I beat Plants vs Zombies 2 without paying for any microtransactions. The Zen Garden helped with the tougher levels in Jurassic Marsh and Big Wave Beach. Although they felt doable without any help. The daily events get you most of the premium plants if your patient enough though. Got Squash and Guava just by beating the game normally.
Plants vs Zombies 3 is awful. It's half text adventure with cringy dialogue. The levels are also too short and lack any real strategy. Feels like it's designed for kids with low attention spans.