Exclusive: PopCap bringing Plants vs. Zombies to Facebook with Plants vs. Zombies Adventures, confirms PvZ 2

PvZ_Adventures_Primary_RGB copyPopCap Games today officially revealed the social adaptation of its incredibly popular game Plants vs. Zombies with Plants vs. Zombies Adventures. At the San Francisco Game Developer Conference, we got to sit down with head of PopCap’s San Francisco studio Curt Bererton and Creative Director Mathilde Pignol to check out what gamers can expect to see. The company also officially confirmed Plants vs. Zombies 2 will release sometime early this summer, though we didn’t get the opportunity to check that game out.

Plants vs. Zombie’s impending arrival on Facebook has pretty much been the worst-kept secret in the games industry for the past year, with PvZ knockoffs regularly appearing on the social network and gaining popularity before getting shut down. Finally, though, PopCap is getting ready to launch a limited regional beta of PvZ Adventures, with a wider launch planned for later this spring. During this time, Bererton and Pignol tell us the studio will take the time to do some A/B testing with certain features before making final game design decisions.

As opposed to the original Plants vs. Zombies, the core gameplay in PvZ Adventures will see players defending a motor home from the cartoonish undead. The storyline takes place during these “Road Trip” missions; which occur in different settings (we saw both a post-apocalypse cityscape and a chasm called “Dire Spires”, though there seemed to be many more) and players can choose the difficulty of the level before they start.

The game is set to feature a number of new zombies and plants, of which we got to see a few examples. The new plants include the Beet, which deals heavy amounts of melee damage, and Aspearagus. Likewise, some of the new zombie types includes one wearing a barrel that then charges at full speed when the plants destroy said barrel and a “Mad Hatter” zombie that appeared to be heavily armored with a variety of headgear.

Zombie battles are presented in a 3D isometric format. Instead of having the zombies progressing in a straight line, there are often multiple winding paths leading to the motor home’s front door. Players choose a limited number of plants before the level begins and then place them along the pathways at strategic points to hold off the walking corpses. Clicking on the plants will provide a temporary range and power boost for a small amount of sunshine (which is normally used to purchase and place plants during battles).

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A major departure from the original game, however, comes in the form of the town-building aspect. Players start out with a home on a block of property to defend from zombies; as the game progresses, they’re encouraged to explore adjacent property tiles and construct new buildings that will spawn resources. The town is also necessary for acquiring plants to use during zombie attacks: Players place planters on their properties and then plant seeds, which eventually spawn different types of plants over varying time frames. As new property squares are unlocked, explored and conquered players will gain access to new types of plants.

The town also provides an extra social mechanic. The usual ability to send mystery gifts to Facebook friends is still present, but the most attention-grabbing thing we got to see was the ability to visit other players’ towns and send zombie attacks at various buildings. If the paths aren’t sufficiently guarded, zombies can temporarily destroy a building and prevent it from spawning resources until it’s repaired. At the moment, players will be able to send one attack per day for free and can then pay a fee of hard currency if they want to attack a town more during that period.