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E3 2015: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 hands-on impressions

The ongoing war of attrition between plants and zombies continues, only now the roles have been reversed. Shacknews recently had a chance to go hands-on with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.

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Zombies are single-minded. Zombies are relentless. Zombies are persistent. With that kind of attitude, zombies are eventually bound to see some success. And indeed, in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, the battle of attrition is seemingly over, with the undead victorious.

In Popcap's follow-up to last year's surprise hit, Dr. Zomboss and his forces have succeeded in their quest for domination, taking over the world of Suburbia and re-dubbing it Zomburbia. But that sets the stage for the PvZ story to get turned on its head, as now the plants will be the ones doing the invading, endeavoring to take their world back. The main idea of Garden Warfare 2 is to defend Zomburbia from the rallying plants, with both sides having upgraded their forces significantly.

Six new classes will grace Garden Warfare 2, with over 40 characters available at launch. Shacknews recently had a chance to check out some of the new characters, including:

  • Imp & Z-Mech - This zombie is something of a two-pronged threat. While he can use his diminutive stature to hit and run, Imp can also call in a massive futuristic mech suit called Z-Mech and use it to light up enemies and stomp any that get too close.
  • Citron - This is a genetically modified orange, sent in from the future to help give the plants a bit of an edge in their fight to overtake Zomburbia. Citron can roll around in a ball form before morphing into his assault form, which is armed with a powerful EM-Peach.
  • Captain Deadbeard - In addition to forces from the future, both sides will also get some help from the past. Captain Deadbeard is an undead pirate that acts as the zombies' sniper class, which helps open up the battlefield.
  • Rose - This plant mystic also hails from the past. She once had a vision of the zombie-run future, so she's traveled forward in time to help lend a helping branch. She moves about the battlefield with floaty movements and a wand that shoots thistles at foes. She also has the ability to polymorph zombies into goats.
  • Super Brainz - This is a zombie superhero with dreams of becoming an action movie star. He's mainly a melee fighter that can also fire off handy hand-lasers.
  • Kernal Corn - This military mastermind works as the plants' assault class. He's mainly a run-and-gun type, who will shower the battlefield with bullets (or kernals).

I recently had an opportunity to try Garden Warfare 2 out, taking control of Imp and Z-Mech for a round of Graveyard Ops, the game's new four-player co-op mode. Waves of plants would come in, with the idea to play defense across the new Zomboss Factory stage, a level that serves as the final production line for zombots. Much of the Garden Warfare shooting aesthetics remain intact, with Imp able to hold his own before replenishing his health and multiplying his firepower by calling in the Z-Mech. That's when I felt true power, firing off missiles at distant foes while stomping on anything that tried to approach. While waves were pretty easy to get through, Crazy Dave would occasionally cut in and introduce some larger foes to take on.

The Zomboss Factory will be one of 12 new maps that will ship with Garden Warfare 2, with the locales covering a range of areas, like a snowy tundra, outer space, and a time travel theme park. As this might imply, Popcap is making sure to pay homage to previous Plants vs. Zombies games with some of the stages.

If it feels like Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is coming rather soon after the first game, Popcap is fully acknowledging this and would like to reward players of the first game for their loyalty. Garden Warfare 2 will allow players to transfer all of their unlocked characters from the first game to the second game. In the same spirit, Popcap will also support Garden Warfare 2 with free post-launch updates.

Garden Warfare 2 will also alleviate some of the pressure of having to play with humans by introducing a single-player offline game mode, which Popcap will detail at a later date. Local split-screen will also be available, as will online private matches with custom rule sets.

Look for more details to emerge about Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 at E3 2015 and beyond. The game is set to hit PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in early 2016.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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