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Splatoon 3’s Inkopolis DLC Might Be Nostalgic, But It’s Totally Shallow

The wait for the big wave begins.



Inkopolis DLC Expansion Pass Splatoon 3 Nintendo Switch

Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass, Wave 1: Inkopolis — Review

During this past February’s Direct, Nintendo finally spilled the details about Splatoon 3‘s paid DLC expansion and how its content would be broken down into two waves: Inkopolis, which was set to be released less than three weeks after the presentation, and Side Order, a single-player expansion on par with Splatoon 2’s Octo Expansion. While the trailer seemed to imply that the Expansion Pass would be a big deal for Splatoon 3 players, its sudden release, lack of marketing, and thin details were, to say the least, off-putting from the start.

According to Nintendo’s three-minute announcement trailer, the Wave 1: Inkopolis DLC would allow players to travel back to the titular hub world from the first Splatoon on Wii U… and that’s it. Surely there had to be more, right? The whole first half of the Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass couldn’t just be an alternate hub world for players to peruse before taking on some splatting, could it? There had to be more to keep us busy before the mysterious Side Order story would be released, right?

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Splatoon 3’s first major wave of downloadable content after the Nintendo Direct, but what players got with its release this past week certainly wasn’t it. After spending some time wandering around Inkopolis thinking about how much I loved the original Splatoon, I can safely say that the first wave of the Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass might just be Nintendo’s weakest DLC it has ever released—and as a fan of Splatoon who has been playing each entry since the franchise launched in May of 2015, I’m really not exaggerating with that statement.

Wave 1: Inkopolis is a nostalgic and shallow bust that Splatoon 3 players have almost no real reason to pick up–or rather perhaps I should say they have no reason to pick it up at this moment in time. Unless you are a diehard fan of Splatoon 3 who has some grudge against Splatsville or is willing to put down a very early deposit on the future Side Order single-player story expansion, Inkopolis should be viewed as a mere pre-order bonus to something greater coming down the line.

Disappointingly, Splatoon 3 players will quickly discover that they are receiving exactly (and only) what was initially advertised in the Nintendo Direct. There are no extra bonuses or secret content that players will be met with once they hop on the Splatsville train and arrive at the iconic center of the Inkopolis plaza. There are no returning mini-games or special dialogue conversations to see from the game’s returning cast and new characters. There is nothing new to interact with, more shops to browse for items each day, or any exciting enhancements waiting to be discovered in the classic hangout location those funky fresh Wii U owners spent hours in.

In what is Nintendo’s strangest DLC yet, Wave 1: Inkopolis is literally just an alternative hub world to look at. There really is nothing else being offered in this DLC wave outside of the chance to see some familiar faces and landmarks from the original Splatoon on Wii U. Inkopolis is still a better hub world than Splatoon 3’s labyrinth that is Splatsville due to its compactness, but having a more streamlined location to quickly traverse still does not give players any reason to pick up this DLC when they can already use fast-travel. Inkopolis is all nostalgia, a neat distraction that brews buyer’s remorse and kicks into effect ten minutes after fully exploring the gated city spot.

Inkopolis DLC Expansion Pass Splatoon 3 Nintendo Switch
Image: Nintendo

Inknopolis feels like the perfect opportunity to give Splatoon players more of what they love with a throwback to the early days of the series. Why not give players some new lobbies to explore or maybe some extra single-player quests that are throwbacks to the first game’s campaign? Why is Squid Jump just an easter egg in the Shoal and is not playable? Could some exclusive weapon skins or maybe some classic gear not be included in this DLC? More importantly, what the heck happened to Crusty Sean Nintendo–actually, we already know that answer because of Splatoon 2’s lore and Splatoon 3’s lack of food trucks, but still, why isn’t he here for players to see again and interact with?

Fans have been eagerly awaiting new content from Splatoon 3 since its launch, but the release content schedule, much like Nintendo’s other online recent endeavors, has been less than exceptional and forthcoming. As a Splatoon fan, I’m not surprised by Nintendo’s lack of communication with Splatoon 3’s sporadic (and lack of) content drops after how the company has handled games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Strikers: Battle League, but I’m still disappointed with the results.

Maybe Nintendo’s marketing has failed the Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass or maybe the developers are saving all their effort for the Wave 2: Side Order single-player story expansion that will bring the beloved Pearl and Marina back into the mix. No matter what the reasoning is behind Splatoon 3’s lack of content and substance in the first half of its paid expansion, Wave 1: Inkopolis is certainly not worth any fan’s money and should have always been viewed as a small bonus to tide fans off from what’s still to come.

Creative writer, NXpress Host, and Games Editor. I have always held a high interest in the fields of professional writing and communications. You can find me with my head deep in the espionage genre or in a kayak upstream. I’ll always be first in line for the next Hideo Kojima or Masahiro Sakurai game.