E3 2013: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Preview

June 14, 2013

It seems hard to image that Plants vs. Zombies was first released four years ago to critical acclaim and demand for ports to various systems, such as mobile platforms, Nintendo DS and even PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. With its status as a classic often bandied, it was perhaps unsurprising that the franchise would expand in other ways. Other than a sequel on the horizon (Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time), we also have Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, a rather unusual take on the series as this title is a cooperative third-person shooter (although we’re told that there will be competitive multiplayer modes for up to four players as well). We were able to get our hands on Garden Warfare to see what this transition is like.

The game runs on EA’s new Frostbite 3 engine, and it looks gorgeous. We saw a range of plants from Plants vs. Zombies 1 and 2, all lovingly rendered thanks to the engine. In the demo we played, we got to have a look at Peashooter, Sunflower, Cactus and the Potato Mines in action, although in the full version, players will be able to play as the zombies as well.

The Peashooter is your typical gunner-type character, and he can rapidly blast zombies that get in his way. There’s also a special option for each plant to grow roots, which powers them up. For example, Peashooter can use a powerful Gatling ability which works like a machine gun. The Sunflower is the medic, and can blast zombies with powerful beams of sunlight while also healing any nearby plants. Cactus is the ranged fighter, with a powerful cannon attack. Cactus can call in a Garlic Drone, which can blast zombies and in turn call in a buttered corn barrage attack which blinds zombies. The comical Potato Mines can be planted in the ground, and they go off in a large explosion which engulfs any zombies that get too close.

After taking out a wave of zombies, a boss enemy appears – it’s Disco Zombie and his dancers. They spin around the battlefield, damaging any plants who get in their way, but a few well timed shots from Peashooter are enough to take them down. It’s not over yet, though! A huge, hulking zombie suddenly bursts out of the ground. He wields a large, powerful weapon, and can deal heavy damage to any plants he manages to strike. Fortunately, he’s quite slow, and a good blast of Peashooter’s Gatling, along with a Garlic Drone, are enough to send him back to the grave. The demo ends with an enormous zombie falling out of the sky and crushing the battlefield.

Garden Warfare will be released in 2014 for Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.