Tuesday, January 16, 2024
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Square Enix's Foamstars looks remarkably like Splatoon, the Nintendo-exclusive multiplayer shooter that trades bullets for copious jets of colourful paint. Foamstars similarly ditches fatal projectiles for frothing plumes of bubbly matter, its 4v4 multiplayer shooter taking place within a frantic foam party. 'Fun partying' and the 'thrill of combat' are at the heart of Foamstars, according to Square Enix, and to that end, it certainly looks the part.
Featuring a “quirky, colourful cast of athletes”, Foamstars revolves around attacking opponents using your chosen character's Foamgun, shooting foam to conjure barriers, sliding across foam using your 'slideboard', and overpowering rivals with... yes, foam. Boasting eight characters initially, each with their own Foamgun and 'Superstar' skillset, as well as three modes each complemented by three unique maps apiece, there's more than ample opportunity to experiment with all that foam flying about the place, even using it to build ramps to scale useful vantage points.
All of this takes place within the glitzy confines of 'Bath Vegas', as participants compete in an activity dubbed 'Foamsmash'. The object is to douse enemies in foam, leaving them 'Foamed Up' and vulnerable to a slide-kick that knocks them out of the game. In a Foamed Up state, you're essentially down-but-not-out, so you can be rescued by a teammate if they can get to you quick enough. And while three modes might not sound like much, they each have something different to offer.
This includes Happy Bath Survival, which, of Foamstars' three modes is the most conventional, simply tasking you with dispatching all players on the opposing team in a best-of-three showdown. Smash the Star, meanwhile, is a twist on team deathmatch, wherein players compete to bag seven 'chills' (that's kills in the usual vernacular), in order to be crowned star player, making yourself a target. Depending on the number of KOs and deaths, the battle rules also shift, helping to keep you on your toes.
During our Foamstars showcase, Square Enix also revealed the Rubber Duck Party mode, which sounds a lot like Overwatch's Payload, except your squad must escort the Giant Rubber Duck, as the mode's name suggests, rather than a bomb, limo, battering ram, or whatever. The wrinkle here is that in order to make the duck advance quickly, you'll need to climb aboard its back and dance, and, obviously, getting the Giant Rubber Duck to your team's goal will see you bag the win.
The names of Foamstars' maps hint at the sense of fun Square Enix is angling for, too, with venues like 'The Whisk-It Diner', 'Funky Town Funktion', 'RubberDuck's Spa-larious Oasis', 'Shoreline Shoppin' Spree', and 'Fusion Coaster Kingdom'. The game's chunky, colourful cartoon aesthetic is certainly pleasing, too, especially once the foam starts to accumulate. Being able to manipulate and sculpt foam may well prove a unique selling point in a crowded multiplayer market, and free seasonal updates (planned for a year at least), offering new characters, modes, cosmetics, and maps ought to help keep things fresh.
A single-player and co-op Mission Mode covers PvE, while providing a little narrative background for Foamstars' roster of characters. Whether playing a solo Foamstar Mission or co-op Squad Mission, you'll protect Bath Vegas from waves of 'Bubble Beasties', earning XP while honing your foamy skills. Challenges tie into Season Pass progression, too, with Anytime, Limited-Time, and Weekly Challenges to tackle. As with most modern multiplayer experiences, there will, of course, be a free Season Pass and a Premium option (priced $5.99/£4.99), the latter offering early access to characters (like Mel T), among other cosmetic items.
Cross-play and cross-save functionality between PS5 and PS4, as well as support for the PS5's DualSense haptic feedback and adaptive triggers (so you can 'feel the foam') round out the package, and Square Enix promises that no characters, modes, or maps will ever be locked behind the Season Pass. Factor in Foamstars making its debut as one of February's PlayStation Plus Monthly Games, and there's really no reason not to give Foamstars a fair shake.
Foamstars launches for PS5 and PS4 on 6th February as part of the month's PlayStation Plus Monthly Games lineup. From 5th March, the game will be available via the PlayStation Store, priced $29.99.