February of 2014 was a quiet one in game releases. A HD reissue of Resident Evil 4 on PC, the poorly received entry of much-loved franchise Thief, and the third entry of the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy all came and went with little more than a whimper. Nothing really seemed to stick in the mind from that month.
Banished gathered up a small but dedicated fan-base sure, and Divinity: Original Sin began its rise to fame in Early Access, yet it’s still a difficult month to remember. Many remember it as the month before Titanfall came out. That is unless they were a fan of killing zombies with peashooters, then they remember it as the beginning of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare‘s time in their lives.
Going from touchscreen-focused tower defense of sorts to competitive multiplayer online-centric first person shooter was a daring move. Think of it as a bold move akin to landing a paper airplane on the moon or trying to create a plant which can grow both tomatoes and potatoes.
Like the latter though, it worked.
By grafting the sprout of PvZ’s groundwork of undead battling cacti onto the juicier fruits of competitive shoot-em-up multiplayer, PopCap was on the cusp of creating an abomination of nature with Trifid levels of infamy. Lifting the DNA of immobile plants onto a pair of root-shaped legs and sending them off into the world to battle against zombies could have failed in thousands of ways. Instead, it actually all came together in a way both critics and gamers quite enjoyed.
Before we get ahead of ourselves here, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare wasn’t the be all and end all of gaming. It didn’t simultaneously solve world hunger and build bridges between broken countries. It didn’t revive the career of Hayden Christensen or help us all forget the travesty of Battlefield: Earth. Hell it didn’t even unite the warring tribes of gamers beneath one banner.
What it did was construct its own little corner in the massive world of gaming and kept its spot alive, even going so far as to erect a small picket fence while cultivating daffodils in the irradiated soil.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare first came blinking into the world on February 25th in North America, with the European and Australasian releases coming within the following three days. Between then and now, the game has seen a fair amount of success with VGChartz.com coming to an estimated figure of just over 2 million, and that wouldn’t even count digital sales.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was unique that it was sold about $20 cheaper than most new releases. Eventually, it found its way into the hands of PlayStation 4 owners for free during the PlayStation experience weekend and lives on for Xbox One owners as a part of the EA Access vault.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare only offered three modes across a small number of maps when it appeared. Perhaps the most played of these even to this day is the Gardens and Graveyards mode. This puts the Zombies in an attacking role, battling against the Plants to capture a bunch of their Gardens before the timer runs out on each. This gave the game a constantly evolving target for players to aim at.
Both of the teams have available to them four different classes. Every class has a counterpart of sorts on the opposite team, although there are differences because some of the mirrored abilities are on different classes. For example, the hovering drones are in the grasp of the control-focused Zombie Engineers while their mirror image is found on the long ranged sniper Cactus class for Plants.
So what kept players coming back then and still has them charging into battle against each other now?