Splatoon 3 Splatfest: how the returning mode works

Splatoon 3 splatfest Turf War battle showing Inkling using their Special weapon
(Image credit: Nintendo)

In Splatoon 3, Splatfest is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding events. So to be best prepared, it's important to know how the Splatfest event mode works in its current incarnation.

With Splatoon 3 being the third game in the series, and the second on Nintendo Switch, some refinement and changes to the formula are to be expected. But while you'll see all new Splatoon 3 idols and can even collect brand new Splatoon 3 amiibos, there's a lot more to the latest game than a fresh coat of vibrant ink and a new canvas.

Whether you're a dedicated Slosher, or more of a Splattershot Jr. to Nintendo's colorful series, the Splatoon 3 Splatfest mode is where you can show off every one of the Splatoon 3 weapons and tap into your competitive nature. Just make sure you've got your ink tank topped off and check into how to do a Splatoon 3 squid roll so you stay firmly off the hook. Let's break down just how Splatfest has evolved with the times.

Splatoon 3 Splatfest

Splatoon 3 Splatfest – How do you access Splatfest?

Splatoon 3 Splatfest - the festival shown in full swing

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Unlike most other modes, Splatfest is a special event mode that's only available at certain times. In past Splatoon games, it's worked out to being a monthly event, so it's fair to expect that to continue with Splatoon 3. So how do you tell when Splatfest is going to happen, and then how do you get in? Let's break it down:

  • Watch the news to see when Splatfest is coming up, since it will be announced by the idols – Shiver, Frye, and Big Man. This will play when you load into the game.
  • From the plaza, check out the t-shirt stand and choose your team at the Splatfest Pledge Box, just make sure to be careful because you cannot change your team later and you can only play with friends on the same team.
  • Meet the dress code! You have to have the t-shirt for your team equipped to participate.
  • From here the first part of Splatfest is the Sneak Peek which will eventually turn into the Main Event, followed by Tricolor Battles at the halfway point – more about all of those below.

Splatoon 3 Splatfest – How does Splatfest work?

Splatoon 3 Splatfest - the results of a match

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Once the actual Splatfest arrives, you'll find it moves through different phases, each changing up the rules. While only one of the phases dramatically modifies Splatfest gameplay, it's still important to know where to put your best efforts and what to expect from the Splatoon 3 Splatfest before you're waist-deep into unfriendly – and inky – waters.

Splatoon 3 Splatfest – Sneak Peek

Splatoon 3 splatfest, Splatcast with Deep Cut

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The first part of Splatfest is the Sneak Peek, which plays in the same way as the Main Event. Expect Turf War battles and lots of them. 

For your troubles, you'll be rewarded with Conch Shells that you can spend in the lobby. You'll acquire more of these every time your Catalog Level increases. You get bonus Catalog Level XP for your first win of each day, so be sure to play regularly to get the most bang for your buck.  

Every day, you can spend one of your shells using the lobby's Gacha machine to attempt to get some delicious loot. Remember, however, that conch shells also contribute toward your team's running score in the Splatfest, so don't be afraid to earn more than you need. 

Splatoon 3 Splatfest – Main Event

Splatoon 3 splatfest, inkling posing near Scorch gorge

(Image credit: Future)

It's time for the main event. Scuttle on over to the lobby and you'll be able to choose between two Splatfest Battle types: Open and Pro. By winning battles in both modes, you'll earn a currency called Clout which is used to determine which team wins at the end of the Splatfest. You are also awarded a little bit of Clout when you lose, so don't despair if you don't win 'em all. 

Pro is Splatfest's equivalent of a ranked mode, while Open is more casual and low-pressure. In Pro, however, you earn extra Clout the more battles you win and can even earn your place among the Splatfest Top 100. 

Pro also nets you Splatfest Points which increase your Splatfest Rank. The higher your rank at the end of the event, the more Super Sea Snails you'll earn. These can be taken to Murch. Found in the Plaza, Murch will take your Super Sea Snails and allow you to re-roll Ability Chunks on gear or add whole new slots for your existing Chunks.

Using Murch's services are well worth learning if you want to be successful at the higher echelons of Splatoon 3's multiplayer. He'll make sure your Inkling or Octoling is stacked with abilities, and lets you tailor your abilities around your favorite weapon(s).

Splatoon 3 Splatfest – Tricolor Battles

Splatoon 3 splatfest, Tricolor Turfwar ariel view

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Halfway through the Splatfest, things will start to head up. Deep Cut will announce which team is leading during the Halftime Report, after which point Tricolor Turf War battles will become available. 

The Tricolor Turf War is a brand new mode for Splatoon 3 where the two runner-up teams are forced to team up and attempt to dislodge the leading team from their spot at the top of the map. Four players from the leading team battle two players from each of the trailing teams. 

Each team will, as usual, be in competition to ink as much of the stage as possible. In our experience, underdog teams can do remarkably well if they use crafty tactics and focus on the stage, rather than rushing toward the leading enemy team. 

Now you know everything you need to in order to participate in a Splatoon 3 Splatfest. These special events will typically roll out on a monthly basis. In the meantime, keep splatting in Turf Wars, or check out the game's excellent single player campaign to get familiar with a whole bunch of weapon types.

Philip Palmer
Senior Writer

Phil is a Senior Writer of TechRadar Gaming (TRG). With three previous years of experience writing freelance for PC Gamer, he's covered every genre imaginable. For 15 years he's done technical writing and IT documentation, and more recently traditional gaming content. He has a passion for the appeal of diversity, and the way different genres can be sandboxes for creativity and emergent storytelling. With thousands of hours in League of Legends, Overwatch, Minecraft, and countless survival, strategy, and RPG entries, he still finds time for offline hobbies in tabletop RPGs, wargaming, miniatures painting, and hockey.

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