Nintendo opened the floodgates today and unleashed a torrent of info about its upcoming party shooter, Splatoon 3. In addition to revealing 12 new maps, a Wednesday Direct also showcased new weapons, personal lockers, and shops galore. Splatfests are also confirmed, with three idols at the helm this time around. It was a whole lot. And we haven’t even gotten to the swole crustacean yet.
Splatoon 3 comes out September 9, and with only a month left to go fans finally got a long-overdue deep dive into what to expect from the latest entry in the paintball-inspired online shooter. The story is still being kept mostly under wraps, but just about everything else you could want to know was spelled out in today’s 30 minute presentation. Let’s break it down.
Hammerhead Bridge and other stages are coming back
Splatoon 3 will have 12 stages at launch, including returning fan-favorites Hammerhead Bridge and Mahi-Mahi Resort. There are a total of five new ones, and more will be added in free post-launch DLC updates. Here’s the full list:
- Scorch Gorge
- Eeltail Alley
- Hagglefish Market
- Undertow Spillway
- Mincemeat Metalworks
- Hammerhead Bridge
- Museum D’Alfonsino
- Mahi-Mahi Resort
- Inkblot Art Academy
- Sturgeon Shipyard
- Wahoo World
Turf War lets you do a barrel roll
The game’s main 4 vs. 4 mode returns but with some additional tweaks. The mode showed off two new abilities today. Squid Surge lets you swim up a wall in a single burst, and Squid Roll lets you jump out of the ink and reverse direction while repelling some incoming enemy fire.
One of the new weapons is an energy drink vending machine
While some main and special weapons will be returning, the Splatlands also has its own unique arsenal:
- Tri-Stringer: Bow that can charge up and fires in three directions
- Splatana Wiper: sword that charges up while swinging to fire blades of ink
- Tacticooler: fridge that deploys stat-boosting energy drinks to the whole team
- Wave Breaker: radar that pings enemy locations and damages them if it hits
- Feefslider: shark floaty that hunts down foes and explodes inks all over them
Tenta Missiles, Inkjet, Ink Storm, Ultra Stamp and Booyah Bomb are returning from previous games.
Salmon Run can be played anytime
The PVE mode will now be accessible around the clock and feature some new bosses called Slammin’ Lid and Big Shot. There’s also a new King Salmonid and when you fight him, players’ tanks transform into giant Egg Cannons. Big Runs will be on rotation in the future.
There are also Anarchy Battles where players compete in ranked objective-based battles. The modes—Splat Zones, Tower Control, Rainmaker, Clam Blitz—are on a regular rotation.
The lobby gets a glow-up
Splatoon 3 will once again be centered around a city hub, this time the Splatsville lobby. Friends will appear as 3D holograms and you can easily drop in on them in battle. Once teamed up, they’ll have visibility of each other depending on where else they go in the game. And the Memory Player will let you relive recent wins or shake your head at your worst losses.
Splatoon 3 is really embracing the metaverse
Nintendo spent most of the presentation going deep into new shops and customization options. There are a ton, including lockers you can personalize and show off to recent opponents, customizable Splashtags, and emotes. Most of this stuff can be bought from the Hotlantis shop which will get regular updates. Of course Sheldon will also be back selling gear at Ammo Knights, Gnarly Eddy has you covered at Headgear, Jel La Fleur will measure you for the best fits at Man-o’-Wardrobe, and Mr. Coco is a chunky lobster who loves CrossFit and selling you shoes at Crush Station (get it?!).
Table Turf Battle is an entire card game inside Splatoon 3
I love mini-games, especially card-based ones. Triple Triad (Final Fantasy VIII), Pazaak (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), Gwent (The Witcher 3), they’re all bangers. Table Turf Battle looks like it could be another winner. You place cards to control the board in a 2D, turn-based spin-off of Turf War. There are over 150 cards to collect, and you can battle other NPCs to collect packs. No word yet on whether you can play against other humans, however.
There are three idols this time around
Where previous games had two, Splatoon 3 will have an extra host for the fanart crowd to go wild with. In addition to Frye and Shiver, Big Man is a manta ray holding up the big screen during the Anarchy Splatcasts.
Splatfest returns with three options
Three hosts also means more voting options for Splatfests. In addition to confirming the event would return for Splatoon 3, Nintendo also announced the very first one will happen pre-release on August 27 at 12:00 p.m. ET via a free demo for the game. And the second half of the event will work a little different, ending on a series of Tricolor Turf War battles where teams are in a three-way 4 vs. 2 vs. 2 showdown. The contest is between rock, paper, scissors. I’ll be team paper, because as Frye points out, and as every Splatoon fan knows, “You can write DEVASTATING things on paper.”
There are at least two years of post-launch updates
Splatoon 3‘s in-game catalog will get refreshed every three months. Around that time new weapons will also be rolled out. X Battle and League Battle are coming in future updates. The game will also get major paid DLC expansions, but Nintendo isn’t sharing more on that just yet. It sounds similar to what we got from Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Keeping the Amiibo dream alive
A new yellow Inkling, blue Octoling, and Smallfry Amiibo are coming before the end of the year. Splatoon 2 figures Callie and Marie and Pearl and Marina are getting re-released as well. They come with exclusive in-game gear and let you hot-swap between loadouts more easily.
Nintendo still refuses to do proper in-game voice chat
You’ll still need to use the Nintendo Switch app to talk online with friends. SplatNet 3 will launch alongside the game and also let you check match records and other stats. Because it’s 2022 and Xbox is getting Discord but Nintendo is still making players pay for online multiplayer that lacks basic features.