Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was a big surprise when it launched with the Xbox One back in 2013, both for the fact that it even existed and for how good it actually turned out to be. Now, PopCap are producing the inevitable sequel, and using the feedback from players and the benefits of their contract with EA to stuff in a whole bunch of new content and funny references that should make this a comic shooter worth looking out for.
This time the game takes place in a zombified version of Suburbia, now ruled by the Zombies. The Plants are the underdogs this time, and must form a resistance to rise up against their undead overlords. This leads to a bunch of new playable characters, including Citron, a time-travelling cyberpunk orange who has returned from the future to aid the plants in their quest, Colonel Corn, a ticked-off corncob who has returned from overseas duty to fight the Zombies, and Rose, a seer from the past who can cast spells. The Zombies have a range of new characters too, including the Imp, who can fire rapidly on the ground but more usefully has his own Titanfall-styled mech which can he can drop onto the field to pilot himself. There’s also a new sniper character, Captain Deadbeard and Super Brainz, who believes he’s an 80’s action hero/super hero with abilities like a ‘Twister’ area attack. All up, over 100 characters are promised for the final release, and your old characters can be transferred from the first game as well.
Rather than just online play this time around, split-screen multiplayer is in, as well as local play against AI. There are now private matches you can set-up as well, along with 12 brand new maps. One of the maps PopCap showcased on the floor was a ‘time travel theme park’ they were particularly proud of, which could be modified depending on what time travel portal you went through in the attractions around the map. PopCap also believe that free content updates are an important part of what made the first game successful, and will continue the trend with the sequel.
Playing the game in the EA booth on the show floor, I was impressed by how immediately fun the game was. Playing as Captain Deadbeard, his ‘sniper’ moniker is perhaps a little overblown – he is quite good for accurate, powerful shots but there’s no real camping/scoping gameplay which I saw from him. He could also be useful in close range combat, if he got rushed by plants he could withdraw into a barrel which shields him from most outside hits, before releasing a huge explosion that can take out several nearby units. Getting the hang of these unique abilities was really fun, and the game itself seemed addictive and very ‘moreish’. It’s the casual gamer’s answer to Battlefield and I’ll definitely be checking it out once it hits store shelves in Autumn 2016 in Australia.