Is Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 good? Impressions from the open beta

The first Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare was a sleeper hit of sorts, but will Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 be able to bring the series into the spotlight?

When the first Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare was announced at E3 2013, it can be safely assumed that most people had a reaction that was a mix of delightful surprise and healthy skepticism. After all, it's a game that is based on a tower defense mobile game that, upon cursory inspection, would seemingly be marketed towards younger audiences. 

Unfortunately, when Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare released, it also happened to release in the same window as Titanfall, which likely led to some people forgetting about it. On the bright side, most people seemed to like Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, and no one could really complain about its free DLC policy.

We get it, what about Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2? Is it any good?

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, is (as the title implies) a direct sequel to the first Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare in every sense of the word. If you were to take away all the new bells and whistles and whittle Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 down to its most basic mechanics, you would essentially have something that plays more or less like a mod because all of the core gameplay mechanics are identical, if not exactly the same. 

That being said, this is also the most narrow possible way to view the game. 

The first Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare can best be described as the result of what would happen if you were to take Battlefield, Team Fortress, and Plants vs. Zombies and throw them into a room with smooth jazz. You've got the colorful nature of one, the team based aspect of another, and the fairly large and chaotic maps of the last, and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 can be described in the exact same way. 

So in other words, yes, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is good, even if you've never played the first one.

But wait, there's more!

Of course, you can't just take the same exact game and simply slap a 2 on it and call it a sequel unless you want to get murdered by reviews and opinions. 

To that end, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 added a bunch of new characters to its roster, a few more unique maps, and even a new (and actually fairly interesting) take on game menus (more on that later).

New characters everywhere

Most of the new characters in Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 are essentially mirrors of the original characters, but on different teams. For example, in the original Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, the Cactus was the Plant team's sniper class. However, the Zombies didn't have a dedicated sniper (at least, not until you unlocked the Camo Ranger). That's where the new Captain Deadbeard character comes in. He gets a long range, semi automatic weapon with abilities that focus on dealing more damage at range. 

The same trend can be seen in the new Kernal Corn (fast rate of fire weapons with abilities that focus on dealing a burst of damage; highly reminiscent of the All-Star), Super Brainz (melee character with high health, much like the Chomper), and so on.

While this may make them seem like mere copies, the new characters behave distinctly enough that to call them simple copies would be like saying alcohol and water are the same thing. Yes, they are both liquids and yes, you can drink both in mechanically similar ways, but you can't treat them the same (unless you want to destroy your liver). 

New(ish) gamemodes, menus, and maps!

Of course, no multiplayer game is complete without distinct maps, and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 has plenty of those. Moon Base Z, for example, takes place on the surface of the Moon (as the name implies), where gravity is much lower than the gravity on other maps. As a result, you can jump higher. But in doing so you are also exposed for much longer since there's (obviously) no such thing as flying cover. 

The gamemodes on the other hand, well, they're more or less the same as the first Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare's gamemodes. Sure, the plants get to go on the offensive this time around, but it's still fairly similar to regular Gardens and Graveyards. 

However, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 does have a very unique main menu. Rather than having a generic menu, you spawn into a hub world (think the Tower from Destiny) where you can select the store and what you want to play. Or, you can walk out the front gate and play King of the Hill with the AI (and presumably other players). Sure, the AI is kind of stupid, and the damage modifiers weigh heavily in the player's favor -- and occasionally a Gargantuar wanders into your menu area and makes it impossible to select a gamemode -- but other than that, it is a great place to get acquainted with the new classes while getting XP and silver coins.

Sooo...is it good or not?

Even though it's in beta right now, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 does seem to be very impressive. If you liked the first, then there's no reason not to pick up this one when it releases on February 23rd. 

If you missed the first iteration, you might like it if you just like multiplayer in general. There's no real sense of hardcore "you're a noob and should feel bad" competition seeing as how the healing classes can lead the scoreboard, and there's no real time sink aspect other than collecting skins and such.

Of course, if you hate multiplayer with a passion, then this game is obviously not for you, but if you are ambivalent towards multiplayer, then caution may be advised before purchasing since Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 does cost $60.

Published Jan. 17th 2016
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