Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has the best Zombies mode yet, and here’s why

It’s early, but this iteration is already showing great promise.

Image via Treyarch

The Zombies mode has grown into a beloved feature in every Treyarch-developed game in the Call of Duty series. Each Black Ops game comes with a new version of the mode, but it wasn’t until Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War that we finally saw meaningful changes to refresh the usual formula. It’s these changes that have made the newest iteration of Zombies the best yet not just for newbies or veterans, but for anyone who gives it a try, and there are several reasons why.

You can get deeper into damage mechanics

The Zombies rework introduced far more gifts for seasoned players to unwrap than anything before it. For starters, every weapon has more longevity, and for the first time, you can gauge how much damage you are putting out. 

It used to be that players would find the best weapons in each game and use them as long as possible, but eventually, if they were not the top gun for damage, they were not feasible at some point. Now, virtually every weapon has viability on account of damage tiers and multiple Pack-a-Punch levels. Not only does it make you feel super-powered in early rounds, but you stay relevant in the fight longer into the game. 

It’s no longer a case of outside forces deciding what weapons you need to use to be successful. If you have a personal favorite, that weapon can carry you to much later rounds than in past games.

Everything is simplified for new players

One of the biggest problems with Zombies in the past has been how complicated it is. Many of those issues have been addressed. Pack-a-Punch no longer makes you wait on weapons to upgrade, new markers point you to important areas, and the inclusion of armor protects newbies better than a shield has done in the past without having to find the parts to build it. 

Even wall-buy weapons are better now, so you don’t necessarily need to rely on the Mystery Box for your ticket to survive. While some aspects of Zombies will still require explanation for first-timers, this version is the friendliest to new players yet.

This version cares about your time

A single match of Zombies can potentially take hours of your time to play. Whether you are attempting the main Easter egg or going for high rounds, many scenarios will extend your playtime. Sometimes, you might hit a spot where you need to get out of the game but don’t want to exit through the pause menu. In the past, if a player wanted to end a game early, they had to either complete the main Easter egg or let the zombies kill them. After fighting for so long, allowing the enemy to kill you does not feel great. 

Now, for the first time ever, players can end their games prematurely without dying. Exfils provide a high-adrenaline way to end a game without dying and while still earning rewards. Include this with the 20-round mode that keeps your game to a limited timeframe, and the new Zombies makes time management way more possible.

The new upgrade system makes progression matter

For the first time in Call of Duty Zombies history, your player level matters because of Aetherium Crystal upgrades. It’s hard to believe that this is the first time perks can be upgraded, but the system makes it imperative you do so when able. 

The upgrades need to be unlocked by your player level, but with crystals being easy enough to acquire, you will be set to upgrade just by playing enough. Hopefully, enough content will be added in the future where players will always have something to upgrade. Regardless, the Aetherium Crystal system is a massive success for a mode that had not seen anything like it before.

The various iterations of Call of Duty Zombies have always been a great time for fans. However, as is the case with Call of Duty in general, the mode was highly in need of a refresh after over a decade of releases. 

In the past, Zombies was exceedingly complicated, with not many opportunities to better yourself. With Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Treyarch has finally taken the right steps to breathe new life into the mode. While still having value, past games never reached the amount of accessibility, customization, and fun that the current one has, and that’s with only one map being released so far. The sky’s the limit for what we could see in the future for Call of Duty Zombies.