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The Hunt for Great Multiplayer: Garden Warfare 2

by Jason Eliason

Plants-vs.-Zombies-Garden-Warfare-2

About a year ago, a gamer friend recommended I try PVZ: Garden Warfare. I was extremely skeptical at first, mainly because the game’s aesthetic did not in any way appeal to me. I was fresh off Destiny’s multiplayer and was looking for something more along that vein both in regards to mechanics and visuals. At first all I was willing to do in PVZ was Garden Ops, but over time I came to love the PvP aspect of the game. Subsequently I’ve spent the last couple of months eagerly awaiting Garden Warfare 2 and now that it’s here I’m really, really happy with what we’ve been given.

What most reviewers have been saying is true: in regards to actual gameplay, there’s not much that differentiate GW2 from GW1. What is different is found in the addition of solo content and the fact that there’s a lot more you can do with more than one player. Garden Warfare 2 gives you the Backyard Battleground as your default staging area, and any friend can join you there either by invitation or by joining you through your profile. Together you and other players can explore the Backyard Battleground which has fun activities like a King of the Castle-esque type game and a plants vs. zombies soccer match. You can also hop right into the cooperative modes or join a PvP match together.

Cooperative Modes

Garden Ops was repetitious in GW1, but in GW2 enough has been added to keep it interesting long-term. The goal is still surviving 10 rounds, but there’s enough variety in the randomized enemy waves to keep people on their toes. One addition I really enjoy are the enemy “heroes” which are marked AI zombies or plants that you get extra money and experience for hunting down. There are additional goals for the waves, too, such as eliminating all the enemy heroes, surviving an extra huge wave of enemies, or protecting a giant grumpy looking squash who swallowed a buttload of coins. If you’re tired of doing this mode as plants, try the new zombie version – Graveyard Ops – instead. Given the new character variants and the new elements to this mode, Garden Ops is a fun multiplayer (and viable money-making alternative) to PvP.

Another cooperative multiplayer aspect of Garden Warfare 2 is called Infinity Time, and it’s where you and your friends team up to fight endless of waves of space garden gnomes. You can’t play as character variants in Infinity Time. Instead, you fight as a mechanized triceratops mech with three unique attacks. Each wave increases in difficulty and the further you go, the more rewards you collect. While some brave souls soldier through Infinity Time on their own, I’ve found it much easier (and much less stressful) to do it cooperatively with other players. Doing well in Infinity Time is the only way to unlock the legendary variants of some characters, so if you’re a completionist you’ll want to get cracking on this.

PvP Mode

In my opinion PvP is where Garden Warfare 2’s multiplayer aspect really shines. As in GW1, you still have several different PvP modes to choose from, including Suburbination, Turf Takeover, Team Vanquish, Gnome Bomb, and Mixed Mode. As it stands now though, PvP is seriously unbalanced. Rose, one of the new plant characters, is ridiculously overpowered. The fact that she has a sniper’s range, attacks that track, two forms of crowd control, a super small hitbox, and an emergency form she reverts to in order to escape death means she’s basically a one person wrecking ball. It’s so bad, in fact, that the creative director of GW2 has stated that things are going to change. I’ll admit to using Rose a great deal because of how overpowered she is – it’s very easy to make good money in PvP with her. I’ve also played against her as a zombie, however, and I can tell you that when you’re up against a team full of Rose variants that it’s basically just a world of hurt headed your way.

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Despite the unbalanced state of PvP right now, it’s still a lot of fun. The new PvP maps are fantastic, full of whimsy and little secrets. The attention to detail in them is crazy, with tons of cute, funny graffiti and other details that really make the zone immersive. As in GW1, every PvP map has an end zone with a unique objective. Provided the team on the offensive manages to make it that far, both sides get to engage in some kind of mini-game. My personal favorite is the Moon Base Z map, where at the end you get to participate in a magnet pushing game. In order to win you need to push giant balls across a map full of shifting walls in order to sink them into your team’s scoring zone. Of course, you also need to survive encounters with the enemy as you do so. The further into the match you get, the more balls drop, and the more frenzied everything gets. These end zones are really fun to play if you’re in a pre-made group, as being able to communicate with each other can make all the difference.

Strategy in Garden Warfare 2 seems to be more necessary than it ever was in its predecessor and if you’re working together as a team, developing a good strategy can easily lead to victory. People have had to develop strategies in order to take on Rose (getting up close and personal with any Scientist or Super Brainz variant seems to be the most popular strat), but strategy’s also key depending on what map you’re playing. If you’re a fan of sniping, it’s all about finding a sweet spot in Moon Base Z, where certain areas have low gravity and your jump height is greatly improved. The Time Park map provides you with a ton of cover and ways to sneak up on an enemy, making it a great playground for a team of Chompers. But strategy’s also become easier to develop in regards to how you play the game. Some of the new variants have attacks that will dictate how you play. With the Zen Cactus, for example, your attacks get more damaging with the fewer orbs you have. If you want to steamroll someone, you learn to save your last shot for the most opportune moment. The Imp’s ability to call in some form of mech (and if you ordered the deluxe version, you get the Mass Effect shout-out “Grass Effect” mech) means that they can do some serious damage to a lot of people, so it’s sometimes best to save that ability for when you see a clustered group of enemies. If you’re in a pre-made group and you all call in your mechs at the same time, things get entertaining really quickly.

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Does Garden Warfare 2 Deliver in the Multiplayer Department?

I was hoping for a great multiplayer experience in Garden Warfare 2 and that’s exactly what I got. If you’ve got a pre-made group of friends for PvP or Garden or Graveyard Ops you can easily dominate, but it’s just as fun to join the game’s matchmaking too. Everything that was great about GW1 has been successfully kept intact and added upon, giving players more variants to play as, more ways to tweak gameplay to their preference, and more ways to play cooperatively without burning out on the same old things. I know some people are thrown off by the aesthetics just the way I was, but it’s truly one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games I’ve ever played. I’d recommend Garden Warfare 2 to anybody looking for a game to play with friends or anyone looking for a different take on the multiplayer shooter genre.

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