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Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville – Final Verdict

By: Leonid Melikhov

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Release Date: October 18, 2019

Developer: PopCap Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts

ESRB: E for Everyone

Disclaimer - A digital copy of this product was provided by EA for Review purposes. This game was reviewed on PlayStation 4. Gaming Instincts is an Amazon affiliate and does get financial benefits if you choose to purchase this product on this page.

Plants vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville - Introduction

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is the latest sequel in the ever-popular Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare franchise from PopCap games. Known for its Pixar-like visuals, the game originally debuted at E3 2013 at the E3 Briefing. The trailer boasted impressive visuals, and showed how it took the Plants vs Zombies franchise to a whole new playing field—as a third-person competitive shooter, as opposed to the classic tower defense game for which the series was known.

At the game’s launch, it was well-received and later spawned a sequel, which was first announced at the E3 press release in 2015. Released a year later in 2016, Garden Warfare 2 expanded on the game’s multiplayer aspects, introduced new playable plants and zombies, and had a much more centralized hub zone for gamers to play in and explore.

In September 2019, EA and PopCap shadow dropped the series' third game, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, as an early access title with a $40 price point. However, the game did not include all the intended content at launch, and instead new content was released on a weekly basis. In October 2019 the game was released as a full-fledged title with the same price tag, and many fans may wonder what’s so special about the new entry in the series, and what it offers to loyalists and newcomers alike.

Plants vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville - New Additions and Gameplay 

Battle for Neighborville brings several new additions to the table. First and foremost, the biggest new attraction are six new playable characters—three for the plants and three for the zombies. One of the most notable new playable characters is the Night Cap.

Night Cap is a mushroom who fills the role of a stealth "ganker." She has unique abilities, such as being able to vanish mid combat or even out of combat for a few seconds, which renders her invisible and allows her to escape danger while boosting her movement speed. Her main purpose is to catch multiple opponents off-guard and use her insane damage ability called Fung Fu. Fung Fu makes Night Cap enter a frenzy state and kick opponents from multiple sides, assaulting those caught in the center with high area-of-effect damage.

Last but not least, the skill that makes Night Cap shine is her ability to drop a shadow dome. Any friendly teammates, as well as Night Cap herself, become invisible while inside the shadow dome, which is super helpful for setting up ambushes, or even solo kills on high priority targets.

Plants vs. Zombies - Battle for Neighborville

The other two new additions are Oak & Acorn, and the Snapdragon for the Plants side. Oak & Acorn act as a tank and defensive plant, able to switch between a small Acorn that can sprint and travel around, and an Oak tree equipped with rolling logs, ranged attacks, and a lot of health for defending teammates and objective points. The Snapdragon is another DPS plant that breathes fire non-stop, or shoots fireballs into the distance if players use aim mode instead. He can also jump into the air, slamming down on top of enemies, and create walls of fire for both defensive and offensive situations.

The Zombies get three additional new playable characters as well, including Electric Slide, 80’s Action Hero, and Space Cadet. The Electric Slide is an electro-dancing DJ on roller blades who uses electricity as their main source of damage. He can zap enemies from a distance for a moderate amount of damage, and send out tornadoes towards the direction he’s looking to cause area-of-effect damage or zone enemies away from objectives.

The 80’s Action Hero, as the name implies, is a throwback to 80’s action movies which have a ton of explosions and exciting fight scenes. The 80’s Action Hero is equipped with a crossbow which can be fired in quick succession for less damage, or charged up to three times for one big arrow that deals much higher damage. The player can drop dynamite behind them to trick and bait enemies, and can also jump on a rocket which shoots out a bunch of explosive missiles.

Last but not least, the final new Zombies playable character is the Space Cadet. She is classified as a tank and defender on the Zombies team. Space Cadet controls a UFO with laser shooting capabilities, and most importantly, an ability to team up with other Space Cadets and create a space station armed with weapons and defenses. For gamers who enjoy playing as support and having the help of other teammates, Space Cadet would be the perfect choice.

Plants vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville - The New Hub World and Questing

Other than the six new playable characters, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville’s biggest and most impressive change is the new hub world and campaign story structure. It’s a huge step from Garden Warfare 2’s Battleground Backyard, which had two sides, a town hall, and a middle where players could plant a flag to fight AI hordes for experience and coins. Neighborville’s hub world is much larger, more immersive, and has more things to see and do as opposed to the previous game.

The middle is now an amusement park which is officially called “Giddy Park”. In Giddy Park, players can socialize and battle it out with their friends on both sides.The new world hub structure almost feels like an MMO, but on a much smaller scale—everyone is always connected. Players can meet other people, use emotes or expressions, participate in different social activities, and interact with other gamers in a way not found in earlier games.

PVZ: Battle for Neighborville

The previous game also had quests fans could complete for both the Plants and Zombie sides. This time around, PopCap has decided to take it to the next level when it comes to questing and campaign structure. Each side has its own map, which players can visit, that acts as their own world, full of different NPCs players can meet and for which they can complete quests. For the Plants side gamers will be venturing to Mount Steep. Meanwhile, for the Zombies side they'll be going to Weirding Woods.

Both of these worlds have plenty of quests to complete, and many side activities to do as well. Completing quests progresses that world’s story, offers plenty of rewards, and unlocks new hidden areas on the map.

PVZ: Battle for Neighborville

Other than the main quests, there are also bounties to complete, treasure to collect, gnomes to find, and plenty of other side activities that will keep players busy, particularly if they want to complete 100% of each world. It was impressive to see how much, and how far, PopCap has gone out of their way to deliver a whole new experience on this kind of level. Not only is this content a lot of fun, it also has plenty of funny moments, beautiful visuals, and numerous things for players to discover and to which to look forward.

Plants vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville - Visual Upgrades and Audio

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville boasts some of the most impressive visuals on current-generation consoles thanks to updates to the Frostbite 3 engine, and a change to the art style in comparison to the last two games. The game’s art style is vivid, colorful, and of an almost Pixar-like quality, running at a smooth 60 frames per second during gameplay. Sound quality is also excellent, with the humorous sound effects fans know to expect from the franchise.

There are very few games on the market right now that look as good as this one, when it comes to a cartoonish style. Frostbite 3 continues to impress with this and other games, such as Anthem and the latest entry in the Battlefield franchise. It’s obvious now that Frostbite 3 is an engine capable of handling many different styles of art, whether they are more on the realistic or cartoonish side.

[caption id="attachment_59100" align="alignnone" width="1280"]PVZ: Battle for Neighborville The character models are creative and look great.[/caption]

PvZ: Battle for Neighborville also runs on the Xbox One X at 4K resolution, employing HDR in addition, which is also true of the PlayStation 4 Pro. Owners of these systems will see great benefits, as the game is enhanced greatly on both platforms. Overall, if fans loved how the previous Plants vs Zombies shooter games looked, then they will not be disappointed in Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville.

Plants vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville - Conclusion

Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is a solid sequel. It has everything one would expect a sequel to have, such as better visuals, engine upgrades, additional characters to play, new areas to explore, and an evolution to the campaign gameplay. Honestly, it was surprising how much this game packed in when it comes to brand new content, especially for a generous $40 price point, as opposed to most other titles with a cost of $60.

PopCap has done a great job with this latest entry in the Plants vs Zombies franchise, and it's exciting to see where it might head next. If one is a fan of the first two games, or is looking for something that’s different from other online shooters, then this might be the game for them.

Over-the-top and spectacular.
An homage to Pixar.
Humorous and terrific.
Hours worth of gameplay.