Listen, some might say I’m not a big war guy. I don’t know! Call me crazy. And war games, well… OK. As much as I make it a habit to violate the Geneva Conventions in my personal time, gaming is a chance to escape—so I try to keep my digital war crimes to a minimum. So my shooters tend to stay in the realm of Fortnite, Destiny, and now, Splatoon 3. I’ve always loved the aesthetic of Splatoon, but considering the first one released when I was in college, I missed the boat. It wasn’t until I graduated and my little brother (current age: 11), wanted to tag-team Splatoon 2 that the bug bit.
As of this Friday, Splatoon 3 is here. It’s as if they’ve tailored it to me. But first—what is this aquatic, splatfest of a shooter? And what do those words even mean?! Splatoon 3 sees players creating their own custom characters, called Inklings (and thanks to Splatoon 3, Octolings too), who take place in turf wars, shooting ink all over a map and each other. Trophy goes to the Inklings who are able to to cover the map in their team’s vibrant color. Inklings also have the ability to turn into their ink-making aquatic life partner—a squid, or even an octopus—and swim through ink to both reload and traverse environments at high speed. Weird, I know! But it’s great. Splatoon 3 is fast-paced, colorful, and plain fun. It makes for a near-perfect PVP shooter that doesn’t require grit. Or the aforementioned war crimes.
Splatoon 3 delivers a new, refined, and exciting riff on the Splatoon formula. With a longer, more in-depth campaign, creative-as-hell weapons (way more variety than shotguns and machine guns), I’ve never loved Splatoon more. Now, I’m a roller—a paint roller, damnit, which nearly insta-kills on impact— through and through. Why aim when I can charge you? Splatoon 3, too, feels faster, snappier, and far more accessible. Now, maybe it’s because I was only playing with Nintendo Treehouse reps and other reviewers, but I’m finally kicking Splat-ass. At least until all you freaks log on and splat me from here to the Mushroom Kingdom.
Splatoon 3 adds fresh customization options, new guns (including a bow, hell yeah) and an ugly-beautiful, neo-wasteland polish for a stunning setting. Splatoon has always been unique, from its gameplay, setting, and all-around inventiveness—and Splatoon 3 makes me so glad it’s not a Nintendo IP that fell by the wayside. It’s a breath of fresh air from the grittiness we’ve been seeing in games lately, and a nice reprieve for me from hours of Destiny 2 and Soulslikes. Plus, my little brother will finally put down Call of Duty: Warzone, to play a game far more suited for his age group. A feat that cannot be overlooked!
Cameron Sherrill is a designer and writer for Esquire.com, where he covers technology and video games.
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