SDCC 2013: Plants vs. Zombies 2

pvz2

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of the Popcap game, Plants vs Zombies. Just when you thought your garden was safe, Popcap has come out with a sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2, and it’s looking to be just as addictive as the first game. We caught up with the PvZ2 team at their booth at San Diego Comic-Con and got a first time look at what’s going to keep you glued to your iPad & iPhone for the next couple of years! The game is jam packed with new upgrades and features and best of all: the game will be free to download & play!

After completing a short tutorial level, you are rewarded with a bottle of hot sauce that…well it’s actually just a bottle of hot sauce. Crazy Dave (who fans will recognize from the first installment of PvZ) will celebrate your victory by devouring a delicious, mouth watering taco (complete with hot sauce). The taco is so scrumptious that Dave will jump into his time machine in an attempt to go back 10 minutes so he can enjoy it once more. Things don’t go as planned for Dave as his time machine malfunctions and he is transported all the way back into Ancient Egypt.

This is where players will notice the first major design change in the shape of a ‘Mario World-esque’ map where the game play is less linear and will offer new challenges and side missions. The game comes with 3 worlds; Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas, and Wild West, and the team will be adding new content frequently. This includes a fourth world by the end of the year. The side missions may have certain requirements such as protecting a certain plant or getting a certain amount of points, but the main objective of the game will have you collecting stars to advance past the ‘star gates’ to access new levels and worlds.

egypt screenshot

Alternatively customers can buy their way to the next game, but Tony Learner, franchise business director, stresses that the point of the game is not to invade player’s wallets:

“Even though the game is free, it’s not driven around trying to prevent you from moving on by extracting money from you. Hopefully you’ll have fun and want to invest not only your time, but maybe a little bit of money in the game as well, but you’re not prevented from playing. You can play the entire game and access almost all of the content in the game without paying a thing.[…] The only thing that you can’t access without paying are the premium plants, I think there’s six at launch? Six premium plants at launch. The only way to get those is to pay for them.”

Considering the fact that the game is free to play, and not simply free to try, this might be a very smart move for Popcap that will endear them to fans and critics alike. In an age of pricey DLC an almost completely free game such as this one is a welcome change. Pricing information is not yet available, but the in-game store will also include a link to a PvZ merchandise store (including t-shirts and plushies) as well as the in-game features. The game will originally be released exclusively for Apple device and will be ported to other systems in the near future.

Other changes included in the game are plant food, which when given to a regular plant such as Bonk Choy (a melee fighter plant new to the game) turns it into a lean, green fighting machine. Lame puns aside, other innovations include gesture power-ups which allow players to destroy zombies by pinching and throwing them across the map. You’ll also be able to swipe to collect sun which will allow you to pick up multiple pieces at time and will avoid everyone staring at you on the bus as you frantically poke your screen. Your iPhone will also receive notifications of the location of ‘Treasure Yeti’, a yeti zombie (who was one of  the most popular zombies from the first game) who will be dropping keys and coins which will allow you to complete side missions that are located off the main path of the adventure.

The game has definitely been a long time coming, with the original game coming out in 2009.  Mohan Rajagopalan, lead designer, talked about the game’s development and the challenges the team faced:

“It’s definitely been a while in development, it’s always sort of a tricky thing to answer. So the subtitle of the game is ‘It’s about time’ which is of course in part poking fun at the fact that we’ve taken awhile to get this out and the reason for that is that we were just trying to get it right. *laughs* There’s no deep mystery, we kept trying little experiments and prototyping until we found something that we thought was gonna really work well. So awhile, it’s been in development awhile *laughs* […]

Probably  the most challenging bit is we’re trying to position this as an ongoing service, so it’s not that you download it and that’s the game forever. We have three worlds at launch but the hope is to keep putting out more. So there will  be a fourth world I think I can say this year *laughs*, for sure and we really want to release new content as much as possible. So getting that structure in place where the game could be updated in the fashion and we had a team that could support all that was definitely a big challenge.”

The game is currently being tested in the Australian and New Zealand markets but there is still no timeline for a North American release date. A look at the game’s website reveals simply a ‘coming soon’ caption although the game will hopefully be out later this year. In the meantime fans can check out the trailer and a new making of feature below. Get those frying pan and pylon hats ready!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahwvhn901Mc

Source: Plants vs. Zombies Facebook, Popcap, jeypreview.com

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