I had a frustrating issue with Packer, specifically with vmware tools installation.
During the Packer install, I load up a script and have VMware Tools 12.1.5 installed. It seems to install successfully, But I noticed that the VMTools service is not running. I have to re-run setup64.exe via the GUI and do a repair, then I see the service exist and runs, and Packer can discover the IP address of the vm to finish it.
I used a older autounattend.xml which i never checked the time zone.
Setting the correcting time zone the trick: