Monday, January 13, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

When we think of shooters in the Xbox One, we instantly bring our minds to Titanfall, the highest praised new gen title from Respawn. However along with Titanfall, another (allegedly timed) console exclusive was debuted at E3 last year, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Many shooters, including Titanfall, are drawing inspiration from a very familiar shooter formula that generated from last generation. Not Garden Warfare however. The PvZ spin-off is a third person “free running” shooter, a style of the genre that had quickly become unpopular since Gears of War ignited the third person cover shooter sub genre on the Xbox 360.

Looking at the class of recent and soon to be released shooters on the market, Garden Warfare is vastly different than most of what players have and will be exposed to in the near future. PvZ: Garden Warfare has elements of Battlefield and Team Fortress to help design the franchise’s strategic theme, but developer PopCap is working to make Garden Warfare character driven, each bringing their incredibly diversified characteristic offerings to the battlefield.

We’ve seen the All-Star, the Engineer, the Scientist, the Foot Soldier, the Pea Shooter, the Cactus, the Chomper, and the Sunflower, some of which have their own cosmetic as well as functional variants. Some of these classes, such as the Cactus and the Engineer, can deploy drones that can be controlled for aerial offensive attacks. The All-Star and the Scientist can close the gap quickly – the All-Star’s being more offensive and the Scientist’s being more evasive. And the Pea Shooter as well as the Sun Flower can trade immobility for maximum fire power.

One of my favorite is the Sunflower’s groupie assets, making them a vital team player. Like one of the Scientist varients, the Sunflower can drop healing geysers for their teammates, but they can also attach direct healing tethers to other players. Other favorites will sure to be the Cactus’ Walnut Barriers and the Engineer’s use of his jackhammer to increase his mobility. All of the classes in Garden Warfare play distinct roles ranging from offense, to defense, to team support in combat.

What excites me the most about Garden Warfare is the versatility in its game modes, offering experiences to different types of co-op and competitive players. Team Vanquish lets players engage one another in their crazy version of a team death match affair, Gardens and Graveyards is similar to Battlefield’s Rush and Conquest modes, and along with wave based co-op play in Garden Ops (my always favorite style of cooperative match types), the Xbox One gets Boss Mode as an exclusive.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare launches at the near perfect date of Feb 18th, three weeks before Titanfall’s release. Let’s hope that PopCap’s new shooter won’t just be a delicious filler before Respawn’s highly anticipated debut, but will also have the staying power to hold a strong community for months to come (Note: PopCap has said to offer bi-monthly DLC post launch of PvZ: GW). 

And after checking out all the crazy unique footage on the game, it sure as hell has a chance.

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