Plants vs. Zombies is becoming somewhat of a household brand now; everyone has played the original game or at least knows what it is. Having recently spread to the social game genre, it seems like PvZ is a series that could theoretically spread to any genre and still be just have fun and have the same quality of humor that it’s known for.

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And so enters Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, a third-person, class-based shooter built on the Frostbite 3 engine. It’s undeniable that Plants vs. Zombies has a literal ton of charm, and Garden Warfare doesn’t change that. It’s certainly charming but Garden Warfare also looks fun and seems to have tight enough systems considering it’s a shooter.

Garden Warfare isn’t anything entirely new  but the property is what gives it newfound uniqueness. The mode we saw was a classic four-player survival mode, where you and three other plants defend against hordes of mindless zombies.

The match starts with a quick word from good, old Crazy Dave and then he tells you to plant a garden. The game has four different plant classes as of now; each can plant its own unique plant turret and has its own unique moves and abilities.

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First up is the Pea Shooter. This is your basic offensive class. It does moderate damage and is the fastest out of the four. being incredibly agile, it has the ability to dash and jump, and it is easily able to avoid those dumb zombies. In addition, the pea shooter is able to plant a pea turret in any pot that will fire at enemies, as well as deploy a chili bean that blows up a crowd of enemies.

Next up is the Chomper. This one is a melee-focused class that needs to get in close. The Chomper can gobble up zombies with ease. He also has the ability to “goop” approaching zombies, slowing them down. The Chomper can plant a new plant from Plants vs. Zombies 2 called the Bonk Choy that will punch anyone who gets close.

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Any good class-based game needs a healer and that’s where the Sunflower comes in. She has the ability to plant a marigold turret, which can aid in the healing process. Of course, she’s also able to help out and shoot zombies herself.

The last class is the Cactus, acting as a “sniper” kind of class. It’s adept at picking off enemies from a distance and has a few unique abilities. It can drop Potato Mines that blow up any unsuspecting zombies, as well as put down some walnut barriers. At one point in the demo, the Cactus deploys a garlic drone which hovers above the battlefield, firing on enemies, and has the ability to call down corn strikes.

In addition to their basic abilities, each plant has a special “rooted ability” – a super powerful ability that roots them to the ground. For example, the Pee Shooter turns into a Gatling Pee and can decimate enemies, while the Sunflower fires off a giant energy beam.

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One thing that surprised me in Garden Warfare was just how huge the map looked. The one that was showed was very expansive with multiple areas and choke points, with more than a few pots to put plants in.

After clearing various waves of zombies, it’s time for a boss wave and who else would it be other than the Disco Zombie? A quick cutscene plays as disco music starts blasting and the Disco Zombie and his lackeys start dancing their way over to you. This was by far my favorite part of the demo. With a little bit of teamwork, the plants easily dispatch the foe, even with his dangerous spin attack.

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But wouldn’t you know it, another even more dangerous foe – the Gargantuar – breaks out of the earth. The team defeats this enemy too, and then the demo ends with – again – an even more fearsome foe that’s the size of a building.

Garden Warfare looked incredibly fun, even though we didn’t get to actually play it, and graphically the Frostbite engine is still on the cutting edge, making the game look utterly fantastic.

Plants vs. Zombies is already a fun property in the first place but it was great to see such a lighthearted and silly shooter. After the demo was over, I managed to grab a quick interview with the head of marketing for PopCap.

I was told me that this is something that they’ve been wanting to do for a while.
Plants vs. Zombies is such a popular property. We wanted to come up with a combination that would please fans, and bring the same kind of humor that you always find in Plants vs. Zombies.” They had been looking for the right genres that PvZ would fit into.

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In addition, Garden Warfare is one of the only games of its type – a class-based shooter/tower defense that uses the Frostbite 3 engine and its wonderful destruction physics.

I asked if all of the plants from the original game would be featured in some way. “ While not all the plants are going to be featured, we put certain plants in that we felt would crossover well into this kind of game. And you can definitely expect to see some new plants from Plants vs. Zombies 2.”

While nothing is confirmed, it also seems likely that more classes are coming for the game, and I was told that more information would be coming out soon.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare certainly piqued my interest, as it looked like a wacky and fun shooter. The game will feature four player co-op and survival modes, as well as various 24-player multiplayer modes.

The game will be making its way out early next year, exclusively on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, but will be hitting PC and other consoles at a later date. Go ahead and check out the trailer below as well as a bit of the demo that we were shown.