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Tycho / on Wed, Feb 26 2014 at 11:09 am

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The Vault

I dunno.  I would describe the current schedule for Thornwatch as “aggressive” and “ambitious,” things I don’t normally associate with my associate.  It’s happening, though.  It’s really happening.

Mike Fehlauer is the pressure, and Jamie started out as a fan of Thornwatch and has morphed into a more active verb.  She asked to see his “notes,” to see if she might render them into some more human form, which I think must have been scary.  For literally every person involved.

Videos for Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare have been so consistently batshit as to place it in wholly “wait and see” territory.  Well, yesterday, we saw.  And then, we had to wait.  Because Electronic Arts.

Right?  Quoting yourself is not cool, but when I said that EA games come with free misery I created an anodized, multipurpose tool that it’s incredibly hard not to reach for.  After the first round, a blessedly functional affair where we turned to one another often to ask, wordlessly, if the other person had just seen that shit, it stopped working altogether.  We were not able to join games, so we quit, and it took so long for it to let us quit that we eventually just retreated to the dash to close it manually.

Then, we decided to learn the ropes by playing split-screen, and were further denied; players in Garden Warfare have a collection of “seeds” they can plant in flowerpots that add some classic PvZ/Tower Defense flavor.  It’s not nearly as fun without them.  But, even in this local mode, it kept trying to query some distant server for our seeds.  A server which never responded.  And we know it didn’t respond, because it kept telling us, putting messages over the screen of the game mode we were only playing because the servers didn’t work.

Later that night, the game we had purchased became available in a real way.  And it is cool.  Plants and zombies that level up and wield fun powers, including what might be the best approach to player healing I’ve seen.  Healing is typically an all or nothing affair, in most games where you can do it.  Sunflowers, though, “set and forget” their heal beam.  As long as they are near their target, they can contribute damage on top of it with their weapon.  When you see it, you’re sorta like…  huh.  Right.  Yeah.

I spent way, way more time in Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer than you needed to for the best endings, because I liked dumping the credits I earned into their gear chase, collection thing.  I liked the gameplay, but I also liked the loop.  That strongly informs Garden Warfare, where you open booster packs with the coins you earn.  These packs include visual customizations, seeds for the modes that use them, zombie… seeds, I guess you’d call them, cards whose stickers go together to form other shit, all kinds of stuff.  It’s a pretty light touch in my opinion, or not insulting or brutal I guess, which in 2014 is what you pray for and hope you get.

Being on the Xbox One, it uses SmartGlass to do something you might otherwise do with a custom app, but the implementation on any device with an eight inch or larger screen is to let somebody play in what’s called “Boss Mode,” where a person plays a cute, light version of Battlefield 4’s Commander role.  They collect sun (or brains) as they fall or are generated by player actions, and then dump them into airstrikes or healing sprinklers or whatever.

It’s cool, they did a good job manifesting this weird beast, and I would have preferred to write exclusively about how cool, but that’s not really up to me.

(CW)TB out.

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