When we last heard about Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare at E3 2013, PopCap described it as a combination of tower defense and third person shooters. That description, along with the E3 reveal trailer made it sound like other tower defense—shooter hybrids (Double Fine's Iron Brigade and Robot Entertainment's Orcs Must Die! come to mind).
I'm a sucker for the sub-genre, and so was already looking forward to seeing PopCap's take on it—the newest trailer for Garden Warfare, which shows off its Gardens & Graveyards mode, makes it seem like a much deeper, and potentially much more interesting game.
PopCap describes the 24 player mode as a remix of Battlefield's Rush and Conquest modes, with added PvZ flavor. A team of Zombies is tasked with taking over plant bases before starting a final attack on a Rush-like objective that changes with each map. The plants team, of course, plays defense, and is able to set up special plants to keep the zombies away.
The trailer is really impressive. The map, Driftwood Shores, is large, super colorful, and seems like it successfully translates PvZ's flat, cartoon aesthetic to a 3D environment. What really surprised me is how deep the game seems. Different character classes have vastly different skills and attacks, which seem like they could inspire the type of silly, innovative strategies we see in Battlefield games. In general, the trailer made Garden Warfare seem less like a tower defense game and more like a multiplayer shooter that embraces the funny, silly aspects of those games.
I was particularly impressed by the zombie engineer, who can launch an aerial drone that can call in airstrikes, and the chomper plant, who can burrow toward the enemy à la Bugs Bunny.
I do wonder what kind of audience Garden Warfare will ultimately find. Surely it's not for all PvZ players, many of whom play it very casually, and it'd be interesting to see if the same people who enjoy Battlefield will be interested in a similar multiplayer experience minus the guns and explosions. I'd like to see EA's Venn diagram highlighting where those audiences overlap.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is coming to Xbox 360 and Xbox One on February 18. At Gamescom we learned that there will be a short delay between then and the PC release.