PopCap has been keeping Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare under its hat for more three years. Spawned from a desire to bring their mobile and Facebook-based botanical juggernaut to consoles, Garden Warfare is a game designed to usher in a new generation of gamers to the thrill of shooting things.
Revealed during EA’s Monday E3 press conference, Garden Warfare is a third-person shooter, featuring elements of horde, tower defense and hardcore multiplayer deathmatch. As if it weren't obvious by the homonym in the title, the game parodies military shooters such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. PopCap has set out to present a humorous mirror to the face of a genre that is typically po-faced and awash in machismo.
Facing off against an oncoming horde of Dr Zomboss’ minions, each member of the four-plant squad can take on a different class. Familiar plants from the mobile games make appearances across the roughly aligned classes of assault, medic, heavy and sniper. Each plant soldier has distinct abilities such as a chillibean bouncing mine, speed reducing goo explosion and sunflower sentry.
By rooting themselves to the ground, characters lose mobility in exchange for more devastatingly powerful attacks, especially useful when playing against a thick wave of foes. It's a common developer refrain, but PopCap insists that a lot of work is going into the balance of these classes to make the experience solid for gamers of all levels of skill.
PopCap are promising “massive” maps for the 12v12 skirmishes as well as a series of tighter maps for the game's 4vE horde mode. Only one map has been revealed so far, but it’s expected that the game will grow post-release with incremental updates. While playable zombies have not yet reared their grisly heads above ground, they are expected to be playable on launch.
A sense of humor is deeply woven into Garden Warfare. While there is something inherently funny about a railgun-powered cactus popping off headshots, the game also has more scripted comedic elements. EA’s press demo showed a disco-themed boss which children of the '70s will know to fear, while text overlays on the Gargantuar boss also drew laughs from the assembled crowd.
The humour is PG rated at best, but in the spirit of the game a little goofy silliness goes a long way. During the E3 press demo that was replayed for Gameplanet, the one-liners and pop cultural references came thick and fast. The PopCap team are attempting to make a big impression with their first foray into the world of the action gaming, and they certainly seem to be in the green so far.
Garden Warfare launches locally next autumn.