At PAX West ahead of the Splatoon 3 release date that's going to round out one of Nintendo's newest trilogies, we were able to get a hands-on Splatoon 3 gameplay preview. For an hour and a half we jumped through the Splatoon 3 single-player levels and got a closer look at the latest builds for the multiplayer modes. The Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo last weekend gave avid fans a closer look at what they can expect, and we were able to learn more about what patches are in the works ahead of the release. The Splatoon 3 Direct last month may have not showed off the game in the best way, but the PAX West gameplay demo was extremely fun..
Splatoon 3 Multiplayer Is Where Gameplay Really Shines
The crown jewel of Splatoon has always been its multiplayer, and that remains to be true with Splatoon 3. During our PAX West Splatoon 3 preview, we played a few Salmon Run games and several rounds of Turf War. Salmon Run has never been my favorite mode, but the updates they've made for the Splatoon 3 Salmon Run games have made it an extremely fun co-op opportunity for players.
New Salmonid bosses have been added, and they create a more challenging experience that requires consistent coordination amongst the players. Each boss will require a different strategic approach, but the good news is Salmon Run will now be available 24/7. So, if it's the middle of the night and you want to fit in some Salmon Run games before going back to sleep? You can now do that. Still, Turf War reigns supreme as far as multiplayer goes.
For those familiar with Splatoon and Splatoon 2, Turf War will, in a way, feel like more of the same. This isn't a bad thing: Splatoon 3 further refines the gameplay and adds even more weapons for players to master, like the Tri-Stringer and Splatana. We had a 90-minute timeslot with Nintendo, allowing us to take our time between 4 vs 4 competitive matches to swap out weapons and gear. We tried out everything from the Splat Roller to the Aerospray RG to new weapons like Tri-Stringer and Splatana.
It was through trial and error I discovered my best combos were with the N-Zap '85 (modeled after the NES light gun) and gear that helped conserve ink, making it possible to out-shoot most of the competing players. We lost the first several rounds, but then rallied and made a comeback (to be fair, one of the Nintendo representatives jumped into the game on our team, so that gave us a huge advantage).
Splatoon 3 has some light updates, including minor changes to Turf War, but ultimately if you haven't liked it in the previous two games it doesn't mess with the formula to the point that it's very different. The nice thing is this also means long-time Splatoon fans will get to enjoy the same multiplayer they gravitated to in the first place while also exploring a whole new single-player campaign.
What Is the Splatoon 3 Single-Player Campaign Like?
During our Splatoon 3 gameplay demo at PAX West, we got to play through the first three levels. These were pretty similar to the previous campaigns, but they did do a nice job introducing you to some of the new weapons in the game, like the Tri-Stringer, and providing tips to you that you can take into multiplayer Turf War battles.
The story is still underwraps, but the first few levels put you up against Octarian enemies, the everpresent antagonists of the Splatoon universe. There weren't any radical changes to the single-player formula, but I did ask Nintendo about how Sunken Scrolls will work in Splatoon 3, as in the previous games they were hidden across the single-player campaign and could be collected to unlock new weapons. A representative from Nintendo mentioned Sunken Scrolls would be in the game, but that they would be collected in a different manner. This could potentially mean the single-player campaign will focus more on gameplay and less on collectables hidden across each level, similar to the Octo Expansion.
Splatoon single-player almost always feels like an afterthought, but in the few levels we got to play it did feel like we received some helpful tips (like firing Tri-Stringer arrows behind enemies to make them burst with ink) as well as do some pretty cool platforming. If you've bounced off the Splatoon single-player campaigns in the past, the Splatoon 3 levels may be worth exploring and following the story to its conclusion. At the very least, you should uncover more lore about the Splatlands and the future of the Inkling race.
Splatoon 3 at PAX West 2022 Final Thoughts
Playing Splatoon 3 at PAX West was extremely fun and gave us a much clearer idea of what we can look forward to. This game seems to have a little something for everyone, and new changes, such as the ability to actually ensure you and your friends are on the same team every time, are much-appreciated quality-of-life improvements. Splatoon 3 stills feels like a half-step upgrade from Splatoon 2, but for fans who are looking forward to all the updates and a brand-new single-player campaign, plus the promise of large-scale DLC later, this game should prove to be a worthy investment for any kid or squid.
TechRaptor's Splatoon 3 preview was conducted on Switch on a demo booth at PAX West 2022.