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(Pocket-lint) - Splatoon 2 was a superb launch title for the Nintendo Switch, following up on the first game with an expanded roster of paint-based weapons to offer oodles of online battling fun.

The next game in the series has taken some time coming, but we're now on the cusp of finally being able to play Splatoon 3, a game that some worried might never get made. Find out all the key details, right here.

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Splatoon 3 trailer and release date

Splatoon 3 came as a real surprise, dropped right at the end of a nearly hour-long Nintendo Direct presentation in February 2021 with the three-minute trailer you can see embedded above.

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It was an atmospheric look at the upcoming game and ended with the all-important information that it was coming in 2022. That date was then officially narrowed down to Summer 2022.

Now we have a confirmed release date - Splatoon 3 will launch on 9 September 2022, as the trailer below made clear.

Splatoon 3 platforms

The first Splatoon game came out on the lesser-spotted Wii U, and wasn't a huge seller, which is why Nintendo was smart to revitalise the franchise by bringing the sequel to the Switch pretty quickly.

It's earned a big fanbase there, with its fun story mode and relentlessly enjoyable four-on-four multiplayer online. The third game has been announced for the Switch as well, and being a Nintendo exclusive there's no chance it'll appear anywhere else.

Enjoyably, Nintendo has also shown off a limited edition Switch OLED that will be launching to tie in with the game, and it looks really funky, so that's one to keep an eye out for.

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Splatoon 3 demo and pre-release Splatfest

During a recent Nintendo Direct, it was confirmed that there will be a chance for players to try out Splatoon 3 before it releases - a demo will be available to download from the eShop from 18 August.

It'll only really work fully for a few days, from 25 August, though, and on 27 August the game will hold a pre-release Splatfest for people to participate in. It'll be a three-way battle between teams Rock, Paper and Scissors.

For the first 12 hours, it'll be open for 4v4 Turf War matches, while the second 12 hours will be comprised of a new Splatfest mode that pits the team in first place against two others in a 4v2v2 contest.

You'll get a seven-day Nintendo Switch Online trial just for downloading the demo, so you can try it out online completely for free.

Splatoon 3 gameplay

We got some welcome glimpses of actual gameplay in the final minute of that first trailer, comprising a bit of a four-on-four match that is sure to be Splatoon 3's signature mode as usual, but way more detail came in the form of a 30-minute Nintendo Direct in August 2022, which you can watch below.

Rounds seem to begin a bit more explosively than before now, with players divebombing into the map after aiming for an area, which is a welcome way to get things off to a more action-packed start.

There are also a host of weapons shown off in the various trailers, from bows and launchers to cannons and sword-like bats, and dedicated Splatoon 2 players will know that experimenting with different loadouts is part of the fun of the game. This time you'll be able to save loadouts - called Fits in the game, making it easier to swap between them.

After the good reception for Splatoon 2's singleplayer and coop modes, the third game will be getting a full story mode to introduce players to its controls and matches. Another full coop experience will also be included - Salmon Run Next Wave. You can see more about it in the trailer below:

There'll be a bunch of new maps to play on, and the trailers also makes it clear that customising your Inkling will be as varied and fun as ever. There are loads of options to pick from, including your own little fishy pal - that's a new feature for the series, and we're keen to find out more about how the little guy might impact on things (although he seems to be only there in the campaign).

Splatoon 3 story

We now know a lot more about how Splatoon 3 will take the baton on from Splatoon 2 from a story perspective. For one thing, it's introducing a whole new area called the Splatlands, which is a dry and arid desert locale that evokes cartoony Mad Max vibes that we really appreciate. 

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Our Inkling eventually boards a train to cross that landscape, passing the visually arresting sight of an upside-down Eiffel Tower on their way, before arriving back in the Tokyo (sorry, Inkopolis) hub that's so familiar from Splatoon 2. It's looking a little less colourful than usual, though, so there might be something going on.

There is a new set of hosts for the news updates and map rotation announcements - Deep Cut. These three will announce Splatfests, too, which are returning in the form of new three-way battles instead of simple head-to-head contests.

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Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.
Sections Nintendo Games