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Splatoon 3 release date, story mode trailer, and everything we know

Splatoon 3
(Image credit: Nintendo)

We've gotten our first fresh look at Splatoon 3 since its surprise debut in February, and our minds are still reeling at the possibilities - also at the oddly upsetting imagery of little tentacle dudes covered in fur. The new September Direct Splatoon 3 trailer kicks off with a new look at multiplayer gameplay, including some of the new specials you'll be able to bust out, as well as some of the strong new fashion choices you'll be able to sample. We hear catcher's masks are all the rage in Splatsville this season.

Then the new trailer takes a hard left turn into the Splatoon 3 story mode, which seems to present our intrepid Inkling or Octoling hero with the strange new "Mammalian" menace. They look like normal Octarians for the most part, but why are they covered in fur? Didn't all the mammals go extinct?! The trailer's left us with more questions than answers, but in the meantime, here's everything we know about Splatoon 3 so far.

When is the Splatoon 3 release date?

Splatoon 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Splatoon 3 release date is 2022, which is both a long ways off and extremely non-specific, but at least it's something. The original Splatoon arrived on Wii U in May 2015 and Splatoon 2 hit Switch in July 2017, and all the bright colors and water-gun-inspired weaponry give Splatoon a distinctly summery vibe as well. If you're thirsty enough to indulge in some Splatoon 3 release date speculation, we could preliminarily narrow that window a bit to summer 2022; still, officially speaking, the Splatoon 3 release date is just 2022. 

Watch the first Splatoon 3 trailer

Nintendo revealed the Splatoon 3 trailer during its February Direct presentation, and you could hardly ask for a better debut. The trailer follows an Inkling on their journey from the Splatlands to the massive, chaotic city of Splatsville. We get an early look at character creation - which we'll go into more in a bit - and we also see an unexpected landmark: the Eiffel Tower ripped from its foundations and wedged upside down in a giant pit. It may seem like a random addition to the world, but if you've been paying attention to the Splatoon lore (oh yeah, there's lore) you already know the series takes place on Earth many, many years after humans went extinct. Once our Inkling hero arrives in Splatsville, they head straight into a Turf War to show off their new abilities and weapons. 

Splatoon 3 weapons - What's new?

Splatoon 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The trailer revealed some Splatoon 3 weapons returning from previous games, including new looks for the trusty .96 Gal and the Range Blaster. The main Inkling wields an all-new bow weapon, which seems to fire three "strings" of ink at once. The strings all fling out vertically when jumping, but it looks like you may be able to fire them horizontally to cover more turf if you remain on the ground. We also get a teaser of some special weapons, including what appear to be modified Tenta Missiles and a deployable crab-bot. Research note: even Splatoon special weapons are subject to carcinisation... 

Splatoon 3 idols - who will they be?

Splatoon 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Splatoon 3 idols haven't been revealed yet, but here's what we know so far. Splatoon introduced us to Callie and Marie as the Squid Sisters (and we know they'll return again in the latest game, at least in the campaign), then Splatoon 2 turned the spotlight to Pearl and Marina, AKA Off the Hook. The relatively short-lived fame of Splatoon idols mirrors real-life celebrity turnover, so it's a good bet that we'll get a new pair of stars to keep us up-to-date on the latest splat-happenings in Splatoon 3. Is it too much to hope for a Salmonid/Jellyfish punk duo? 

Splatoon 3 character customization

Splatoon 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)

It looks like Splatoon 3 character customization will be more extensive and representative than ever before. The trailer shows you'll be able to pick between playing an Inkling or an Octoling right from the start, and you just select a visual body type instead of being required to choose a gendered option. Both species sport new hairstyles, including braids and more close-cropped looks. It doesn't end with your squid/octo kid though - you can also pick out a hairstyle for your adorably weird pet smallfry. Hopefully your little buddy doesn't know how many of its kind we splatted back in Salmon Run... 

Splatoon 3 story mode - Who are the Mammalians?

Splatoon 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)

We've finally gotten our first look at Splatoon 3 story mode, and it's thrown a real curveball at our understanding of the Splatoon-iverse (sorry, we couldn't help ourselves - please don't start calling it that). The "Return of the Mammalians" trailer showed some familiar Octarian foes clad in strange, dark fur - and also parts of the environment. It looks like you'll need to clean up some of that fur as you go with the help of your Salmonid small fry pet, but the question of how it got there in the first place remains. Is this post-human-apocalypse world harboring more than the evolved sea creatures we've met so far? More than them and Judd and Judd Jr., we mean?

Despite being multiplayer-focused games, both Splatoon and Splatoon 2 had surprisingly fun and extensive single-player campaigns. There's little doubt that Splatoon 3 will follow suit. We fought a secret war against Octarian armies in the last two games, but now that Inklings are living in peace with the Octolings - a prominent subspecies of the Octarians - will the Mammalians be our new enemy?

Find more Nintendo titles we're looking forward to in our list of upcoming Switch games.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.