Plants vs Zombies 2: How it Revolutionized Zombie Survival Games


Fighting zombies has never been fun. But thanks to Plants vs Zombies, all that changed! The tower defense and zombie strategy genre leveled up when this PopCap Game was released in 2009. The huge commercial success of the game prompted developers to release a sequel – Plants vs Zombies 2.

PopCap released Plants vs Zombies 2 (PvZ 2) as a free game in 2013. While the first installment introduced a whole new way to combat zombies, this sequel also brings players to a whole new level. Warning: this game is more difficult than its predecessor. How? Read on to know why.


The Predecessor: A Huge Success

The first Plants vs Zombies game was phenomenal! It was a wacky ride with Crazy Dave and Dr. Zomboss. It garnered positive responses from game critics for both its gameplay and graphics. And who wouldn’t forget the hit finale song featuring Sunflower? It was even nominated as the best strategy game in the 2010 BAFTA Awards.


Plants vs Zombies 2: Released as A Free-to-Play Game

The first PvZ game was initially available through purchase. Yes, it was meant to be bought, especially during its release and initial year in the market. Eventually, free versions were later released so that the game can reach the general public. When it came to Plants vs Zombies 2, the developers decided that the game will be released as a free game.


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This move actually worried both developers and fans since most of games that did this got ruined or sidestepped. Thankfully, this was not the case for PvZ 2. Instead, it surpassed its predecessor in terms of downloads and daily game count. According to Allen Murray, lead producer of the game, the decision to make the game free was something that was not initially in the drawing board. In an interview, he explained that:


“We knew we had to stop and apply a ton of design thinking to this new approach—much more than we had to any other component of the game, but time was ticking… Thankfully, we were able to take several months and iterate on a few major approaches. We stepped back, looked at economic models of games that we loved to play, and noted key moments in classic PvZ where the player can pause to make decisions about how to purchase items or unlock content in the game.”

There will be levels where you need to find keys or stars, and instead of purchasing them with actual money, you could instead play it multiple times to achieve the goal. It doesn’t drag you too long because your second run on a previously finished level is tweaked to make it worth your time and energy. Now that’s a fresh experience for every run and re-run!


Maintaining The Original Gameplay

Like the first installment, PvZ 2 also centers on a possible home invasion. However, the stakes are higher in this sequel. Crazy Dave just can’t get enough of Tacos with hot sauce. He just wanted to savor the moment again by traveling back in time for a few minutes.

In PvZ 2, we meet Penny, Dave’s time-traveling supercar partner. Yes, PvZ 2 takes players to a time travel. However, instead of traveling to just a few years back in time, Crazy Dave managed to travel as far back as many decades and centuries behind! Now, history could be rewritten again if you don’t defeat the undead.


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Now the battle starts again. You are now tasked to defend your home with rows of plants on your lawn. Make sure the zombies don’t eat your plants – and your brain in every level! The zombies you will see are just like the ones from the first installment, but you will see a few new zombie types too.

You also have the same set of plants with that from the first installment. You can say hello again to Sunflower, Peashooter, Potato Mine, Melon-Pult, Squash, and more! There are also new plant additions in PvZ 2. This includes Dartichoke, Ultomato, and many others.

PvZ 2 also has tons of game features that are present in the first installment. You still have the Almanac, Endless Survival Modes, mini games, and the Zen Garden! There is also an achievement system where optional tasks reward the player with more points.


A New Challenging Twist: Multiple Worlds and Eras to Explore

One of the game’s taglines, “It’s about time”, is a heavily used pun throughout the game. Why? For one, it signals more serious and challenging stages to defeat zombies. Second, you would cross time boundaries. This is one of the major changes in the sequel. There are world keys you need to collect so you could unlock the other exciting worlds of the game. These areas are:

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Pirate Seas
  • Wild West
  • Frostbite Caves
  • Lost City
  • Far Future
  • Dark Ages
  • Neon Mixtape Tour
  • Jurassic Marsh
  • Big Wave Beach
  • Modern Day

There are also new allies and foes. For the allies, new plants will be available to improve defenses. Some outstanding additions to the plant almanac are Laser Bean, Coconut Cannon, Snapdragon, Pepper-Pult and Bombegranate. They will take on the new (or ancestral) breed of zombies for every world.


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Each area comes with a unique challenge. Ancient Egypt has mummified zombies, the pirate captain has a pet parrot who can steal, and the Wild West has Chickens and Bulls. The Far Future has jet-packed, disco-loving zombies, while the Jurassic Marsh has dinosaurs!


A Free and Very Generous Game

Aside from making it a free-to-play game, the developers also wanted to be more generous in-game. Those who have played Plants vs Zombies 2 would notice how generous the game is with its currencies and power-ups. You will not feel the need to spend real money. This makes PvZ 2 really stand out from the rest of the zombie survival genre.

The plant food is one good example. This is a power-up that essentially boosts a plant to its fullest potential for a brief time and eliminates as many zombies as it can. When fed with plant food, a Peashooter could fire multiple bullets, a Snapdragon would breathe fireballs, and the Melon-Pult would release big Watermelons in rows. Coins are also given at a generous rate. Players get more coins after an impressive kill, and after clearing a level without using lawnmowers.

The new structure of PvZ 2 also makes it easier for the developers to create new content for the game and release it via updates and upgrades. Murray admitted that there could be new worlds and new levels released month after month, or year after year.


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In-Game Purchases on Plants vs Zombies 2

While most features, plants, and power-ups are accessible for free, there are still some features of the game that would require actual money. Some plants, like the Jalapeno, are only usable after the player purchases or unlocks it with real money. Some power-ups, like the electrocution, are monetized as well. However, these are not essential to fully appreciate and play the game.

Plants vs Zombies undoubtedly revolutionized the zombie battle and survival genre. It deserves its high Metacritic review score and success. So keep your plants nourished, and be ready to put your strategies into action. Or else the zombies will come to eat your brains!