While I loved the mobile PvZ games in all their tower defensive-glory, I had not played the first Garden Warfare because, well, because it wasn’t a tower defence game. It was a third-person shooter, and if I’m gonna be playing one of those, I’d rather shoot people in the face over cartoon plants and zombies (don’t judge). But I tried out this second iteration of Garden Warfare, and was pleasantly surprised. Plus, if Walking Dead has taught us anything, it’s that it’s always a good idea to shoot zombies in the face, even if all you’ve got is a pea-shooter.
The neighbourhood has been divided in half, with a plant stronghold resembling a huge earthbound treehouse on side, and Dr Zomboss’ mansion serving as the zombie stronghold on the other. The game begins on the plant side with various game modes immediately available to players. You can enter multiplayer through the portal, play Garden Ops to defend your turf, enter split-screen mode and play with a friend in your immediate vicinity, or play solo quest missions thanks to the Dave-bot 3000 hanging out in the garage. You can even switch over the zombie side immediately by signing up with Dr Zomboss, making you the ultimate mercenary (but more on that later). Or you can just exit the plant stronghold and just start beating up random zombies in the Backyard Battleground.
However you decide to play, you get your choice of characters from the get-go, including Peashooter, Sunflower, Chomper, and Cactus, who all return from GW, plus three new plants who’ve joined the fray: Citron, the time-traveling bounty hunter; Rose, the mage with an affinity for goats; and Kernel Corn, the militaristic twin-gunner. And, a big selling point according to all the official literature, you can earn coins and XP no matter how you decide to play. Apparently, pretty much everything you can think of doing will earn you some XP and coins, and those coins will become important later.
If you decide you’d rather eat some brains, Dr Zomboss has some fun things for you to do as well. All of the modes are duplicated in Dr Zomboss’ mansion, with cosmetic alterations (like talking to Dr Patient for the solo quests, or calling them Graveyard Ops instead of Garden Ops). But instead of plants, you get to play as brain-craving zombies. The Foot Soldier, the Engineer, the Scientist, and the All-Star return to kill plants, realize they have no brain matter, and immediately regret their lack-of-life decisions. Not to be outdone by those obnoxiously brainless plants, the zombies also bust out some new characters: the very weak and very fast Imp; the brawling superzombie Super Brainz; and the surprisingly versatile Captain Deadbeard. And let me tell you, it’s pretty fun playing as these ridiculous characters. Well, up to a point.
Whether playing alone or with friends, a lot of the game modes start to run together, regardless of which side you’re playing. Many of the modes are called different things in different areas, but ultimately amount to the same thing at the end of the day, and starts to feel pretty repetitive pretty quickly. For example, many of the game modes in both plant and zombie flavours (ew) include the ability to plant/build stationary turrets (giving me a bit of the tower defence mechanics I so crave) to help you achieve whatever objective you’re currently attempting. These are most useful in defense game modes like the Garden/Graveyard Ops or Turf Takeover in Multiplayer (or many of the solo quests, or parts of the Backyard Battleground), but can really be used at any time, so long as you have enough spawnable plants and zombies. How do you get those, you ask? Good timing, that’s the next section!
Because Cards and Stickers Make Everything Better
In both the plant and zombie strongholds, there are vending machines where you can use the coins you’ve been collecting by running and killing zombies and/or plants to buy card packs which can include, among other things: consumable items, like spawnable plants and zombies to plant in fertile soil or graveyard dirt, and Self-Revives and Team Retrys; customization items, like accessories, hats, tattoos, organics (for plants only), weapon skins and facial hair (for zombies only), and new taunts (these items do not affect gameplay at all, they just look pretty); and what everyone really wants, character piece stickers that unlock new, slightly stronger versions of the plants and zombies you already have.
New players starting the game for the first time will find a couple of card packs waiting for them, free of charge, as well as some free coins so they can immediately buy some more if they’d like. You can, of course, also purchase coins and/or packs with real money through the wonderful technology known as ‘microtransactions’. Though I’m not entirely sure why you would have to, seeing as how I’ve played for about 3-4 hours and have unlocked three characters already (I admit, one of them was waiting for me when I booted up the game for the first time, but still). You can even use some of the as-yet-unlocked characters for free for about a week at a time in many of the game modes.