Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville was released just a little over a month ago and after playing it for some of that time it has truly rejuvenated my love of Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2! And, when I write “some of that time” I actually mean sporadically as I’ve played more Garden Warfare in the past month or so than I have dedicated to this “Joffrey-esque” heir apparent. Gone are the zany character types, fun imaginative maps, and heart. Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville offers nothing more than a dull, unimaginative, stale experience.
One of the most glaring things to me, when I first started up the game, was the omission of all of the different characters within a class type. Battle for Neighborville still allows players to choose from the same classes featured in Garden Warfare 2, and more, but without the kooky variants. Players can still choose to play the scientist class on the zombie side for example, but gone are the computer scientist, chemist, physicist, geologist, etc. and all the unique features that served to keep them different, but still true to the class. Battle for Neighborville offers nothing more than a cookie cutter approach to the playable characters. Players can of course choose create three different types of a character within a chosen class but any differences are purely cosmetic and the point based upgrade system is utterly nonsensical.
The upgrades feel as if they do nothing for your character and don’t even offer any iota of uniqueness. I couldn’t wait to level up my scientist so I could grab the dolphin blaster upgrade and it didn’t even change the way my main weapon looked nor did it make the dolphin squeaks when I shot at those dastardly plants!! It did what it was supposed to, concentrate the spread of my projectiles, nothing more.
Additionally, part of the fun of the variants was learning to play certain ways. Yes, some were more powerful than others but that either required players to adapt or move on to something different and there was plenty to choose from. Now, it feels as if everyone is playing the same exact character within their class, some just wear different clothes.
Maps are of extreme importance in these types of game. They need to be interesting, they need to be creative, and most importantly they need to be fun to play. I can honestly say that in both Garden Warfare games there wasn’t one map that I hated. I certainly liked some more than others but there was always something to love in each one of them. They were all very different from one another, interactive in most cases, fun to look at, explore and play in. That’s not the case here…
Battle For Neighborville pales to it predecessors in this regard. It’s maps are bland and indistinguishable. There is absolutely nothing to look at here but the landscape in front of you. It’s just there for you to run around on. Don’t expect to discover anything new or humorous on subsequent playthroughs, no sir! You’ve already seen it, and it ain’t funny! They went for the ugly and utilitarian approach when forming these maps, nothing more. Each is more forgettable than the next.
Much like what The Last Jedi did for the Star Wars franchise, Battle for Neighborville took much of what made pvz great in the first place and took a huge smelly dump on that and decided to subvert and expectation of greatness the fans had. This was a game that never took itself too seriously and created characters that players could get invested in. Gone is that bittersweet sense of accomplishment in mastering a zombie, or plant, that you had played for hours on end, getting to understand the intricacies of that character but knowing that it was time to move on to another. Gone is the altruism of teammates in choosing to use consumables from their own inventories to help the team. Gone are the hours of playability and fun. Instead, everything is the same and nothing is special.
While it may seem like I can’t stand Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, which I can’t, the new backyard is by far the best feature of this game. Not so much aesthetically, but in its playability. There is more to do in the backyards in Battle for Neighborville and it being a publicly online forum really adds to the sense of community. Having something like that in Garden Warfare 2 would’ve been the icing on the cake. In the case of Battle for Neighborville, it’s a nice colorful Spongebob band-aid over an infected, smelly, oozing, necrotic wound.