Image: Nintendo

Despite feeling uncannily similar to play as past installments, Splatoon 3 is packed with smart changes and updates that will likely lead to people — or at least, me — keeping the game in rotation for much longer than before. I got to play over an hour of the game’s various modes ahead of its September 9th launch, including just a few levels of the main story, a few rounds of Salmon Run (the game’s surprisingly difficult but rewarding horde mode), and Turf War (Splatoon’s take on a four-versus-four deathmatch).

You’ll notice a welcome quality-of-life change right when you boot it up. Instead of being forced to sit through an intro presentation of the latest announcements for in-game activities each time you restart the game, as past S…

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