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Splatoon 3 DLC: Side Order to be Served on February 22

Nintendo has officially announced the release date of “Side Order,” the downloadable story-driven expansion for Splatoon 3. The DLC is part of the paid Expansion Pass, which gives players access to the original in-game plaza from the first entry in the series and guarantees their ability to access the newly announced content. It is available for all players through the Nintendo eShop for 25 USD.

The expansion eagerly anticipated by the gaming community has generated excitement among both dedicated franchise followers and casual players. Initially, Nintendo had stated that a DLC for a story mode would be worked on since the game’s initial announcement on February 17, 2021. The new story mode campaign was initially hinted at on August 10 of this previous year during a Nintendo Direct. Later, by the end of January, it was announced that Side Order would officially release on February 22, 2024, and on the first week of February the official trailer was revealed.

The new campaign features Eight, the main character from the previous DLC expansion for Splatoon 2. The storyline is set in an alternate timeline of Splatoon 2, where Inkopolis Square, the prominent location from the previous game, has dramatically changed. With no visible signs of life around them, Eight must face the challenges that await within a tower eerily similar to the Deca Tower lobby from the previous game.

The story kicks off when Eight mysteriously awakens in an unfamiliar location named the “City of Order”. As they go through bleached corals and a monochromatic, color-less town, they encounter a drone operated by Pearl, a familiar ally from the previous game. Eight later discovers the mysterious tower that lays in the middle of the city is known as the “Spire of Order”, where overcoming all the challenges ahead and reaching the top will be crucial to revealing the story’s purpose.

Players will be able to earn tokens as they ascend the levels of the Spire of Order. As the trailer reveals, players can use tokens to upgrade Eight’s abilities. In addition, Acht, a less-discussed side character from the backstory of the previous games, also appears to be trapped in the City of Order as they are shown traveling between floors alongside Eight.

The gaming community has appreciated the integration of past story elements into this next chapter. However, they have also highlighted the dull art style used in its promotional material. While Splatoon is a franchise most commonly known for its vivid colors and vibrant aesthetic, Side Order presents the game from a different perspective, where the lack of color becomes an essential storytelling element.

Through cryptic, strange-looking static images that resemble biological parts of the player’s character – the calamari, Nintendo sets a unique mood for what could be the last story expansion, setting it apart from other releases. While the contents that surround the story are still unknown, players have their theories regarding what the story is trying to convey.

“Through the art, we can perceive that Side Order carries a larger message. The hidden meanings and connections to the real world underneath these illustrations talk about the struggles of Eight as she is wandering by herself in the unknown.” Emiliano Cervantes, a Splatoon follower, has commented. He pointed out what appears to be concrete spikes in a piece of artwork from the teaser trailer. According to him, these could reveal a deeper backstory related to the alternate timeline Eight is in, as the spikes are reminiscent of those indicating nearby nuclear fallout in the real world.

Several Reddit users speculate that the campaign might be just a product of Eight’s abstract thinking. Some believe it serves as a preamble to the story of the previous game’s additional campaign. Theories revolve around Eight entering a trance-like state, given that the previous game’s expansion campaign started with Eight losing all memory.

Given the tone of the campaign, Nintendo might be aiming to communicate a more profound message with the latest release of the franchise. Internet users speculate that the narrative could address themes such as identity, self-determination, and other mental health matters, providing some closure to Eight’s problematic story.

Nintendo has officially declared that Splatoon 3 will be the final installment of the globally recognized franchise that debuted on the ill-fated Wii U system. It is unclear whether additional DLC will be released until the game’s final update, scheduled for around September 2024.

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