The original Plants vs. Zombies got its start in 2009, with not-so-typical house plants pitted against hordes of the undead, ranging from typical slow zombies to more varied types, including the football player zombie. Since its release, the game achieved huge sales across a number of platforms, including consoles, PC and mobile devices.
Now, as we await word on the forthcoming sequel due by the end of summer, PopCap Games announced something new for the series. Instead of relying on the familiar strategy we've come to expect from Plants vs. Zombies, the team has a different approach in mind – third-person shooting action.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a full-tilt action game, one where you can work together with friends to bring down zombie hordes. However, PopCap has the Plants vs. Zombies theme completely in mind for this game, as it appears to be a fun multiplayer effort for all ages, one that fans will certainly appreciate.
Like the puzzle games, you defend a garden – a much larger one – from an invasion of zombies, either on your own or with the help of friends through four-player online co-op. Basic enemies appear at first, but soon you'll have to deal with more complex characters, including a disco zombie surrounded by his cronies and an ogre-like Gargantuar that will take a lot more damage to bring down; watch out for his club. He's got a mean swing.
Garden Warfare has been built with competitive multiplayer in mind, so, somewhere down the road, players will be able to control the zombies to some extent. For now, only the plants have been introduced, and each one possesses individual talents that will help the team.
First, there's the Peashooter. You can use this plant for general assault, shooting enemies with your loaded peas or setting up sentries to stand ground in certain spots of the garden, which fire at enemies within range; the Peashooter is a good basic character to start with.
Next up is the Sunflower, which acts more in a support role rather than a full-on offensive character. It plays its part though, as you'll use it to heal other players while providing a minor amount of offense to keep zombies at bay.
Then we have our personal favorite, the Chomper. As you might guess, it likes to use its sharp teeth to chew zombies to bits. You can use general bite attacks, but it's most effective when you send it crawling underground, only to come up and swallow the enemy in one flail swoop. It'll take some practice – and precision timing – to get the most from its techniques. However, for the right player, it certainly pays off.
Finally, the Cactus works as a sort of Tank character, bringing a huge amount of offense to the table while having slightly weaker defense. It's got some thick skin, though, which is useful for leveling enemies.
Secondary characters can enter the fray at any time, including a stationary Bonk Choy plant that knocks out zombies that manage to get close, and an aerial onion-shaped gunner that takes out enemies from above. It's all a matter of how you use your resources, and how long you can hold off the opposing team.
The gameplay for Garden Warfare looks basic at first, but it’s great to see how well PopCap Games adapted the plants’ offensive styles into third-person combat. The game didn't lose any of its momentum through the demo, and the high level of detail goes beyond what we've come to see from the mobile games. The characters look like they fit right into a 3D world, and the garden map features amazing detail. The game utilizes DICE's Frostbite 3 technology, so that shouldn't be a huge surprise.
Better still, the game will appear across multiple platforms, as it'll be released on PC, Xbox 360 and its successor, Xbox One. There's no word yet on what kind of multiplayer features will be introduced for each version, or how many players can take part in a match – though four-versus-four seems like a safe bet.
One thing's for sure – PopCap Games is set to tackle the console shooter genre with all guns blazing. Well, plants blazing, anyway.
Look for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare in 2014.