It’s the age-old question children always ask: Who would win in a fight between zombies and plants. It’s just me that thought that isn’t it? Well, Popcap answered that little ginger weirdo’s thoughts and created the Plants vs. Zombies games. The top-down tower-defence game was a massive success for the company spawning a sequel but one genre we never thought the series would go is into the shooter genre. With seemingly no one ever asking for it, Popcap and EA have allowed this game to exist and regardless of target demographics but the only real question to ask though is: Has Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare taken its roots and implemented them in a good way or have they simple created a monster?
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is a game that undeniably charming. Everything from the music to character design will no doubt make you smile, that is, if you have any heart. It’s this display of charm and good feelings that actually proliferate into your enjoyment. Playing competitive multiplayer games will always raise even the slightest level of aggression when you get killed. When you’ve been killed by a sunflower, smiling, wearing stupid galsses and bouncing about as sun rays literally shoot out of its face, that aggression never manifests.
I’ve always felt as though even if you’re losing, if the game can make you feel good in any way whatsoever, it’ll keep you coming back; that’s exactly what Garden Warfare does in a number of ways. First off, K/D ratios don’t mean anything in this game. You level up by completing character-specific challenges. Each character can be levelled up but only by completing all challenges proposed. They may be as simple as kill three enemies but they may be as complex as getting a certain amount of kills on a certain enemy using a certain weapon. This then relies the enemy team to be playing as that character or progress is halted indefinitely.
It’s a levelling system that won’t suit everybody, especially those that know their role in an online shooter environment. For everyone else though, it allows you to play as each of the eight main classes over the two teams meaning there is a lot of variety to how you play within the game. If this progression is something that may pique your interests then there is a surprising depth to Garden Warfare that isn’t prevalent when you start the game.
In fact, the game actually seems rather bare when you first get into the menus. The main mode is Garden ops in which you and up to three friends take on 10 waves of enemies. This mode requires you to always play as flowers meaning if you like this mode, your zombie characters will be noticeably a lower character when you take the game online.
The competitive multiplayer mode is just two modes on five maps. This may sound ridiculous, even for a budget-priced game but it honestly has yet to tire on me after more than ten hours of playtime. It may not be an acceptable answer to a lot of you but there will be free DLC in the form of modes and maps down the line.
The two modes are Team Vanquish and Gardens and Graveyards. The first mode is a simple team deathmatch with a 50 kill count. You can reduce the number of the enemy’s score by reviving your team mates. The latter mode is more substantial. If you have ever played Rush mode in Battlefield, you will know exactly what Gardens and Graveyards is. One team plays as the plants who must defend their six or seven gardens against the enemy team of zombies. Should the zombie team take the gardern, the defenders will be pushed back to the next garden. Should they take all the gardens, the zombies will receive an end-game objective in which they must complete in order to win. The zombie team only have five minutes to take each garden.
The plants can lay down plants in the pots using stickers they buy and unlock while the zombies bring different classes up out of the ground. The 12 vs. 12 multiplayer mode is frantic and incredibly fun.
As I’ve mentioned, you level up by completing character-specific challenges. This mean you don’t essentially earn XP. Instead of earning XP, you earn coins. These coins are used to buy sticker packs that you will obtain consumables, character skins, and new characters types. Fearing the worst, it looked like this was the perfect opportunity for EA to implement micro-transactions but it’s simply not present. It doesn’t mean that won’t employ them down the road but the game works fine without them right now.
The most surprising part of Garden Warfare is just how fun the gunplay is. Both teams have four different classes but not all classes have a similar one on the opposing team. There is no version of the chomper on the zombie team the same way there is no class like the all-star on the plants side. It’s impressive knowing this that both teams feel quite balanced and no one class seems overpowered.
It may be slim on content, but there is a lot to love about Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. It’s fun, charming and a surprisingly fun shooter. The only downside is the possible short life this game may have. It’s a multiplayer shooter only available on Xbox consoles and soon to be PC and it comes out just a few weeks before one of the most highly anticipated online shooters in years; one that’s also coming out on Xbox consoles and PC. Despite all that, I highly recommend that you give PvZ: Garden Warfare a shot, it may keep you rooted for some time.