Splatoon 3 for Nintendo Switch: Everything you need to know
This series is getting a fresh new coat of ink!
Set in a new, desolate wasteland, the objective of Splatoon 3 remains the same: ink everything in sight. Fans of the series will be thrilled to discover that the new title is actually due out this year. But what else is new in this threequel to one of the greatest multiplayer games on the Switch? Here's everything we know about Splatoon 3 so far, from price, to release date, plot, characters, and even more!
What is Splatoon 3?
Splatoon 3 is the third game in the Splatoon series, which is Nintendo's answer to the third-person shooter. The series made its start on the Wii U in 2015 and is unique in that the objective isn't to splat the enemy team, but to spread your team's ink across the map. Whoever spreads the most ink is the winning team!
In Splatoon 3, players can play as either an Inkling or an Octoling, who are part kid, part cephalopod. Ink is spread via various weapons that resemble real-world items like buckets and paintbrushes, with tons of weapon classes to learn.
What is an Inkling? What is an Octoling? Who is your Little Buddy?
Inklings are part squid, part kid, and can transform on a whim between both forms. Though they derive from marine animals, they can't touch water, only ink. They also have their own culture and language, and their sworn enemies are the Octarians.
Octolings were introduced in Splatoon 2. With suckers like an octopus, the Octolings were once brainwashed fighters for the Octarian military, but have since been freed. Many of them joined Inkling society, hoping to start anew. Previously, they could only be unlocked if you played and beat Splatoon 2's paid DLC, Octo Expansion. However, the third entry in the series allows players to choose them from the get-go.
Your Little Buddy, introduced in Spaltoon 3, is a juvenile Salmonid called a Smallfry. While the species is normally dangerous, this one seems to have developed a bond with its Inkling owner.
Is Splatoon 3 single-player?
This time around, the single-player campaign will take place in neither the Splatlands nor Splatsville, but in a new mysterious area called Alterna. The previous Agent 3 from Splatoon 1 has retired, and you are to take her place as the new Agent 3.
It seems that Fuzzy Ink has plagued the landscape. Should a player come into contact with it, brown fur will sprout all over their body, and they'll be rendered incapable of movement. Funnily enough, your Little Buddy seems to be unfazed by the new type of ink, even eating it! It looks like you're going to need your Little Buddy to help you escape some hairy situations.
Back in the September 2021 Nintendo Direct, the Squid Research Team showed Callie and Marie playing a part in the game's single-player campaign as part of the new Squidbeak Splatoon, who are on a mission to defeat the Octarian army. The Octarian army is still going strong, but this time, they have the Fuzzy Ink covering their body. Callie and Marie's code names are Agents 1 and 2 respectively, and they seem to have a new captain who looks eerily like Agent 3 from the first Splatoon game.
Captain Cuttlefish is also making a comeback as part of the Squidbeak Splatoon, though we're not sure in what capacity. It's great to see him as spritely as ever, and we can't wait to see what sage advice he can offer the player. He can be seen peeking out of a grate in Splatsville, which players can travel through to access the single-player content.
How does multiplayer work in Splatoon 3?
Just like the previous games in the series, Splatoon 3 will feature fast-paced team battles with up to eight players.
In Splatoon 2, a co-op mode called Salmon Run was introduced. Splatoon 3 there will be an updated version of that called Salmon Run: Next Wave. Salmon Run teams are smaller, consisting of four players against all the enemy Salmonids.
There are three main multiplayer modes in Splatoon 3:
- Turf Wars — The signature gameplay of the game. Two teams of four players try to spread the most ink across the floor of the map using their weapons. You can ink walls, too, but those don't count towards turf! The team with the most turf inked by the end wins. Hitting an opponent with enough ink will splat them, sending them back to their base. But don't focus on it too much, and ink turf instead.
- Anarchy Battles — This is an improved version of Ranked Battles from Splatoon 2 where players can compete in four different types of battles: Splat Zones, Tower Control, Rainmaker, and Clam Blitz. Anarchy Battles can be taken on solo or with friends for a different kind of challenge.
- Salmon Run — This mode has you join a team of four and take on the evil Salmonids, all while collecting those sweet Golden Eggs for Mr. Grizz.
Two additional multiplayer modes, X Battle and League Battle, won't be available at launch but are planned for future updates.
In the Splatsville lobby, players can see their friends as 3D ghost holograms. You can see what battles your friends are engaging in, and even join them mid-battle! You can even call out to friends to let them know that you're available to play. The lobby is also home to the Memory Player, which allows players to replay recent battles and even upload them online.
What about Splatfests?
Back by popular demand, Splatfests are making a return in Splatoon 3! This time, they come with a twist. Players can choose from one of three teams this time around, all in line with a theme supported by each member of Deep Cut.
During the first half of the Splatfest, players engage in regular Turf War battles against the other two teams. In the second half of the Splatfest, however, players can engage in Tricolor Turf Wars, where the teams in second and third place can attack the leading team from either side of the map. These new Tricolor Turf Wars will test your skill and wit, so fight as hard as you can for your team!
On August 27, 2022, players can choose between Team Rock, Team Paper, and Team Scissors, and engage in the new Tricolor Turf Wars during the Splatfest World Premiere demo.
Can I customize my character?
Splatoon is a series known for its focus on customization, so we can expect Splatoon 3 to follow suit. The teaser trailer shows the player customizing their Inkling with various hairstyles, outfits, and skin tones. You can even customize your Little Buddy's haircut. There are also many different weapons to suit all kinds of playstyles, each with its own abilities.
In the single-player campaign, players can don the Hero Suit. It seems that the Hero Suit has two different forms, potentially hinting at different locales with different fashion needs.
Players can customize their look by buying new headgear, tops, and shoes. Headgear can be bought at Naut Couture from Gnarly Eddy, new clothing at Man-O'-Wardrobe from Jel La Fleur, and shoes from Mr. Coco, who runs Crush Station.
In a tweet, the Squid Research Lab also announced that new types of pants are available for Inklings and Octolings to wear, in a wide variety of colors and materials.
Squid Research Lab here! We did the legwork on legwear and found a robust array of colors, patterns, and styles in the Splatlands. From distressed to dashing and hip to drip, it's a LOT. We calculate a 103.7% chance of a perfect match with your fave gear and hair. Check our math! pic.twitter.com/3jHBvDA3F7June 15, 2022
This was hinted at in the initial release trailer, but players can customize their eyebrows as well, or even give themselves tricolor eyes! The customization in this game is off the charts.
Squid Research Lab here, fresh off the excitement of customizable eyebrows with another ocular observation—tricolor eyes! Apparently unique to the Splatlands, these player-selectable, triple-tone peepers are so cool, I don’t even have a cornea pun to make! pic.twitter.com/CryZG2QCBAJuly 1, 2022
Not only can players customize their outfits, but the way they present themselves to the world as well. Splashtags are banners that feature a player's name and can be personalized to suit their style.
When registering your Splashtag, you'll have to pick a nickname for yourself. This nickname doesn't have to be the same as the name on your Nintendo account, so you can use your gamer tag if you so desire! You'll also be assigned a number so that even if two players choose the same nickname, you'll both have different numbers that your friends can identify you by.
Save data can be saved to the Save Data Cloud, meaning that you can play on multiple Nintendo Switch consoles, provided that your user account and Nintendo account are linked.
If you choose a Splashtag that you end up disliking later on, don't worry — you can change it! But you can't confuse the people you play with by changing it every match, so you'll need to take a bit of a break before changing your Splashtag nickname again.
Banners can be customized with different designs, badges, and titles that are earned through gameplay. Players can purchase these components from Harmony at Hotlantis, further personalizing their gameplay experience.
Players can flex their artistic skills and post illustrations using the Mailbox for all to see, with vertical illustrations also being supported. If photos are more your thing, you can use Photo Mode to take selfies, or even send them to your smart device!
Ever since the first Splatoon, players have wanted apartments to customize. While they're not as big, Nintendo announced that lockers are coming to Splatoon 3!
Players can post photos in their locker, as well as gear, items, statues, and other decorations. These decorations can also be bought from Harmony at Hotlantis.
As you gain experience, you can also unlock poses and emotes whenever you win a battle. All of these customization pieces and more can be found in the catalog on offer at Hotlantis, which changes every season. Be sure to get your favorite items before they're gone!
Where does Splatoon 3 take place?
In the reveal trailer, the player starts in the sun-scorched Splatlands. While dry and arid, the world is not abandoned. A short train ride brings the player to Splatsville, a brand-new city inhabited by battled hardened Inklings and Octolings.
Overall, there seem to be four main locales:
- The Splatlands — The harsh desert area home to stages like Scorch Gorge.
- Splatsville — The main hub of the game, featuring shops, the mailbox, and lockers.
- Greater Inkopolis — This area is connected to The Splatlands via a bridge and is home to stages like Museum D'Alfonsino.
- Alterna — The area where the single player campaign, Return of the Mammalians, takes place.
Who are the idols?
Each Splatoon game had a group of hosts that welcomed players to the game, detailing the levels on rotation and updating players on any Splatfest. Pearl and Marina were the stars of Splatoon 2, while Callie and Marie hosted Splatoon 1, but what about Splatoon 3?
The new idols were announced in the August 2022 Splatoon 3 Direct, this time a trio called Deep Cut. The members are Shiver, an Octoling and Shark Tamer, Frye, an Inkling and eel master, and Big Man, a manta ray who is... big.
Deep Cut hosts their show Anarchy Rainbow, where they talk about available stages, Splatfest information, and more. You can even view their show from the plaza, without having to watch their dialogue each time.
What multiplayer stages are there?
It wouldn't be a new Splatoon game without fresh new content. Nintendo has unveiled some new stages in their Squid Research labs, found in both The Splatlands and Greater Inkopolis.
Here are the currently revealed stages in The Splatlands:
- Scorch Gorge
- Eeltail Alley
- Mincemeat Metalworks
- Undertow Spillway
- Hagglefish Market
Here are the currently revealed stages in Greater Inkopolis:
- Museum D'Alfonsino
- Hammerhead Bridge
- Mahi-Mahi Resort
In total, the game will start out with 12 different stages, including favorites like Sturgeon Shipyard, Makomart, Inkblot Art Academy, and Wahoo World. But don't worry, more will be added to the rotation as time goes on!
Are there any new weapons?
Nintendo confirmed that every weapon from Splatoon 2 would be making a return, including the new Dualie class introduced in the game. Two new weapon classes were introduced for Splatoon 3:
Resembling a bow and arrow, this weapon type fires three explosive arrows in front of the player. Players can charge the Stringer's attacks similar to the Charger for more power, to perfect their aim. Both vertical and horizontal shots can be executed as well, adding to the variety.
Similar in shape to a sword made from a windshield wiper, it shoots a beam of ink in front of you, making it a good long-range weapon. Players can splat enemies at close range with a charged attack as well, encouraging their opponents to keep their distance.
There are a few brand-new special weapons as well. Special weapons become available after your Special Gauge is filled through inking turf, and can turn the tides of a battle.
Here are the special weapons we've seen thus far:
- Crab Tank — This allows players to pilot an adorable crab-like robot. It features a powerful cannon as well as a rapid-fire gun, and players can move around by curling up in a ball — similar to the Bubbler special weapon in Splatoon 2.
- Big Bubbler — It can be deployed to a fixed position. A hovering device launches into the air and forms a big bubble of the team's own ink, offering refuge to players trying not to get splatted by the enemy.
- Zipcaster — The Zipcaster allows players to move forward quickly and stick to walls. It allows for quick and anonymous movement. You'll even be warped back to where you started using the special weapon, so the enemy team will find it harder to identify you!
- Trizooka — The Trizooka is a modified version of the Inkstrike from Splatoon, and fires three missiles instead of one. It can be fired a total of three times, giving you a chance to fire off nine powerful missiles to thwart the enemy team.
- Killer Wail 5.1 — A modification of the weapon of the same name in Splatoon, the Killer Wail 5.1 unleashes six megaphones that move on their own, attacking any enemies in sight with a powerful blast.
- Tacticooler — This spawns a mini fridge filled with delicious refreshments for both you and your teammates that can boost states like speed, as well as your abilities.
- Wave Breaker — The Wave Breaker is deployed to a fixed position and sends out waves when deployed, identifying enemies and damaging them in the process. Enemy players can only escape the waves by performing a well-timed jump.
- Reef Slider — Ride a ferocious inflatable shark and charge into opponents to splat them silly! Your shark explodes in a flurry of ink after charging, splatting anyone in your way.
What else can I do in Splatsville?
If inking turf is too much for you right now, you can always take a break with a good ol' game of cards. Tableturf Battle is a 1-v-1 card game that appears to be a mixture of Tetris and Turf War. With over 150 unique cards to collect, players can build their deck over time. Each player gets a starter deck, and the rest is in your hands.
Salmon Run: Next Wave
Salmon Run is a multiplayer mode introduced in Splatoon 2. Players must work together in a team of four to gather Golden Eggs for their mysterious employer, Mr. Grizz. Golden Eggs can be obtained from Boss Salmonids, terrifying creatures that require specific strategies to defeat. The mode takes place across three waves of 100 seconds, with an increased quota of eggs to be delivered every wave.
During the February 2022 Nintendo Direct, we got to see gameplay for Salmon Run: Next Wave multiplayer co-op mode. The August 2022 Splatoon Direct also shone some light on the updates to this game mode as well. Some new Boss Salmonids were announced, including:
- Slammin' Lid — It puts up a protective barrier for smaller Salmonids, crashing down to anyone beneath it.
- Big Shot — Similar to the Wave Breaker special weapon, this Boss Salmonid sends out powerful shockwaves that can splat you if you're not careful.
- Cohozuna — This is a King Salmonid that sometimes shows up towards the end of the last wave, threatening to destroy everything your team worked for. Players must drive it back into the sea, hitting it with Golden Eggs from an Egg Cannon.
A new mode of Salmon Run was also teased during the August 2022 Splatoon 3 Direct. Big Runs are a new phenomenon that seems to occur every few months, where Salmonids and Boss Salmonids infiltrate the cities that Inklings and Octolings inhabit. It seems like players will have to get together to push the evil Salmonids out of Splatsville before it's too late!
Will there be an app?
With a new game comes a new applet within the Nintendo Switch Online app on your mobile device. SplatNet 3 is your mobile hub where players can check battle records, player stats, and order exclusive gear from the in-app shop.
The new feature in SplatNet 3 is Crusty Sean's Wandercrust, where players can support Crusty Sean's journey by donating points earned in battles. The app will be available once the game launches.
Do I get anything for being a veteran?
Those who played Splatoon 2 religiously will be handsomely rewarded in Splatoon 3 for their efforts. If you have save data from Splatoon 2, you'll receive bonuses in Splatoon 3, including the following:
- Three Gold Sheldon Licenses that can be exchanged for weapons at Ammo Knights, no matter what level you are
- The ability to join Anarchy Battles from the start of your playthrough, no matter what level you are
- A higher starting rank that is dependent on your rank in Splatoon 2
- Increased matchmaking with people that have similar skill levels from Splatoon 2
In order to transfer your save data, simply launch Splatoon 3, or walk into the Splatoon 3 lobby while connected to the internet. Your Splatoon 2 save data must be on the same system that you first launch Splatoon 3 on in order for the save data transfer to be successful.
Are there amiibo?
Rejoice, amiibo fans! Another three-pack was announced for Splatoon 3. They feature an Octoling, an Inkling, and an adorable Little Buddy. No price or release date was announced outside of "this holiday," but we'll be sure to update you when pre-orders become available!
Will there be updates?
Be sure to stay glued to your Sea Cucumber Phones, because just like the previous entries in the series, Splatoon 3 will continue to be supported for up to two years. New stages, weapons, and content will be delivered on a regular basis.
Nintendo also announced that some "large-scale DLC" will be coming to the game, with a silhouette of what appears to be Pearl and Marina in the background. The duo were involved in Splatoon 2's Octo Expansion DLC, so we're anticipating how they may be involved this time around.
When does Splatoon 3 release?
Nintendo showcased a release date trailer in April of 2022, confirming that Splatoon 3 will release on the Nintendo Switch on September 9, 2022.
Will there be a special console?
Nintendo announced a limited edition Nintendo Switch OLED model that sports a Splatoon 3 theme. The console features unique Joy-Con controllers in blue, purple, yellow, and green, and a white dock with ink splotches and Splatoon-themed imagery. Of course, if you don't prefer Joy-Cons when you're gaming, there are always some of the best third-party Nintendo Switch controllers to choose from.
The console releases ahead of the game on August 27, 2022, available for pre-order now.
How much will Splatoon 3 cost?
If the preorders on various websites are anything to judge by, it's safe to say that Splatoon 3 will launch at $60.
Will there be a demo?
Well... yes, and no. There is no demo in the traditional sense, but there will be a free Splatfest demo ahead of the game's release. On August 27, 2022, players can choose between Team Rock, Team Paper, and Team Scissors, and engage in the new Tricolor Turf Wars. For instructions on how to download the demo, visit our guide.
More ink, soon
Nintendo gave us a glimpse of the Nintendo Switch's future with the surprise reveal of Splatoon 3 during its February and September 2021 Nintendo Direct presentations, alongside the August 2022 Direct that premiered a month before the game's release. It's so exciting that this fun multiplayer title will have a third installment soon. We'll be sure to keep this page updated with the latest information.
Updated August 2022: With information on the idols, Splatfests, new weapons, stages, subweapons, Salmon Run modes, DLC, amiibo, and more.
Fans of Nintendo's thrilling take on the third-person shooter can pre-order 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.
Pre-order from: Amazon (opens in new tab)
Splatoon 3: Splatfest World Premiere
This isn't your typical Splatfest — choose from one of three teams and battle it out in Turf War, where the team who paints the most Turf wins! Choose your fealty to Team Rock, Team Paper, or Team Scissors. Who will come out on top when the Splatfest begins on August 27?
Download from: Nintendo (opens in new tab)
Nintendo Switch OLED: Splatoon 3 Edition
You won't need to wait for Splatoon 3's release on September 9 to have a fresh Switch. The Splatoon 3 edition of the Nintendo Switch OLED model features a wider, more vibrant OLED screen, and a built-in LAN port for all your Turf War needs. It releases on August 26.
Pre-order from: Best Buy (opens in new tab)
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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.