Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass: Inkopolis DLC Review - Missed Opportunity Fan Service

Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass: Inkopolis DLC Review - Missed Opportunity Fan Service

Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass

Even before the release of Splatoon 3, we knew that Nintendo wanted to keep the third color shooter with new content for at least two years. Part of the roadmap should again be an extensive but paid DLC, as was the case with Splatoon 2. It was not clear at the time how the additional content would be offered, which changed in February of this year's Nintendo Direct. Since the Kyoto group is obviously on a regular expansion pass trip, Splatoon 3 had to get one too, of course. The previously known DLC is now being bundled with further additional content into an expansion pass, which will be fully released by the end of 2024 at the latest.

The first return to Inkopolis. A feeling of coming home is spreading!

© Nintendo

The Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass consists of two waves. Wave 1 is called "Inkopolis" and, as the name suggests, has to do with the location of the first Splatoon offshoot. Wave 2 is called "Call to Order" and represents the DLC mentioned at the beginning, about which not too much is known yet. As a bonus, Nintendo will give you a small cash injection and some practical items such as coupons or an exclusive splash tag banner, but this is hardly worth mentioning. In order to bridge the long wait for the actual highlight of the expansion pass - a problem that I will come back to later - Nintendo released the first wave on February 28th. And now we'll tell you whether it's worth it.

The Anarchy Splatcast brings the good news: The Splatsville District Train Station is finally complete, making travel between Splatsville and Inkopolis quick and convenient. I didn't need to be told twice and quickly hopped on a train that took me to the place where it all began in 2015. Inkopolis, the city of colors with its iconic ink tower in the centre, with the strikingly bright shopping street on the left, with the Sea Sirens studio and Siggi's side street on the right. A place that, for me as a Splatoon fan from the very beginning, undoubtedly awakens many beautiful memories and also makes me a little wistful. Despite the many improvements in sequel titles, the magic of the original still remains unmatched for me a nostalgic tintferno strikes while I am strolling across the plaza, amplified by the familiar noises and jingles and stop by old acquaintances. It really is Inkopolis. A little different, a little prettier even, but still Inkopolis. You can see and hear how the city has evolved, as well as its residents and visitors. In order to travel the world, Shrimpson gave up his shoe store to panko pit, a fried fish that jokes about oil and lemon juice. The Inkopolis branch of Kalmarsenal, on the other hand, is now run by up-and-coming gun enthusiasts Kim and Granules, who have been well trained by shopkeeper Arty.

Inkopolis as Lite Version

In order to achieve parity with Splatsville, access to additional modes and features not originally available in Inkopolis was added. There is now also a contact point for Bär GmbH - a stand where Revierdecks can be played -, a virtual connection to Hotlantis and, last but not least, an arena guide that is always helpful. The Dueling Dojo has also been repurposed as the Inkcade. Some of the adjustments feel more organically implemented than others, but the real problem here is that Nintendo hasn't taken the final step to truly transport us to Inkopolis. In its current form, the plaza is nothing more than a “costume” for the hub. If you want to play any of the modes, it's just like Splatsville.

I can't be the only one that Kim and Granules remind of tow and boo from Animal Crossing , right?

© Nintendo

That means the lobbies for the Ink Tower, Bear Ltd, and Inkcade are unchanged from their Splatsville counterparts. News will continue to be heard through the Anarchy splatcast instead of the Aioli and Lime newscast. The popular mini-games that could be played on the Wii U at the slot machine and during matchmaking are also completely missing. At this point it is important to differentiate whether one should really regret the omission of the elements mentioned in this way. That depends on how much value and weight you want to give to this first wave, and how much you've been (mis)guided by Nintendo's communication and marketing. Let me backtrack on that a bit.

The way Nintendo has been doing it for a while, Expansion Passes are a tricky thing. First problem: trust. As an early buyer, you are giving the company a leap of faith without knowing what you are actually going to get. Second problem: stretching. The contents of the expansion passes are usually designed in such a way that they can be easily dosed and thus appear over a long period of time. This brings us to the third problem: value. Most of the time, expansion pass content is only of use to you if you're actively playing the game, which can get in the way of stretching depending on the title. Especially when content is aimed at facilitating or changing the gaming experience, the longer you wait to make a purchase, the less valuable it becomes.

Perceived value Individual additional content also depends heavily on how it is presented in the expansion pass - and that is exactly the sticking point here with Splatoon 3. Marketing the Inkopolis DLC as wave 1 and thus apparently making it equal to the much more extensive wave 2 ensures false expectations. Nintendo offers nice fan service here, but nothing more. If it had stayed with the story DLC for 2024 and the Inkopolis DLC had now been distributed in advance as a "bonus" to (early) buyers, the whole thing would probably have been received much more positively. "We have to wait, but at least they're thinking of the fans!" the fan echo could have been - and I wouldn't have to complain about a half-baked nostalgia bait.