Fans of PopCap's garden defense sensation were crushed late last month, when the eagerly-anticipated sequel slipped from its original July release window. The bad news? Game producer Allen Murray says we've still got at least four weeks before Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time comes out. The good news depends on how well you can fake an Australian accent.
You don't technically have to have an Australian accent to create an Australian or New Zeland iTunes account, which is what you'll need if you want to get in on the Plants Vs. Zombies 2 soft launch, kicking off this week in those territories.
"On Tuesday or Wednesday (of this week) we'll be rolling it out in Australia and New Zeland so we can begin testing it for a few weeks before rolling it out globally," Murray told Kotaku during an interview last week. "We want to have at least a four-week testing period, so that we can get the game out there, check how our systems are functioning, check how people are using it, and be able to make one or two patches to adjust if needed — and then check to make sure everything's stable before rolling it out."
So PopCap will be spending the next several weeks testing, patching, submitting and resubmitting the new game until it's just right. "It's not as nimble as I would hope, but it's not too bad."Some of the new characters you won't be playing with for another month or so.
While the idea is that eventually Plants Vs. Zombies 2 will make it to every platform people want to play it on, it's initially launching as a free-to-play game for iOS devices. Players will be able to download the entire game for free, purchasing supplemental items or new plants as they see fit. The game will be playable offline, but it will also support cloud saves, so no more starting a new game on every iDevice in your house.
The new free-to-play format is a major factor in the delay. It's one thing to release a self-contained product for a set price — free-to-play requires systems and servers and all sorts of complicated things that only a crack team of Australians and New Zelandic (not the correct term) testers can help ferret out.
If you do manage to swing a spot in the soft launch, expect to see item prices fluctuate, gameplay tweaks, and general mayhem while PopCap prepares the best possible version of Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time for the more patient among us.