Plants vs. Zombies 2 came out a few weeks ago with a lot of new gameplay mechanics and some in-app purchases. I didn't have a serious issue with most of the monetization in the game, but Pop Cap has just pushed an update that adds a ton of features and does away with a big chunk of the in-app purchase features.

For whatever reason, Pop Cap included a somewhat vague changelog that doesn't fully explain how huge the changes are. Here's what it has to say:

  • We've upgraded the map to make game progression quicker and easier.
  • It's simpler to know how much you've done, where you're going, and what loot you'll get along the way.
  • You can invite your friends and send ‘em gifts.
  • Use the Turbo button to speed up your planting – and speed up the zombies.
  • Be warned: when we were upgrading the map, somebody let in the Gargantuars.

Let's start with that map – when they said "upgraded" they meant "completely scrapped the old one." All the gates in the original maps are gone and there are no more keys. The new maps are completely linear and you can access everything without farming keys or paying money. If you had unused keys saved up, the game will automatically award you coins for them. The stars that control access to new worlds are also gone – when you finish all the stages, you move on to the next world.

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Left: Old map, Right: New map

While the new maps are much simpler, you will have gaps in the levels if you've played through any of the game. This is because the designers had to integrate all the gated off sections of the maps into a single path. That means some things you unlocked before might need to be earned again, and it might be harder this time. See, some of those side tracks were really difficult, and now you have to go through each stage to advance. The jury's still out on whether or not this was a good idea.

There's also some legitimately new stuff, like the turbo button. Press this to speed up time and get through the boring opening minute of gameplay. Then there are the Gargantuars. These behemoths show up in each world via special levels. As you might be able to gather, they're giant zombies. They look like this:

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There is also a fourth world now, which comes after the wild west one. It's silhouetted in the map selector with a bunch of question marks, but it's pretty obviously a futuristic scifi thing. Neat. Still want more? Okay, it has a winter-themed icon now too.

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Just to be clear, this is still a free-to-play game – there is a store with extra coins, power ups, and plants. While it's more straightforward to unlock things, the addition of the Gargantuars and single path might be rough at times.

[Thanks, Jdban101]