Splatoon 3: The Future of the Franchise

Angela Carlton, Reporter

During the Nintendo Direct of February 2021, Splatoon fans and Youtubers reacted with shock, awe, and excitement as the camera flipped to a hooded Inkling, sitting in a post-apocalyptic landscape with a Small Fry and a bow-like weapon at their side. The long-awaited Splatoon 3 had finally been announced.

In this Nintendo Direct segment, various new features had been revealed for the game. Just at the very start, we see the current concept for the customization screen, where it seems that players may be able to start as Octolings if they choose so. Note that in the previous game, Splatoon 2, playable Octolings were locked behind DLC. In addition to new eye colors and new hairstyles, it also appears that the hairstyles will no longer be gender-locked. The genders are also now labeled as ‘styles’’. Naturally, many players of various backgrounds are elated to see such freedom for customizing their little cephalopod-inspired character, a character that may even be a representation of themself.

We also see the player being able to change the ‘hairstyle’ of what seems to be a Small Fry, a Salmonid, companion to the player. This Small Fry companion is particularly interesting when you consider the relationship between cephalopod players and NPC Salmonids back in Splatoon 2. In Splatoon 2, there was a co-op mode called ‘Salmon Run’, in which teams of four players fight against hordes of Salmonids to gather Golden Egg for a mysterious ‘Mr. Grizz’. In this game, cephalopods and Salmonids had been enemies. However, in Splatoon 3, it appears the two species may have become allies. Just what will this mean for the storyline of Splatoon 3?

On September 23rd, the latest Nintendo Direct segment revealed more on the story of Splatoon 3. This trailer is labeled as “Return of the Mammalians”. Within the lore of the Splatoon franchise, it is explained that 12,000 years ago, a nuclear missile launched during a series of wars struck and melted the entirety of Antarctica. This incident caused the oceans to rise dramatically, resulting in the extinction of the human race and many other mammals. Which allowed sea creatures to eventually evolve and take over any remaining land. In the first Splatoon game, the only known mammal to exist was the cat judge of the Turf War and Ranked games, Judd. In Splatoon 2, we are introduced to his mini-me clone, Li’l Judd. Yet, the second trailer of Splatoon 3 suggests that somehow, mammals are returning to the planet. As of now, all we’ve seen is furred Octarians, a rocket ship, and a strange substance that envelops an inkling and leaves it covered by some sort of furred creature.

Something that both of the trailers contain are glimpses into what the PvP mechanics of Splatoon 3 may be like. It should be noted that the Splatoon games are most known for their competitive scene. Which is large enough that Nintendo has included Splatoon 2 as an option for eSports.“Splatoon 2 is a great addition to the eSports program, with its fast gameplay and endless customization for team synergy”, says Connor Jaros, the President of Chandler High’s eSports club. Now, in both segments we see new weapons, new maps, and new ‘Specials’. Also most notably a new method of spawning and respawning that may potentially prevent spawn camping, which had been a major issue in previous Splatoon games. Competitive players ponder what else the game may have in store.

There have only been two trailers so far for the game, with both being segments in separate Nintendo Directs. Splatoon fans are excited to see what else may get revealed to us, or if we’ll ever get a specific date or time for when Splatoon 3 may come out. Whether or not the developers give us any further information on the game, the hype train will still be going strong.