Modes are gameplay configurations available to the player. The Splatoon series features both online and offline modes, accessible from Inkopolis Plaza (in Splatoon), Inkopolis Square (in Splatoon 2), or Splatsville (in Splatoon 3), with the majority of online modes being accessible from the Battle Lobby.
- Main article: Level
Online modes share a level system where Battle Points earned during matches add up to a new level. As the player's level gets higher, in-game characters will notice and will compliment the player on becoming more "fresh". As players level up, they unlock new weapons to purchase, new modes to play, etc. At Level 20, players can go to Spyke or Murch to add ability slots to gear or re-roll gear abilities for 30,000 Cash or one Super Sea Snail. Additionally, players can receive a new piece of gear or weapon from Judd every five levels starting at Level 25 in Splatoon. The current maximum level is Level 625, as of version 2.0.0 in Splatoon 2, although in Splatoon, the maximum level is 50.
Matchmaking mode choices are available from the battle lobby menu. The matchmaking mode determines which stages a player can play on, which game modes can be played, and how opponents are chosen.
|Regular Battle modes can be accessed by players of all levels. Currently, the only mode is Turf War.||✓||✓||✓|
|Ranked Battle becomes accessible when a player reaches level 10 by playing Regular Battle. The modes included in this category require a higher level of strategy compared to regular modes and wins and losses will be counted toward players' ranks. Players begin with a "C-" ranking but can improve and regress based on how well they perform, with Ranks ranging from C- to S+. It wasn't available until enough players worldwide reached level 10. Updates on the progress of the "Ranked Splatometer" were posted on official Nintendo social media accounts. Ranked Battle was unlocked on 2 June 2015.||✓||✓|
|Anarchy Battle offers the same modes as Ranked Battle, but its ranking system works very differently. There are two types of rotations to join: Anarchy Battle (Series) and Anarchy Battle (Open). Both are locked until a player reaches level 10 OR if the player has Splatoon 2 save data on their Switch. Anarchy Battle (Series) is only able to be played solo and is more challenging, while Anarchy Battle (Open) is able to be played solo or with friends and is generally more easygoing. Ranks are based on Rank Points a player earns after playing.||✓|
|X Battle is similar to Splatoon 2's X Rank System, but is now a separate mode in Splatoon 3. Players will be able to unlock X Battles after obtaining a certain rank in Anarchy Battles. Their first five battles will serve as an evaluation period to find out what their X Power is. After that, they will be placed into battles with players who have a similar X Power. This mode is only able to be played solo, but players will still have access to Anarchy Battles. This mode was added as part of the Chill Season 2022 update.||✓|
|Squad Battle allows groups of two, three, or four friends to play together as a squad in Ranked Battles. This mode was released in version 2.0.0 of Splatoon. Squad Battles are grouped as either 4v4, 4v3, or 3v3 battles. Players can form Twin Squads (2 players), Tri-Squads (3 players), and Quad-Squads (4 players) with their Nintendo Network Friends. Twin Squads are temporarily teamed up with a second Twin Squad for a Quad-Squad. A Tri-Squad that is playing against a Quad-Squad has a quicker respawn bonus.||✓|
|League Battle allows groups of two or four friends to play together as a squad and compete with other groups to earn as many points as possible within a particular rotation. This mode becomes accessible when a player reaches at least B- rank in any Ranked Battle mode. League Battles do not affect the players' ranks; instead, teams are given a League Power rating specific to each two-hour rotation they play in.||✓|
|Challenge||Challenge is a mode which debuted in the Sizzle Season 2023 update. It is a monthly occurring event with special rules for Regular Battle and Anarchy Battle modes.||✓|
|Splatfest is a special recurring event that happens on an irregular basis. Players choose between teams, such as Cats vs. Dogs, and battle. The hub world and all of the stages are decorated for the event. Splatfest features a ranking system based on the player's total points earned during the event. At the end of the event, the player is awarded an amount of a special currency based on their final ranking and based on whether they were on the winning team. The final Splatfest score is based on both popularity and the number of wins. It can be accessed by players of all levels. The only mode is Turf War.
Splatfests concluded in Splatoon on 24 July 2016 and in Splatoon 2 on 17 January 2021. Splatfests are actively occurring in Splatoon 3.
|Tricolor Battle is made exclusively for the new Tricolor Turf War rule set, introduced in Splatoon 3.||✓|
|Private Battle mode is a special mode where the player can fight with/against their friends in customized matches. These matches can be any mode and any stage and can have any number of players, from 1v1 to 4v4. This mode was released in the version 2.0.0 update in Splatoon and was available at release in Splatoon 2. This mode is also available during Splatfest.||✓||✓||✓|
|A mode consisting of four players in two teams. The aim is to cover the most of a map with their team's ink color; the team with the highest ink coverage after three minutes wins the match.||✓||✓||✓|
|Two teams fight to keep control of specially marked zones on the map by covering them with their ink. When all Zones are under a team's control, the team's timer counts down toward zero. The timer will stop if the opposing team takes control of the Zones, and their timer will begin to count down. Both teams start at 100 on their counters. The team whose timer gets to zero wins the match. After 5 minutes, if neither team gets their timer to zero, the team who got their timer the lowest wins.||✓||✓||✓|
|Players compete for control of a central Tower platform, which will move through the stage towards enemy territory along a path when a player stands on it. If the Tower is overtaken by an opponent, it will reverse direction. Whichever team rides the tower to their respective goal spot at the end of the path wins.||✓||✓||✓|
|Players compete for control of the Rainmaker, a unique weapon used only in this mode. The goal is to take it into the enemy base and place it on a pedestal, ending with a knockout if either team does so. The Rainmaker is very heavy, preventing the user from performing a Super Jump, but can fire ink tornadoes in Splatoon similar to those of the Inkzooka or large ink blasts in Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3.||✓||✓||✓|
|The objective of Clam Blitz is to pick up clams, which are scattered around the stage, and deposit them into the shielded goal near the opposing team's base. Players picking up clams may choose to build the Power Clam needed to break open the opponent's goal or toss the clams to teammates so that they can build the Power Clam; completed Power Clams can also be tossed between teammates, as carrying them introduces a risk to the carrier by showing the location of the carrier to all opponents.||✓||✓|
Tricolor Turf War
|Two teams of two compete against a team of four. This mode is available only during the second half of a Splatfest, after Deep Cut's Halftime Report.||✓|
|A co-op multiplayer mode where up to four players collect Power Eggs and Golden Eggs by defeating Salmonids and then deposit the Golden Eggs in an egg basket. In Splatoon 2, Online Salmon Run is only available during pre-determined times; it is always available offline at The Shoal. In Splatoon 3, it is available at all times.||✓
|A special limited-time event where Salmonids invade and stages from Regular Battle/Anarchy Battle are used for Salmon Run.||✓|
|A special limited-time Salmon Run mode taking place over 5 waves with a fixed job scenario, with the aim of getting as many golden eggs as possible.||✓|
|A card-based, one-on-one version of Turf War where players compete against a computer opponent or player to claim more area of a grid-like board with cards in their set deck.||✓|
- Main article: The Shoal
The Shoal is the local multiplayer option, available in Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3. It allows players to play any battle mode or Salmon Run locally, using either wireless or LAN connections between Nintendo Switch consoles.
Games in the Splatoon series include at least one single-player story mode with puzzle and platforming elements.
- Octo Valley (Splatoon) — Agent 3 fights the Octarians to get back the Great Zapfish.
- Octo Canyon (Splatoon 2) — Agent 4 fights the Octarians to get back Callie and the Great Zapfish.
- Octo Expansion (Splatoon 2 DLC) — Agent 8 escapes the Deepsea Metro.
- Return of the Mammalians (Splatoon 3) — The current Agent 3 fights the apparently Fuzzy Ooze-infused Octarians.
- Side Order (Splatoon 3 DLC) — Agent 8 discovers a bleached version of Inkopolis Square and ascends through the floors of the Spire of Order.
- Main article: Amiibo#Gameplay
amiibo challenges are single-player missions that are only accessible through tapping in a Splatoon amiibo in the amiibo box, only available in Splatoon. The challenges have the player taking on levels in Octo Valley with a twist. Completing these challenges will net cash and exclusive rewards. In Splatoon 2, amiibo no longer provide challenges but instead allow the player to gain exclusive gear, save loadouts and take pictures with their amiibo.
- Main article: Battle Dojo
Battle Dojo is a local two-player mode only appearing in Splatoon, with one player using the Wii U GamePad and the other using a separate controller, such as the Wii U Pro Controller, and the TV screen. Both players must attempt to pop balloons to reach thirty points. If the timer runs out before one player has reached thirty points, whoever has the most wins. Getting splatted will subtract points, which will vary depending on what position the player splatted was in. In the last minute of the battle, every balloon popped is worth double the points.
There are two unreleased game modes in the files for Splatoon 2. These were found with the use of datamining.
- Rocket: A mode where a "Rocket" sits in the middle of the map and must be shot to launch it. The more powerful the shot, the further it goes.
- Eight-Ball: A mode where there is an 8-ball in the center of the stage and the player must push it to the other team's goal. This concept was later used as a mechanic in some levels of the Octo Expansion.
These are other miscellaneous minor modes in the game.
- Arcade machine: A local single-player mode allowing players to play any of the retro squid mini-games they have unlocked outside of the battle lobbies. In Splatoon, only Squid Jump is unlocked by default. Squid Racer, Squidball, and Squid Beatz can be unlocked via amiibo Challenges. In Splatoon 2, only Squid Beatz 2 is available.
- Recon: Single-player exploration of a stage, accessed from the Battle Lobby by pressing in Splatoon and Splatoon 2. The time limit, stage layout, and features match that which the player chose from the current rotation, allowing for some scoping out of the stage without the pressure of a battle. In Splatoon 3 it is now available offline and accessible via the Recon Guide in Splatsville and Inkopolis Plaza, where players can explore for one hour regardless of the chosen Mode. It can also be played online through Private Battles with friends.
- Tutorial: The tutorial can be played when the player starts Splatoon, Splatoon 2, and Splatoon 3 for the first time.
An Inkling shooting an Inkzooka.
A Roller moving down the hallway.
An Inkling aiming with a Charger.
A Turf War between pink and blue.
An Inkling gaining points in a Ranked Battle.
An Inkling in the Ranked Lobby before version 2.0.0.
Inklings playing the Saltspray Rig Splat Zones stage.
The Blackbelly Skatepark Splat Zones.
The Camp Triggerfish Splat Zones.
Agent 3 shooting at an Octotrooper.
An Octo Valley Kettle.
Agent 3 facing two Shielded Octotroopers.
An Inkling with the Rainmaker.
Hammerhead Bridge with the Rainmaker.
Names in other languages
|Dutch||Vechtstijl (Splatoon 3)
|German||Kampfart||Type of combat|
|Spanish (NOE)||Estilo (Splatoon 3)
|Internal||ModeMission (Splatoon 3)|