I’m wall-nuts, baby, I’m a zombie brainslave

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If I haven’t written about Garden Warfare, it’s because I was too busy playing it to un-death. In the throes of my addiction I was topping out at ten hours a day, only stopping when some dumb stupid idiot hacked the Playstation Network, leaving me to endlessly refresh the Ask Playstation twitter for details.

I really love Garden Warfare, then, providing as it does a meaningful alternative to endless near-future military shooters by… mostly imitating Team Fortress 2 instead. Marine zombologists teleport into battle with squealing dolphin shotguns, while gape-mawed Chompers’ tunnel underground and chomp opponents from below. Maps feature fun-first design, with pirate ships, party mansions, and gem mines replacing typical war-torn wastelands. There’s something wonderful and playful here that we’ve been lacking ever since Call of Duty recodified (and ruined) competitive shooters.

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Then there’s the sticker packs. I fiend for sticker packs; they tap into something primal and awful within me. Essentially collectible card booster packs bought with in-game currency, they grant new abilities, characters, taunts, and costume options. They’re generous, too, giving you five, seven, nine items to a pack. I start to get a little sweaty every time I open one. Maybe I drool a bit.

I love these stickers because Garden Warfare’s customization options feel so personal. Whenever I’m killed, I feel like I understand my killer. He’s the ice cactus sporting an outback hat, wide-eyed doofus glasses, and a set of arms with googly faces on them. He really just wants to be loved.

These peculiar characters color up the battlefield, making other shooters look lifeless in comparison. Games like this, games with heart and brains and true love in every shot, are exactly what the genre needs. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare may look like a pea-list shooter, but it’s actually the first, shambling step in raising online shooters from the grave.

Now excuse me, please — I’ve got sticker packs to farm.

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