Garden Ops is the PvZ take on Gears of War’s beloved Horde Mode. Four Plants, 10 waves of Zombies, brutally spiking difficulty as you hit the higher rounds. Moreso than in any other mode, a headset is strongly recommended. You need to communicate to effectively fend off the Zombie waves, particularly during the two boss rounds. The first thing a team needs to agree on is where to defend. Each map has three different locations you can plant a garden in. The waves don’t start until you plant that garden, so take your time to survey the map and choose the most defensible location.
The basic objective is to keep Zombie forces from destroying your home garden. They’ll rush in from various points on the map – you’ll always know where thanks to handy on screen zombie head icons denoting their spawn location – and try to attack the garden. Most of them will be melee-only attackers, especially early on, but you’ll eventually start to see all of the standard classes from competitive multiplayer joining in as well, along with the odd boss during certain rounds. You’ll almost always want to prioritize the ranged attackers, since they can chip away at your garden once they’ve got line of sight. The only real exception to this are the slow-moving walkers housed in coffins and port-a-potties; they regular, old melee attackers, but they absorb a lot of punishment.
Plants should rely heavily on any summons they’ve unlocked from sticker packs (the 1,000 coin Reinforcements Pack is the best way to bulk up your resources between matches). You can summon plants at any gold-glowing flowerpot. Each summon attacks (or defends, in the case of the heal flower) in a different way. Experiment with what you get to optimize your defenses. Put long-range flower turrets in positions that give them good line of sight across the map. Keep support units, especially Zombie-slowing ice plants and fire-breathing plants, close to your garden. Zombies will also home in on the garden, and these close range summons can clear out clusters with minimal assistance if you pick the right ones for the right flowerpots.
Twice per match, you’ll face off against a Boss Wave. Before the wave starts, a slot machine-like apparatus appears on the screen and spins automatically. Wherever it lands, that’s what you’re going to face. Certain bosses, like the Yeti or the Disco Zombie, will zero in on your garden like any other attacker. Watch out for Tombstone bosses though; these a zombie spawn points that you’ll need to go out into the map and destroy before the wave can end. You’ll also sometimes be able to score coin bonuses from the slots. Each of the three fields in the slot machine equals one boss (or bonus, in the case of a coin reward). If three of the same thing line up, you face a “Super” version of that boss wave.
You’ll also occasionally be gifted with bonus objectives in a given wave. These are usually straightforward objectives, like take out specially marked zombie “Chieftans” or finish the wave in a certain amount of time. Completing these objectives earns you bonus PvZ coins. Take note, however, that these rewards aren’t usually huge. Don’t risk everything for a paltry reward if it’s going to be too difficult. Downed teammates can be revived for a short period, or they can use a self-revive if they’ve gotten it from a sticker pack, though only three can be used per match overall. If you don’t manage to revive a downed teammate, they don’t return until the next round.
The setup for Garden Ops is simple enough, but survival becomes a real challenge in the later rounds. You’ve got to keep the garden safe for 10 full waves, but there’s also an eleventh wave. The garden no longer matters at this point, and your team is tasked instead with making it to an escape zone before the 1:45 clock counts down to zero.
Generally speaking, you’re going to want to have one of each class in play for a round of Garden Ops. It’s possible to complete the mode without the abilities of all four, but it’s considerably tougher. Each class is useful for different situations. A Sunflower is always good to have on hand for healing purposes, a Peashooter can use Hyper to reach otherwise inaccessible sniper roosts, a Cactus can use Tallnuts and mines to block access to the garden (and let’s not forget that drone), and a Chomper’s Spikeweed traps immediately eliminate heavily protected coffin/port-a-potty zombies.
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Garden Ops is a wave-based cooperative survival mode for four players. Plants protect their garden against an onslaught of Zombies.