I used to play a lot of Call of Duty zombies. A lot. I know everything about every map. I know where all of the perks are, how to do the easter egg, the layout of the map, etc. I played zombies on World at War, Black Ops 1,2,and 3, and Infinite Warfare (I tried Exo zombies, but that version is terrible.) I even played a lot of custom maps on World at War, racking my total hours on Waw to 130-or-so hours. I stopped now, but I decided to go back through all the maps one last time to recollect. While doing that, I decided to write about Call of Duty zombies.
For those who don't know, Call of Duty zombies is a mode that is found in some Call of Duty titles where up to four players fight increasingly difficult waves of zombies until every one dies (or do the easter egg and complete the map for some maps.) As the rounds progress, the zombies become increasingly difficult and your weapons become decreasingly powerful.
Call of Duty zombies started as a small idea in Call of Duty: World at War. It was an idea spawned from co-op campaign and was almost not included into the game. It started with a map called "Nacht Der Untoten," or Night of the Undead in German. It was a simple map; just a run-down building with a couple of rooms, some chalk drawings of weapons, a strange box with question marks on it that would spurt out a weapon, windows that would magically rebuild themselves, and a cabinet with a sniper rifle. From that one map spawned a franchise that spans over 6 games and is a primary focus for many when it comes to purchasing Call of Duty titles. So how did it get there?I can't tell you the reasons zombies got so popular in Call of Duty, but I can tell you the reasons why I love the series so much (for the most part) and maybe my reasons run parallel to the main reasons of popularity.
Despite Call of Duty outside of zombies having little improvements and playing safe, zombies usually had big improvements to their next zombies map and often had wacky ideas items. zombies was never afraid to try out things between maps. Zombie monkeys from space? Check. Wacky guns that would turn zombies into balloons? Check. Making a generator out of a mannequin, fan, and a battery? Sure, why not? Each map had something new to offer to the zombies table, whether it be a new perk, trap, power up, etc. The maps where also wacky yet amazing each time. By the time Black Ops 1 rolled around, I was fighting in the Arctic as part of a George Romero film, in the beauty that is Shangri-la, and even on the moon. By Black Ops 2, I fought inside of an upside-down skyscraper, traveled in a bus in a strange fog filled with mystery, fought on Alcatraz Island, and in a western city buried and preserved. By Black Ops 3, I was in a 30's New York metropolis and in space with elements of many previous maps. The maps got crazier and crazier, but that was fantastic to me.
The story and the easter eggs in the maps also got crazy. The story of zombies in Treyarch zombies got really out of hand, but it was never something that was in your face. But it was that background of the story that made zombies feel much bigger than just an extra game mode. Also, in most maps, their was a multi-step easter egg that varied between maps and could be done with or without friends. The easter eggs in the game were such a challenge to obtain, but was a lot of fun to do in each map. Even just watching the steps on youtube and looking at all of the wacky things people found in the maps is a lot of fun.
Now looking away from all of the cool things zombies did in their maps, what was a big thing that I loved about this series is the freedom aspect. If I wanted to, I could just survive and see how long I could go, I could try doing my own challenges like only using a certain type of weapon and others, I could explore the different maps, etc. Sure, the main objective was to just survive, but the game still gave freedom to do things outside of that or add on to that aspect of surviving. Despite being an unpopular map, Tranzit was a lot of fun to explore. A lot of it was covered in this thick fog, but their was a lot to explore in that fog. Even the building in Nacht Der Untoten was in the fog. That aspect of freedom also stuck to me.
One final reason I will state is the modding community. Community-made maps have been made for World at War for a very long time, allowing the game to stay alive for much longer. The community has done such an excellent job on making new maps and other mods for World at War, and having these new maps makes me feel that I won't get bored playing the same set of maps over and over. Even now, Black Ops 3 released their mod tools to the public, allowing the community to make even more maps and mods to another zombies game. These mods extends the life of zombies and show just how big zombies are in Call of Duty.
Call of Duty to me is the Michael Bay of video games. Just a bunch of explosions and actions with no substance in any other aspects. But Call of duty zombies has been something that keeps me returning to Call of Duty. Zombies has been something that has consumed a lot of time from me for many reasons; some stated and some not. I have played zombies for years now, and I find myself most of the time going to the next Call of Duty that has zombies. If you haven't tried out zombies, I would recommend trying it out. It is something not for everybody, but Call of Duty zombies is something that is a lot of fun and brings uniqueness to a bland title.