Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare Review: A Breath of Fresh Air

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is fun in its purest form.
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Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is a 3rd-person shooter based on the Plants vs Zombies franchise. It is a huge departure from its tower defense roots, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. In fact, it is one of the most fun games I’ve played. At its core, it’s just an easygoing, fun game to play with plenty of customizations options.

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As you play the game though, you get some less than stellar experiences. In this review, I’ll go over the basics of the game, characters, skills, sticker packs, game modes, and more.

Game Basics and Characters

When playing any game mode, except Garden Ops and split screen, you are either the plants or zombies. There are 4 classes for each and they all have a primary weapon and 3 abilities.

There are several variants for each class that change how they work. For example, the Ice Pea variant of the Peashooter changes the primary attack to cause frost damage that eventually freezes the enemy.

  • Peashooter – Infantry of the plants. It shoots peas as the primary attack, deploys chili bean bombs, roots for gatling gun, and hyper increases their movement and jump.

  • Sunflower – Healer of the plants. It uses a rapid fire sun pulse for the primary attacks, heal beam to heal allies, rooted sunbeam for high damage, and potted sunflower for more heals.
  • Chomper – Melee plant. It bites or swallows zombies as primary attack, burrows underground, slows down zombies with a purple goop attack, and sets spikeweed traps.
  • Cactus – Sniper of the plants. Shoots needles as the primary attack, plants potato mines, sets tallnut barriers, and deploys a garlic drone that can call in airstrikes.
  • Soldier – Infantry of the zombies. It uses a pellet blaster for the primary weapon, shoots a rocket from its back, throws a gas grenade, and uses rocket jump to reach high places.
  • Engineer – Mostly support zombie. It uses a grenade launcher type weapon, jackhammer to move quickly across the map, stun grenade to stun plants, and deploys a zombot drone that is similar to the cactus drone.
  • Scientist – Healer of the zombies. It uses a shotgun for the primary weapon, sets a stationary heal station, throws sticky grenades, and can teleport short distances.

  • All-Star – It has the most HP of every character. It uses a gatling gun type weapon, sprint tackle that knocks plants in the air, deploys a tackling dummy shield, and imp punt that does explosive area damage.

These characters are fairly balanced, but there are some advantages the Plants or Zombies have in certain situations. For example, Chompers give plants an advantage in Team Vanquish because swallowing zombies makes them unrevivable. Reviving players in that game mode takes away from the opponents’ score.

Game modes and Sticker Packs

There are 5 total game modes on the Xbox One version after the recent Garden Variety DLC.

Boss Mode is only on Xbox One and played in any game mode. You overlook the game and collect sun to use abilities. You can heal teammates, drop bombs on enemies, and revive teammates. The play style is similar to classic Plants vs Zombies games. Players can use their controller, Kinect, or Smartglass app on a tablet.

  • Garden Ops – You play as plants to fight waves of A.I. zombies. You have to defend a garden until the 11th wave when Crazy Dave comes to rescue you. Similar to Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.
  • Split Screen – Only in the Xbox One Version. Just like Garden Ops, but you can only have two players, 3 if using boss mode on a tablet.
  • Team Vanquish – Simple team deathmatch. First to 50 vanquishes wins. Revives take away from your opponents’ overall score.
  • Gardens and Graveyards – Plants defend 7 points while Zombies try to capture them. The last point involves doing something special for the zombies to win. This depends on the level. One involves getting 5 zombies into a mansion, another requires the zombies to plant 4 explosives.

The sticker packs bring the score down for me. The idea isn’t bad, but the execution is. Sticker packs unlock customizations, characters, and ability upgrades. You buy them with coins earned from completing the various game modes.

The problem comes with how many coins needed to buy a pack. If you want anything other than consumable plants and zombies, you have to buy the 10k or higher packs. 20k packs are the best bargain and 40k packs unlike a character automatically.

You need 5 characters pieces to unlock a character. Assuming you get 2 character pieces for the same character in a 20k pack, which you won’t, it would take 3 packs to unlock one character. That’s 60k coins. Realistically it would take 5 packs so that’s 100k coins.

In any mode, except Gardens and Graveyards, you get an average of 3k-6k coins a match. As you can see, this is extremely time-consuming. after you unlock a character you have to get the upgrades for their abilities.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so random. I’m still trying to get ability upgrades for characters I’ve unlocked for days. Sometimes you won’t even get ability upgrades and get all customizations.

Winning as the zombies in Gardens and Graveyards gets you between 9k and 15k coins depending on how well you do. This makes the game unbalanced. Most people will do only this game made and only play zombies. Players switch to zombie teams when they can, or just leave the game completely if they are plants.

Despite all that, the game is really fun. I enjoy all the game modes and playing as both plants and zombies. The only reason I play Gardens and Graveyards primarily is to get a lot of coins to buy the crap shoot sticker packs.

It is my only complaint with the game and if this doesn’t bother you, consider my score a 9 or 10 instead of an 8.

Finally, Popcap listens to the community. There was a patch out in less than a week of launch to balance the abilities and damage of each class. Also, all DLC is free. If that’s not enough to get you interested, nothing will.

I highly recommend trying this game out, you might be surprised. If you have any more questions, let me know in the comments!

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare Review: A Breath of Fresh Air
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is fun in its purest form.

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After gaming for 25 years, Synzer leveraged his vast knowledge of RPGs and MMOs into a job as a games journalist, covering the games he loves. Five years later, he's still writing about Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon, and Knights of the Old Republic. Synzer has a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing. You can see him in action on his YouTube channel ( and Twitch (