A new season has begun in Splatoon 3. I haven’t been playing the game much lately, and the idea of new stages, game modes, and weaponry doesn’t really appeal to me in the “let’s try out some new cool stuff!” kind of way, but it might just get me back into the game anyway. After all, it’s always been fun when I haven’t been getting disconnected and put in time out as a result. The core gameplay loop is pretty fun and fairly low-stakes since the matches only last a few minutes, so the only thing that ever really gets on my nerves is the communication issues. Sure, there’s still some issues that the game’s creators need to address by improving communication overall, but my ISP also shares some of the blame at this point and there’s not much I can do about it unless I want to call so I can get sales pitches thrown at me for an hour while I get transferred between various departments multiple times before someone just as tired of the rigmarole as I am finally confirms that they don’t offer any service plans that include what I want. And I would rather do just about anything else with my time than that.
I’m not the greatest at the game. I’d probably put myself somewhere just above average, probably, with the ability to swing above my weight class since I understand that the true objective of the game is to cover the stage in paint rather than engage in action-oriented PVP combat. If I’m careful and play defensively while my team and the opposing team both focus on the PVP side of things, I can not only get a good deal of stage coverage done, but I can also get a few good PVP plays when the conditions are right. That’s pretty much my role in a random collection of players. I play defensively but with a gear set that makes me capable of doing everything in a pretty alright manner so that I can pivot between aggressive or defensive play as the situation demands. I’ve managed to find my preferred place in most PVP games and now do my best to stay focused on taking advantage of tipping points.
I’ve still plenty of room to improve, of course, since I am still fairly new to the franchise and haven’t put in a huge number of hours yet. I still flub the controls from time to time and I’m not always the greatest at staying focused on the important details for each match as the situation shifts and evolves, but I still think I can claim at least an average performance in the game. My bad matches have become few and far between, thankfully, so I can bask in basic consistency. I may not have the moments of brilliance and skill that my friends get, but I can usually depend on a solid, relatively-high performance. The exact definition of which tends to increase thanks to my slow but steady improvement.
There isn’t really the ability to play a tank as such in Splatoon 3, but there’s a lot of stuff you can do that works as defensive support. Since I’m not as good at quickly eliminating targets or immediately reacting to the front line of PVP engagements, I tend to follow my more PVP-oriented friends from a safer distance and focus on a combination of watching their flanks and making sure that they always have a safe path for retreat. As you play more of the game, it becomes clear that one of the ways to take down a skilled player is to cover the group around them in paint that will damage them and slow their movement. It can also leave them ineffectual if, like me, they like to flirt with an empty paint tank all the time. If you’re stuck in enemy paint without any of your own, you’re going to get splatted no matter what buffs you’ve got on your gear.
Honestly, routes in and out are something a lot of otherwise skilled players ignore. Most of my best PVP plays have been a result of me following one or two members of the opposing team as they dove into my base. They sprayed ahead of them, cutting a path in, while I followed behind. I reclaimed the ground they claimed and then, when I or another player cornered them, they’d run out of paint because I was making sure they had nowhere to go for a refill. At that point, anyone would go down easily. Which is why I make sure my allies always have somewhere safe to retreat to, that they’re always standing in their own paint, and that if they’re dodging and diving with an opponent, that the opponent runs out of safe terrain before they do. I don’t get a lot of kills this way, but I get a lot of assists and terrain coverage. I also tend to not get splatted very much. If I get taken out more than twice in a match, that’s usually a sign that things went very poorly for my team. Or that I played very poorly.
I’m still having fun and enjoying myself most of the time, so I expect to play for years to come so long as they don’t wind up introducing new gear that completely destroys the ability to engage in defensive and objective-based play. If they wind up going the Overwatch route of prioritizing DPS over all other play, then I’ll probably stop. Which is why I’m a little leery of the new season, since new gear tends to be a little overpowered when it gets initially release, but that period will hopefully pass quickly and I’ll be able to work the game into my regular rotiation. Once I’m done with God of War: Ragnarok and Pokemon Violet, anyway.