December 17th 2013 6:01 am PT
In this video, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare producer Brian Lindley offers up a first look at Gardens & Graveyards mode, including some scenic flythroughs of the Driftwood Shores map. There’s also choice examples of how *not* to take on a Chomper; I’ll be giving them some distance! Brian then stuck around to chat more about the new mode, how Garden Warfare stacks up to other shooters, and where the idea first came from.
Jeff Rubenstein, Xbox: You’ve revealed a new game mode in this developer diary. Tell us about it.
Brian Lindley, Producer, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: The mode we’re showing off in this video is called Gardens & Graveyards. G&G is a bit of a mix between of Battlefield’s Rush and Conquest modes, intertwined with some tower defense elements similar to the original PvZ, supporting up to 24 players per session. The setup is pretty simple – Zombies have a limited amount of time to try to capture the garden bases and turn them into graveyards. These garden bases will be defended and fortified by the plant team, but if the zombies manage to capture a base, they can use the newly captured graveyard as their base and the battle shifts to a new objective at a different location in the map. The maps in G&G are quite large in scale, and as the battle progresses through the different base objectives, the scenery and action gets crazier and crazier. If the zombies manage to battle their way to the end of the map, they are challenged to overcome the last stand of the plant team and some interesting gameplay twists at the end.
Xbox: Perhaps because of the colorful graphics, folks have been quick to compare Garden Warfare to Team Fortress 2. Which shooter do you think you’re closest to?
PvZ: We’ve taken inspiration from a lot of different games, including Team Fortress 2, but I think it is difficult to compare Garden Warfare to one specific game. That said, as a 3rd person shooter with a variety of different classes, Garden Warfare sometimes reminds me of the Star Wars Battlefront games from a few years back.
Xbox: Past a first glance, Garden Warfare’s visuals seem to conceal a more core shooter experience, can you tell us about some of the tactics players can employ?
PvZ: Players experienced with shooters will find many familiar character types, weapons and abilities, but we’ve tried to create unique twists and combinations of these abilities to fit the more lighthearted and humorous tone of the PvZ universe. Tactics in Garden Warfare run the gamut from fast-paced and vertical play of the Soldier and Peashooter, melee/tank tactics with the Chomper and All-Star, support tactics from healers like the Sunflower and Scientist to a sniping specialist like the Cactus.
Xbox: We’re all very familiar with many of these plants and their powers (Pea Shooters shoot, Chompers gulp, etc). How are the zombies evolving from mindless ravagers to meet the challenge from the plants?
PvZ: Aside from being controlled by smarter human players, the zombies have also been armed with a wide variety of Zomboss™ technology at their disposal to assist them in their never-ending quest for brainz and plant domination. This technology comes in the form of crazy weapons like ZPGs, Football Cannons, Jackhammers, Teleporters, Dolphin Guns and much much more.
Xbox: How do the plants and powers mapped to the shoulder buttons and Y affect gameplay?
PvZ: Each plant has unique abilities that are designed to suit different play styles and roles within the plant team. Generally, the most powerful and unique powers of each plant are mapped to the Y button, with other ‘role specific’ abilities triggered by RB/LB. For example, as the healer class, the sunflower has her healing powers mapped to RB and LB, but the Y button unleashes her Sunbeam attack, where she roots into the ground for a powerful laser-style attack on zombies for a limited time. Mastering each class requires learning how and when to use the core abilities to your advantage, both in individual and team combat situations.
Xbox: In the video we see players leveling up – what types of new abilities are awarded to higher-level players?
PvZ: Early in the progression, players will be unlocking all of their core abilities, but as they level up further, players will earn weapon attachments and new outfits that allow them to augment their primary abilities with different variations like ice, fire, toxic, electric, dark energy and numerous other crazy powers. A lot of interesting team play strategies emerge when you start to combine the different outfits and weapon variations with those of your teammates.
Xbox: Do we see any classic characters from PvZ1 or new fan favorites from PvZ2 making an appearance in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare? Bonk Choy fan here!
PvZ: Absolutely, in fact, our core playable characters on the plant team, the sunflower, peashooter, chomper and cactus were all directly inspired by characters from the original game. There are a lot of other characters from the PvZ 1 and PvZ 2, such as Bonk Choy, Potato Mine, Conehead Zombie, Buckethead Zombie, Repeater, Fume Shroom, Chili Bean and many more.
Xbox: In traditional Plants vs Zombies, all Pea Shooters, Sunflowers, etc look the same. How can you differentiate your plant or zombie on the battlefield?
PvZ: We have a huge variety of options for customizing and personalizing your plant and zombie characters in the game. All characters feature several different outfits and can be further customized with crazy accessories like funny hats, eyewear, facial hair, tattoos and numerous ‘organic enhancements’ for plants as well.
Xbox: Popcap isn’t known for shooters, or 3D games in general – how did this whole idea come about?
PvZ: As PopCap saw the popularity of PvZ explode a few years back, they recognized that there was a lot of potential for the universe beyond just tower defense games. One of the crazy ideas put forth was to expand PvZ into more of a shooter/action experience, and from there Garden Warfare was born. Since then, our team has been hard at work iterating and developing on this crazy idea. We can’t wait to get the final product in the hands of Xbox fans in February!
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare blooms on Xbox One and Xbox 360 this February 18th.