The plants and zombies have never gotten along in Suburbia. But this time things have gotten a little out of hand in the free-for-all chaotic Backyard Battleground, a new feature for PopCap Games’ upcoming Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 team shooter.

At a small event in San Francisco last month, PopCap senior creative director Jeremy Vanhoozer said it’s a great feature for newcomers to get acclimated to the game, including how to use the new characters use weapons. It comes out February 23 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

And you can try it out tomorrow — a public multiplayer beta goes live on Thursday. Players will have the chance to play the six brand new character classes and explore new game modes and maps.

“It would be great if we can let them just jump into the PvZ world and just take a second to look around … discover some story,” Vanhoozer.

Vanhoozer said one of the things he’s most excited about Backyard Battleground is that after people play Garden Warfare 2 for hours, they’ll still be able to find hidden things tucked away down the road.

But it’s not all about shooting and blowing stuff up for fun.

Players now have access to portals that are connected to missions, can collect bobbleheads scattered throughout the world and come across a shooting gallery by sneaking in secret entrances to hidden passages.

Vanhoozer said as a kid he loved stumbling across hidden treasures or a new challenge level he talked to with his friends afterward. Plants vs. Zombies fans now also have a showcase trophy room for the bobbleheads and a bulletin board displaying top-stats to show off to other players online.

The original cast from PvZ Garden Warfare (Peashooter, Sunflower, Chomper and Cactus) make a return to the sequel, but newbie Kernel Corn was the favorite throughout the evening.

Kernel’s pair of Cob Busters shoot flawlessly with minor recoil and the aiming controls were near perfect. I wouldn’t go as far as comparing it to a more realistic shooter like Battlefield, but I don’t think it should be.

Shooting at zombies or plants was similar to Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard blasting away at the Geth, simple yet there was still that challenge where I still had to keep the crosshairs from jumping around.

Kernel Corn has three special abilities: Butter Barrage, Husk Hop and Shuck Shot. But I stuck with the Butter Barrage, where he calls for butter cubes to fall from the sky, quite a bit to inflict pain on zombies. It came in handy during the first of many Flag of Power challenges.

The Flag of Power is a glowing flagpole located in the center of the Backyard Battleground world and a player has to activate it in order to start the fun. As players try try to fend off as many waves of zombies, they also have the ability to earn a ton of XP.

But Backyard Battleground also allows players to collect bobbleheads and play for the deadside as a zombie.

The Imp was by the far the most popular zombie character to choose from. He’s a tiny guy but he can move as swift as the wind with his double jumps and ability to hover. The Imp also has the Robo Call ability where Z-Mech armor falls from above and users can control a robot.

“We just want this game to be fun,” Vanhoozer said. “You’re going to get in and have a blast whether that’s with friends or not. I think we’ve pulled that off.”


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