I didn’t expect Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to be my cup of tea; it’s Zombies Mode even less so. But I’ve found myself sinking deeper into its addictive gameplay loop, taking it seriously and planning my next move carefully. That is until I saw the greatest Auto Turret circle ever made.
For those unaware, each match in MW3’s Zombies mode drops you into an open world where you can complete objectives to upgrade and discover gear. After 45 minutes, you’re given 15 minutes to extract from the map before the zombies overrun it and you die.
I’m dreadful at this game mode. I can last 45 minutes and collect some of the best gear you’ve ever seen. Trust me, the things I’ve collected are incredible. My problem is that I get too deep into the map’s Medium and High Threat areas—the inner circles of the map where the deadliest enemies lurk.
I get cocky because I think my upgraded weapons will protect me, but all that happens is that I end up thinking I should probably head to the exfil point before getting swiped by a basic zombie and bleeding out on the ground. It’s embarrassing every single time, and MW3 adds insult to injury by stripping me of my stashed gear when it’s lost in this manner.
This One Time…
That’s why, when I have a good run, I remember it with crystal clarity. One run, in particular, saw me begin with a squad of two other random players. The first sign this would be a good one was that they stuck by my side. Usually, at least one of the players you start with will run off and do their own thing or exfil before you’re ready. It happens.
However, in this run, we were a cohesive unit. We worked so well together, taking out zombies, reviving each other when needed, and waiting until we’d all upgraded our gear enough to cope with the next zone before heading there.
After completing a few objectives, I quickly marked another on the map. It was our routine, and we all knew what to do next. That is until we noticed the perfect circle of blue icons on the tactical map. I couldn’t determine what it was because the symbols were simple circles.
I knew we’d all seen it because all three of us started sprinting toward this anomaly. I didn’t know what to expect. Part of me thought maybe aliens had randomly appeared, and there was a new twist to the game mode. What I saw shocked me even more than I ever could have.
My squad and I came running down a hill towards the circle surrounding an exfil point. These are the areas players need to interact with to call in a helicopter that will whisk them and their equipment safely away from this zombie-infested hole of a region. Developer Sledgehammer Games decided to give players one last challenge before they exfil by making every interaction with these points spawn about 100 zombies. So, in addition to waiting for the helicopter, you’ve got to battle the biggest wave of undead you’ve ever seen and hope they don’t hop into the helicopter with you.
With this in mind, players have been farming XP at exfil points by deploying Auto Turrets close to them and repeatedly calling in exfils. You can see where this is going. The circle we saw in the distance turned out to be about 30 Auto Turrets that perfectly surrounded the exfil point.
I was overwhelmed by this player’s ingenuity. Somehow, they’d managed to collect a silly number of Auto Turrets, probably across multiple runs, and were now farming XP with almost no effort. The Auto Turrets blasted zombies well away from the exfil zone, leaving nothing undead around it for about a mile.
Luckily, I got to see the player activate the exfil point, and the Auto Turrets came alive. Bullets flew through the sky, ripping the air apart all around us as the gore filled our screens. A fog of red mist formed as the zombies kept on approaching. It was a stunning display of game mechanic mastery and the definition of the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.”
It Didn’t End There
My squad was so impressed with the Auto Turret circle that they stuck around to mop up what kills they could. The only issue I had with this is that there wasn’t much XP for me to clean up. Plus, I wanted some better loot, so we parted ways.
I threw myself into the Medium Threat zone and shot my way through zombie after zombie. This was my best run yet, aided by Self-Revives that kept me on my feet. Unfortunately, my luck ran out when I found a boss monster that obliterated me and left me for dead.
Something I never thought would be useful came in handy at that moment. When you die in MW3 Zombies Mode, calling for help from any other player on the map is possible. There are multiple squads running around, so there’s every chance someone else might pick you up. There were still 15 minutes on the clock, so I pleased and waited.
After two minutes, a generous player drove into the Medium Threat zone to revive me. They cleared out the enemies and got me to my feet. Then, fueled by the fact that a random stranger took the time to help me in my hour of need, I decided to take on the boss monster that had killed me.
It didn’t go well, and I was back on the floor pretty fast. But by the time this had happened, my savior was gone. I pleaded with anyone to come and get me again, but the situation looked dire. The first 45 minutes of the match ended, and no one had come to my aid.
Then, as the final 15 minutes started, lightning stuck twice. A squad who had been farming Contracts in the High Threat zone were driving out to an exfil point and took pity on my corpse. They got me on my feet and welcomed me into their armored truck with open arms. I embraced them in the only way I knew how in MW3 Zombies, by saying nothing, tapping the button to say thanks, and waggling my head around to indicate I could hear them. I didn’t have a mic connected, so it was a little awkward, but I’m a pretty good waggler.
They drove me to the exfil point and made short work of all the zombies that attacked. We made it off the map with slightly more than five minutes to spare. I was thankful to have made it out at all with the best loot I’ve ever found, including Schematics and some Perk-a-Colas.
One of my rescuers commented, “I can’t believe we didn’t get the f***ing Ray Gun Schematic,” and I realized not only should they probably have been in school, but I’d been carried through a Call of Duty game by someone one third my age or younger. It felt like a rite of passage for growing older, and I put the controller down, pulled on my comfy slippers and a warm jumper, and made a cup of tea.