Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass Wave 2 - Side Order (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 29.02.2024

Review for Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass Wave 2 - Side Order on Nintendo Switch

The much-anticipated next chapter of the Splatoon story unfolds as a new single-player chapter as part of the Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass. With a slightly different shift in gameplay style, is it worth a leap into the unknown world of Splatoon 3: Side Order?

Splatoon 3: Side Order marks the return of the mysterious Agent 8 from Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion in a whole new single player mode to conquer - but things are a little different this time round! Those expecting huge, sprawling stages to explore like in past solo outings are in for a slightly different change of pace in Side Order.

When stepping into the world of Splatoon 3: Side Order, players awaken within a colourless, ruined version of Inkopolis Square. Something seems slightly amiss. The bustling, vibrant world of Splatoon literally drained of its vibrancy. Fortunately, the rather talented Agent 8 takes the reigns to try and uncover just what's going on.

It's difficult to explain the premise without diving too much into the story, however rest assured that this review will, of course, remain spoiler-free! Where the familiar set of Turf War doors once stood is now a huge tower made-up of a set of floors connected by a lift that conveniently can only ascend one floor at a time.

Screenshot for Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass Wave 2 - Side Order on Nintendo Switch

The aim? You've probably guessed it. Complete each floor, battle through the baddies, and take on the threat that's sitting patiently at the top. Sound simple? Conceptually it is, but this is no challenge for the scared squid and truly puts those tried-and-tested Splatoon skills to the ultimate test.

Each floor is a self-contained stage, almost like a Legend of Zelda: Tears of Kingdom shrine in feel/tone. Each has one of five objectives - from destroying enemy spawn points to defeating sets of fleeing enemies. Others include a Splat Zone inspired defence feature, where players defend a chunk of the stage, and moving a tower from one end to the other. The last, and slightly more frustrating objective is to plod a ball to a checkpoint by nudging it along.

These are overall a solid mix, familiar to Splatoon veterans and easy enough for newcomers to pick-up straight away. Though a few additional types could have made the experience a little more varied.

Beat a floor and there's a neat reward to be had, called "colour chips". These are neatly stacked in a "palette" to boost a manner of different attributes throughout the run. Those familiar with Splatoon ability unlocks in the series will be right at home here. From boosting ink damage to weapon speed, to ink coverage and charge up time, there are plenty of combinations that should help with the arduous climb. More unique rewards come through "lucky" abilities, for example an increase in the chance of enemies dropping armour or ink bottles, or even features that help slow down those relentless baddies.

Screenshot for Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass Wave 2 - Side Order on Nintendo Switch

All sounds do-able so far, right? The twist in Splatoon 3: Side Order comes through a "rogue-lite" design to climbing the tower, where abilities don't last forever and there's a risk to picking which difficulty mode on which floor. For example, easier runs may dish out less desirable colour chips, where the harder routes could have a better pay-off. If your lives are depleted, say goodbye to those hard-earned rewards!

Fortunately, the rogue-lite nature, rather than roguelike allows some permanent attributes to be unlocked to hopefully make each subsequent attempt a little less painful. These are unlocked through currency that's obtained on each floor. Is it worth saving up for an additional life or perhaps a reduction in damage taken? There's such an interesting balance of play here that keeps things fresh in a mode that could become quickly repetitive.

Screenshot for Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass Wave 2 - Side Order on Nintendo Switch

Speaking of repetition, the game does pick from random floors/objectives with each run to try to at least mix things up somewhat. For the most part it works, with the focus being on survival rather than totally randomly-generated stages. The skill tree and randomised nature of the rewards on offer does make each run feel as fresh as possible - However, there are times where it could have been mixed up a little more. The limited number of bosses that are available to pool from is an area that is lacking.

Bosses aside, there is enough going for it to make Splatoon 3: Side Order feel rewarding, despite the steep difficulty curve toward the end stages. On paper it doesn't sound like there are too many floors, but - be warned and certainly be prepared! Throw in mid-run rewards (are they worth the risk?), bonus goals and different weapon sets and there's a surprising amount of content for a mode that's really driven by continued runs.

Performance wise, Splatoon has historically been one of Nintendo's more visually interesting and well-optimised projects and Side Order is certainly no exception. Despite the muted world that's driven by the story (again, no spoilers), there's a real sense of surreal, quirky, and downright bizarre design that sits perfectly within the Splatoon lore. There is the odd frame-drop when the hordes of enemies become a little too much, but overall, it's a well-optimised and fluid time. Essential when you're rapidly morphing into an octopus to swim through paint to avoid blubbering fish.

Screenshot for Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass Wave 2 - Side Order on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Splatoon 3: Side Order is a refreshing yet familiar take on the Splatoon setup and well suited for short play sessions and runs to try and take on the lengthy tower. It's longevity, though, is very much grounded in whether rogue-like games and skill-trees appeal. As someone who didn't quite gel with the previous Splatoon single player modes, Splatoon 3: Side Order does tick a lot more boxes - mainly due to the compact, focused approach and that desire to keep pushing further.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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