Fresh off the free-to-play success of Plants vs. Zombies 2 (EA’s biggest mobile launch to date), PopCap and EA look to expand the PvZ universe to consoles with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, set to hit the Xbox One and Xbox 360 February 18, with other platforms to follow soon after.
The game is a third-person multi-player shooter set in the Plants vs. Zombies universe, where players take on the role of one of their favorite brain-eating villains or seed-blasting plants in an all-out fight that plays almost like Team Fortress, only with Sunflowers and Chompers. “We’re trying to take the great things about PvZ and mash them together with what we love about multi-player shooters,” says Brian Lindley, the game’s producer. “We are going to have great characters, colorful, vibrant environments, and lots of great humor all rolled together in that next-gen experience being built on the Frostbite engine. We have the DNA of a great shooter thanks to DICE and the crew there.
“PopCap recognized how popular PvZ was getting on mobile and PC, and they thought there was a ton of potential to create different styles of games inside that universe. We started working on the concept for this game a little over a year and a half ago. Our concept was, how do we take PvZ and make it more of an action experience? We tried a bunch of different ideas, but the one that just clicked was PvZ as a multi-player shooter, with inspiration from games like Team Fortress, Battlefield, and Call of Duty.”
I had the chance to play Team Vanquish for about an hour on Wednesday, which is PvZ’s version of Team Deathmatch, and I have to say, it was way better than I expected, combining an addictive blend of fast-paced action with stunning visuals as the two teams shot-it-out to be the first to collect 50 vanquishes (kills).
And while we wait to see whether or not the game will be ported to tablets or smartphones, when I sat down with Lindley, he did confirm some of the second-screen elements that will be in play when the game hits Xbox early next year.
“We have a SmartGlass feature for Xbox One, and you can use Kinect for this as well, and it’s called Boss Mode,” says Lindley. “Boss mode is our version of Commander mode that they have in Battlefield. So if you have a SmartGlass device, and someone is playing the game, you can join in as the boss for that team, and it gives you a top-down view. It’s very much like playing the traditional PvZ where you’re collecting resources and you’re seeing what’s going down with your team out on the battlefield. You can see their health, their state, and their positions, and then you can do things like drop and revive and heal stations and call in artillery strikes.
“On the plant side, we fictionalize you as Crazy Dave flying around, while on the zombies side you’re Dr. Zombots helping the zombies. That’s our primary second screen experience right now. We don’t have any other direct ties to the other PvZ games other than the characters you see, the consistency, as well as the humor and the tone.”