Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One review)


The age-old war on your front lawn between plants and the undead are at it again this time, however, they have a whole new arsenal at their hands…petals…vines? Whatever they have, they have a lot of it. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is the newest in the franchise, and this time it’s trying to cash in on the PvP side of things with a hybrid of third-person class-based shooters with some tower defense mechanics mixed in. The game draws a lot of inspiration from the Team fortress series, so anyone familiar with those will feel right at home, all the way down to the collection of hats.


Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is not setting out to be the best graphical game on the Xbox One, but it is a welcome art style that gives a nice facelift from its predecessors on prior consoles and PC. You can really see the attention to detail in the environment and even in the plants and zombies themselves. There does seem to be a distinct lack of music in the background during matches, so you will mostly be killing plants or zombies to the sound of your weapons and intermittent moaning of zombies or cheers of plants. It’s not terrible but it definitely feels like a missed opportunity to overindulge us with the soundtrack of prior games that we have come to know and love.


Game Modes

The game is made of 2 game modes: Garden Ops and Competitive multiplayer. The first thing is that the game has no offline mode besides 2-player split screen for its first game type, Garden ops. You must be connected online to EA’s servers in order to play the other mode and access the other half.

Garden Ops

Garden Ops is the first mode, and it is their take on horde mode. There are five maps, each with their own unique level setup with random waves of enemies and bonus rounds and bosses. You can join up with 3 other people to try and tackle these 10 wave challenges on multiple difficulties. The higher the difficulty, the more coins you earn which can be used for customization and new character unlocks. Skill, variety and teamwork are often the key to overcoming the tougher challenges in this mode.


These game modes are a 12-versus-12 class-based shooter for the Xbox One, so strategy and a balanced team is often key (but not always). Taking a full party of healers into a horde mode may not be a good idea, but during mulitplayer, if they all set up to continuously heal one another during fights, they can become formidable opponents. Multiplayer has 5 game types, and 2 of them are just classic variants of the others which restrict customization, upgrades and unlocked characters, so you can have a leveled playing field while testing your mettle in combat. The 3 main modes are Welcome Mat, Vanquish Mode and Gardens & Graveyards.

Welcome Mat (beginners mode) also locks customization and unlocks, however, this mode is great for the casual gamer who doesn’t play shooters often. The worse you do, the more HP you have for your next spawn. Vanquish Mode is your normal first to 50 kills team deathmatch. Then there’s my favorite mode, Gardens & Graveyards. In this assault and defend-type mode, the zombies are tasked with taking over the plants’ 7 bases in order while usually the 7th has some type of twist, such as invading a mansion or destroying the mega flower. So the plants must dig in and work together to defend each base for 5 minutes if the zombies fail at any section. After that the game ends and the plants are victorious. Multiplayer uses the tried-and-true level up system like most online shooters, rewarding you with coins for kills, assists, objectives and finishing challenges. During my experience with PvZ, I encountered no lag or lack of players online to play with, and so far the community is very solid. However the lack of being able to set up lobbies to invite friends made it hard to join up with others, hurting the overall experience.


Customization is huge in this game. Each team has only 4 classes to choose from. One is an assault, which is your normal assault type of machine gun. The “peashooter”, for example, on the plant’s side is equivalent to the zombie’s “foot soldier”. There is the “chomper” and “All-Star” which are your tankier bruisers. Your healers/medics are the beloved “Sunflower” or “Scientist”, and you have your skill-based sharpshooters, “Cactus” and “Engineer”. Each of the 4 classes have their own separate upgrade bar which is filled by completing any of the 3 unique challenges that are given to you at a time that increase in difficulty. In your first match you start off with one ability, but you should unlock all 3 abilities by the end of your first match. You can also customize 4 different elements for appearance. There are hats, accessories, organics, and tattoos for plants, and then the latter two are swapped for facial hair and weapon skins for the zombies. You get customizations by spending your coins on booster packs, which deal out random cards for either upgradeable character parts. Once it is fully completed, it unlocks that character and single use summon cards for building towers or zombies, depending on your team.

Final Reaction

Overall Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare manages to keep its charm while having simple yet familiar gameplay and controls. It caters to both the hardcore multiplayer audience and the casual audience that is often too intimidated to play Call of Duty or Battlefield online. I wish there were more maps/game modes, and a single player mode would have served as a nice introduction to the gameplay and mechanics. Plus, I wanted more CraZy DAvE because his little quips about the zombie apocalypse are part of what really made the world interesting to me. This game is a lot of fun, and if you want a fun distraction to pull you away from Call of Duty or Battlefield, this will do the job for you (it’s only $40 for the Xbox One and $30 for the Xbox 360). Keep in mind that you will miss out on some portions of game that are staples in the others that you are used to. It shines in the gameplay (where every gun feels different), its customization component, short learning curve for those new to the genre, and the randomness of what you get from unlocking items. However it loses points based on the lack of modes, lobbies, background music during matches, and complete lack of a single player component that the series is known for.

Grade: B-

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