Welcome to FarmVille 2, the first-ever standalone sequel to the developer's primary bread winner. This is a soup to nuts approach to reviving the tried-and-true formula that saw countless imitators (that Zynga itself arguably borrowed). However, Zynga has no plans to give the original a sweep of the old scythe--in fact, FarmVille 2 design director Wright Bagwell makes that crystal clear before showing off his team's labor of love.
Gallery: FarmVille 2 on Facebook
But we've seen Zynga attempt to revitalize its hit franchises before to little success. (Remember Mafia Wars 2?) So, what will make FarmVille 2 any different? For one, it's easy to think of FarmVille 2 as "FarmVille 2.0," a wholesale upgrade. Everything from visuals to interactions and methods for farming have been vastly improved for a more lively, pseudo-realistic experience.
"In this game, when you harvest tomatoes, you get tomatoes. When you harvest wheat, you're going to get wheat," Bagwell says, as if acknowledging the absurdity of the old ways. "And now that you've planted some seeds, there's another really different thing about this game, which is that you actually have to water your seeds to get them to start growing. So water becomes a very, very important essential resource to the game."
Zynga has also taken great pains to make social interactions feel more organic than your run of the mill neighbor visits. When players visit your farm, they'll be able to perform a few helpful tasks as per usual. But when you log into the game, you'll notice their avatars sitting on bales of hay on the road that sits out front of your land. They're waiting for you to to tell them what to do, to make the best use of their time. Also, players won't receive mere coins for visiting you, but will want to visit for crops they might not be growing or have access to. According to Bagwell, this can also happen in real time.
There's no denying that FarmVille 2 looks gorgeous and brimming with life. But is that and this brand new, organic approach to digital farm life enough for this sequel to survive where other Zynga sequels have not? Find out for yourself when FarmVille 2 launches on Facebook and Zynga.com later today.
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