Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville released last week in a Founder’s Edition format. If you purchased the game through this “early access” model, you received the game along with a handful of modes six weeks before release. PopCap Games and EA Games plans on rolling out content every week including new PvE areas and PvP modes. I have been playing the game non-stop since its release and while it is great, there’s a massive issue I have with it and it could ruin Battle for Neighborville for many people – lack of variations.
While the game in its current state has a lot of issues like unbalanced characters and a handful of bugs, the biggest issue is one that will not be coming to the game anytime soon; hero variations.
If you have played previous Garden Warfare titles you would know that every playable character had a specific range of variations that you could unlock and master. The game relied on both elemental and attack classes to deliver a deep and layered combat approach. Shock, toxic, fire, burst, charged, vampire and armour to name a few. This meant that every character had a range of different options to choose from so depending on your play style, you could take a different plant and zombie into whatever mode you were playing.
Some of my favourites included the Zen Cactus, Vampire Flower, Marine Biologist Zombie, and the Fire Cactus. They just felt right to me and depending on the map I was in, would depend on the variant I would go with. In a nutshell, I would never touch the basic version of the above namely the Cactus, Sunflower, and Scientist.
Now in Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville there are no variations. Instead, you are stuck with the basic plants and zombies and no variations at all. It not only impacts the game’s replayability but also its player choices leaving those veteran fans of the series craving a deeper combat system.
For one, the variety when compared to the Garden Warfare series is just lacklustre. Sure, we have three new zombies and three new plants to choose from but that does not replace whopping 90 different variations in Garden Warfare 2. Now, you just have the basic characters to choose from which makes ten on the plant’s side and ten on the zombie’s side. A fraction compared to the past games.
This then leads to the lack of gameplay variety which is affected by the lack of variations. Players are limited to their roles and while Battle for Neighborville may have “support, attack, and defence” roles in place, it all just seems so one-dimensional. Gone are your ways to counter specific plants using fire or ice. Now you are just stuck with the basics.
Before, matches were filled with so many unique classes and all of them delivered new ways to approach combat and exciting learning curves for players.
The lack of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville variations also means that replayability is drastically reduced. Now you can rank up each of the twenty characters but the excitement to find new ones and the grind to get them to max rank leaves much less to be discovered. There’s less to level up, less to discover and this all means the game will die at a much faster rate than Garden Warfare 2 (of which I still play today three years later).
Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville does features an upgrade system whereas you can install mods on your characters as you level them up and unlock them. These add perks to your attacks and increase damage, XP earned, healing after a kill and more. Unfortunately, it is still quite shallow and is nothing better than the system found in Garden Warfare 2.
This is a big missed opportunity as this system could have been used to add fire, ice, shock, charged and other mods onto your character so in theory, allowing players to create their own “variations”. Sure, I get that this mod system allows you to create your own “build” but players will most likely stick to the no-brainer decisions like vampire healing, increased rate of fire, and faster ability cooldowns.
We then have the rewards system. In past games, you would have to unlock packs which could contain specific parts of these character variations. Collect each part of one character and it would create the plant or zombie variation for you to use. This system in Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is just as shallow as the upgrade one.
You pay a whopping 30k coins to obtain one cosmetic item. Yes, just one of them. The loot pool is also a lot more diluted now thanks to PopCap adding in emotes, skins, gestures, stickers, Victory Slabs and the darn left and right punchers too. Everything but the kitchen sink is now obtainable through this and it costs way too much gold.
Once you realize you aren’t getting anything game-changing and it is just a pot for you to put on your character’s head, things get a little boring. Not to mention, EA Games will most likely add ways to purchase in-game currency into the game before launch.
While I am excited for the future of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, after less than a week of playing the available content, I am bored. I have completed all 50 medals in the Town Hall area (which was extremely enjoyable) and PvP just feels so “one-note”. Meanwhile, I went back to Garden Warfare 2 and enjoyed using my favourite variations and still had classes I have yet to max out. For a newer game, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville feels like a giant step back by leaving out its biggest feature – variations.
What do you make of the lack of Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville variations? Let us know down below.