First revealed as a part of the PlayStation Showcase digital livestream hosted by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Foamstars is here to bring a new dynamic to four vs four third-person hero combat…with foam. Developed and published by Square Enix, Foamstars is an online shooter where players send foam flying from their weapons. That foam does more than just help boost your movement speed or harm others; it also presents a tactile player experience in three dimensions.
To start, it’s clear that foam is the ultimate resource in this game. At Summer Game Fest Play Days, we got the chance to go hands-on with eight heroes that ranged from a crowd control master with a turret to a shotgun character with the special ability to pull in enemies into one spot. There is a balance of character playstyle that will allow players to craft their experience to their liking. While you can think about damage, you should also think about how the foam you send out can be used. It can be used to create slippery surfaces that players can use to surf around the arena at high speed, to build terrains like walls or elevated perches in order to help players defend from enemy attacks, and finally, to foam up the opposition and win the match.
Once you’ve foamed up an opponent, you’ve effectively eliminated your opponent, known as a “chill’ in the game. While the immediate comparisons to Splatoon were obvious, once playing the game it’s clear that Foamstars is its own unique experience. Rather than painting a map, the foam itself adds a dynamic component to gameplay and battles. Tangible and three-dimensional, the foam offers defense, offense, and pushes the player to think of a strategy. You’re not just trying to cover the area. You’re ultimately working to cut off pathways for the other team, create walls for your team, and put your opponents on ice.
Additionally, the combat mechanics of Foamstars are built for dynamic play. In order to “chill” opponents, you can’t just foam them up. Instead, you have to do that and slide into them. This means a “chill” isn’t as easy to achieve. To add another element of competition, once you’re encased in foam, you have the chance to roll away from your opponent and to a team member. Sliding into someone you’ve covered in foam chills them, but if your team member slides into you, it’s a save. The ability to save your teammates as much as take down your opponents pushes teamwork in a unique way. And that teamwork is what really sets Foamstars apart from others in this particular style of game.
When it comes to classes, we got the chance to play with eight of them, and the diversity of super skills, base skills, and weapon type makes each Star unique and keeps the gameplay fresh across matches. Each star is accessible with a low-skill ceiling. That said, there is an element of skill when it comes to using your Star in cooperation with others. Building a balanced team in our matches was just as important as learning how to use your star. When it comes to competition, Foamstars will also allow players to choose how they play, from friendly matches to ranked, which allows players to take the game at their own pace.
For our hands-on preview at Summer Game Fest, we had the option to play as Soa, a stylish idol and the star of the trailer who wields rapid-fire dual pistols; Jet Justice, a bruiser with a shotgun who is known as a “Civilian Here”; Tonix, a genius inventor with a burst rifle and a turret for great crowd control; Agito, a pro-gamer who is trying to prove himself, who plays as a heavy hitter with a close range shotgun with a wide blast; Pen Gwyn, a penguin soldier who fights global warming and who’s load out includes an assault rifle; Mel T, a cute and innocent CEO who packs a large punch with her rocket launcher and special that beams the area directly in front of her; the Baristador with his long hose that gives him range; and finally Rave Breaker who who is aiming to sanitize the party animals with her wide hose that continuously scatters foam across the area.
As a player, the additional ability to build with your foam can be a way to get an upper hand in a match, shooting down instead of directly at. This allows players to not only learn their Star, but also to learn the maps, how to use them, and how to use the foam to strategically plan and fight. Foam is the dynamic difference between Foamstars and others, and while it may seem gimmicky, getting to use it in a match shows just how well thought-out it is a mechanic.
The truth is, if you give Foamstars a chance to be itself and leave the comparisons at the door, you’re going to have a blast. Cooperative, competitive, and fun as all hell with a fantastic soundtrack, Foamstars can be the next big thing if you just give it a chance.
Foamstars will release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, though a release date hasn’t been shared.