Home Technology Foamstars finds a sweet spot between Splatoon and Overwatch

Foamstars finds a sweet spot between Splatoon and Overwatch

Foamstars finds a sweet spot between Splatoon and Overwatch

While I’ve never been great at competitive shooters, something about Splatoon clicks with me. Maybe it’s just that there are so many ways to contribute to a team, which means I can become my team’s MVP by playing the target instead of winning gunfights with other squid kids. I’ve always wanted other developers to take inspiration from the series to find more creative ways for players to improve their skills in a shooter without requiring pinpoint precision.

It took almost ten years, but that wish has finally come true with Foamstars. Square Enix’s upcoming multiplayer game is a direct riff on the Splatoon formula, replacing ink with colorful foam. While there are some fairly direct connections between the two games, Foamstars is not just another copycat. The matches are very different from Splatoon’s and find more of a middle ground between that series and a traditional shooter.

Foamstars – Reveal Trailer | PlayStation Showcase 2023

I played four games of Foamstars at this year’s Summer Game Fest, which gave me the chance to play with some of the characters and their groundbreaking skills. While it wasn’t enough time to fully understand its intricacies, I’m already intrigued by what turns out to be a chaotically fun shooter that does a lot to stand out from Nintendo’s beloved series.

Let’s froth them

During my session I played a few rounds of Foamstars main mode, Star Rush. It’s a four-on-four, family-friendly team deathmatch mode (“killing” is called “chilling” here) in which players must work together to defeat the opposing team’s “star player”. The basics of combat have some obvious similarities to Splatoon. Players have a variety of weapons that can soak the terrain in foam. Players can surf their team’s foam color, but stepping on the other team’s foam slows them down.

Square Enix

That’s basically where most of the obvious Splatoon influence ends. For example, players don’t simply defeat enemies by shooting at them. Instead, they have to cover them with enough foam until they’re stuck in a big ball and then surf against it to pop it. Teammates can save each other from defeat by popping the ball themselves. It’s a totally different approach to fighting that forces players to aggressively pursue their opponents to secure the KO.

It’s also a character-based game rather than a gear-focused game, taking more of the Overwatch formula. For example, the first character I tried wielded a shotgun that could cover a large area of ​​ground with foam. You can also use rapid fire pistols which are not much different from Splatoon’s Splat Dualies. In addition, each character has two special abilities that work on a cooldown and an ‘ultimate’. One character can shoot an exploding shuriken, while another can flip sideways and launch a horizontal foam blast in the process.

After a chaotic opening match where I struggled with reverse controls, I started to get into the swing of things. Teams are released onto a flat map that they can shape as they fill it more with foam. I would see players on the opposing team build big mounds of foam and stand on top of them to shoot distant enemies. It’s not really a Fortnite build level, but it looks like there’s quite a bit of strategic potential, adding some creativity to how players build the map.

While I had fun with my matches, I need more time to fully understand how the battle unfolds. Teamwork seems to be key, as there’s an incentive to split up into squads of two so everyone has a buddy who can save them from foaming to death in no time. Going off solo is an easy way to find yourself “chilled,” and that’s perhaps something that casual Splatoon players might have a hard time adjusting to as well. That series excels when it comes to giving the feeling that each individual player can let loose, do their own thing, and still contribute. That’s not so much the case here based on what I’ve seen.

Square Enix

I also have to effectively foam up the terrain. Spreading foam doesn’t feel as easy and painterly as Splatoon’s inking, as it was a little more difficult for me to estimate where my shotgun’s foam would actually land. I wasn’t quite able to get into a fast ink-and-surf flow during my matches, which is another area where Splatoon just feels so good. I imagine that will come with time, but the more 3D nature of the foam can be a bit trickier to navigate.

It is clear that I still have a lot to learn here, but that seems to work in Foamstars’ favor. I have a feeling that the team fights will be much more complex, which will open up opportunities for a potential competitive scene. More excitingly, it will feature some form of single-player campaign at launch, though Square Enix isn’t revealing anything about it just yet. All of that is enough to pique my interest in what should be a unique twist on a formula I already love. Bring on the foam, I’d say.

Foamstars has no release date, but will launch on PlayStation 4 and PS5.

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