I’ve never be known as a green thumb. Not in my real life, not in the virtual life I spend playing videogames. After having spent some time with Battle for Neighborville, I’m starting to see why people retire to their gardens. It’s good for the soul and the same can be said for Plants vs. Zombies.
A successor to PopCap’s Garden Warfare spin-off series, Battle for Neighborville is a charming third-person shooter that plants the tongue firmly in cheek and digs deep to bring a well-rounded and inherently fun experience that is sure to please newcomers and veterans alike. There’s so much to see and do in Plants vs. Zombies, I couldn’t dream to see everything the demo build had to offer. Much time was spent familiarizing myself with the Neighborville Town Center and testing battle plans inside Giddy Park, a theme park doubling as a safe place where players can try their hand at the game’s PVP.
I made a point to dig deep into the game’s new character upgrade system, too. With ten heroes per side, it’s never been easier to buff and enhance your characters to suit your style of play. It replaces the somewhat overwhelming variants system that gummed up the works in Garden Warfare 2. These small quality-of-life changes should open the game up to even more people, plus by spending more time with fewer characters players are bound to grow more attached to the roster they use round-to-round.
There are a lot of cool new classes to try out this time around. Nightcap is no funghi, she’s a fungal. She’s a sneaky mushroom ninja who uses her cloak to penetrate enemy formations and deal them a deadly dose of fung-fu. The team have also included a couple of hulking turret characters, Space Cadet can turn into a massive Space Station that teammates can board to gain higher ground while Acorn can become Oak, its flora counterpart.
Though the game has a huge multiplayer community, as a fan of live-service games in general, I couldn’t wait to see what the game offered from a PVE perspective so I boarded a rocket car to the Wilding Woods to burn a bit of brain matter on a portion of the Zombies story mode.
I was immediately disarmed by the game’s excellent and bizarre sense of humour. As a member of the withering undead, I explored the perilous Wilding Woods, teeming with all kinds of inhospitable plant-life. The game doles out plentiful lengthy, multi-step quests and they get weird real quick. One such mission saw me inhabit the body of a goat, worship a foam dummy and pull a lot of weeds, so to speak. It’s mindless stuff but it’s a lot of fun and acts as the perfect arena to practice your mastery of the game’s characters and arsenal for the game’s main event of Turf Takeover and its other many competitive modes.
Battle for Neighborville is a game for all ages and it does lean heavily into its accessible, child-friendly mechanics. It’s sound as a shooter, but those who master character abilities and perfect their builds are bound to be more successful than others on the battlefield. It’s a game that’s going to be easy to pick up for most and it’ll root itself deeply in your game rotation with a heap of free content and reasons to return time after time. Like ivy, Garden Warfare has proven itself to be evergreen and it’s easy to imagine Battle for Neighborville, with PopCap’s refreshing enthusiasm and creativity, experiencing the same kind of success.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville launches on October 18 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC though players can access the game today by becoming Founding Neighbors.