Every Call Of Duty Zombies Modes Ranked From Worst To Best

Call of Duty Zombies is big enough now to be its own individual franchise, but are they all good? Here’s our ranking from worst to best.

Image via Treyarch

Call of Duty’s Zombies mode has an extensive history at this point. It’s nearly big enough to be its own franchise these days, so I’m going to take my shot at ranking every CoD Zombies mode from worst to best.

Zombies has been around for 15 years, treating fans to special experiences with every unique take on the mode. From an abandoned airfield lost in a Germanic wasteland to Agartha’s cosmic mystery, we’ve been treated to a special journey ever since the mode’s inception in World at War.

There was no way to know what this juggernaut franchise was going to become back then, but now that we’ve had 15 years or so of reflection, I’m ready to jump in and give my rankings for the best Zombies modes in all of Call of Duty. Proceed with caution if you want to save the surprises for yourself.

Every Call Of Duty Zombies Modes Ranked From Worst To Best

Official Call of Duty website accidentally leaks Outbreak Zombies mode ahead of reveal
Image via Activision

My feelings will leak into the list, but I’ve also weighed my opinion versus that of the general public just to make sure that I’m not an outlier in how I’d rank them. There seems to be a fair amount of consensus about the top few titles, but I still wouldn’t expect my list to end up exactly the same as yours.

Not Quite Zombies: Ghosts

Image via Activision.

This is actually more of an honorable mention since Extinction isn’t technically a zombies experience, but I thought it belonged on the list anyway. Taking on those weird alien creatures was a nice change of pace, but this was clearly an afterthought mode in comparison to the rest of Ghosts.

I think there’s a place for Infinity Ward to revisit this concept and revamp their roster of Cryptids in the future, but there’s never been any indication that they will, so, for now, it remains a total novelty hidden in Treyarch’s giant shadow.

The Worst Call of Duty Zombies Mode: Vanguard

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Maybe I’ll look back more fondly at the Vanguard Zombies experience one day, but I’m definitely not there yet. As someone who paid the bills by playing the mode after every update, there’s just not much meat on the bone here.

Fans were desperate for a true round-based system, and while we got a pseudo version of it halfway through the game’s lifespan, it was far too little too late. I’m generally very optimistic and positive when the Call of Duty devs try something new, but this one was a miss, no matter how you slice it.

Infinite Warfare

Image via Activision.

Truth be told, Infinite Warfare’s Zombies mode isn’t half bad. The cinema-infused maps add a touch of the absurd to what had largely become a grim experience, and that burst of color really stands out. Things got a little out of hand with the celebrity cameos, but everything I like about Zombies was done with respect in IW.

Something about the gameplay isn’t quite as thrilling as the absolute best entries in the series, but an abundance of charm nicely seals up any cracks in the foundation. Also, who doesn’t love a well-handled spoof? That’s IW Zombies in a nutshell.

World War II

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World War II’s Zombies mode reinforced Sledgehammer Games’ position as the second-best developer for the mode. The Jump Scare enemies in this game are absolutely delightful, and I can still vividly remember how my friends reacted when experiencing them for the first time.

The easter eggs on these maps didn’t have the same depth as a Treyarch entry, but the novelty of the Raven Lords’ weapons in The Frozen Dawn was a beautiful way to tie things together in the end.

Advanced Warfare

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If you’re an adrenaline junkie, Exo Zombies will probably work better for you than almost any other entry on the list. Advanced Warfare was an attack on the senses in general, and its PvE experience was much the same way.

I haven’t spent as much time in this game as I have the others, but all my memories are of being in a panic while trying to sort through a horrendous amount of enemies that are all trying to eat my face. Having jetpacks in a Zombies mode was new when this mode came out, too, so it definitely gets points for adding a level of verticality to the gameplay that we’d never seen before.

Black Ops 2

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Before anyone gets out the pitchforks, I’d just like to remind them that TranZit is the entire reason I stopped paying attention to Zombies until the release of Black Ops 3. I know the mode has fans, but to me, it’s a pretty bland concept that never quite lived up to being worth the novelty.

Die Rise does redeem it a bit from obscurity for me, but on my most recent dive back into the games, Nuketown Zombies and Green Run felt bland in comparison to Treyarch’s usual fare. Your mileage may vary, but I also think that Zombies was easily the weakest part of Black Ops 2.

Black Ops Cold War

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Warzone Season 4 Reloaded
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Maybe I’m out of my mind, but I really think that BOCW left a positive impact on Zombies and the direction the series is traveling in. The gameplay got some nice sprucing up here, and even though the maps aren’t amazing, the fundamentals of Zombies are done right here.

Crossplay, the continuation of the Dark Aether story, and being built off the bones of Cold War’s solid movement and shooting mechanics gives it a leg up over some of its boots-on-the-ground competition.

Black Ops 4

Image via Activision Blizzard

Black Ops 4 Zombies had the undesirable task of following up Black Ops 3’s electric addition to the Zombies mode, essentially being left to kick things off all over again. The Chaos timeline maps brought the mode into fresh and interesting locales and began to weave another interesting tale.

While the Ultimis/Primis crew have remained the faces of the horde survival mode, I’d really like to see Treyarch circle back to Scarlett, Bruno, Shaw, and Diego at some point in the future.

World at War

Image via Activision.

When it comes to the best Zombies game modes in all of Call of Duty, the originator has been surpassed by some of its younger siblings, but not by very much. There’s so much to love about World at War. Nacht der Untoten is a simplistic, unglamorous preview of the mode’s untapped potential, but each new map blazed a line forward that future games are still following.

The arrival of the Pack-A-Punch Machine in Der Riese all but sealed the deal. We didn’t know a star was being born right in front of our eyes, but given how addictive the core gameplay loop still is, no one should be that surprised, either.

Black Ops 1

Image via Treyarch

I could talk ad nauseam about Black Ops 1 Zombies, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. This beautiful mode, complete with its complex, ever-growing storylines, could have been nothing more than a passing gimmick if Black Ops 1 didn’t deliver a stellar follow-up to World at War.

Instead, Kino der Toten captured the heart of a generation of Call of Duty fans and set the stage for one of the most explosive entries in the franchise.

Best Call of Duty Zombies Mode: Black Ops 3

Shadows of Evil was Treyarch's first try for jetpack Zombies and it was incredible.
Image via Activision.

Black Ops 3 is easily the cream of the crop to me. It took all of the advanced movement fun from Exo Zombies and refined it into a totally different animal. Treyarch introduced the mode to the series, and they’re still the masters of it today. Shadows of Evil is one of gaming’s most underrated experiences, and the entire map set still holds up beautifully eight years later.

Each map in Black Ops 3 was delivered with such precision and nuance that I feel it’s impossible to argue against this version of Zombies being the superior incarnation. That’s not to shade the older titles. They are classic for a reason, but BO3 is simply that dang good.

Related: All 19 Call of Duty Campaigns, Ranked on Twinfinite