Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: PvZGW2 Trials of Gnomus DLC

We may be a little late to the party on this DLC, but we have finally experienced it. Trials of Gnomus is the newest DLC for Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2. The main feature of the DLC is community events. Now PvZ has already played around with this feature in the past. They have given a few events for the community to work on, like everyone getting a total number of healing, or fire kills. Trials of Gnomus takes it a step further. In addition to those types of events it also has random gameplay types.

So far we have seen Dinos vs Cats. In this you take over the Dinos and Cats from the infinity gameplay and do sudden death team vs team matches. There are also boss hunts, as well as just random plays on standard gameplay types (for instance team vanquish where you don’t pick what character you respawn as). To reward people for this they have introduced a new star system, rainbow stars. Each time one of these events is happening you get stars for participating and can open a 10 star, 30, star, and 50 star chest.

All of this is really fun, and a very smart way to keep their community coming back. It’s a huge ‘hey everyone make sure you are signing into PvZGW2 regularly to get to play these new game types and get special rewards. The execution leaves a little to be desired however.

First and foremost the events themselves are inconsistent at best. While they claim to have a calendar that helps with this, it’s been unreliable. Second they are very short lived, with no consideration for the fact that the community itself is so diverse. If you want a game that reaches all ages, and want to encourage that community then power to you. Realize however doing these events in the middle of the week when many people can’t participate is not wise. Also making them all only 3 days long, which then requires people to be very dedicated during those 3 days, can be rough. To add to that the servers are clearly not able to handle the events themselves. While normally play is only partially affected when these events happen, the events themselves are shaky. If you are even able to get into one of them (and that is a big if) you will still have to contend with drops, and major bugs.

Lastly many of the events sort of require that you come with your own friends/community to play with. Boss hunt is hard, even on normal it’s extremely challenging. Attempting it with random players is an exercise in madness. You still get a descent star reward for participating at all, but it would be nice to be able to win without having to work out bringing in your own people. Especially given again how random the events are, and that they don’t last very long.

In the end my solution is simple. Make the events last longer, and have a shorter down time in between. It shouldn’t be 3 days of an event and then a week off. It should be closer to 3-5 days for an event then 1-3 days off. Keep them coming, keep them consistent. Next drop the difficulty on the events that pit players against AI. Normal boss hunt should not be as challenging as garden ops on hard (or even crazy). Lastly, and probably the most important, make sure your servers can actually support this.

Otherwise there is not a lot to say. I am a fan. It’s a great way to keep the community involved. The rewards are worth going for. The events are interesting enough, and it does effectively keep me coming back to the game to play more.

Video Games

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2: A Wishlist

After hearing enough complaints EA released an update nerfing the overpowered Rose character. It’s proof that EA seems like they are in for the long haul with the game. They are open to making changes down the road to keep the community more balanced and happy. With that knowledge I decided to sit down and think about my “PvZ” wishlist, for future updates. In this list I am not including things like game types or maps. While they are on my wishlist they are already all but promised to us with future updates.

Chomper Swallow Ability

I’ve actually been complaining about this since the first Garden Warfare. The Swallow Ability is way too overpowered. It’s cool down is not nearly long enough considering it’s insta death on ANY character. It makes sense though, the Chomper being entirely unable to attack for any longer would just create a problem on the other side of things. My wish is that they would make it so that Chompers are unable to swallow any player with full health. It’s really the best of both worlds. Players would still be able to use the ability and gain the ability to defend themselves in the same amount of time, however it would prevent insta death from happening to someone that just dropped in at full health.

How likely am I to get this? Not at all. In just a few weeks EA acknowledged a problem with a character and released something to fix it. The Chomper has been overpowered for two full games now, and EA hasn’t even acknowledged it.

Kernal Corn Damage

Kernal Corn should be one of the best, instead it’s rather average. He simply doesn’t do enough damage with basic attacks. While Kernal Corn comes with a large amount of ammo, it isn’t enough. A good example would be the fact that with 35 bullets you can face off another player, using every single one of them and still not score a kill. It would be easy to make the character far too damaging, but at this point it’s way too weak. The other abilities for the character are amazing, that just isn’t enough.

How likely am I to get this? I am not sure. On the one hand I haven’t seen a lot of buzz for this change. On the other the game is still fresh yet. Kernal Corn is rarely used and I think a lot of it has to do with how weak his base attack is. EA does have a vested interest in keeping players interested in their new classes, as such enough requests for it could yield positive results.

Scientist Standard Grenade

Scientists come with a sticky grenade of sorts. It can be helpful in a pinch, however it’s very easy to avoid if it’s tossed at you. In fact a lot of the grenades just simply don’t go off once they land on the field. My solution? The ability to change to just a standard grenade.

How likely am I to get this? Once again not very. It’s a character from the first game, so if they were going to make changes it likely would have already happened.

Custom Classes

For me the worst thing is when I find a sub class that I love the design of, but hate the abilities. For instance the Mass Effect fan in me loves the Z7 Imp, the gamer in me hates the main fire. It would be awesome to take the skin from one subclass and apply it to the abilities of another.

How likely am I to get this? Not at all. This seems like a game launch feature, not a random update down the road.

More Sunflower/Scientist Health

Yes healing classes should be squishy, I understand that. That being said the Sunflower and Scientist are just a bit too much so. An extra 25 health would still keep the Sunflower and Scientist easier to kill, but give people that choose that class a bit more wiggle room. It also might encourage people to use the classes more, adding more diversity to the field of multiplayer games.

How likely am I to get this? Hard to say. They are older characters so it doesn’t seem too likely. However if EA is serious about keeping the community really active it might be something they are pressured to do eventually.

The Ability to Pick Plant or Zombie Character Pack

This game has a lot of characters. Building up the coins to buy character packs is part of the challenge of the game, I support that. The problem is RNG can be a real pain. For multiple classes I have not unlocked a single character, I can get behind that. What I have a harder time getting behind is that I have a very unbalanced number of characters on one side vs the other. Adding sticker packs that let you choose plant or zombie would be nice.

How likely am I to get this? I would say 30/70, the 70 for not likely. Enough people would like this were it added, but I don’t feel it’s something that will be largely requested. Not only that but EA wants to keep you playing. If you want all the zombie characters, and are able to help yourself get them, you might stop after that.

The Ability to Boot Players

I know how rude this seems, but hear me out. I don’t want to be able to just kick people without reason. There are however there is one major reason I want this, inactive players, or players that glitch out your game. Usually there is at least one inactive player in things like team vanquish, and frankly the group should be able to boot them. Now I realize they might have an excuse for their inactivity and that’s fine, but it doesn’t change facts. Another instance similar to inactive players, is players that their joining mess with the game. For example, I was once playing graveyard ops and another player joined, instantly the game lagged out but didn’t drop either of us. Instead of being able to boot the offending player I had to quit out and restart the entire ops.

How likely am I to get this? No chance. Plants vs Zombies is meant to appeal to a wide range of gamers. Adding a boot feature would increase the overall competitiveness and possibly completely remove entire auidences.

So there is my wishlist for future updates. Honestly most of the things that I would like for the game are rather unlikely to happen. The formula has been set, and this point only minor tweaking seems to be the way EA plans to keep the game balanced. I am curious to see what future updates will hold though, and the direction the game will take as a result.

News, Video Games

First Garden Warfare 2 Patch/DLC

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 has been entertaining people for the last few days. EA has announced plans to patch the game, and release an update. The biggest issue they wish to address is the Rose character. Without saying the actual words EA plans to nerf the character. A lot of people have pointed out issues with the Rose, so it’s not surprising to hear it will be overhauled. It’s not the only character with balancing issues though. Hopefully EA will address more than just the Rose, though there has been no mention of it. With the update will also come the first free DLC, the Graveyard Variety Pack. The full details are unknown, but there will be at least one new map.

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Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is the follow up to the 2014 Garden Warfare. Garden Warfare was a bit of a surprise to many gamers. It took what was a tower defense game, and turned it into a 3rd person shooter and multiplayer experience. In spite of that the game ended up being a hit, and people have been anticipating it’s sequel.

Plot Summary

There is not much to say as far as story, as there isn’t really one. The basic premise is what we’ve seen before with Plants vs Zombies. Zombies are trying to destroy everything, plants some how have the power needed to stop the zombies. It’s silly and wonderful.

Impressions

Garden Warfare 2 proves that companies can actually learn from previous games and improve. Almost everything that gamers asked for after playing Garden Warfare is here. The game is significantly more balanced. One of the biggest problems people had with the previous game, is there was more to do as plants, as such plants tended to level up a lot faster. This game does away with that issue. If you can do it as plants, you can do it as zombies, and vice versa. There are offline quests for both factions, which help you learn the characters, and allow you to level on your own. Garden ops makes it’s return, as does graveyard ops (essentially the same but for zombies).

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In addition to the factions being balanced, the leveling process has been stream lined. Instead of leveling being determined by preset (virtually un-skippable quests), it is now a balance between xp for using characters, and quests. Quests do make a come back, but you are no longer forced to take them on, nor are you stuck if you can’t beat one, just drop it and move on. That being said, leveling will take a lot longer because instead of classes leveling each and every single character has their own level. That means each peashooter has to be leveled, each scientist, each chomper, etc. While leveling itself is now easier there is a fair amount of tedium that will go into leveling each character, and most likely many characters will be forgotten by a number of gamers.

Multiplayer game types have a good range. Most of the past game types made their return, the only missing was the Taco game, but it was basically the same as Gnome Bomb so it’s not really missed. Turf takeover replaces Garden and Graveyards, but is improved over the other, so it’s a welcome replacement.

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There is really only two things that bothered me with this game. 1) Server issues. This is to be expected, but I don’t think it should be. I feel is companies are going to do online games then getting their servers in working order for launch should be top priority. 2) Imbalance in matches. There seems to be no set formula for who gets matched with whom, so my first match out I was matched with people that had clearly been grinding the game and were already rank 50 or above. Rank system in multiplayer games can be good, but it can also present an unnecessary challenge to lower ranked gamers.

Bottomline

Honestly I have to say the game is pretty much exactly what I wanted. Missing elements from the first Garden Warfare were added. The new classes and game types are fun and entertaining. There is so little to be upset about here. If you are going to make a sequel, if you put this much effort into improving on the first game then you should be solid.

News, Video Games

Loyalty Perks for Garden Warfare 2

In the recent years a few games have implemented “Loyalty Perks” for people that have played past titles in the franchise. Notable online multiplayer games, like Call of Duty, have given special weapons, titles, and items for gamers. Plants vs Zombies 2 is taking a page out of that book, to bring their own Loyalty Perks. They are offering items to people who have reached certain ranks in Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare. The items are for rank 10, 25, 50, 100, and a super special item for rank 313. Rank 313 is highest you can go in the first Garden Warfare, and people that managed to reach that will get a special Unicorn Chomper.

The other ranks will give the player card packs. They range from character packs, to consumable packs. The games launches on February 23rd in North America and the 25th in Europe, so if you want to rank up here’s your last chance.

Video Games

Garden Warfare 2 Beta: A Quick Look

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is set to release late next month, however EA decided to give gamers a bit of a taste. The Garden Warfare 2 Beta was open over the weekend, though like many Betas was less of a Beta and more of a preview. It did include a lot of game crashes that were blamed on the Beta, but otherwise “demo” seems like a more accurate term.

That being said, it was a good look at the game. Each day of the Beta there were two multiplayer game types offered. One was always Turf Wars, the new 24 person experience. Turf Wars plays similar to Gardens and Graveyards from the previous Garden Warfare game. The biggest difference is the scale and size of the experience though. 24 people can seem a bit hectic, but it works well for this game type, and added just a little bit extra to it.

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The other multiplayer game type changed from day to day. Players got a chance to experience Gnome Bomb, Team Vanquish, and others. On the positive side, it was a good way to show different game types without over burdening the beta servers. On the negative side it limited what exactly people could experience, and when. If you didn’t like the game type offered then that day of the Beta might be a wash.

There was also single player offered for the Beta. Garden Ops returns, as does the Zombie Ops. A big complaint with the first Garden Warfare was the lack of balance, due in large part to plants being easier to grind and level with Garden Ops. Adding Graveyards Ops was a smart move on the part of developers. The game is more balanced as a direct result, with equal chances to level characters regardless of the base team.

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There is also a backyard warfare. The plants and zombies each have a base at either end of the “hub world”. If you go to the middle of this area there is a flag, raising it sends wave after wave of the enemy team at you. It’s a good way to get coins, and level your characters. Character leveling is now more balanced. There are still “quests” but you can pick and choose which ones you work for, and they aren’t required to level your characters (though helpful). The system allows for more skill, and learning to determine character level, and less luck.

The new classes are all solid. They are unique, all standing out from each other and the old classes (which all make a come back). Everyone will find new classes they like, and be happy to see their old favorites make a return.

All in all it seems like everything gamers wanted was listened to. More classes, better balance with leveling, more game types, freedom with challenges, and really just a great mix of improvements. Really the only thing we didn’t get to see is how many maps will be in the final game. Honestly if this offering from the Beta is what to come with the full game, then it has a real chance of being a favorite for many players.

Here’s hoping that the server issues, and limited maps is a result of the Beta and not a reflection of the full game. At this point though I am hopeful to see what Garden Warfare 2 has to offer.