Splatoon 3’s best new feature is an absolute game changer

Splatoon 3 Splatfest - characters pose on a black background
(Image credit: Nintendo)

No matter where you spend your time in Splatoon 3, the multiplayer nature of the game dictates you’ll end up in its online lobby more often than not.

And in previous entries, that wasn’t exactly exciting. The lobby was little more than a menu. The check-in process separating you from your next paint-blasted Turf War scuffle. In short, the lobby served its purpose and nothing more.

Splatoon 3 represents a sea change for its lobby system, though. No longer is it the simple stopgap between you and your matches. It’s gotten a massive glow-up, having been fitted with several new features, and its own space – one you can actually walk around in.

Having gone into Splatoon 3 relatively blind, I was initially taken aback, but certainly not in a bad way. Exploring this newly refurbished lobby felt like stepping into my local post office, only to discover it’d been transformed into an airsoft arena.

That old matchmaking menu is still there, but it’s flanked on all sides by eye-catching new attractions. A carefully designed playground to test out your new favorite weapons. An oversized gacha machine offering all manner of goodies. And a lovely little locker room tucked away at the side. This wasn’t the half-step forward presented by Splatoon 2. This is something entirely fresh. And Splatoon 3 is all the better for it.

New lobby, new me

(Image credit: Nintendo)

So the lobby is in the best state it’s ever been. But there’s one aspect that ties it all together in a neat calamari combo. That would be Splatoon 3’s poster group: the fictional band and presenting trio Deep Cut. Members Shiver, Frye, and adorable manta ray Big Man seem to have gotten the memo where the Squid Sisters and Off the Hook before them did not: that being not to waste the player’s time.

In the first two Splatoons, you’d have to watch an unskippable rundown showing off the current multiplayer maps in rotation, as well as any additional info on recent updates. And while I love the characters these pop groups were composed of, the charm of the broadcasts quickly wore thin when I just wanted to dive into the action.

That’s no longer the case in Splatoon 3. You can still watch the broadcasts if you’d like, but by clicking the left thumbstick, you can instantly minimize them to the top-left corner of your screen. This lets you take in all the broadcast’s info while simultaneously exploring Splatsville, its shops and lobby. It’s a small but ingenious change that means you’re not wasting time reading the same old dialogue day in, day out.

Of all the wonderful improvements Splatoon 3 brings to the table, this was the one that left the best impression on me. And it means that when I actually do want to watch the broadcasts for genuinely important announcements about new updates, I’m fully invested in what Deep Cut has to say.

I’ve always loved this series, but the half measure that was Splatoon 2 always left me feeling a little sour. And I could never play longer than just a handful of matches in one session. With Splatoon 3’s bevy of improvements and time-saving upgrades, though, I’m more energized than ever to dive into the Turf Wars and daub my enemies in wonderfully fluorescent ink.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.