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Splatoon 3 story mode guide: Tips, tricks, and info for the solo campaign

Splatoon 3 story mode with Agent 7, Callie, and Marie
(Image credit: iMore)

The Splatoon series is famous for its impressive multiplayer turf battles, but solo experiences have been very minimal in the past. Finally with Splatoon 3 a fleshed-out solo campaign is finally available entitled Return of the Mammalians and is no longer called Octo Valley like it was before. 

If you don't have any friends available at the moment or are looking for something a little more challenging then this Story mode will keep you entertained.

What's the story in Hero mode?

Splatoon 3 Octarian

(Image credit: iMore)

The long-running story between all three Splatoon entries so far has been about the war with the Octarians. These enemies are octopus creatures commanded by the evil DJ Octavio. 

Splatoon 3's story mode continues this saga. Players take on the role of Agent 3, who becomes a member of Squidbeak Splatoon as the organization works to thwart the Octarian enemy who has stolen the Great Zapfish. During the adventure, players will travel through several levels on their way to the lost city of Splatlantis. While the levels are played solo, the cinematic elements involve a handful of companions, including the original Splatoon idols Callie and Marie.

What is gameplay like in Splatoon 3 story mode?

Players run around an overworld and can jump into stages as they go. Each stage has different goals for you to meet and they vary wildly, so you won't be doing the exact same thing over and over again. 

As you run through levels, you'll take down Octarian enemies and use your paint powers to scale platforms. You can choose the weapons you want to try at the start of the stage from a limited list. Weapons that are easier to use will net you fewer rewards while harder weapons will give you more. 

How to start Splatoon 3's story mode

Splatoon 3: Cuttlefish in sewer grate

(Image credit: iMore)

To initiate the single-player Story Mode, all you have to do is go down the manhole cover in the lobby occupied by Cuttlefish. Upon doing so, you'll be taken to another location and the Hero mode opening cinematic will begin. 

Follow Cuttlefish's instructions to learn moves and abilities in each stage. The variety introduced in these stages is one of the things that makes this one of the best Nintendo Switch games out right now.

Splatoon 3 story mode: Tips and tricks

Splatoon 3 Story mode: Player throwing Smallfry

(Image credit: iMore)
  • Experiment with joystick sensitivity in the Options tab of the menu until you get to a setup that feels right for you. You can also turn off motion controls if you'd like.
  • Each stage has weapons that are easier to use and harder to use. Easier ones give you fewer rewards, but if you want to keep from getting frustrated, you should stick to a choice that's within your skill range. Of course, you can always challenge yourself with harder weapons later.
  • It's better to aim forward than aim down. Every weapon has a splatting distance and facing forward when you shoot will allow more areas to be covered with paint in one go. 
  • If you keep getting defeated, try taking on an enemy from a different angle. For instance, you might want to try throwing Smallfry to distract an enemy or get to another area before trying to get rid of an opponent. 
  • Don't forget to use the R button to throw Smallfry or other Sub Weapons at boxes or other obstacles as well. Some Sub Weapons can also reach high places that are initially out of your character's reach. 
  • You're rarely ever stuck when it comes to vertical travel. Spray your paint up the side of a column or platform and then dive into the paint to travel within the colored areas. 
  • Make use of Squid Roll to get the jump on opponents. By quickly tapping the joystick in the opposite direction of travel, you can spin into the air and quickly go backward. This can be helpful for getting around opponents and avoiding their attacks. 

How long does it take to beat Splatoon 3's story mode?

Splatoon 3 Story mode: Character shooting paint.

(Image credit: iMore)

There are 65 kettle levels, four boss battles, the space center, and a secret unlockable level for players to experience in the story mode. Many people have reported that it takes between 6-8 hours to 100% complete Splatoon 3's solo campaign. Each stage offers unique challenges and helps to change things up instead of giving you the same objectives over and over again. Of course, if you're more of a speed runner, you might be able to complete Hero mode in roughly four hours. 

StageLevel
Camp Cuttle1. Octarians in the Crater? YIKES!
2. Sink into the Ink and SWIM!
3. Boxes Locked! Keys, Please!
4. What Are They? Can We Stop Them?
5. DJ Octavio Boss Battle
Future Utopia Island1. Get to Know Alterna, Your Only Choice
2. Octopods at Rest Tend to FLIP OUT!
3. Splat You on the Flip Side
4. Doors, Doors, Doors! And More! (Doors)
5. Relic Restoration
6. Zip, Splat, and Jump
7. Become One with Your Smallfry
8. What Caused the Big Bang? YOU!
9. The String’s the Thing
10. Deadly Dance Hall-Jump, Jump!
Cozy and Safe Factory1. Twirling, Swirling, Whirling
2. Absorbency and You
3. Soak It to Me!
4. Splitting Crosshairs
5. Tread Heavily
6. Getting Lost in Three Easy Steps
7. The Ink-Conservation Project
8. Switching Things Up
9. The Future Stares Back (Boss Battle)
Cryogenic Hopetown1. Climbing the Corporate Splatter
2. They Said We'd Have Flying Cars, and We Do! Kinda!
3. Ink Wheels-Experience Tomorrow's Technology Today
4. Try Curling! Alterna's 11th Most Popular Athleisure Activity
5. Conveyor-Belt Tightening
6. Time Trial and Errors
7. Rail Pass
Landfill Dreamland1. Propelled to Greatness
2. Octohoppers Don't Have a Sense of Humor (and They Hate Puns)!
3. Let's Put a Pin in That
4. Splash the Block Party
5. Amusing a Bemused Muse
6. Those Aren't Birds
7. Charge Now, Splat Later
8. Easy Ride, Tricky Targets
9. Flying Worst Class
10. Ink Fast, Hotshot
11. Stamp 'Em Out
12. The Path to Perfect Penmenship
13. The Pursuit of the Precious (Boss Battle)
Eco-Forest Treehills1. Trouble Round Every Corner
2. The Upside to Enemy Backsides
3. Uh-Oh! Too Many Snipers!
4. Barriers! They've Got You Covered
5. A Compulsive Collector's Paradise
6. Zipping Over the Neighborhood
7. One-Way Ride Through Target Town
8. Making Waves with Splashdowns
9. Low Viz, High Risk
10. Shooter on Rails
11. Simply Ziptastic!
12. You'll Go Far If You Shoot Far
13. Learn to Reflect, and This One Is in the Bank
Happiness Research Lab1. Bet You Mist Us!
2. Octarian Heights
3. Torture Tour
4. Conserve Ink-Splat Sustainably
5. The Enemy Ink Is Lava!
6. Keep It Rolling
7. That Sinking Feeling
8. Breathe In, Breathe Out
9. Dive and Dash
10. Mission: Fly Fishin'
11. Don't Tease the Keys
12. Enter the Stamp Gaunlet
13. Obscurest Chiaroscurist (Boss Battle)
Space Center1. Alterna Space Center: Entrance
2. Alterna Space Center: Hangar
3. Alterna Space Center: Lift
4. No. 4 Final Boss Fight
Secret Level1. After Alterna

How to unlock the secret level in Splatoon 3 Story Mode

Splatoon 3 story mode: Secret level

(Image credit: iMore)

You read that right. There's a secret final level for players to experience, but it only unlocks if you beat every kettle in the main campaign at least once as well as the final boss. If you think it should have unlocked by now and it hasn't, that probably means there is an unbeaten kettle somewhere. So go find it and beat it. 

After completing Splatoon 3 story mode's secret level, you'll be given the Teddy Band headdress which increases your stats after respawning. 

Story of heroes

Whether you're looking for a challenge or want to test your platforming and shooting skills, story mode is a fun way to entertain yourself. Simply talk to the crazy-looking man in the sewer to initiate this single-player campaign and you'll meet Agent 5, Agent 6, Callie, and Marie in no time. 

The hero mode levels hold up to Nintendo standard, with each one feeling unique and interesting rather than a rehash of the same ideas. The levels are fun to replay as you can try them using different weapons and therefore different tactics from before. 

Do your part to stop the oncoming Octarian menace and keep this post-apocalyptic world safe for inkling and octoling kind!

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Splatoon 3

Run through stages in Story mode as you work to save the world from the Octarians. There are several challenges to overcome and each one is unique.

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Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.