Over the past few months, there's definitely been a growing concern amongst fans that Splatoon 3 might not be able to justify its own existence. Regardless of your opinion on them, live service games like Fortnite and Apex Legends have proven that it's perhaps more beneficial to launch what is effectively a "platform" that developers can build upon for the foreseeable future. Heck, Nintendo itself supported Splatoon 2 for yonks after release, with new content drops and multiple Splatfests for gamers to enjoy. But when it announced that it would be making a third mainline entry in the Splatoon franchise, we must admit, some of us had our doubts it really needed to exist.
You can't blame us, either. Since its initial announcement, all we really saw from the new game were minor updates on new maps, weapons, gear, and music — that's really it. Does Nintendo really think it can justify a whole new game just to showcase a light refresh of its core content? This ain't a FIFA: Legacy Edition. Let's not forget that Splatoon 2 was hardly a monumental shift from the template of the first game. With just a month left until launch (September 9th, in case you forgot!), Nintendo needed to demonstrate exactly what Splatoon 3 does that its direct predecessor couldn't. And you know what? With its recent Splatoon 3 Direct presentation, it just about succeeded.
It was touch and go for a little while. To start off, the showcase (which you can watch again at the bottom of the page) delved into a refresher on what Splatoon is all about before diving into some of the new maps we can expect to see. Standouts here include Mahi-Mahi Resort and Hagglefish Market, both of which absolutely ooze with style. Nintendo confirmed that 12 maps will be included with Splatoon 3 at launch, with more on the way via post-launch updates. It was a predictable start and the introduction of new maps did little to convince us that we needed a new mainline title.
Next up, we got a look at weapons, gear, and the shops from which you'll be purchasing these. Again, there's little here that we couldn't have gotten from Splatoon 2, though we did appreciate the fresh locations and visuals on display. The key addition during this segment was the locker feature, where you can load up your own locker with weapons, gear, photos, and customise it with new colours and stickers.
You can also check out opponents' lockers to get some inspiration if you wish. This is a pretty cool feature, we'll admit, though its mileage is definitely going to vary from person to person. We appreciate its addition, though.
Carrying on the theme of customisation, it looks like we'll also be able to fully customise our multiplayer identification tags with new colours and whatnot, plus 'Emotes' have now been added for the third entry. This alone will likely be quite enough for some people to take the plunge, and we're admittedly looking forward to seeing what kind of crazy expressions are added to the game in future updates.
Perhaps most dishearteningly, however, the Direct presentation seemed to gloss over the other key modes encompassing Splatoon 3; chiefly Salmon Run and Story Mode. Both look incredibly similar to their respective modes in the previous game, and if we were to judge the upcoming title entirely on this (which we won't do, don't worry), then we wouldn't be angry, we'd just be incredibly disappointed, Nintendo. Needless to say, if you were hoping that Splatoon 3 would bolster its single-player content significantly, then you might want to readjust your expectations here.
Before we get onto the juicy stuff, there are a few smaller tidbits of information to mention. First up, it looks like Splatoon 2's presenting duo Pearl and Marina have now been replaced by a trio of musical news readers called 'Deep Cut' — including new characters Shiver, Frye, and Big Man — and it was confirmed that you'll be able to consume the news updates whilst doing other stuff in-game, which is fantastic. We also got a glimpse at some new amiibo and confirmation that you'll once again be able to store gear sets in the figurines, plus a glimpse at Photo Mode, the Miiverse-inspired drawing mechanic, and SplatNet functionality. Finally, we got a look at a new minigame called Tableturf Battle, which looks like Tetris with trading cards...? We're not sure about this one yet, but it looks intriguing, to say the least.
Nintendo undoubtedly saved the best stuff for last, however, and it's probably this that justifies the existence of Splatoon 3 more than anything else. Splatfests make a return, of course — as expected — but the key thing to note here is that it will be introducing 'Tricolor Turf War', a brand new take on the franchise's most iconic mode that now includes three teams. It's a significant addition and one that will no doubt will make a big impression on players and become a mainstay for many, many months to come.
Not only that, but Nintendo has confirmed that Splatoon 3 will be supported extensively for at least two years post-launch, stating that updates to the in-game catalogues will come every three months. It also announced that major paid DLC will be coming to the game, and although we don't know at this time what this will entail, chances are it'll be something along the lines of the Octo Expansion for Splatoon 2 (which would be great news for solo players!).
Finally, a Splatfest event will be kicking off on August 27th, two weeks prior to the main game's launch. It will showcase the aforementioned Tricolor Turf War mode and hopefully give everyone a glimpse at what the future of Splatoon will look like.
Ultimately, there's an argument to be made both ways as to whether Splatoon 3 needed to be made, or whether Nintendo could have simply continued to update Splatoon 2. An obvious thing to note here, of course, is that many players will have fallen off Splatoon 2 since its 2017 launch, particularly with the release of games like Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Xenoblade Chronicles 3, not to mention the ongoing DLC updates for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It likely would have taken something particularly significant to reel those players back in — something like the Tricolor Turf War mode, for instance — and we're not quite sure something like that could have been implemented in Splatoon 2 without potentially alienating some players.
The Splatoon 3 Direct presentation did just about enough to convince us, then, and we're excited to dive into the new entry, but what about you? Are you happy with what you've seen? Do you think Nintendo needs to do more to convince you of Splatoon 3's validity? Cast your vote in the below polls and let us know in the comments!