Shoot first, pay attention later — always great advice when playing first person shooters. Typically, the best strategy is to assume there'll be plenty of time to snoop around after the body count has begun to pile up, but if you're blowing away the undead in PopCap's latest game, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, you may want to slow down just long enough to take note of your surroundings.
Maybe you shouldn't exactly stop and smell the roses (they may just start attacking you), but Garden Warfare is chock full of homages, references and tributes to game maker PopCap and all the previous PvZ games. Where can you find these satisfying Easter eggs? All over the place! To give you a headstart, we're running down some of these fabulous hidden gems.
Love Is Blind
Love has no boundaries. How else can you explain this graffiti [see photo above] ratting out the fact that Adam just loves him some plants?
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Sure, these mutant, souped-up plants are your lone protection in this zombie-filled world. But...who's protecting them? The garden gnomes! Everybody's got a set of these to ward off evil from their garden, right?
At the Movies
Make it to the final base in the Gardens and Graveyards mode, and watch yourself get real animated. Yep, players who reach that final base will appear in the end-of-match cinematics where they can perform all sorts of taunts throughout the animated movie.
But Where's Juliet?
Okay, so maybe Romeo's not a gamer, but if he were, he'd certainly find himself looking up in search of his star-crossed lover. He may want to look a bit more closely on Main Street, though, because eagle-eyed players will spot a hidden balcony!
One-Armed Bandit Bonus
That Zomboss Slots in co-op mode aren't just another pretty mini-game. Work your magic to land three bosses in a row and you'll score a very special NIS intro for the boss. Care to take a guess what the Yeti loves to drink before charging into battle?
Protect the Family Jewels
Yes, there was life at Popcap before the zombies took over. You'll find plenty of references to the colorful puzzle game Bejeweled throughout Garden Warfare. Look closely and you'll see boxes and boxes filled with Bejeweled jewels. And those Rank Up icons you love earning so much? Yeah, they're inspired by Bejeweled gems.
Dead Men Can't Jump
How much more exciting would pro basketball be if the rosters included zombie players? Sure they wouldn't be making any slam dunks, but the arms would definitely be flying! Clearly the zombies enjoy playing B-ball, since you can spot a still-intact basketball hoop up on the back of the mansion.
Ice, Ice, Baby
Have you stumbled upon these ice boxes yet? You'll never guess what's inside! No, we're not telling — let's just say you wouldn't want to put it in your drinks.
You Break It, You Bought It
Remember the Vasebreaker mini game from the original Plants vs. Zombies? Well, it's back! Kind of. During the streaming install on the Xbox One version of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, you'll get a chance to go vase smashing. Find the right breakable one and shatter it to find yourself a Yeti.
Walk in the Park
Okay, so parking in a tree may not be the easiest of feats but if you succeed it sure is impressive. Thing is, look closely and you'll see a No Parking sign nearby. That's gotta blow for whatever traffic cop's on duty that day.
Swim for It
It may be a bit hazy out, but look off in the distance. Yep, that's one big mysterious island. What's on it? Could be some crazy scientist, or some lunkhead named Gilligan and his friends.
Sign of the Times
One thing you simply can't avoid in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare are the signs. They're everywhere and they're loaded with references to PvZ characters from all the different games. A poor Cattail has gone missing, Crazy Dave's looking for a companion and the ol' City Watch is investigating all those vanishing traffic cones.
The Zomboss certainly has feasted on his fair share of brains. But did you know he's also one generous flesh eater? Yep! Just check out this plaque paying tribute to the Big Guy for all his brain donations!
Think Inside the Bun
Apparently all those chickens that got zapped by Lightning Rods in PvZ 2 didn't get tossed aside. Seems they ended up as a delicious...er...vomitous-looking dinner!
Spreading the PopCap Love
Even fan mail has a place in Garden Warfare. You'll find loads of fun posters, including some tributes to game maker PopCap.
Mooned by a Zombie
No, the moon is not made of cheese. Don't be ridiculous. There is, however, a big zombie smiley face on it!
Find more Easter eggs yourself? Let us know in the comments below. And as you're busy running from your new Yeti and Zomboss friends, keep your eyes peeled everywhere, you never know what you may find!
Andrew Kardon is a professional freelance writer who covers everything from video games to health care.