The Pros and Cons of PVZ Battle for Neighborville
A review of the latest game in the Plants Vs. Zombies franchise.
November 6, 2019
Plants Vs. Zombies Battle for Neighborville was developed by Popcap and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on October 18th.
This game has been very divisive between old fans and new fans of the series. The main dividing factor has been the game’s mechanics which have changed drastically from the past two Garden Warfare entries.
The game seems to take heavy inspiration from team-based games like Overwatch and Team Fortress 2. BfN took the game mode of pushing the payload from both of those games and turned old characters into characters from Overwatch. The pirate who used to have a variety of play styles now has been restricted to the sniper role, like Widowmaker from Overwatch. Citron who used to be a very run and gun type now has been given a defensive role similar to Reinhardt from Overwatch. Whereas before the characters felt like they had endless possible play styles, now they all have one role and purpose for the team.
An aspect the developers got right about BfN was the soundtrack. The music is used very well to portray the situation through sound. There are many different types of moods in the game, such as the calm pregame lobby music, the intense late-game music, and the sinister boss music. The composers use a lot of synthesizers and keyboards as well as many acoustic instruments to create a unique soundtrack. To distinguish the plant from the zombies the composers use a lot of whistling and acoustic instruments for the plants and more synth, guitar, and zombie groans for the zombies. The soundtrack is definitely one of the best parts of the game.
The game balancing is one thing the developers got wrong. In the past two Garden Warfare games every character felt equally overpowered if the time and effort was put in. Now however, only several characters feel overpowered and the rest feel weak in comparison. The engineer and acorn feel very overpowered because of their abilities and everything about the superhero and nightcap feel very overpowered. The weakening of most of the characters streamlines the game to four usable characters which can cause the game to feel boring and frustrating.
A new mechanic in BfN is sprinting. It was put in the game to make the games faster-paced, but it actually does the opposite. Because most of the characters are weak, opponents will most likely run away before being finished off, which can create a very frustrating and slow experience. Overall the mobility increase has been abused by many players.
Popcap put a lot of effort into the single-player mode this time around. They made a big and interesting map for each side of the fight-filled with interesting, difficult quests and interesting personalities to come across. Each character in the single-player and multiplayer has a distinct personality that is portrayed through the noises they make. It is impressive that Popcap could make memorable characters with no dialogue at all. The single-player is definitely a saving grace for BfN.
There are quite a few performance issues in the main hub area and the multiplayer modes. The lag within these modes is another thing that could frustrate players. It feels like the perfect internet is needed to play the game at times. Hopefully, Popcap will fix these issues soon.
To end on a good note, the graphics and animation have improved a lot since Garden Warfare 2. Every area that can be explored now has a lot of little details that help establish the game’s style. The personalities of the characters are shown well with their walking and running animation. The sunflower prances happily, the peashooter scurries excitedly, the superhero struts confidently, and the 80’s action star runs with a lot of exaggeration. The animation and new art style will definitely reel people in.
Hopefully, this game will get better soon. It does have many redeeming qualities, but equally as many bad qualities. It is definitely one of the most divisive games to be released recently, but it should still be given a chance.