes: vertical and horizontal swipes. The Tri-Stringer shoots three blasts of ink but can be charged up for more range and a small delayed ink explosion afterward.

Some new special weapons include the Tacticooler. This spawns a fridge with four drinks that give you or your teammates a buff, such as movement speed. Then there’s the Wave breaker that sends pulses that mark opponents and deal damage, but the waves can be jumped and avoided. The Reefslider lets you charge into an area and explode in ink. From past games, the Tenta Missles, Ink Jet, Ink Storm, Ultra Stamp, and Booyah Bomb are back.

Before battle, eat some cool food in the hub to get buffs in-game, or explore maps on your own to learn the layout in Recon Mode.

Table Turf Battle, a spinoff card game, will also be available to play. This card game is a one-on-one, grid-based approximation of how matches play where you play cards that lay down different ink patterns with the goal, as usual, to cover the most ground with your color.

Multiplayer

A Crab Tank rolling around.

The entire Splatoon series is primarily focused on multiplayer, which is an odd sentence to say for most Nintendo games. Still, even with the inclusion of a story mode in the sequel and how Splatoon 3 looks to expand on the story and lore of the world further, multiplayer is the beating heart of the game. Aside from Turf War, though, we don’t know exactly what other new or old modes will be included in the game. We expect the most popular ranked modes like Splat Zones, Tower Control, and Clam Blitz to come back, or we just really hope they do, but we will have to wait for confirmation.

The latest trailer confirmed the return of the popular Salmon Run mode, now renamed Salmon Run Next Wave. This is, once again, a PvE cooperative mode where you team up against swarms of enemies, new and old, plus boss encounters like the Fish Stick. This massive pillar, with flying enemies tied to the top, slams down on the map and sprays ink in a wide range. The major baddie shown off was the massive Salmonoid. Eggs are now throwable, allowing for far more coordination and teamwork.

There will now be new Boss Salmonids to contend with. The Slammin’ Lid creates barriers, Big Shot shoots heavy projectiles with shockwaves, and the giant King Slamonid can appear to challenge your team. Plus, a special Big Run event will occur every few months as enemies invade Splatsville itself.

Splatfest is back, but this time will have three teams to pick from. The first half of the event plays like a normal Splatfest, but the second half is a three-team battle where the lead team has four members in the middle of the map, and two other teams get two members each attacking from either side. Splatfest will be premiering on August 27 with rock, paper, and scissors.

In terms of Stages, there will be The Scorched Gorge Eeltail Alley, Mincemeat Metalworks, Undertow Spillway, Hagglefish Market, Museum D’Alfonsino, Hammerhead Bridge, Mahi-Mahi Resort, and more for a total of 12 with more added in DLC.

New game modes include Anarchy battles for ranks that have a rotation of different game types, starting with splat zones, tower control, rainmaker, and clam blitz. This mode can be run solo or in teams.

You can also now create private modes with custom modes.

In the lobby, you will be able to go to the test range while waiting for a match and practice with weapons but also interact with ghosts of other players to join their matches or see them in the lobby. There’s also a copy machine that will, you guessed it, copy whatever you do. If you shoot, it shoots with the same weapon, and so on. Once you join a game, instead of spawning in a set location, you can now influence your descent to land strategically on the map.

There is a full battle replay feature where you can rewatch a match, fast forward, skip, and watch from other perspectives.

The locker room is a new space where you can see lockers designed by recently played-with players. Your own locker can be customized by placing items, weapons, stickers, and colors purchased at Hotlantis. New catalogs of items will be released every two months for three years.

DLC

A team of purple Inklings getting ready to play.

We don’t know what DLC plans are for now, but Splatoon has a good history of adding more content after launch. There are plenty of ways for Nintendo to add more content as it did with the previous games, whether it be in new maps, weapons, story missions, or just cosmetics. DLC for Splatoon 2 was almost universally enjoyed, so we’d be glad to see what plans there are for continued support for Splatoon 3 hopefully soon. Here’s we expect right now in terms of support and DLC:

  • New catalog every three months for two years.
  • New weapons with each catalog.
  • X Battle and League Battle will be added later.
  • Large-scale paid DLC coming later.

Pre-order

Normally there would be nothing to say about pre-orders until a release date was set, and yet one retailer is already taking orders for Splatoon 3. For now, the only place taking pre-orders is Best Buy, though if that isn’t an option for you then the rest of the usual outlets will also open up their pre-orders once the release date is set. Once Nintendo gives us the details on that, plus any unique versions it is offering, we’ll update you with all that good info.

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