Black Ops Cold War Zombies Gameplay Guide

Learn all about the new innovations coming to Black Ops Cold War Zombies, as well as a few additional treats...

by Treyarch Staff on October 30, 2020

In just two weeks, Zombies fans around the world will get their hands on the first chapter of the Dark Aether story in “Die Maschine” on November 13th.

At the official Zombies Reveal in September, we laid out all the ways we’re bringing classic Zombies gameplay elements to Black Ops Cold War, including the return of the Pack-a-Punch machine, Wall Buys, Mystery Box, Perk machine jingles, the iconic Ray Gun, and more. We’re also delivering a whole slate of gameplay innovations that work seamlessly together to make this year’s offering our most compelling and replayable Zombies experience yet.

And we know you’ve got questions about how all of it actually works in-game, and fortunately, we know a few people in a certain Zombies Design department who can help with that. Let’s get into it.

 

PERKS AND SKILL TIERS

First, let’s take a look at Perks: specifically, which ones you’ll be able to collect and utilize at launch, how they work, and – for the first time in Zombies history – how to upgrade them.

On launch day, you’ll have six different Zombies Perks to crack open: Jugger-Nog, Quick Revive, Speed Cola, Stamin-Up, Deadshot Daiquiri, and an all-new Perk debuting in Black Ops Cold War: Elemental Pop

Read on below for the full descriptions of each base-level Perk at launch:

  • Jugger-Nog: Increase maximum health by 50.
  • Quick Revive: Reduce the time it takes to regen to full health by 50%. Reduce the time it takes to revive an ally by 50%.
  • Speed Cola: Increase reload speed by 15%.
  • Stamin-Up: Increase run and sprint speed.
  • Deadshot Daiquiri: Aiming down sights moves to enemy critical location. Remove scope sway.
  • Elemental Pop: Every bullet has a small chance to apply a random base Ammo Mod effect.

While Zombies veterans will be familiar with the initial versions of most of our starting Perks, Elemental Pop is something different. As we hinted at in our Zombies Reveal Blog, this new Perk is all about Ammo Mods. With every shot fired while Elemental Pop is active, you’ll have a slight chance for a random base Ammo Mod to take effect against your target – an incredibly useful tool for when your back’s up against the wall.

But what happens when you want to take your Perks to the next level? That’s where our all-new Skill Tiers come in. In Black Ops Cold War Zombies, every Perk can be permanently upgraded up to three levels. Yes, you heard that right: permanently.

To upgrade your Perks, you’ll need to earn Raw Aetherium Crystals by reaching milestone rounds within the game, or through successful exfiltration. What’s more, you’ll be able to upgrade skills related to Field Upgrades, Ammo Mods, and Weapon Classes to help you stay alive even longer as you collect and invest more Aetherium Crystals. Over time, you’ll use these crystals to improve the tools in your arsenal, improving their damage and utility to help you reach higher rounds.

As an example, upgrading the Elemental Pop Perk to Tier III will grant the following effects:

  • Tier I - Equipment damage also has a small chance to apply a random base Ammo Mod effect.
  • Tier II - Reduce Ammo Mod cooldowns by 20%.
  • Tier III - When a random Ammo Mod is applied, it uses your current Skill Tier instead of the base.

Oh, and don’t worry… we’ll be introducing more Perks throughout our post-launch Seasons. No guesses!

 

WEAPON RARITIES

Perks are essential, but let’s be honest... survival in Zombies is all about the weapons. In previous iterations, too many Zombies players were left trying to figure out which weapons were the “top tier” for any given situation based on their Wall Buy prices, or by rolling them from the Mystery Box and hoping for the best. This time around, our new weapon rarity system gives every weapon a path to greatness. Here’s how.

Weapons come in five tiers of rarity: Common/Loadout, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. Each tier increases the damage done by those weapons, and will also determine how many randomized attachments will come along for the fight. For example, an Uncommon weapon will feature around a 50% damage boost over its Loadout version and comes with just two attachments, while the Legendary version kicks that up to roughly 300% damage and comes stacked with eight (!!) attachments.

“But how does this affect Wall Buys and the Mystery Box,” you ask? “Doesn’t this new system make those less effective,” you ask? Great questions. Fear not.

Weapon rarities make Wall Buys and the Mystery Box even more worthwhile in Black Ops Cold War by giving players more options in any given game. Buying your favorite weapon off the wall is now different every time with random attachments thrown into the mix, and the Mystery Box actually increases its odds of rolling high-rarity weapons as the rounds get higher.

This creates a new layer of strategy to keep in mind as the match goes on. What happens if you hit the jackpot on your first spin of the Mystery Box and get an Epic Magnum at Round 10, and then roll an Uncommon AK-74u on your very next spin? Let’s just say you’re more comfortable with SMGs, but you know your damage potential will become lower as a result of switching... which one do you keep?

Previously, if you found a strong weapon in the Mystery Box, you had very little motivation to return. Now, even if you roll a weapon that you’re happy with early in the game, you can return 10 Rounds later and try to roll the Legendary version. The Mystery Box also now includes Support items, such as the Sentry Turret and War Machine, which always come in handy.

To quote Treyarch’s Lead Zombies Systems Designer, Kevin Drew: “I’ve been playing Zombies for 10 years and this is the most excited I’ve ever been when opening the Mystery Box.”

 

CUSTOM LOADOUTS

Because we’re bringing everything together to unify progression across Multiplayer and Zombies in Black Ops Cold War, this was the team’s first chance to fully deliver custom loadouts in Zombies. First and foremost, empowering players to bring all of their unlocked weapons and cosmetics into Zombies takes the action up a notch and gets everyone into higher rounds faster. This gives players more freedom to play their way – especially for those who want to get a better feel for how much fun Zombies can be after the first few rounds.

Loadouts don’t change the classic Zombies formula as much as you might think, however. If starting out with a classic 1911 pistol is your jam, go for it! The design team carefully considered how loadouts would affect weapon progression gameplay, and as such, loadouts in Zombies are simplified compared to those in Multiplayer.

You can only bring in a single weapon and a Field Upgrade with your Zombies loadout. Furthermore, that single weapon will have its attachments and cosmetics, but it will be the lowest rarity available (Common). This means your starting weapon won’t be very effective at killing zombies after a handful of early rounds, and you’ll still need to get out there and find other weapons quickly. You can also upgrade the rarity of your loadout weapon in-game – or any weapon, for that matter – so you can keep your customized loadout weapon into higher rounds, if that’s more your style.

 

FIELD UPGRADES

Field Upgrades in Zombies are entirely different from those found in Multiplayer, and for good reason. These are tools designed to fit the narrative of Black Ops Cold War’s Dark Aether story, and provide a welcome power spike as part of the core combat loop without making players OP in the process.

Zombies Field Upgrades available at launch include:

  • Frost Blast Create a frigid blast of wind that deals frost damage and slows enemies caught inside of it. Slowed enemies take additional damage.
  • Healing Aura – Summon beams of energy down on yourself and allies to instantly heal to full health.
  • Energy Mine – Create a mine of pure energy that detonates on proximity of enemies, dealing explosive damage.
  • Ring of Fire – Create a ring of ethereal fire that boosts damage for you and allies. Normal enemies who enter gain a burning effect that deals fire damage. Lasts 15 seconds.
  • Aether Shroud – Phase into the Dark Aether for 5 seconds becoming hidden from enemy detection.

The design of these Field Upgrades takes inspiration from several action-based abilities in previous Zombies games, including certain Gobblegums, Elixirs, and even some non-passive Perks. Each one is balanced with an appropriate number of zombie kills required to charge it. For example, Healing Aura has the upgraded ability to revive players in the map remotely, but requires double the kills to charge than an offensive-based Field Upgrade, such as Energy Mine.

When you load into a match, you’re going to want to have one of these Field Upgrades unlocked in your custom loadout and ready to charge up. Coordinate with the rest of your team before a match to make sure you’ve got a good balance of offensive, defensive, and support Field Upgrades to help everyone survive as long as possible.

 

ARMOR AND SALVAGE

Replacing the crafted shield of previous Zombies experiences, Armor provides a 360-degree layer of protection from the armies of the undead. Armor can be found as a Rare drop from enemies or purchased using Salvage. When worn, it will mitigate a portion of incoming damage – every hit will still deal damage – but its durability is limited.

Although Armor is partially repaired by picking up the occasional Armor Shard dropped from certain enemies, it’s a finite resource and you’ll find yourself vulnerable again once you run out of Salvage to repair it. You can also fully repair Armor by picking up a Carpenter Power-Up.

Armor can also be upgraded two additional levels, increasing its damage mitigation and durability. You’re going to need it as rounds progress, because zombies grow stronger every round! Remember, even when paired with an upgraded Jugger-Nog Perk, no amount of Armor can save you if you find yourself overrun... especially as rounds get higher and the challenge increases.

 

SUPPORT/SCORESTREAKS

We’ve wanted to bring Scorestreaks to Zombies for a long time, and now that player progression is unified across modes, there’s never been a better opportunity! While certain Zombies maps have included some variants of these in in the past, the new Dark Aether narrative offered the perfect chance to finally carry over some of the militarized versions into Zombies to raise the stakes even higher. 

Sometimes you just need a little extra power to get out of a tight spot, and that’s where Support comes into play. At launch, the available Support selection will include:

  • Combat Bow
  • Sentry Turret
  • War Machine
  • Chopper Gunner
  • Self-Revive

Keep an eye out for one of these to pop out of the Mystery Box, if you’re lucky! And for those curious about how calling in a Chopper Gunner works without being instantly ripped to shreds by zombies while you’re controlling it: any Support that takes perspective away from your character will temporarily make you immune to damage and ignored by enemies while it’s deployed. This ensures that parties of one can make use of Support in solo games, as well.

 

LOOT AND CRAFTING

It pays to stay resourceful during an undead invasion. In Black Ops Cold War Zombies, every zombie has a small chance of dropping resources including Salvage, Armor, and even lethal and tactical equipment. The tougher the enemy, the better the loot.

As you unlock equipment and Scorestreaks through standard player progression, that content will become available at the crafting table in-game and can be crafted using resources. Rarity is also assigned to loot based on its effectiveness; for example, a Frag Grenade is considered Uncommon loot, whereas the Cymbal Monkey is a Rare drop.

 

OPTIONAL EXFIL

Why die if you don’t have to? With the new option to exfil from the map when your squad can’t last much longer, you can roll the dice and try to survive long enough to escape with some extra rewards... but it won’t be easy.

Starting at the end of Round 10 and every five rounds after, you’ll have an option to use a radio in the starting area of the map to call in Exfil. In a co-op game, a majority of the players must vote to initiate exfiltration.

Once triggered, the normal round will end, and you’ll be given a new objective to reach the exfil site within a specific time limit. At this point, zombies will begin to flood the area in a last-ditch effort to stop your squad in its tracks. Once you reach the site, a helicopter will fly in and hover above until the zone is cleared before it can land. If you manage to make it onto the chopper, you’ll escape with some bonus XP and the chance to earn Raw Aetherium Crystals. Risk versus reward!

 

PING SYSTEM

For the first time, we’re bringing a locational Ping system to Zombies players! This will function the same way it does in Black Ops Cold War’s Multiplayer, activated by pressing d-pad left on controllers and [Z] on keyboards by default.

Whether you’re marking the next door you need a friend to open, pointing out the Pack-a-Punch machine to a first-timer, or pinging the latest location of the Mystery Box for your squad, we think this feature brings a huge quality-of-life improvement to Black Ops Zombies players.

 

DON’T FORGET YOUR TREATS...

You didn’t think we’d leave you empty-handed for Halloween, did you? We’ve got even more Zombies goodies to share...

 

“Echoes of the Damned” Main Theme

First up, treat yourself to the World Premiere of “Echoes of the Damned,” the official main theme of Black Ops Cold War Zombies:

 

 

This chilling masterpiece was composed and produced by Treyarch’s own Zombies maestro Kevin Sherwood, with additional arrangement by James McCawley and mixing and mastering by Ryan Garigliano. Turn off the lights off, put on your headphones, and play it loud.

 

“Family Portrait” Calling Card + Weapon Charm

For those of you who’ve followed the endless Easter eggs revealed through Pawn Takes Pawn since the very beginning – or even if you’ve recently started reaping the rewards for playing along – you can get your hands on the free “Family Portrait” Calling Card in Black Ops Cold War today. 

This Zombies-themed Calling Card was created to commemorate the community’s role in helping to solve the maze of secrets along the way, and comes bundled with a Pawn Takes Pawn-themed Weapon Charm to equip at launch.

Visit PawnTakesPawn.com today to uncover the truth, and earn over 60 achievements to unlock in-game rewards for Black Ops Cold War, WarzoneTM, and Call of Duty®: Mobile.

 

Official Cosplay Guide

Just in time for Halloween, put the finishing touches on your Zombies costume with some help from our Zombies Cosplay Guide! This official reference guide comes complete with full body and close-up character models, face/hair/clothing details, and narrative backstories for Black Ops Cold War Zombies protagonists Grigori Weaver and Samantha Maxis.

That’s right: Samantha Maxis confirmed. If you weren’t sure before this week, you might not have been keeping a close enough eye on that telephone keypad in the “Die Maschine” Intro Cinematic...

Don’t forget to share your Zombies cosplay photos with us on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ZombiesCosplay for a chance to be featured!

 

Zombies Fan Kit

Last but not least, we’ve assembled everything you need to celebrate your love of Zombies all in one place with our official Zombies Fan Kit, including:

  • Official screenshots
  • Mobile wallpaper
  • Key art
  • Logos (white/black/color)
  • Profile pictures
  • Cosplay Guide

Happy Halloween! We can’t wait for you to jump into “Die Maschine” on November 13th in Black Ops Cold War, available for pre-order now. Stay spooky out there.

- Treyarch

* GAME FEATURES DESCRIBED ABOVE ARE BASED ON CURRENT IN-DEVELOPMENT FEATURES THAT ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE BASED ON FINAL DEVELOPMENT CHANGES AND/OR GAME TUNING OR UPDATES THAT MAY REMOVE OR MODIFY SOME OR ALL OF THE ABOVE FEATURES.

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