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Monday, August 29, 2022

Splatoon 3: Splatfest World Premiere Gameplay and Splatfest Impressions

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I had a really good time and am looking forward to the game!

Last week, I wrote about the “Splatoon 3: Splatfest World Premiere” demo/online stress test that would take place at the end of the week—it was a pre-release Splatfest for Splatoon 3 revolving around its new three-way Splatfest mechanic (as opposed to the two-way Splatfests from the previous two Splatoon titles). You basically couldn't do anything besides play the Splatfest after choosing a team and playing a very short controls tutorial. The vast majority of my article was dedicated to why, of the three sides you could choose, you should pick Team Paper over Team Rock or Team Scissors. It turns out—predictably—that Team Paper was the least popular of the three teams. I'll get into my thoughts on the Splatfest and its mechanics a little later in the article, but first I want to write about my impressions of the base Splatoon 3 gameplay.

Splatoon 3 Gameplay Thoughts

At first glance, you might say that Splatoon 3 is very similar to Splatoon 2. But after spending most of my Saturday playing Splatoon 3 and then going back to Splatoon 2 right after, it feels quite different. Splatoon 3 has tighter (motion) controls and more fluid movement. You might not think much about Squid Surge (hold down the jump button while on a wall to unleash a charged jump with minor armour on the way up) or the Squid Roll (while swimming through ink, jump in the opposite direction to do a slightly armoured flip in the air and shift momentum) on footage, and I'm still not sure about the competitive applications of these, but when playing, they're just fun to do as movement options. Splatoon is a third-person shooter that historically has had great movement feel and expression (like action platformers like the Mega Man Zero series), but Splatoon 3 improves that even more.

Plus, with the Squid Spawn, instead of having the same spawn location every time, you can select where you'd like to land (within a certain range in your base) and there's a short little momentum boost right at the start. It feels great.

I don't really have experience with how the new Splatana or Stringers feel in an actual fight. The only time I deviated from the Splattershot Jr., the Splat Roller, or the Dynamo Roller (which are my main weapons from Splatoon 2) was using the Tenta Brella... and that immediately got me into a 100x Turf War battle where I let my team down because I didn't know what the heck I was doing or how the Ink Vac special works. That discouraged me from trying anything new. I did try the Splatana Wiper and Tri-Stringer in the training wait room, and I wasn't impressed by their poor ink coverage, which is a bad trait to have in Turf War where your primary objective is to paint up the map with ink. With regards to the weapons I used, it feels like it takes the Splattershot Jr. more time to submerge in ink to be able to throw two Splat Bombs in a row. Dynamo Roller feels nerfed, though the Tacticooler is a great Special, even if the range of buffs it grants you and hopefully your team isn't fully defined or known yet.

I ended the World Premiere as a Paper Ruler +3 (no more Paper King or Paper Queen—gender-neutrality is a reoccurring theme in Splatoon 3), so I played quite a bit. I won more matches than I lost, though it was all in Splatfest Battle Open instead of Splatfest Battle Pro. I played Pro once, lost, and stuck with Open. It wasn't too clear from the World Premiere what the difference is besides how clout is calculated (you don't get any in Pro for losing, while you get a smidgen in Open for a loss), but Pro just didn't give me a good vibe. Eeltail Alley was my favourite new stage, though Mahi-Mahi Resort (returning from the first Splatoon) was my favourite stage overall.

Splatoon 3 Victory 100x Battle Team Paper Splatfest
I might've lost a 100x battle, but I also won a 100x battle.
I helped Team Paper more than I hurt it!

I REALLY liked the little medals and win screens. Even if you lose, you feel like you accomplished things and held a role on the team, like inking the most turf in your home base, or being the most popular target, or splatting the most people, or whatever.

Rock vs. Paper vs. Scissors Splatfest Impressions

First of all, I knew the popularity vote would've gone Rock, Scissors, and then Paper. That's the order that the studies (where men's top choice is most likely to be rock and women's top choice is most likely to be paper) and GameFAQs poll had them. There are more men than women who would've played Splatoon, and contrary to the delusions of many of the Splatoon player base and of select people overall, there are only two genders, so Team Paper didn't have a base constituency.

And, yes, some people allegedly picked based on which Deep Cut member they immediately felt a kinship with. But I think that's a pretty small percent of people. Right now, I don't have a natural affinity with any of the three, but based on the small world of the Splatoon fandom, the two popular ones are Shiver and Big Man. There aren't Frye fans, so that's another knock against Team Paper.

Few people are like me and pick their team after very thoughtful, careful analysis. As far as I know, KoopaTV is the only website on the Internet that does what we do with choosing Splatfest teams and trying to make a case or explanation for why we—and you—should pick a certain team. Others are far more... instinctual or base or are just picking what their friends pick.

Splatoon 3 Splatfest World Premiere halftime final results score Rock Paper Scissors Splatcast
At halfway, we're given this one, unspecified statistic at the top which affected the second half of the Splatfest. Team Scissors was barely in the lead.
The last three screenshots are the popularity vote (Rock first, Scissors second, Paper a distant third);
and then the clout totals (Rock won Splatfest Open+Tricolor Turf War while Paper won Splatfest Pro);
and then the final score (Team Rock wins, Team Paper second, Team Scissors dead last).

For the first six hours, there were the Splatfest Battle Open and Pro (both are just Turf Wars). In the last six hours (or half of any length of a normal Splatfest), the winning team (see first screenshot of the four above—it's not clear what metric that percentage is based off of) will then randomly be forced into a Tricolor Turf War while trying to play Splatfest Battle Open and will function as the defending team. Meanwhile, the two losing teams can choose to enter a Tricolor Turf War or keep playing Splatfest Battle Open/Pro. In Tricolor Turf War, which is a 4 vs. 2 vs. 2 match, the defending team (Scissors, in this case), is trying to end with the most turf %. A big part of maintaining this stage control is not allowing either of the two attacking teams to get to the centre and use an Ultra Signal to summon a Sprinkler of Doom. There are up to two Ultra Signals that can be used total, and the match could end with zero, one, or both used, by any combination of the two attacking teams. (The defence has no access to using this.) The Sprinklers of Doom automatically inks a bunch of turf for the team that summoned it, and keeps reapplying it throughout.

Note that it's 4 vs. 2 vs 2—while there are Clout incentives for the two attacking teams to be ranked #1 and #2 at the end (with the defending team at #3), it doesn't have to be that way, and the two attacking teams can turn on one another, possibly to the benefit of the defending team. There were SEVERAL instances where Team Rock splatted me after I cleaned up Team Scissors, just so Team Rock could then swoop in and claim the Ultra Signal for themselves. ...That scuffle usually gave Team Scissors enough time to respawn (and two of them spawn for the two sides of the map, instead of all four spawning at the same location) and deal with the numerically disadvantaged Team Rock. Even when I wasn't shooting at Team Rock, which I never did because I want to COOPERATE with them, or I'd go and purposefully swim away from them if they approached me, they still went and shot at me. These guys’ brains are rocks.

And then in other times, somehow, Team Rock was so powerful they could beat Team Scissors and Team Paper almost combined. Like, what the heck?

Splatoon 3 Splatfest World Premiere toxic Team Rock players Tricolor Turf Battle Halo Sunny
This was the end result of the above clip's match.
Team Rock demonstrated toxic (masculine) and violent behaviour, so maybe they're Nihilego?
But it is probably why Team Rock ended up winning. They nearly beat Team Paper + Scissors COMBINED.

Other than the instances where I had pseudo-teammates that didn't understand teamwork, I had a ton of fun playing Tricolor Turf War. I understand that for Team Scissors, it was less fun—I don't think they have an inherent disadvantage, but the defending team just didn't have an understanding of the optimal way to play Tricolor Turf War. I won the vast majority of my matches against Team Scissors in this mode, and exclusively played it after the halfway point. I even played the last several matches with a friend of mine and we did quite well together (the above clip was with Tangerine, the friend).

The real Splatfests that will happen in Splatoon 3 will have an additional scoring method involving how much conch shells your team collects before the Splatfest actually begins, which you can get by normal lobby or Salmon Run gameplay. It's not clear how that works or how that wouldn't be a factor of popularity.

Splatoon 3 releases on September 9, and I'm feeling more excited for it than I ever have since its initial announcement.

How are you feeling about Splatoon 3? If it's not a good feeling, is that because of your gameplay experience from this World Premiere, or did you not actually give it a chance? The game feels way better than its predecessor, and the new mode(s) are likely to be awesome.

The next Splatfest would come post-release, asking what you'd bring to a deserted island.

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