Corn stalking my enemies.
The first Garden Warfare game is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. It came out of nowhere, and was a lot more fun than it had any right to be. When I learned there was a sequel being made, I was excited, but also cautious. If there is one thing the original lacked, it was content. I wanted more; I wanted a single player portion, I wanted Garden Ops to expand, and of course, I wanted to collect even more stickers. Garden Warfare 2 delivers on all those hopes, and stands out as one of the most robust packages I have seen in awhile. There is so much content here, I was almost overwhelmed.
From the minute the game boots up, I could sense it was going to be massive. There are no menus. The game just throws players into their own personal Backyard Battleground where all the facets of the game can be accessed. There is also a hefty amount of solo content to be explored, on top of the multiplayer offerings.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
The Backyard Background is essentially a massive playground split right down the middle between an ongoing war among the Plants and Zombies. Players can swap sides at any point, or just invite friends into the playground to explore, or take on the Ops and competitive multiplayer modes. Sadly, the quests designed for single player are not available when friends join in the mix.
Single player quests are broken down into each faction, and also into sets. Each set rewards players with a new sticker specific to the campaign. The quests range from exploring, to short wave-based sessions. It is a nice mix, and I was able to use any of the classes on either side, which is good because each class as well as each variation levels up individually.
There are a lot of characters and classes to choose from on each side. In addition to the four original classes from the first game, each side now has three new classes along with their respective variants. The plants recruit Kernel Corn, who has machine guns and rocket launchers, Rose who wields magic, and Citron who doles out damage with his beams. The zombies introduce the Imp, who has stasis grenades and moves extremely fast, Captain Deadbeard who carries a shotgun, and Super Brainz who is the equivalent of a superhero.
Garden Ops has been expanded to include both sides of the conflict now. The popular wave-based horde mode can now be taken on as the zombies, which is great for learning their classes, as well as collecting coins. The new stages and stickers keep things interesting, while the higher difficulties offer up a hefty challenge. This is still my favorite mode to play with friends.
Coins and leveling up are much more streamlined now. Coins are earned for everything, which makes spending them a lot more frugal. Stars are earned by completing quests, which can be used to place cosmetic items in the Backyard Battleground, but I recommend holding on to them for the post game survival mode. Quests can also earn players XP bonuses, up to 2x, which is key if they plan to grind out one of the several classes or subclasses.
The online competitive mode also returns, and is once again a series of familiar battles. The modes found online resemble almost any other shooter, well except a lot more colorful of course. The highlight of the bunch is Turf Takeover. This mode starts with a series of points on the map that must be taken over; once the final one falls, both teams fall back to a final battle that varies based on which side is winning, and of course which map. It is by far the best mode to showcase the individuality which Garden Warfare 2 brings to the table.
If there is a downside to everything packed into this title, it is just that. There are so many subclasses of each character, it is impossible to know them all. Also, unlocks of these characters are entirely random, so I never knew who I was getting when opening a pack. It could be for a class I didn’t even use. There is also an immense amount of things to do presented right out of the gate, which can be overwhelming to new players. Once I got the flow down it was fine, but at first I simply did not know where to start.
The Garden Warfare franchise started off as a pleasant surprise, and the sequel improved upon almost every issue I had with the first game. It is a surprisingly competent shooter that breaks the mold, both stylistically and thematically from other titles in the genre. The added single player components and all around improvements make this a worthy sequel that no one should miss.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.