Take back the forest with Plants War

Plants War is a new free iOS game from Korean developer Gamevil based loosely on popular free-to-play PC titles like Defense of the Ancients. It’s available now from the App Store as a Universal app, though the iPad version simply scales all graphics up to the bigger screen rather than having unique assets, giving it a rather pixelated look that has drawn criticism from some App Store reviewers.

For the uninitiated, battle-arena games like Defense of the Ancients (commonly known as DOTA) use mechanics popularized by the “Defense of the Ancients” modification to Blizzard’s Warcraft III PC game. Players control a single “hero” character and are tasked with defending their own base from enemy attack while at the same time launching an assault on the opposing base. In this case, players take on the role of anthropomorphic plants attempting to defend their forest against invasion by greedy animals. The hero character isn’t alone in its task, however, as the base structure regularly sends out small, uncontrollable “minion” creatures to support them in combat. Unfortunately, the enemy has the same capability as well as their own hero character, making matches something of a “tug of war” at times as one side struggles to push back their opponents little by little.

By defeating enemies, the player’s hero character levels up and gains new special abilities with which to inflict damage on the enemy or support their own units. The player also gradually earns soft currency throughout the course of the game, which may be spent on acquiring new minions and heroes as well as purchasing consumable items such as health potions. Certain powerful heroes and minions may only be purchased through the game’s hard currency of “Leaves,” however, which is available via in-app purchase. Players may also purchase additional soft currency using Leaves as well as increasing the cap on minion units which they are permitted to take into missions. This makes combat significantly easier for paying players.

The game has drawn criticism from some App Store reviewers for a difficulty spike partway through the game which has been interpreted by many as an unsubtle attempt to get players to open their wallets.

Unlike the online, multiplayer-only PC incarnations of this type of game such as the original DOTA, League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth, Plants War is a single player-only title with no facility for online play against human opponents. To compensate for the lack of cooperative play and to take a little pressure off the player, the maps in Plants War are significantly more straightforward than the sprawling, complex, multi-route battlefields of its PC brethren.

The game appears to support Game Center leaderboards and achievements, but at the time of writing gives a “This game is not recognized by Game Center” error on startup, and the App Store page for the game does not carry the Game Center logo, either. Presumably this issue will be resolved in an upcoming update.

Plants War is currently the No. 26 top free app, No. 50 top free iPad app, No. 15 top free game and No. 22 top free iPad game. Its solid performance in the charts is likely due at least in part to its relatively prominent listing among the featured new games on the App Store, as well as goodwill built from the popularity and quality of Gamevil’s previous titles. To follow the game’s progress through the App Store charts, check out AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.