In brief: If there's one mobile game series that just about everyone has heard of -- aside from Candy Crush -- it's probably Plants vs. Zombies. This simplistic, yet challenging garden defense franchise has entertained millions over the years, and it's set to continue doing so now with the soft launch of Plants Vs. Zombies 3.

The lane-based "flower defense game" has launched in the Philippines on mobile devices now (iOS and Android). That's a slightly odd region to kick off a launch, but no matter -- the rest of the world will get the game soon enough (no exact ETA, though). The good news is that it's free, so you won't have to shell out any cash for a pre-order or release day purchase.

Of course, "free" is never really free in the mobile market. Sure, there are no upfront purchases, but according to PopCap's official announcement, the game has microtransactions, which can help you "speed up" progression if you take advantage of them. Whether or not that means normal progression has been slowed down to incentivize these purchases remains to be seen. However, the company does say it wants to ensure that players can have fun and "be successful" without having to pay a dime.

"Soft launch is an important time during game development that allows us to gather feedback we'll use to make the best game possible,"

The purpose of this "soft launch" versus a full launch is to obtain user feedback, according to PopCap. "Soft launch is an important time during game development that allows us to gather feedback we’ll use to make the best game possible," the company says.

Plants vs. Zombies 3 is introducing "social play," faster combat between defensive plants and hostile zombies, and "deeper synergies" for the defending team. All of the series' staple plants will be making a return (some with tweaked abilities), and a few new ones will be joining the fray.

Obviously, the Plants vs. Zombies games aren't for everyone, and they're hardly the peak of tactical gameplay. However, the first game released over 10 years ago, and it's been six years since its sequel, Plants vs. Zombies 2, hit the market. As such, we feel it's worth drawing some attention to the latest game, if for no other reason than to give our readers something fun to do while they wait in line at the DMV or commute on the train or bus.