Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: PopCap Games
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville marks the third game in the popular series from PopCap and EA that transforms the original concept of Plants vs. Zombies into a competitive, multiplayer class-based shooter. Much like the previous games, Battle for Neighborville is filled with tongue-in-cheek humor, characters, and unique visuals that make for one of the most unique multiplayer third-person shooters you?re likely to play all year. It?s also pretty good too, which is certainly a good reason to check this out despite the already busy game season we?re currently in the midst of.
When you boot up Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville for the first time, you?ll be introduced to the new hub world that gives you access to a variety of different options. This hub world is also populated with other players and gives players an opportunity to show off their unique cosmetic upgrades outside of battle. The hub world gives access to a shop to spend in-game currency on random cosmetic upgrades, an area to switch out your current character, access to the two single-player campaign sections for both Plants and Zombies, the various multiplayer modes you can access, and lots more. It also introduces you to smaller functions, like side quests, which come into play during the single-player campaign.
The single-player campaign is spread out amongst two different open-world maps, both for Plants and Zombies. While there are some differences in dialogue and characters between the two sides, the missions structure and hidden collectibles are essentially the same. You?ll earn experience for defeating the opposing side, consistent of respawning A.I. controlled enemies, bosses, and challenging encounters against special foes. You?ll also earn cash and tacos, both of which are used for either purchasing random loot consisting of different cosmetics and player icons, or for purchasing maps for the areas that will reveal collectible locations and so on. You can also complete daily and weekly challenges across the single-player and multiplayer modes, which will also grant you another type of currency used to purchase items off a battle pass type seasonal system.
Character classes in Battle for Neighborville are spread across 10 different characters for each side, divided up into Attack, Defense, and Support categories. There are some balancing issues here and there, which appear to be more of a work-in-progress looking at recent patch notes, but overall you should find some success with any character you choose. Each character has three unique abilities that work off of a cooldown function, and each of the 10 characters on both sides feels pretty unique overall, even if they share some similar mechanics here and there.
My only real issues with Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville comes from the spotty server connections and lag that I?ve encountered. I?ve been booted back to the start screen multiple times due to server issues, I?ve had awful amounts of lag in both the hub world and multiplayer maps, and overall the launch feels a little rough on PS4 so far. It?s not a consistent issue, you?ll definitely get smooth matches here and there, but when you?re chugging away at single-player content and get booted back to the main menu because the EA servers decide to have a hiccup, well, it?s a little frustrating to say the least. I?m sure this can also be worked out over time, but it was enough of a nuisance during my time playing that I felt it was worth mentioning.
Outside of the server issues, I?ve certainly enjoyed my time spent with Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville. It?s a solid follow-up to a unique shooter series that I don?t think gets enough attention, and if you haven?t given this series a shot yet, this would certainly be a good jumping on point. It?s a nice alternative to the more serious multiplayer shooters out there and even serves up a solid alternative to more like-minded games like Overwatch. You may want to give it a little time to iron out some flaws here and there, but definitely check it out when you get a chance.
Note: EA provided us with a Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville PS4 code for review purposes.