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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Splatoon 3's Challenges Mode CAN Be Fun!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It depends what the challenge is.

One of the new things introduced in Splatoon 3's version 4 Sizzle Season 2023, and perhaps the most important thing, are Challenges. I wasn't able to write about Challenges when the new season became live, because they didn't start yet. However, the first Challenge, New Season Challenge, began on June 3. Challenges so far last in three rotations (with a Splatoon rotation being only two hours) total, and the times of these are spaced eight hours apart at inconvenient times. In North America, it means late at night, when you should be getting ready to go to work (or are still asleep), and then during work hours.

Splatoon 3 New Season Challenge Sizzle 2023 Barnacle & Dime description
The theme of this challenge is that no one has experience with Barnacle & Dime, so we can all play it for hours on end and HATE IT together!
This probably means they'll repeat this Challenge at the start of the next season in three months, huh...

The New Season Challenge was dreadful. The rules are that it's just a normal Turf War, but it's only on the two new-to-Splatoon 3 stages: Humpback Pump Track and Barnacle & Dime. Sub-abilities also won't work, meaning only your clothing's Primary abilities are of any use. In other words, it's a bad Turf War rotation that you might avoid, because Barnacle & Dime is a truly bad stage where if you lose the first fight for the middle of the stage, you're pretty much going to be spawn-camped for the rest of the match because your spawn area doesn't have the geography needed to push the invaders out. There are two incentives to play a Challenge instead of play the still-available Turf War or Anarchy ranked modes:

Splatoon 3 Challenges Shell-Out Machine Shell-Out Token to play
The one AND ONLY Shell-Out Token.
The Splatfest conchs are far more plentiful by comparison.

If you win five times (at all, doesn't have to be in a row) within the three rotations (so you don't have to get five wins all within one rotation), you will get a Shell-Out Token that you can use for a capsule to win... something. You will only get one token per Challenge, so winning any more times during a Challenge period will not get you any additional tokens. There is also a number ranking where you can get points for winning or lose points for losing, and the game will tell you if you're in the top 50%, top 20%, or top 5% of players. Being in the those ranges will get you a badge for your Splashtag that isn't exclusive to any particular Challenge but is for Challenges more broadly. The best I've done is Top 20%. Am I skilled enough to get into the Top 5% at some point? Probably not, but it's possible. I certainly am for Big Run (by the way, there is one coming up this weekend) as well as for Eggstra Work.

Unlike those two events or Splatfests, Challenges will occur much more frequently than once or twice a season. If the only Challenge we had was the New Season Challenge, I would say Challenges suck. But we already had a second Challenge, Too Many Trizookas.

Splatoon 3 Too Many Trizookas! Challenge description Sizzle Season 2023
The key part that differentiates this Challenge from what is normally possible is
“The special gauge will fill quickly all by itself!”

For that one, ShinyGirafarig and I teamed up to decent effect—and I finally got to see the new fist bumps in action, which still makes me happy. We had to actually coordinate our victory screen emote poses accordingly, because there is a low, medium, and high posture that must match in order to fist bump, and both fist bumpers need to overperform their other teammates by getting gold medals (which involve things like splatting the most enemies or inking the most turf out of anyone on your team).

Only weapons that normally have the Trizooka Special are eligible to be picked, and the only weapons I have experience with that would qualify are the Carbon Roller Deco and the Tenta Sorella Brella. I went exclusively with the Tenta Sorella Brella, since I believe the canopy is useful since it can absorb one Trizooka blast. This is better than getting splatted outright. I don't actually have a lot of positive experience being accurate with Trizookas, so this Challenge was beneficial practice.

Too Many Trizookas Splatoon 3 Humpback Pump Track take the shot splatted on inkrail Tower Control
Hey, look, see? I CAN shoot things!
(Including noticing when foes are riding the inkrail.)

It's also important to note that Too Many Trizookas wasn't a Turf War match but instead a Tower Control, so that means some ranked modes can be Challenges, too. (You could still opt into playing normal Anarchy ranked modes while this Challenge was happening.)

I think the first Challenge was a really bad first impression, and I'm glad I gave it a second chance, since Too Many Trizookas was very unique and not something that would normally be possible. I greatly believe that's the direction these should take, as opposed to leaning in on the challenge aspect of trying to be at the top of the leaderboard. Ranked modes already exist for that purpose. I'd rather the Challenges be less competitive and more goofy and fun!

Did you play the Challenges so far in Splatoon 3? Any thoughts? There will surely be far more coming up, and likely soon. Here is hoping they are on the fun side and the developers take Ludwig's recommended approach. ...Unless you disagree with it.


  1. "I went exclusively with the Tenta Sorella Brella, since I believe the canopy is useful since it can absorb one Trizooka blast."

    Ink Mines were also really helpful as then I have an easier time knowing where to aim the Trizookas.

    1. I've always liked Ink Mines on the Tower since the first Splatoon game. :)


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