Splatoon 3: Tips and tricks for beginners

Splatoon 3 Inkling with their Little Buddy
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Splatoon is one of Nintendo's newest IPs, but it's already got its third game on the way. Starting its life in 2015 on the Nintendo Wii U, Splatoon's gameplay has been refined and fine-tuned over the past seven years, making it an interesting and unique take on the third-person shooter. 

The game's mechanics are a joy to engage with, but like with all games, there's a learning curve. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your moves fresh and your win streak high.

Don't shy away from motion controls!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo using motion controls

(Image credit: iMore)

Motion controls aren't every person's cup of tea, but in Splatoon, they can be a vital asset! They're enabled by default and can be disabled in the settings. 

Once enabled, you can simply tilt the controller to aim! Use motion controls to fine-tune your movements, aim better when throwing bombs, and look around you — though you will need to use the R Stick to widen your view when looking around. If you've tilted too much, simply reset the camera with the Y button.

Swim in ink!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo swim form

(Image credit: iMore)

Swimming in ink with your Swim Form helps you move around much faster than walking on the ground in Kid Form. Pressing the ZL button gets you swimming, which can help you move through grates and reloads your ink tank to boot! If you move slowly enough, you can sneak past enemies and other players — even slower if you have the Ninja Squid ability. 

One of the new movement mechanics in Splatoon 3 is the Squid Roll mechanic. This is activated by quickly flicking the Left Stick in the opposite direction of where you're moving while in Swim Form and pressing the B button. You receive a brief period of invulnerability as well, so it's useful for escaping enemy fire.

Sticking to the right is always right!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo shooting

(Image credit: iMore)

Playing Splatoon 3 requires you to use almost every button on your Joy-Con or Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. If you ever get confused about how attacking works, remember to stick to the right. Press the ZR button to shoot from your main weapon to spray your ink! Keep an eye on your ink tank by going into Swim Form with ZL.

Your main weapon isn't the only thing you've got in your arsenal, however: press the R button to throw your sub-weapon, and press in the Right Stick to activate your special weapon!

Avoid enemy ink!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo enemy ink

(Image credit: iMore)

While swimming in ink greatly enhances your mobility options, you can only swim in your ink or your team's ink. Moving around or swimming in enemy ink will slow you down, making you vulnerable to enemy attacks.

If you have enough ink to throw a bomb, try lobbing it in front of you to make a quick dash through enemy turf! Curling bombs, for example, move in front of you in a straight line before exploding, which you can use to your advantage as a shield that drives enemies away.

Recover your health!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo recovering health

(Image credit: iMore)

Sometimes, you can't escape every shot that comes your way, or you accidentally step into enemy ink. Your movement will slow, and dark splotches will begin to cloud your vision. If you're not careful, an enemy can use this vulnerable state to splat you.

Luckily, we have a fix for that! Simply submerging yourself in ink will recover your health, preventing you from being splatted. Be aware of your surroundings, as there's almost always a way to get yourself out of a tough situation.

Use walls to get around!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo squid surge

(Image credit: iMore)

Did you know that you can swim in ink even if it's on a wall? You may have seen it in the tutorial for the Splatoon 3: Splatfest World Premiere, but it's easy to forget about it when you're in the heat of battle.

Simply spray ink on walls and swim up them to get onto high ground and cover turf from above. Not all walls can be inked or swum up, so be careful of smooth surfaces or walls with a lip. You can use the new Squid Surge ability by holding the B button while swimming up walls to charge up and ascend in one fell swoop. Just remember that inking walls does not count as turf covered, and won't count toward your team's points at the end of a match! Inking walls is great for getting around, but remember that the ground is more important.

Focus on inking, not splatting!

Splatoon 3 turf war splatting

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Splatoon 3 is a third-person shooter, so you may feel tempted to, well, shoot at the enemy team with your ink to splat them. While it does have its advantages, it's sometimes best to stick to inking turf during a Turf War.

Splatting enemy players forces them to respawn, putting them out of commission for a bit. This gives your team the opportunity to ink more turf. If you're using a Charger weapon, your main objective is to support your team by splatting others. But for players using other weapons, you may want to focus on inking the ground. At the end of the match, what counts the most is making sure that you've covered more turf than the enemy team. Stick to the objective!

Keep an eye on the map!

Splatoon 3 Using the map in Recon mode

(Image credit: Nintendo)

While playing in a match, you can press the X button to open the map. This will show you an overview of the current stage, displaying how much turf has been covered by each team. It won't show you an exact percentage, so you'll have to eyeball it a bit, but it's usually a good indicator of how well your team is doing. Looking at the map doesn't mean the action stops, though, so make sure you're safe before you take a peek.

While looking at the map, you can press buttons on the directional pad to select other players on your team who are currently moving through the stage. Select them again to Super Jump to them. This saves time when you want to move across the map quickly, especially if you've just respawned. 

Be careful, though, as the enemy team can see a circle on the exact area you're Super Jumping to. You'll want to move quickly, as they may be camping in order to splat you again. You can use this against the enemy team by keeping an eye out for the Super Jump circle and firing where you know they're going to land!

Choose your landing space wisely!

Splatoon 3 Turf war landing

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Another new feature in Splatoon 3 is the ability to land almost anywhere you want on the map when you spawn in. You can avoid traveling across the map, which wastes precious time and avoid being targeted during a Super Jump by landing in a place most advantageous to you. Keep an eye on the action when you land, and stay away from enemy fire if your team is on the losing end — you may just turn the tides of the match!

Pay attention to weapon sets!

Splatoon 3 Splatfest demo weapons

(Image credit: iMore)

When choosing a weapon, don't only look at what your main weapon is. While it's easy to forget about them, you also have a sub-weapon and a special weapon attached to your main weapon. 

Sub-weapons are fired with the R button and require your ink tank to be filled to a certain level — check the line on your ink tank when you go into Swim Form! For special weapons, these are unlocked by filling your special meter, which fills either as you ink turf or passively over time. As soon as you see your meter filled and your hair starts glowing, just click the right analog stick to activate your special weapon.

Depending on what game mode you're playing, you may have different needs as far as sub and special weapons go. Burst bombs are great for getting enemies out of the way, Sprinklers can passively distribute ink, and so on.

Special weapons can heavily influence a match as well. In Turf War, for example, inking the ground is the main objective, so you may want a special weapon like Splashdown or the Booyah Bomb. Tower Control may require you to drive enemies away from a specific point, so special weapons like Tenta Missiles may be your best bet.

Practice, practice, practice!

Splatoon 3 Lobby test range

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With a new era of Splatoon comes new weapon types like the Stringer and the Splatana, as well as tons of new stages in both the Splatlands and Greater Inkopolis. It can be overwhelming at first as you try to figure out what feels best, but there are plenty of opportunities to find your bearings.

The new Test Range in the Lobby area allows you to test out your weapon, sub-weapon and special weapon. You can switch out your gear at any time here, so try something new! You can even activate the Copy Machine to act as a stand-in for the enemy! It copies every move you make — when you fire, so does the copy machine.

If you're unsure of the layout of the stages themselves and don't want to go through the stress of figuring them out during a match, you can enter Recon Mode and get exclusive access to any stage, splatting and traveling to your heart's content. There are no enemies on the map, and you can hang out in any stage for an hour at a time, giving you ample opportunities to swim through every nook and cranny of the stages.

Unleash your inner squid!

Some aspects of Splatoon 3 may feel overwhelming initially, but with enough practice, you'll be a natural. Pay attention to your surroundings, find the weapon set that suits your play style, and most importantly, have fun! Whether you engage in online multiplayer or play locally with friends, Splatoon 3 is a game where you can express yourself and be the freshest squid on the block.


Splatoon 3

Fans of Nintendo's thrilling take on the third-person shooter can preorder the game today. It's everything you love about Splatoon — inking turf to win Turf Wars, customizing your Inkling in fresh gear, and tons of diverse weapons — now with all-new content. 

Preorder from: Amazon

Nadine Dornieden

Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.