Massively on the Go: A dozen Splatoon 3 Salmon Run tips from the EVPs

    
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With Big Run coming to Splatoon 3 any day now, I’ve realized it’s awakened a kind of dread. Regular Salmon Run can be hell, like any MMO pug, except imagine your instance runs all being gear agnostic. That’s literally it. Pure skill PvE. I have deranked so many times the past month as it feels many of the early-vets have left the game already (I blame the new Pokemon games and devs skipping Halloween Splatfest). I cannot imagine Big Run being easier than current content.

That being said, Salmon Run’s always been tough. A veteran egg farming friend from Splat 2 invited me to a Discord a month after release where I’d wager at least 90% of the groups are for Eggsecutive VPs (EVPs), the highest rank of players. I am not that rank, but they let other players like me look for groups, and occasionally the EVPs will help us out too. They freely share information that is much better than half the stuff I’ve found on non-specialist gaming sites, popular stream channels, and even the main reddit at times. So to help prepare you for Big Run and to prevent burnout, I’ve cataloged some of the easier-to-digest notes to help you improve your egg farming methods.

Ink, especially the walls

I can’t believe I have to say this about a shooter where your ammo is paint you swim in, especially since we learned this in Splatoon 2 for this mode’s introduction, but please, especially during rounds, ink the place up. Most people are shooting the ground already, not just during the prep phase but because most of us are terrible shots and that’s where the ink falls when we miss. The prep period should be different, though. If you’ve got a Roller, inking just the ground is fine (and stick to that as much as possible, as flinging ink is a last-chance, ink-inefficient move). But if you’ve got a gun, even just the Bambloozer, get those walls inked!

Not only will that help you escape doom (especially those walls), but it can also act as a guide for less-skilled and less-aware players. For example, I’ve seen players stick to the main paths up until I inked walls that allowed them to bypass ramps and spirals that would take two or three times longer to traverse. I’m not the best player myself, but on the occasions when high-ranked players allowed me to join them, I was specifically called out for assisting with that, as even they occasionally forgot about it. The other side of that coin is all the times people’s last words were, “Whoops, I guess no one inked that wall.”

Communicate!

You don’t need voice chat all the time for Salmon Run, though it helps, particularly in high-end play. That said, pinging can do that and more. I don’t mean the “Booyah” spam; I mean, “Help!” or “This way!” Are people in a bad position? Spam “This way!” a bit. Getting overwhelmed by the basket? “This way!” spam, please. And if you’re dead and behind something, please, spam so we know where you are!

In fact, one thing I’ve seen even from high-ranked players is not pinging when they’ve died. While the game will briefly show downed players where a living player is, constantly pinging in your downed state gives an audio signal that you need help and a visual one people can use to find your character on-screen. Heck, I’ll do this even while on voice chat to help keep the line open.

Do remember that being on voice chat isn’t an auto-win. I’ve had people force me on voice chat and no one used it anyway. Pinging gets most of your point across, so if you’re dead, you can just say that on chat while also pinging. Need backup by the basket? Ping while you say it. We’re all human. Make things as easy on others as possible by using both audio and visual communication.

Lure bosses to the basket so you don’t have to pass so much

Sometimes you get lowtide, where you have a lot of breathing room. During those times, you might be tempted to kill everything you see, right as it comes out of the water. And while you’re doing that, you fail to notice the many, many mobs spawning from the sea slowly crawling to you until it’s too late. Don’t do it. Stay on land as much as possible, particularly near the basket.

Aside from Stingers, Flyfish, Big Shot, and Fish Sticks, every other boss that can spawn on the shore can be lured near the basket. Many groups wipe because people over-extend, get separated, and can’t help each other. If you’re failing a lot, specifically watch for this. I’ve seen it even on smaller levels.

You don’t want to overwhelm the basket area, especially if you’re with a lower-skilled group that doesn’t handle pressure well. My personal rule is to kill any lurable mob close enough that I can at least toss it to the basket once instead of relying on a second toss.

On the other hand, don’t forget that passing is a thing. Heck, it’s basically required during the Giant Tornado event. But tossing an egg takes about as much ink as a bomb throw. You can’t do a lot of that. But let me address that in the next section too.

You don’t need to turn in all the Golden Eggs you earn

Going out too far can cause wipes, remember? And even some that are nearby can be risky, like if you have to cross non-swimmable grates to get there. Don’t fall for it! And on the plus side, if mobs steal them, they occasionally actually bring them closer to the basket, so keep your eyes on the skies for those treats!

There may be times when this is unavoidable, though. You may be running low on time and need eggs, and there’s one or two that are kind of far away. Grab it and toss it, then swim towards it. This does a few things. First, it moves the egg closer to the goal, and second, it leaves the potential for someone else to grab the egg and turn it in in case you die. You don’t want any of these scenarios, ideally, so try to stay near the basket and turn in eggs that won’t require a lot of passing.

Use specials to prevent wipes, not fix them

This is the other side of the “lure bosses to the basket” coin. Sometimes people try too hard to only kill mobs right on top of the basket for easy turn-ins. That’s great, but sometimes the people doing that don’t realize the rest of the group can’t keep up, and then everyone’s overwhelmed, the enemy’s ink is everywhere, and you’re wiping.

Use your special before this happens. Heck, any time you notice people are barely surviving, consider using your special to create breathing room. It’s better to prevent a Wave 1 wipe and risk deranking than to save your special for a Wave 3 you never reach. Plus, you’re allowed only one special for the XTRAWAVE, and you’re given a free one if you make it that far. There’s no reason not to use those specials.

12/11 Update: After talking to some EVPs, I’ve decided to change this section’s title from “Don’t be stingy with the specials” to the above, as I think it gets the nuances I address below more succinctly. A good way to determine this is looking at the map. Do you have two people already dead? Do you see too many mobs to reasonably deal with? Are people cut off from each other? Are you grouped up, losing ground, and about to get zerged? These are all times you’ll want to consider pulling that special trigger.

Don’t rely on walls for glowflies

This is really the offender that inspired this post, as I’ve seen it on far too many mainstream gaming websites’ guides. Redditor SleevesTheThird has created a very good guide with visuals on this. It is 100% worth the read, but I can sum it up very simply: group up near the basket in an area with one chokepoint and blast the salmonoids as they rush in.

Grab eggs only if they’re very close (more on that later). As previously stated, do not be afraid to use your special! Wipes can happen very fast. Wave Breaker is the best here, but I’ll use anything I need to aside from the Reefslider to clear out the area. You might have a ton of eggs out, but you may not have the time to turn them all in and still pass. Aim to make the goal. Anything more is a bonus. Choose life over eggs.

So why do all this instead of the wall strategy Google probably keeps recommending when you search “How not to die to glowflies”? The problem with hanging on walls is that chaos breaks out when the glowflies change target or if the current target falls to his death. The beauty of the chokepoint method is that as long as everyone stays together, the game could glitch and make everyone the target (not a real bug, mind you) and you’d still be OK. You can use the wall method, but the only time I’ve used it since finding this method was to stall for time as the only survivor, and we still wiped despite a full rez. Don’t hang on walls; use choke points, please.

Kill those Flyfish

At the least, destroy the left (player view) bin, as it targets random players. The right bin targets the closest player, which is far easier to manage. If the Flyfish is too far, just taking out the left bin and returning to the group is possible sometimes, though if it gets bad, don’t be afraid to kill it with a Killer Wail from across the map (same goes for Stingers). Just remember that Killer Wail needs to be properly aimed.

Also, the Explosher can use its main weapon on the bins to take them out, rather than needing a bomb. Saves you a ton of ink. If you’ve been blessed with the Explosher, make this your job. If the Explosher is in play and you’ve got a mobile weapon, try to stay near him and keep mobs off him so he can aim and not, say, get knocked off the level.

Keep Grillers away from allies

This is easier said than done, but there are a few tips on avoiding Griller wipe, which seem to be the other major event wiping groups. As with Glowflies, it’s good to group up near the basket and have a chokepoint. The difference, however, is that you don’t want the Grillers to get to your teammates, as that’s a 1-hit kill to them and possible wipe if you were all stacked up. If the Griller is getting too close, leave the group alone briefly so it has to chase you back down. Remember that tip about inking walls? This is where it’ll come in handy, as most levels will have a gap nearby you can cross, forcing the Griller away. You can then jump back to bring it back near the group and repeat this until it’s dead.

Let’s have a look at the above image shown with Grillers in Big Run. See how everyone is grouped up on that ramp? If you were the target, you could jump off the left side once the Griller is on the ramp (not necessarily at the top, please), swim to the farther left ramp, and then repeat swimming between the two until the group kills them. Just watch out for that other Griller!

Don’t forget that there’ll also be other mobs, so if it feels like things are going smoothly, try aiming down. You’ll probably kill tiny mobs everyone else forgot about and save your group from a wipe. Good job!

Slammin’ Lids can kill other bosses

I’m sure you noticed that when they slam down, they can kill the regular mobs, but if they’re placed correctly, you can get tough bosses like Steelheads or Flyfish 1-shotted. No, it won’t work on Cohozuna, but we did try it (for science).

So you don’t die yourself, I suggest going into the edge of the trigger circle, then doing a squid roll to retreat to stay alive. You can also do this if you’re dead and need to be rezzed, as you have an invulnerability shield, so you can help clear what’s near you, get some breathing room, and even kill a boss if you remember to jump on top during your invulnerable period.

Golden Eggs in the XTRAWAVE aren’t just for the Cohozuna

You can use them against other bosses too. For those who don’t want to watch that video, I’d recommend using it on Big Shot to help burn it down faster, Steelheads (you still got to hit them while they’re powering up), and Flyfish (you must hit the lids when they’re open so the explosion goes inside both bins to one-shot it). It can make short work of Drizzlers, Scrappers (from the back), Maws (but not 1-shot like a bomb can), and Flipper-Floppers. Slammin’ Lids can be one-shot, but they can also provide you with some temporary space, and the shot’s tricky, so I personally don’t risk wasting it on them.

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Shoot Cohozuna, tank ‘zuna

While the Gold Eggs deal a good chunk of damage, regular shooting does too. Cohozuna also seems to target the player dealing the most damage to it. This is where our MMO skills come in. If you’re dealing the most damage to ‘zuna, you’ll want to kite it around away from the enemy but close enough to be hit by allies. You don’t want to be too close where it can hit you with it’s belly charge, but if you get too far, it’ll do an AoE Leap that can screw up positioning and possibly cut people off thanks to the game’s collision detection. I tend to try to keep it half a bomb-chuck away as much as possible. Full chuck is too far and may trigger the leap.

Leave when tilted

It happens, and if you don’t recognize it and tackle it, you’ll keep messing up. That means deranking not only for yourself, but everyone you’re grouped with, and if you’re on a server, you may find people less willing to group with you. While I’d love better match-making in Splat 3, I’d also prefer in-game organizations like guilds. Until then, many of us rely on Discord groups, and while they may have a lot of players, attrition is high. I have a few regulars I group with of various ranks, but also a few people who are blocked and apparently share other games’ servers I’m part of. And other players notice this too. Keep yourself in check and know when to break. Your fellow players (and your rank) will thank you.

There you have it: 12 potential points to help improve your Salmon Runs to prep for Big Run. Most of them, like not getting lured out, are super hard rules. You’ll need to learn some flexibility, but if you notice certain patterns, try swinging towards these suggestions for a bit and see how things play out. There’s still a lot more to learn, even for me, but these are some common mistakes that I feel are easy to notice, avoid, and fix. Start off here and see how things improve.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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