I was standing beside one of the game designers at PAX last September, watching the con attendees take turns at our row of iPads to play PvZ 2. Their games were projected on big screen TVs above for all to enjoy. Matt, the designer, commented to me how strange it was that everyone placed their Sunflowers in the last row.
“What do you mean? Where else would you put them?” I almost said, but I caught myself, because I instantly understood what he was saying. It had never occurred to me, but once he said it, I got the obvious strategic value of using your Sunflowers as blockers while Zombies continued to be pummeled by Peashooters behind the Sunflowers. Otherwise, your last line of defense is the Lawn Mowers (or Power-Ups, or Plant Food on a Bloomerang or Bonk Choy in the right position nearby), while you just sit there miserably and watch your helpless Sunflowers get devoured.
So that’s how this post came about. I wanted to share with our players some of the strategies employed by the people who know this game best of all: the creators and testers who think about it all day every day. I went to visit the team and asked, “What are the personal strategies you rely on in the game? What are your favorite, most satisfying moves to make? What are the things you’d want to make sure someone knew in order to get the most excitement out of playing through for the first time?” I started with the QA team, who have probably played more PvZ 2 than I’ve played Bookworm Heroes (and I play a TON of Bookworm Heroes!).
Tim offered help with the recently introduced Gargantuars who have been wreaking so much havoc of late:
When you’ve got multiple Gargantuars on screen, use your Power Toss to corral them into a single lane. That minimizes the damage they can do, and it lets you apply all your force in one space. If you’ve got the Jalapeño in your arsenal, this is the perfect time to use it!
Since not everyone has the premium plants like Jalapeño, don’t forget to take advantage of the Piñata Party! It happens twice a week, and it offers you the chance to play with plants you may not have encountered in the regular game. When you see a new plant in Piñata Party, make sure to try Plant Food on it so you can see its full potential!
We then all started chiming in on our favorite Plant Food effects:
Tim said that Plant Food on a Sunflower is one of the most useful moves you can make, especially early on. Many levels send in a glowing zombie within the first wave, and you can take that initial Plant Food and use it to boost your Sun right away!
Chris brought us back to the Gargantuars by noting that the best way to hold them off for a moment while you decide what to throw at them is to use Plant Food on an Iceberg Lettuce. It freezes every zombie on screen, giving you valuable time to plan!
Kernel-pult can be used to similar effect.
“Oh, but with Kernel-pult,” Tim noted, “always make sure you plant at least three of them. Just one or two won’t do you much good in the long term.”
And we all agreed, in a tone of awed appreciation, that Snapdragon’s Plant Food effect is ridiculously powerful and cool looking.
Then Tim said to make sure to plant these excellent little fellows at the top and bottom of your screen for maximum effect.
Chris said one of the most important tips he can offer a player is not to settle into a single strategy but to keep experimenting with new plants and new layouts. It’s tempting to think you’ve found “your” way of playing, but the game keeps changing and getting harder, and eventually, every strategy will stop working. If you never tried alternatives along the way, it’s that much harder to adapt when the game really throws you a curveball!
Finally, I visited with Mark, an artist on the team, and he mentioned that he hopes everyone takes the time to look closely at the skeleton of a Gargantuar after defeating it. He said Power Zap might be the best way to shed light on what he was hinting at.
Then he said his actual gameplay tip was about our stalwart friend, the Wall-nut. “Let your Wall-nut get bitten down a bit before you use Plant Food on him,” he told me. Turns out the armor gives the Wall-nut an immunity boost and time to heal, so after the armor is eaten away, your Wall-nut is restored to his full health! You can get almost three times the protection from a Wall-nut if you time your Plant Food right.
We’ll be back with more tips from the team soon!