Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare - Tactics & Strategies
Nipping the Buds and Burying the Undead in PopCap Games' co-operative multiplayer shooter.
We've been playing unhealthy amounts of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare on Xbox One over the last few weeks as the game has proven as addictive as anything PopCap Games has ever produced in the past. The basics are simple enough, there is a co-op mode (Garden Ops) where four players take on waves of zombies as plants (four classes - Cactus, Chomper, Peashooter and Sunflower, each with their own distinctive play-styles) and multiplayer (three variations: Team Vanquish, Gardens & Graveyards, and the new mode Gnome Bomb) where teams made up of plants (same classes as in Garden Ops) and zombies (All-Star, Engineer, Foot Soldier and Scientist) do battle over either kills (Team Vanquish) or objectives (Gardens & Graveyards, Gnome Bomb).
In many ways Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare represents the perfectly imbalanced game. In any given instance there is typically one class that has an advantage, the beauty lies in the ever-changing landscape of the battle and the various ways you can work this to your advantage. Here are some of our favourite strategies and tactics while playing and unlocking more stickers in the massive sticker book that tracks our progression in the game.
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No such thing as too many Peas
Spawning a team of four Peashooters has proven a winning tactic on Craaazy difficulty (hardest setting) in Garden Ops. This formation will provide you with two key components - fire power to take down pesky boss waves quickly, and the ability to find somewhat safe spots to deal damage from. The Peashooter has a hyper ability making it move very quickly and jump very high - this allows you to reach rooftops and other elevated spots where your team of Peashooters can take out incoming waves of zombies in relative safety (of course, bosses and zombie heroes can still do damage). The Sharkbite Shore map is ideal for this strategy. The main problem is naturally that Peashooters can get overwhelmed in the final escape - so make sure you time your run to the extraction zone and use hyper to get there just before Crazy Dave arrives to pick you up.
The Balanced Approach
Following our successful "four peashooter approach" (see above), we tried other overload strategies, none of them proved effective even if four Cacti probably could work with lots of Wall-Nuts blocking lanes, potato mines and frequent well timed corn strikes. The balanced approach is typically you're best bet, however. The Chomper is a difficult class as they're often left exposed on the harder difficulties, but they can chomp off pesky chest zombies and heroes in one bite, which can be invaluable at times. However, we have preferred set ups without Chompers for the most part - going with dual Peashooters or Sunflowers in most cases. The Sunflower has an especially important role as the team healer and also needs to make sure potted plants are kept alive.
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Tasty, tasty Tall-Nuts
Zombies (the normal ones) enjoy munching on Tall-Nut walls that the Cactus can set up. These Tall-Nuts can be used to close off lanes going into the Garden, or simply provide cover or a distraction for incoming zombies. You can damage these Tall-Nuts with friendly fire, but at times it's well worth launching a chili bomb into a crowd of zombies munching away at a Tall-Nut for an easy multi-vanquish. Of course, you can also unleash your Gatling ability (if a Peashooter) or your Sunbeam (if a Sunflower). If you're a Cactus you could bomb 'em with a cornstrike. If you're not under pressure, however, it's better to pick them off with your normal attacks and save your top abilities for zombie heroes and bosses.
Planning Your Escape
After ten waves are completed (including two boss waves) it's time for your departure courtesy of Crazy Dave and his flying RV. The extraction point is typically easier to reach from the gardens that are most difficult to defend (the middle ones with many lanes), while the easier to defend gardens will force a sprint across the map. Moving together as a team is typically your best option. Knowing how long it will take to get there is also key, as staying in a safe position until you absolutely must move out can be a good strategy. You can also go there as soon as possible and build defences while trying to survive the onslaught. You really need all four plants to escape for the full bonus so hanging on to one or two self-revives (waiting out the timer to give you a little breathing room) is advised.
Green Fingers for the win
Your potted plants can make all the difference in Garden Ops. Keeping them alive is the job of the Sunflower, but placing the right plant in the right pot (given your strategy) is extremely important. We've experienced how teammates of ours have planted three sunflowers (healing) on the perimeter of the garden, where you really need to have damage dealing plants (Pea Gatling or Scaredy Shrooms) or perhaps ones that slow the enemies down (Goop Shrooms, Ice Shrooms). Bonk Choys capable of devastating one punch kills should be placed behind corners where they won't take ranged damage. And the Sunflowers are preferably placed in a corner where players can easily find them if they need to make a dash for extra health.
Bonus tip: Using Smartglass for extra support in Garden Ops can be very beneficial at times, especially during extraction when a revive from the sky or a dropped heal flower can make all the difference.
Garden & Graveyards / Team Vanquish / Gnome Bomb:
The All-Star Rush
The All-Star is the tank of the zombie team and has the most health. This makes him ideal for rushing the Garden in Gardens & Graveyards. One very effective tactic is for the zombie team to spawn many All-Stars towards the end of a round in order to overwhelm the opposition. The All-Star can punt explosive imps (great to clear the end zone of traps), and then put up dummies to protect himself and teammates from sniping plants outside the garden. The cure for an All-Star rush on the plant side of things is to spawn a lot of Chompers too, but we'll get to that next...
Chomp 'em all up
The Chomper may be a terrible choice for the harder difficulties in Garden Ops (as it easily gets swarmed after eating a zombie - all powers unavailable), but against other players it can be extremely useful. When plants are defending a garden in Gardens & Graveyards, towards the end it can be really useful to guard it with Chompers. Their weeds are the perfect defence around the base and their goop is great at slowing down incoming enemies. The final stand phase of a Gardens & Graveyards game favours the Chompers even more as the small windows (placing bombs, entering the mansion) allow for chomp camping. If a team goes 80% Chompers towards the end of a round, it can be really hard to mount a serious attack for the zombies.
Chompers can also be extremely effective in Team Vanquish for two reasons. They can burrow down and eat enemies that are engaged with other teammates, but when they eat a player that player is un-revivable and that point can't be won back with a revive on the scoreboard.
The Deadly Drone
In the first few days of online play in Garden Warfare, players did not seem very aware of the dangers of allowing a Garlic or Zombot drone to roam the battlefield from above. Their standard attacks do little damage and it's not easy to aim at moving targets from above. However, their Corn and Cone strikes respectively are some of the most potent, if not the most potent attacks in the entire game and preventing drones from charging up this attack is vital to any game. This means a lot of players who use the drone have taken up more sneaky approaches, flying low and in cover until the strike has charged up. One thing to keep in mind with the drone strikes is that they deal collateral damage on your own team's traps - so if your garden is well protected with potato mines, wall-nuts, heal flowers, and spikeweed you should probably stay away from launching a strike into that zone even with zombies in it. As for the engineer the opposite is naturally true as a Cone strike is a great way of clearing a garden of pesky potato mines.
It's all about Elevation
We've mentioned it before, but gaining elevation is typically key to gaining the upper-hand in Garden Warfare. The Peashooters hyper ability allow them access to roofs and ledges and the splash damage of their peas is also ideal from elevation, as a near miss will also do damage. Getting a Cactus to an elevated position with it's sniper like abilities is also beneficial even if their limited jumps means you often have to make do with a few spots that offer elevation. Tall-nuts can be used as steps though, so you may find Cacti in places you wouldn't think they'd be able to access. On the zombie side of things it's really only the Footsoldier that should go for elevation, the combination of its rocket jump and the ZPG ability (zombie powered grenade, presumably) means it can deal a lot of damage to plants that stay in one place. You will often find zombie footsoldiers providing support from elevated positions on the flanks during Gardens & Graveyards matches without actually attacking the point.
The Sunflower Heal Chain
This tactic can be used in all modes, but is particularly effective in Team Vanquish where players often tend to go solo as there is no team objectives to focus on. Creating a healing chain of 3-4 sunflowers (with heal beams going between each other and spawning heal flowers every now and then), will make your group very difficult to take down for soloing zombies. If this group is further strengthened by a Peashooter it really takes some strategy or a cone strike (by an Engineer) to break the chains of healing. Of course, given that the range of the heal beams are limited it also makes the group less mobile so that's something to keep in mind. On its own the Sunflower is very weak in any given duel with a zombie, but a bouquet of Sunflowers can be a tough nut to crack.
Spawn-Camping and Teleportation
Your kills to death ratio in Garden Warfare multiplayer is really secondary to the team objectives. Therefore the most egoistic players who only go for kills and their own challenges seldom end up on the winning team. There are, however, instances where getting kills and team play go hand in hand. The zombies spawn at their last taken objective in Garden & Graveyards and sticking around for a bit here as a plant can score you some easy kills while it helps the rest of the team set up defences around the next objective. As a Cactus taking a position off to the side of the spawn area (zombies don't spawn in the exact same spot so it's not like taking candy from a baby) - using the drone to drop a corn strike in the spawning area can also be effective, but typically won't score you as many kills. Your next objective as a Cactus should be to get your drone up and locate where the teleport is for the zombies. It's of vital importance you take this one out as soon as the Engineers on the other team get it up - a corn strike does the trick. As a Peashooter it can also be a great idea to make your way early on in the round to the teleport position (there are two alternative positions each round) and wait for the incoming Engineers. These typically race towards the teleport as it nets them potentially tons of coins (10 per zombie that goes through the teleport for the player that built it) and they can be easy pickings as they come storming in to beat their teammates to the prize.
Remember to Shoot Down the Boss in the Sky
While the Commander-like mode in Garden Warfare isn't extremely overpowered a great Zomboss or Dave can make all the difference from above, especially in the most crucial moments of a Garden & Graveyards match. Their flying fortresses have 2000 health points - so it takes a barrage of peas, needles, sunbeams, footballs, etc. to take them down. However, it means that the player in question (if he's a good commander) won't be able to spawn as that anymore. Taking it down also scores you a neat 250 coins.
Blowing up the Gnome
A new mode added to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare since launch (with the Garden Variety Pack) is Gnome Bomb, where two teams of 8 players compete for a bomb that they need to carry to one of three enemy positions. You then need to guard the bomb for 30 intense seconds so that the opposing team doesn't defuse it - rinse and repeat three times to win. This mode is perhaps the one that requires the most team work as you really can't do much good on your own. Once again, elevation is key to controlling the battlefield - and a good player taking the role of Zomboss or Dave, dropping airstrikes at the right time, can make all the difference. Teams in this mode tend to be made out of mainly peashooters and zombie footsoldiers, but the All-Stars are also a very good option on the zombie side of things. Naturally the hyper ability of the peashooter can be of great benefit is it typically allows you to grab the bomb first.
Garden Variety Launch Trailer:
GR Live: Playing Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare