Game Reviews

Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Review

The biggest offering we've seen to date.

by William Schwartz

At this point, 3D Plants vs. Zombies multiplayer action isn’t taking anyone by surprise.  Especially those that have been along for the ride since EA released Garden Warfare in 2014.  Since then we’ve seen Gard Warfare 2, and now Battle for Neighborville.  All three games have followed familiar formulas.  Throw together a creative cast of characters and give players a multiplayer playground to get their cooperative and competitive fill in a light-hearted setting.

If you’re over the blood and guts, realistic shooters that fill the marketplace, these Plants vs. Zombies games have been a good reprieve.  Like the other games in the series it’s a light-hearted and fresh take on the shooter genre that is simple enough for players of all skill levels, but deep enough for hardened shooter veterans to enjoy.  Battle for Neighborville isn’t just competitive and cooperative modes though this time around.  There’s also a good bit of single player content that has you tracking down collectibles as you fight your way through this mode on both the plants and zombies sides.

While the single player content is fairly straight forward with a big colorful map to explore and plenty of zombies/plants to fight and objectives to complete the real star of the show is the multiplayer content.  Competitive multiplayer in Battle for Neighborville is enjoyable.  Don’t let the cute and vibrant graphics fool you, there’s plenty of depth to the game on the competitive front.  There are quite a few Plants or Zombies to master, each with unique abilities.  There are different game modes in the competitive side of this offering, and depending on which you pick the game plays a lot differently.  Though Battle for Neighborville feels a lot like an objective based game like Overwatch in its big Turf Takeover mode, but it’s got some straight forward death match and last man standing modes as well.  I’ve likened this game to something like Team Fortress in my Garden Warfare review and I think that still sticks although the relevant comparison would probably be Blizzard’s behemoth shooter.

For those that have played the previous games there are some new characters in BFN.  There have been three characters added to the Plants faction and three characters added to the Zombies faction, each have a host of new abilities and weapons to use.  On the Plants side you’ve got the Night Cap – A mushroom that can do some damage from distance,  the Snapdragon which has a flamethrower, and an Acorn which can transform into a massive Oak tree.  On the Zombies side you have the 80s Action Hero who wields a bow and arrow, Electric Slide who roller skates and deals electric damage, and the Space Cadet who flies around in a spaceship.  Each character adds to the mix of combat, especially in multiplayer.

giddy-park-pvz

While Garden Warfare started down the path of throwing tons of challenges at players to earn cosmetic rewards, there’s no shortage of that sort of stuff in Battle for Neighborville.  Within the first few minutes of playing you realize that there’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to earning and unlocking items.  There’s a Prize Map which allows you to unlock things like stickers, emotes, and more.  This map is lit up with “Prize Bulbs” which you’ll earn by leveling up and gaining XP.  There’s coins as well, which can be used to purchase capsules from a giant gumball machine type thing in the middle of the hub area.  Characters can be upgraded and promoted, and then they can gain additional upgrades which you can use to basically tailor a specific character to your liking.  Players can also take up some rest and relaxation from the hub areas.  The hubs are basically the same, but there is one for the zombies (Zomboss HQ) and one for the Plants (Dave Manor) — though each of them give you access to Giddy Park.  This is an area where you can do some different activities like riding a ferris wheel or taking in the other attractions.

Battle for Neighborville is deep in its systems of both progression and rewards.  There’s certainly plenty to keep you coming back if the multiplayer or cooperative modes are your thing.  And they most certainly could be.  Competitive multiplayer is quite enjoyable in all of its modes.  While the single player content is somewhat on the short side, this is definitely a game that you do NOT purchase for that aspect.  This is still a multiplayer-first game and that’s where most of the love feels like it’s been poured.

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The whimsical world of Plants vs. Zombies hasn’t looked as good as it does in Battle for Neighborville, it’s a bright and colorful game that has a ton of personality when it comes to the unique cast of cartoon type characters.  It’s hard not to imagine smaller kids really enjoying this game, but as we said before it’s not just for kids.  The action is competitive in the versus modes, and a little bit more laid back in the single player and cooperative aspects.

The Verdict

Plants vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville is another entirely competent, family-friendly “shooter”, much like the Garden Warfare games.  While it doesn’t have a three behind it, it might as well.  Things don’t feel like they’ve changed all that much with time. The new sandbox single player offering is certainly welcome, but it’s the multiplayer offerings that are what players will get the most out of.  While it might not be every shooter fan’s bag, Battle for Neighborville has certainly got the ability to entertain just about anyone… young or old, experienced shooter player or first-timer.

- This article was updated on:October 18th, 2019

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PvZ: Battle for Neighborville

  • Available On: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Published By: EA Games
  • Developed By: PopCap Vancouver
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • US Release Date: October 18th, 2019
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "While it might not be every shooter fan's bag, Battle for Neighborville has certainly got the ability to entertain just about anyone... young or old, experienced shooter player or first-timer."
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