Splatoon 3’s Terrible Online Is Inexcusable Now, Nintendo

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Splatoon 3's Terrible Online Is Inexcusable Now, Nintendo

Squid kids from Nintendo's Switch online shooter Splatoon 3 are inking each other in Turf Wars.

Image: Nintendo

Be nice to me, I’ve been in purgatory. By that I mean, I’ve been playing Splatoon 3 multiplayer a lot lately, and after unlocking level 10, the inkshooter finally let me slip into its original ranked modes. Anarchy Battles, as these competitive modes are called, is a good time, if you don’t disconnect left and right, or can’t find a match at all.

I feel stupid even to report it, because we are in the third game of this popular franchise that is currently breaking records, and it’s not like it’s a new problem. I was falling out of my Splatoon matches in 2015, and in the sequel in 2017, and by God, I’m still getting kicked out the year of our lord 2022. Millions of people are playing this and somehow on the other hand I don’t really hear people complaining about it en masse; we got used to it, I guess.

But even fully expecting connectivity shenanigans, I’m appalled at how terrible it is and how little things have improved between games. For those unaware, if someone disconnects during a Splatoon 3 match – casual or ranked – then every person in the game experiences a comms error and is kicked from the match. In the leaderboard, the person who jumped or disconnected first, whether intentionally or by accident, suffers a loss. Not everyone does. I guess it’s better than the alternative, but most modern games just carry on or try to find you a replacement. Having to start all over again is crazy, especially if you were good in a match.

Given that Splatoon matches are pretty quick, however, you can somehow overlook this flaw, as evidenced by the fact that we’re still buying and playing Splatoon 3 in droves, despite it being stale. This is a game primarily known for its multiplayer offerings. But somehow I’ve had even worse experiences than just logging out while trying ranked.

At the end of a ranked match, Splatoon asks if you want to stay with the team you played with. If you had a good time, chances are you want to. Competitive modes are a better experience when playing with coordinated teams. If you won a match with a group, chances are you’ll do well in the next fight.

If anyone at all disconnects during a Splatoon 3 match—casual or ranked—then every single person in the game experiences a communication error and is booted from the match

Picking to stay on a team one night turned out to be a giant mistake that consumed an entire night of my playtime during launch week. Splatoon 3 stuck me into an absurd wait that at best clocked in at around three to five minutes, but sometimes took well over 10. Once I was waiting for so long that the timer in the corner, which denotes seconds, had run up to 999. The game didn’t stop searching after 999 seconds, the clock just couldn’t go any higher. I waited a good ten more minutes before being able to get out of that hell.

Since there is no way to back out of matchmaking once you start it in ranked, I was stuck there if I didn’t want to incur a penalty. (That I can see, at least—I’ve been told the ‘leaving’ button appears and disappears for other people.) So far, I’ve been winning about eight points per win, and it’s a couple hundred before I manage to rank up—I didn’t really want to make this grind any harder than it needs to be. Maybe the drop is small, but that’s not really the point here. I shouldn’t have to lose anything because the game itself somehow cannot connect me to another player. It’s especially ridiculous when we know there are people playing at any given moment; as of this writing, the game just launched last week!

There is nothing worse in Splatoon 3 than finishing a game, rapidly pressing A to get through the menus because you want to hop into another one, and accidentally agreeing to stay on the team. It kept happening to me over and over again, which was infuriating because I couldn’t undo the matchmaking. The only thing I could do was actively hope that the game encountered an error or crashed (!!!).

I later learned that this is a known issue that existed with Splatoon 3 prior to launch, as Nintendo gave out advice during its first Splatfest event. At the time, they told people to put their console to sleep and then try again. The replies were full of people who had been stuck in the matchmaking lobby for so long, their characters had inked up the entirety of the waiting room. I can’t.

That event was back in August. Clearly they haven’t fixed it, because I just experienced the endless waiting issue. “We apologize for the inconvenience,” Nintendo wrote.

Arguably, this was an exceptional but rare experience that doesn’t reflect what I normally do in Splatoon 3. But you have to remember, things “running smoothly” in context here still means that I tend to disconnect every handful of matches!

“What did you expect,” you might be thinking, “it’s a Nintendo game.” Outside of Splatoon, infamously, first-party series like Smash Bros. have never managed to fully crack online multiplayer, though in that case, the community has persisted because tournament culture is largely local. But even that scene has its limits. At one point in 2020, the Smash Bros. community is trending #fixultimateonline. I’m not sure this has gotten particularly better, or at least a much-loved 2021 Reddit thread from r/smashbros is titled “Have you played a worse online game than Smash Ultimate?“Meanwhile, when Nintendo tried to jump into online features, it still somehow manages do the most convoluted thing possible. With anything connecting to the web, this is the only case where following convention would be the preferable course of action for Nintendo.

There was a small, albeit perhaps silly, reason to have hope for Splatoon 3. In August 2022, data miners claimed that the alternate shooter would sport an “internal server system” that would be an upgrade, but they speculated that it would still likely be peer-to-peer. It’s not exactly the most sophisticated type of netcode, because usually if someone goes out of sync, everything is compromised. To Nintendo’s credit, I experience fewer lags in the game while matches are running compared to previous games, or the game pausing while it tries to catch up on what’s going on. When it works, the action is awesome! But the edges are still incredibly rough.

Kotaku contacted Nintendo to ask about Splatoon’s connectivity issues, but the company is offering a solution online. Spoilers: Security experts say it’s terrible. For some reason Nintendo’s official support pageWe currently require users to open every port on your router, which is the equivalent of removing your firewall. Doing this very well can improve your online experience, but it also compromises your security. Nintendo’s opinion?

“While Nintendo provides this information for the use of our consumers, it is up to each consumer to determine their security needs for their own networks and decide how best to configure their network settings to meet those needs,” says the page.

Anyway, I can’t believe it’s been seven years of this shit. The worst part of it all, and why can he get away with it? I’m going to keep playing, because no one else in the shooter space really offers the mod-centric, murder-optional experience that Splatoon does.

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Article source https://kotaku.com/splatoon-3-online-nintendo-switch-turf-wars-connection-1849536980

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