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Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass: The Biggest Fan Theories About The Side Order Trailer

Nearly any longtime "Splatoon" fan will agree that the release of "Splatoon 2"'s DLC, "Octo Expansion," was a complete "cultural reset" for the fanbase — what was previously a silly kids' game about squids-that-could-be-kids shooting paint at each other had suddenly proved itself capable of telling a more meaningful narrative that took its own world lore and characters seriously, and fans couldn't get enough of it. It received rave reviews from critics and fans alike and was considered more than worth the extra purchase for introducing the first playable Octoling, a series of challenges that actually forced the player to understand the ins and outs of every available weapon, and much-needed character development for well-loved characters.

So it's no surprise that fans are going wild over the trailer for "Side Order," the second wave of content soon to come in the "Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass." Taking on a drastically different tone than the "Wave 1" announcement that played just seconds before it in the Nintendo Direct, the "Side Order" trailer showed 40 seconds of eerie imagery that was much more reminiscent of "Nier" than anything "Splatoon"-related. The desaturated, vague, and foreboding footage has fans anticipating another serious and lore-heavy narrative on par with "Octo Expansion" while trying to puzzle out what it could be — here are some of the biggest fan theories about the trailer for "Side Order," the mysterious DLC bundled with the upcoming "Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass."

The Octoling featured in the trailer is Agent 8

Referred to as only "the Octoling" in Nintendo's tweet for the trailer, the main character of "Side Order" has more than a passing resemblance to the protagonist of "Octo Expansion," Agent 8. Her identity has remained something of a debate after the Nintendo Direct — however, astute fans have picked up on some telltale signs that this Octoling is, in fact, everyone's favorite test subject. One fan uploaded an analysis of the character's hair and eye colors as shown in both the main 3D footage as well as the briefly flashed concept art to prove that they were in the same place on the color wheel as Agent 8's palette, but simply desaturated. Other fans have referenced similar parallels like a mirroring of Agent 8's sitting pose in the finale of "Octo Expansion" as well as the apparent involvement of Pearl and Marina, Agent 8's go-to role models. 

While comparisons show that the Octoling is a fair bit taller than Agent 8 in "Octo Expansion," this is pretty much in line with how in-universe characters age throughout the installments (via NintendoEverything) and further sets her apart from the regular playable Octolings of "Splatoon 3." Convinced fans are more than excited to finally catch up on how she's been faring after the rather traumatic circumstances of her introduction to the franchise — though, as many have pointed out, it doesn't seem like she'll be in for a particularly fun ride this time, either.

The Octoling featured in the trailer is not Agent 8

Yet, there are some who adamantly believe the Octoling is not Agent 8 in spite of the overwhelming evidence — or perhaps, precisely because of it. One image in particular that has tipped fans off to the possibility that the Octoling isn't the Agent 8 they know and love: A brief flash of what looked like a factory line of identical Agent 8 lookalikes being manufactured. This, of course, led many to believe that the trailer Octoling's desaturated color palette isn't an artistic choice, but a real indication that she is, in fact, a clone of Agent 8.

This might sound implausible at first until you remember that cloning is a subject that the "Splatoon" lore hasn't shied away from in the least. Many fans agree that most of DJ Octavio's army is made from cloning his own genetic material, though the actual process is left unexplained. There's also the fact that Li'l Judd is outright revealed to be a clone of Judd, a fact that is established in the in-game lore with very little fanfare. Regardless of whether "Side Order" intends to touch on the ethical implications of cloning, the technology itself exists in-universe and could very well feature in the DLC. 

Side Order will be set in an alternate universe where Team Order won the Splatoon 2 Final Splatfest

First things first — the coral-infested scenery shown in the trailer is definitely not the state of Inkopolis Square in-game, as Inkopolis Plaza is in the same city and most definitely wouldn't be as lively as it is in the "Wave 1" trailer if there was some "Nier"-level apocalypse happening next door. This opens the question, where or what is it, then? The clue might be in the title of the DLC itself: When the Nintendo Direct trailer revealed the "Wave 2" DLC, fans like FailBoat caught onto the wordplay of "Side Order," and there began the theories that this would be a sneak peek into how "Splatoon 3" would have gone if Team Order had won in the final Splatfest of "Splatoon 2." 

There's plenty of evidence to support the fact that the bleached-out scene in the trailer is a version of Inkopolis Square taken over by "order," even aside from the monochrome uniformity. For one, the main gate has been completely replaced by a geometrically symmetrical door, and all the screens of the tower have been re-oriented along a singular, uniform plane instead of pointing in various directions. Some of the flashed images show even more Art Deco architecture — with the title and the imagery combined, it's possible that "Side Order" is, indeed, a "side" content pack showing an alternate world where "order" has dominated the landscape of "Splatoon 2."

Side Order will take place inside Agent 8's mind

This theory is mostly built on the heavy introspective themes shown in the artwork. There are several images of the Octoling staring at her reflection, out into twisted landscapes, clutching her head, and so on — all very much indicative of internal identity conflicts that may manifest as real obstacles in the DLC, finally following up on Agent 8's mental state after suffering amnesia at the beginning of "Octo Expansion."

The snippets of abstract 3D images might corroborate this, as well. What looks like microscopic life forms floating in a black abyss seems to call to the fact that white coral — which is predominant in the trailer — is a result of coral dying after the algae living inside it has fled elsewhere, as pointed out by fans. With a brief inclusion of what might be brain coral — as well as a completely white object resembling the wrinkles of a brain — it could be that the white coral making up the fake plaza could be a metaphor for Agent 8's brain matter that has been stripped of the "color" of her memories. The fact that Pearl and Marina — Agent 8's role models — are depicted as colorful yet strangely distorted could very well tie into this being some sort of memory-mindscape adventure.

Then, of course, there is the mostly ironic theory that the all-white look is the venue theme for Off the Hook's wedding — which, while unrealistically optimistic, has resulted in some very cute fanart.