App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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The games in the Plants vs. Zombies franchise have always seemed like they are chasing lucrative trends. The latest in the PvZ canon, Plants vs. Zombies Heroes, seems to be doing more of the same by offering up a Hearthstone-like card game experience, but in a way that is surprisingly fun and unique.
On its face, PvZ Heroes plays like a lot of collectible card games (CCGs), like Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. In every game, a zombie player and a plant player use custom decks to face off on a five-lane battlefield. Every turn, each player receives an increasing amount of points to play cards on the field, with the ultimate goal being to deal enough damage to your enemy to win.
To make all of this feel true to the PvZ universe, the lanes on the battlefield work a lot like they do in the tower defense PvZ games. Units facing each other in the same lane attack each other, while units in open lanes attack the enemy hero.
PvZ Heroes adds layer upon layer to its strategy, primarily in the form of unlockable heroes and cards. Heroes have their own sets of powers that can be unleashed up to three times per battle, and their deck compositions are limited to certain card types to reflect their personality.
This differentiation between heroes is what really makes PvZ Heroes stand out. Depending on which hero and side (plant or zombie) you choose, your card options, available synergies, powers, and even the phases of your turn will vary.
It might surprise you to hear that PvZ Heroes has a remarkably fair free-to-play system in it. Players can play as many rounds of the game as they like, whether they are playing online multiplayer or single-player (which can be played without a network connection). Moreover, there's a long ramp of quests and hero challenges available for players to complete so they can earn in-game currency to spend on packs.
Of course, you can also just spend money to open packs faster than a free player, but if you don't have the coin to spend, there's plenty of things to do in the game to keep you working toward new unlocks for a good while.
As fun and fair as PvZ Heroes is structurally, the most frustrating thing about it right now is how inconsistent its match making system is.
In my experience with the game, there were multiple instances where I got matched up against opponents 10+ ranks higher than me, even when I was playing Ranked Mode. Also, queue times for games varied from finding new matches instantly to wait times upwards of a few minutes.
The bottom line
There's plenty to like about PvZ Heroes. It's a surprisingly fresh take on collectible card games with a pretty fair free-to-play system. Even if you're disinterested in or frustrated by the game's multiplayer, there's an extensive single-player offering that satisfies.