How to Not Suck at Splatoon 3

Having trouble splatting? Our guide for Splatoon newbies should help!

How to Not Suck at Splatoon 3
Source: Nintendo.

The fact that you clicked on this headline suggests you're probably new to the Splatoon series. At least, that seems like a fair assumption. The latest iteration of Nintendo's freshest franchise is already its most popular ever; that means millions of innocent tadpoles have just dived straight into piranha territory.

I have been obsessively playing the Splatoon games since the original was released on the Wii U. And while I certainly experience my fair share of losses, I have picked up a few little tips along the way that could really help Splatoon newbies. While there are multiple modes in Splatoon 3, I'm going to focus my attention on Turf War. This is really the main multiplayer mode folks will likely spend most of their time in. And the skills you develop in Turf War are useful across other modes too (whether it's the new Tricolour Turf War or even the various ranked matches).

Experiment with a range of weapons

Each weapon pairs with a different play style and comes with its own unique stats and special abilities. Source: Nintendo.

This might seem obvious at first. But it's very easy to pick up your second or third weapon in the game, get comfortable with it, and stick with it forever. It's perfectly fine to do that too, of course. But if you do, you'll be missing out on the opportunity to discover new tactics that might give you an edge in multiplayer.

The weapons in Splatoon 3 are incredibly varied, too. The Splattershot (pictured above) is a pretty standard gun-type weapon. But then there are the various rollers, which are dramatically different in terms of their handling and capabilities. On top of that, each weapon - and each variant of the same weapon - come with different sub and special abilities.

When you experiment with weapons, it's worth thinking about what kind of sub and special abilities you might want, over and above the main ability. For example, some weapons have a special that allows you to place a beacon on the ground, which your teammates can use as a temporary spawn point mid-battle. Others have a special that temporarily turns you into a tank, allowing you to fire huge paint blasts at enemies. The type of sub/special abilities you prefer are going to depend greatly on your favoured play style.

Finally, don't forget to pay attention to the core three stats of your weapon: range, damage, and fire rate. Depending on how you like to play, you might prefer something that's fast-but-weak, or alternatively you might be all about avoiding close-combat encounters, which means you'll want to focus on range.

The Inkipedia contains a great page for looking at all weapons and their stats at a glance.

No combat? No problem!

In Turf War, your team's goal is to ink the most turf - combat is only a means to achieve this end. Source: Nintendo.

One of the most common things I hear from newer players is that they are struggling with combat. There are a range of reasons for this, I'm sure, but if often comes down to not feeling dexterous enough with the Switch controllers when it comes to aiming/firing. This resonates with me, because I'm definitely not the best shot out there. But the good news is that in most Splatoon 3 modes, combat really isn't the main focus.

When I talk about combat in Splatoon 3, I'm talking about 'splatting' opponents. Hitting an opponent directly with paint will splat them (K.O. them, in other words). What's the point of doing this? Well, when a player is K.O.'d, they are taken off the field for a few seconds and must respawn. So the value of being good at splatting is that you can keep the opposing team on the defensive - the more they get splatted, the longer they spend off the field, which gives your team more time to ink turf.

But remember: your ultimate goal in Turf War (and in most, though not all, multiplayer modes) is to ink the most turf. Once a Turf War battle is over, the game will count up how much % of turf each team has inked - the team who inked the most turf wins. It's quite common for a Turf War battle to be decided over a very small % of territory, too. I've often just scraped through (or lost) a battle over 0.5% of turf. That's how close it can get.

Why do I mention all of this? Simply because, if you go into Turf War primarily to splat opponents - and you ignore inking turf sufficiently - you're simply increasing the chance of a loss. I quite often jump into a match and see my teammates immediately dash to the other side of the map for some splatting. In the process, they completely ignore inking the turf all around our side of the map. It's a short-sighted strategy.

What's great about this, though, is that you don't need to be a great splatter to be a formidable Splatoon 3 player. If you're uncomfortable with splatting for whatever reason, then you can simply focus on inking as much turf as possible. Don't neglect the areas immediately around your side of the map, either - even inking small, out of the way nooks and crannies around the map can make a huge difference. This is especially true when both teams become splat-obsessed, and forget to ink everything.

Just keep swimming

Inking turf is not only important to win a match, it also confers major tactical advantages in each battle. Source: Nintendo.

It's easy to get so caught up in inking turf and splatting other players that you forget what is probably your most powerful and compelling ability: swimming through your team's ink.

Remember that when you swim through your team's ink, you can travel much faster, you're far harder to see and hit, and you can launch surprise attacks against the opposing team. These tactics are all useful if you aren't a great aim, too, because it's possible to 'sneak' up close to unwary opponents and splat them without any aim required.

Of course, your enemies have the same capability. If you're in a match where it feels like the tide is against you (i.e. the opposing team has inked way more turf than yours), then remember that you can use ink to build a tactical advantage. For example, if an entire area is inked in the opposing team's colour, you can simply draw a line across the area with your own ink to create a 'cut off' point - your enemies can't swim through your ink, so they'll be forced to pull up and/or re-ink the area to progress. This gives you a window to splat them, buy your team some time, and cover more turf.

Similarly, you can create choke points and other obstacles with some strategic inking.

Don't forget to check the map

This is actually a map from Splatoon 2, but Splatoon 3 isn't very different. Source: iMore.

One of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal in Splatoon 3 is the overhead map. You can check it at any time by pressing the X button. But, importantly, you'll always see this map pop up when you're waiting to respawn. Use those precious few seconds to glance at the state of play and think about your next move.

What's great about the overhead map is that it gives you a real-time indication of what's going on. You can see what turf is inked (and in which colour), and you can see where all your teammates are. You don't have long to do this, but while you're waiting for respawn, you can press a direction on the D-Pad that corresponds to one of your teammates - this allows you to respawn at their current location. This can be super important, because the precious seconds you'll take swimming from your 'home base' to the line of control can really matter. Remember what I said earlier: the advantage of splatting enemies is that you take them out of the game for a precious few seconds. Your opponents will use this time to gain as much ground as possible. By cleverly selecting respawn locations, you can cut down that advantage significantly.

In addition to respawning where your teammates are, it's also sometimes possible to create temporary respawn points on the map through the use of specials (remember, some weapons come with a special that allows you to place a respawn beacon). If you are the one placing the beacon, it's worth giving some thought to where you place it. Rather than just throwing it anywhere, I personally recommend placing respawn beacons on areas of high ground; teams that dominate the high ground will often be at a tactical advantage (both in terms of splatting and inking turf).

That's just the beginning...

The best advice is to dive right in and try a little of everything! Source: Nintendo.

I've really just scratched the surface here. There are many more tactics for advanced players to employ. But the key points I've outlined here feel really crucial, especially for new players.

Are there any particular strategies you think I've missed here? Maybe there's a tip that's worked especially well for you that you'd like to share. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below so we can keep the discussion going!


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