The Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC Is Better Than the Single-Player Campaign
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The Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC Is Better Than the Single-Player Campaign

When Splatoon 2 released, it also started a tradition of the series getting an additional mode and storyline as an add-on after the fact. At that time, it wasn’t all that different from the main game’s execution, just with a different story and missions. Now that the Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC is here, I can’t help thinking its execution and design feels better than the main single-player campaign.

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While the main Return of the Mammalians Splatoon 3 single-player campaign behaves like past entries in the series, where you go through stages in hub areas and eventually face bosses, Side Order is a roguelike. You’re introduced to it with a single Palette, which represents a weapon and possible Color Chips you gain access to. You head into a multi-floor tower, with “boss” encounters on set floor. Said Color Chips are earned via completing floors you choose, with players able to choose the difficulty of the challenge to get the one associated with it to buff their abilities. Each “run” at the tower is different, due to the builds you accrue changing depending upon what you happen upon. While the objectives might eventually feel like you’re going through the same challenges, they’re brief enough and scaling in difficulty in such a way that I didn’t mind it. 

In true roguelike fashion, when you run out of lives, you’re kicked out of the tower and sent to the bottom. However, you’re doing so with the opportunity to be in a better position next time. Items you collected are transformed into Prlz. These can be spent to unlock permanent upgrades like an extra life or more armor, so you’re  reentering the tower in a better position. If you reached and beat one of the bosses, you’ll get a key for the lockers to unlock a new Palette. This could mean access to a weapon you like better or are more comfortable using. It makes the prospect of coming back and trying again appealing.

The roguelike nature of Splatoon 3 Side Order helps make it appealing, but the fact that popular Splatoon 2 protagonists Pearl and Marina return alongside the NPC Acht also assists in making it memorable. The duo were such fun protagonists in their original game, and I really appreciated interacting with them again. Especially when you consider how Deep Cut in the main Splatoon 3 single-player campaign ended up taking an antagonistic role. The concept of a creation running wild and another element threatening the world provides a sense of drive to continue. 

This isn’t even taking into account how much fun it is to come back to the Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC experience, compared to the single-player campaign that I never touched again after beating it. Failure never feels discouraging, because like any roguelike there is steady progress always being made. Beating it doesn’t make a difference, because it still feels like there’s more to earn and unlock. If not Palettes, then by buying equipment or cosmetics from the Cipher’s Siftings shop for the main game. 

It all comes down to Splatoon 3 Side Order feeling more fulfilling to me than the single-player campaign did. I really enjoyed the approach, with the challenges scaling well and the different abilities and loadouts allowing for some fun builds. It made me want to not only play once, but keep playing so I could experiment with different tactics and earn more fun things.

Splatoon 3 and its Side Order DLC expansion are available now.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.