Welcome back to the Splatlands, a sun-scorched desert inhabited by battle-hardened Inklings and Octolings in Splatoon 3. The game has a fun 8-10 hours single player campaign where you play as Agent 3 in a fight against the unruly Octarians, discover the secrets of Alterna, the Fuzzy Ooze, and how they connect to the mode’s theme, “Return of the Mammalians.” But the true star is Splatoon 3 multiplayer and co-op options. If you have an active Nintendo Online subscription, you get access to pretty much an entirely different world outside the main story that includes competitive, co-op, and unranked multiplayer.
First, you have Turf War, where each Octarian’s main goal is to paint the map as much as they can. Instead of splatting others, this mode is all about painting, bringing with it a wholesome competition of sorts (unless you take an Akira slide to the face of course). Next, you have Splat Zone, where teams must capture and control an area alá king of the hill, and Rainmaker mode which serves as capture the flag game. There is also Tower Control mode which is just as it sounds and the good old Clam Run which is football but not football and capture the flag but not capture the flag. Then of course there is the cooperative Salmon Run. All of that is to say, the heart of Splatoon 3 is it’s multiplayer and we’re diving into it.
How is Splatoon 3 multiplayer different from other games?
Matt: The games are very fast pace only lasting about 3-5 minutes per match and the main game mode “Turf War” focuses on something other than “eliminating” the other squad.
Kate: Splatoon 3 is able to capture a balance between wholesome and relaxing play in between work games with Turf War and competition. Having dedicated a lot of my teenage years to first-person shooters, I’ve been steering away from them now in my thirties because I just don’t have time. But Splatoon 3 multiplayer matches are about as even a playing field as you’ll get with stakes that aren’t keeping a positive KDR but just painting as much as you can. Somehow, even when we lose by a 30% difference, I’m still happy and a lot of that has to do with the animation, weapon choices, and honestly, the speed of the games.
Is it easy to find groups for a Splatoon 3 multiplayer lobby?
Matt: Yes and no. Jumping into a game is very easy and matches can be found within seconds. However, playing with friends can be a little more tricky. You can set up rooms and your friends can drop in and out of your lobbies, which is great. The issue is that you can’t invite anyone to play with you including people on your friends list. You can only join games and thus because of this, this means you can only play games with people on your friends list and/or friends of friends list.
Kate: It is very easy to find a lobby when you’re down to play with randoms. It actually helps you play as many games as you can since the maps change out every two hours. That speed is really unmatched and one of the best things. That said, as Matt said above, making lobbies with friends is convoluted and rife with disconnect issues. While the latter can be fixed by improving server stability, the former will be a tough spot for the game’s life if direct invites don’t become standard.
What do you think about the mode variations in Splatoon 3 multiplayer?
Matt: The mode variations are good. There could easily be more if they wanted to add more or could stay as is. I think there is a nice balance of modes and most are pretty self-explanatory except for the Clam Blitz, which is kind of confusing and takes some time to figure out exactly what is going on. If there were some areas that could use some variation I think it would be in the co-op department. Salmon Run is a lot of fun, but having that as the only true co-op mode can make it seem lacking at times.
Kate: Splatoon 3 offers up a lot of variation that allows you to play to your strengths – except for Clam Blitz, no one is good at Clam Blitz, it’s just chaos. The diversity of game mode offers familiar territory for FPS players, capture the flag, king of the hill, and even the painting-based Turf War brings out some team deathmatch characteristics. This makes it easy to jump in but also find a specialty that works just for you – for me, that’s Turf War. But it has to also be called out that anarchy mode offers up a great challenge for solo players in multiplayer lobbies.
What improvements can be made to Splatoon 3 multiplayer?
Matt: I think adding an invite option to lobbies would be very helpful along with some co-op mode variations mentioned above. Those two are small in comparison to the gear and abilities that are a thing in Splatoon 3. Your gear has abilities and can rank up (Freshness) along with your weapons and I have no general understanding of this. The game really doesn’t explain these boosts or abilities. They are just assigned and generated at random onto pieces of clothing. I am not entirely sure how much they affect your character or the game or if they even matter at all, to be honest.
Kate: Friend lobbies. It’s really that simple. The inability to send direct invites and the constant disconnection issues that happen while playing with friends in a lobby they created is frustrating, to say the least. One night, I couldn’t get through more than three matches before I was disconnected, while in a lobby with someone in the same house on the same Google Fiber internet connection and that’s a rough go. But I put up with it because it’s a blast to play with friends.
Splatoon 3 multiplayer is some of the best out there. It’s chaotic and fun and extremely easy to get into (except for Clam Blitz…) which makes it a true all-ages multiplayer. Additionally, as we noted, the quick match time helps accommodate those with busy schedules while also helping pad any frustrations when you’re on a losing streak. We can’t recommend this on enough.
Splatoon 3 is available now, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.