How does the PvP in Popcap’s shooter measure up?
Popcap’s Plants vs. Zombies had a very humble beginning with the tower defense game on mobiles. Over time, it expanded into the free to play space before debuting on consoles with Garden Warfare. Now that Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is around the corner, it seemed as good a time as any to try out the recent multiplayer beta.
"Though there was a kill confirmed mode which involved eliminating enemy players and gathering their icons, it was Gardens and Graveyards which served as the main PvP experience."
Here’s the thing though. The Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare series isn’t inherently about tower defense. You can set up various plants to watch your back but you’re mostly fending for yourself in the third person shooter perspective. Different classes bestow different abilities but you’re not going to solo every single segment by yourself. To truly get ahead and rack up that coin, you’ll need to team up with other erstwhile players. You can’t just rely on twitch shooting to get you out of every situation either – it often boils down to using these abilities at the right time to one-up foes.
In Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Popcap decided to flip the formula around and allow the plants to act as attackers while the zombies can defend. We didn’t get to see how this affects the single-player campaign but the new Backyard Battleground does offer some hints. This is a neat little Horde mode variant present in the hub world which you can visit at any time. Your primary job is the keep the “Flag of Power” from falling, which means sticking around it and eliminating any enemies that get to close. Playing as a plant, I managed to go through waves of different zombies from the Browncoats to the Scientists and All-Stars. There was even a boss wave mixed in. The challenge provided by Backyard Battleground is great because it means you can hop into the action instantly. Again, it would feel more fun with friends and one certainly hopes there’s more variety outside of simply defending a flag. But PvE isn’t the focus in this beta.
Instead, it’s PvP. The Turf War playlist essentially throws you into either side (via time-travelling teleporter) to either attack or defend. Though there was a kill confirmed mode which involved eliminating enemy players and gathering their icons, it was Gardens and Graveyards which served as the main PvP experience. The objective is to capture as many Gardens or Graveyards as possible to ultimately assault the final bastion of the enemy’s defense. If time runs out before the next objective is captured, then match results are tallied on the basis of how many objectives your team captured.
"Classes are relatively well balanced at this point save for Imp’s mech which seems to have a lot of health, long duration time and requires a significant amount of team-shooting to take down."
The two maps available were Moon Base Z and Seeds of Time. These are pretty well made, bestowing an excellent amount of variety within each section. It’s cool that they have their own unique end objectives as well. For example, Seeds of Time moves from capturing gardens to effectively laying siege to a castle with a battering ram. You even time travel between different eras after each point captured which further ups the visual ante. As noted before, there are a number of different classes to play as including the Peashooter, your standard Plant soldier class; the Rose, who acts as the mage with her abilities to turn zombies into goats; Citron with his defensive barrier and concentrated lasers; and much more.
The zombies side arguably had cooler heroes to play with though – teams were full of Imps, mostly due to the mech he can call down. Classes are relatively well balanced at this point save for Imp’s mech which seems to have a lot of health, long duration time and requires a significant amount of team-shooting to take down. In a way, one could call this fair because Imp himself doesn’t have a lot of health in his zombie form but a team of mechs can effectively steam-roll through all opposition given enough leeway.
Outside of the class abilities, there is significantly strong customization with the ability to change hats, accessories and more. A decent distinction between sub-classes also exists. Instead of the normal Sunflower, you can opt for the Vampire Sunflower which is capable of regenerating health as it deals damage and the freezing Piranha Plant which shoots frozen projectiles instead of chomping on foes. However, once you unlock some variants, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to go back. For instance, the freezing version of Citron is clearly better than the regular version and they do the same amount of damage. Why opt for the regular one after that? The same goes for the Vampire Sunflower.
"Whether you’re a hardcore shooter fan or interested some zany fantasy shooting, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 might be worth a look when it releases next month."
Each match in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 allows you to earn Coins, which can be used to purchase sticker packs to unlock different plants and zombies for defense and offense or customization items. You can unlock different abilities for different characters as well through playing as various classes and levelling them up. At this time, the matchmaking seems fairly solid in the beta, save for a few instances of one side completely steam-rolling the other. There was also a healthy amount of lag in some matches. This could be attributed to playing on South-Asian servers but hopefully as the player base grows, there will be less issues in connecting to nearby players.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 boasts a pretty solid multiplayer mode at this point. More maps, characters, objectives and playlists along with the ability to unlock so many different cosmetic items will obviously keep PvP players busy for a while. We’ll still have to wait and see how the PvE and co-op components pan out but at this point, whether you’re a hardcore shooter fan or interested some zany fantasy shooting, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 might be worth a look when it releases next month.
This game was previewed on Xbox One.