PopCap Games

Yes, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is free-to-play, but that may not be a deal breaker

Yes, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is free-to-play, but that may not be a deal breaker

Yesterday, PopCap announced the long-awaited sequel to the smash hit Plants vs Zombies, and a day later the information avalanche has begun.

The game will not be a full-price title like its predecessor, but will instead be free-to-play. PopCap has come out ahead of the likely criticisms of that approach, and is trying to assuage the fears of fans by promising that they're working to implement the free-to-play model in a way that is fair.

“Frankly, it’s been something the team has really struggled with: how do we do it right?” said  lead producer Alex Murray to Edge with more information reportedly coming in an expanded preview in the next issue of the magazine. “We’re just trying to find a really good balance. We want people to play and enjoy the game, and not feel like they’re being bilked all the time.”

To that end, there will be no “energy” mechanics that restrict the amount of time you're allowed to play. There are no limits on lives, or any insistence that you send messages to your Twitter friends. Instead, the in-app purchases will focus on things like power ups that give you more Sun (the currency used to buy plants) at the start of the game.

It's about time…

At first, it seemed like the subtitle of Plants vs Zombies 2: It's About Time was just a self-effacing joke about the fact it has taken over four years for PopCap to release a true follow up to the wildly successful Plants vs Zombies 1. However, it's also a sort of pun as the game is themed on time travel.

In this installment, Crazy Dave will travel throughout time searching for the best tacos in history. As such, he and his plants will fight zombies in multiple time periods including ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and some sort of pirate-y themed time period. Each time zone will consist of ten main levels that can be replayed with different challenges or restrictions as well as branching missions that feature minigames.

Each period will also have its own zombies. Egypt, for example, will feature a Ra-themed zombie which tries to steal your Sun resource. A zombie from the pirate period carries a parrot which can fly off with your plants.

...and plants, of course

There will also be numerous upgrades to the game's basic gameplay as well. Plant food is now available to give your army a power boost for a limited time such as making a Sunflower burst with a barrage of Sun, or causing a Pea Shooter to turn into a rapid fire zombie-killing machine.

There are a host of new plants as well that can't all be adequately covered, but examples include the Bonk Choi which is shown in the trailer above. There's also the Coconut Canons which are fired manually by tapping on them, as well as the Snapdragon which emits a lateral wall of zombie-cleansing fire.

PopCap has been very forthcoming with the game already, and it's a breath of fresh air compared to the 8 month long reveals we've become accostomed to for big games in this industry. It's a chore to try to follow the day-to-day announcements of games that are revealed over a long period of time, so it's very nice to just be able to read about Plants vs Zombies 2 and get excited. Unless, of course, that whole “free-to-play” thing is a deal breaker for you. Ben's gritting his teeth, but hoping for the best.

Plants vs Zombies 2 is due to arrive on iOS devices on July 18, and if the previous game is any indication it will also release on every other conceivable platform by the end of the year.