Modern Warfare Zombies Blood Burner.
Image via Activision.

Not Even Quick Revive Can Reanimate Modern Warfare Zombies Now

These Zombies would rather bite some dust.

Mixing DMZ with the undead to create Modern Warfare Zombies seemed like a bad idea on paper, and after nearly six months, it was clearly never going to work. The hype that existed for the mode in the first month is gone and the content that MWZ receives with each season reflects the community sentiment. The mode went from a surprise hit to completely dead within a few months.

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It was only in December that Call of Duty General Manager Johanna Faries claimed, “Zombies mode is probably the best rated ‘third mode’ in a decade, and I’m not making that up. And you know, we listen, and we see that, so you feel it. And sometimes you can’t always measure it.” But it’s clear at this point it was a short-lived sentiment and it was easy to tell the mode was hollow from the start. That change starts with post-release decisions.

Why is Modern Warfare Zombies Failing?

Modern Warfare Zombies Season 3 Rift
Image via Activision.

Content is the largest issue with Modern Warfare Zombies. When the mode was released, plenty of players were happy to roam around the map and complete mindless objectives. I put tons of hours in the mode myself to grind for Borealis. However, the hollow nature of the mode was easy to see if you’re a traditional Zombies fan, and plenty of excitement hinged on future content. Maybe there will be new maps? Maybe Treyarch will throw in massive group fights with each season? That was never happening.

Each seasonal content drop has given Modern Warfare 3 Zombies a new Warlord to face in a Rife through the Dark Aether. These are paired with new items to grind for that typically drop with the mid-season update. Even with some new Warlords and fresh items, the core experience is still the same and requires more prep for new players to jump into. What the mode needed was a genuine map.

Treyarch is clearly hard at work on their own Zombies mode and I expect it to be one of the best we’ve had in years for a third mode. After all, this has been one of the longest development cycles for a single Black Ops game. While juggling development, Treyarch has also had to work on Ranked Play modes and Zombies for MW3. Great content in seasonal content was never happening. In fact, I would call Modern Warfare Zombies itself a placeholder with a meaningless grind disguised as a camo simulator to eat up players’ time.

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Was Always a Hollow Camo Simulator

Most Call of Duty players that jumped into Modern Warfare Zombies did so with the intention of grinding out the Borealis Camo or completing all the story content for the mode. Grinding camo challenges is one thing the COD community always does well. But what’s the difference between camo grinding and main story quests? Almost nothing. All of the content is simply chasing kills in specific ways using designated weapons. Get 400 point-blank kills with the WSP Swarm. Earn 200 kills with a Field Upgrade active. The entire mode is just an open-world map to mindlessly grind camos.

Once you get the camos you want, you start to see what is left in the mode. Almost nothing. Urzikstan is not a good Zombies maybe in any way imaginable. This is not a map that you’ll think of a couple of years from now. Without content to fix those issues, camo grinders have finished their goal and Zombies players have already seen the mode for what it is.

Traditional Zombies maps have always been about the atmosphere, the design of the area, fun easter eggs, and unique encounters. You aren’t supposed to be able to choose your difficulty and just run away when the enemies get tough. Mastering maps and dealing with the undead using what resources you have is part of the fun. Needlessly mixing DMZ with a hollow Zombies experience was always going to fall flat.

DMZ Aspects Were the Nail in the Coffin for Modern Warfare Zombies

I played a ton of DMZ. I also put a ton of hours into Modern Warfare Zombies. So what made DMZ fun compared to MWZ? It was the thrill of the extraction mode. Other players were the most dangerous part of the mode and seasonal resets ensured you needed to keep your stash up to date. Loot was incredibly important if you wanted to survive an extraction and death was certain in DMZ. Once you saved up enough resources and kitted out your Operator, you could move to areas like Building 21, where close quarters PvP is guaranteed.

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies throws out all the best parts of DMZ and keeps the worst ones. Ask yourself why there is even a stash in MWZ. When you extract with a Legendary weapon in MWZ, it loses all of its Pack-A-Punch tiers and the rarity. So at that point, it’s always better to enter a match with a custom loadout. That was true in DMZ as well, but finding loot was meaningful as well and you were bound to die, which meant plenty of loadout cooldowns. Surviving in MWZ is easy unless you start attempting late-game Dark Aether content.

Part of the fun in any good Zombies map was completing Easter Eggs for powerful weapons or rolling the Mystery Box for the best possible run. It’s all part of the rush we get from good pulls in any game. That also gets ripped away with the DMZ integration.

The worst offense has to be the contracts on the map. Players will intentionally grief your missions or hinder your progress by controlling contracts in Urzikstan. Having multiple squads outside of your own in Urzikstan is an actively horrible part of the Modern Warfare Zombies experience that adds no value. It’s only there because Warzone and DMZ have it.

So MWZ will remain what it was when it was released. The mode may have captured the hearts of some players while the camo grind was fresh. Despite that initial burst of fun, it was clear what the mode always was. A placeholder meant to be used as a shiny bell until Black Ops comes out later this year.


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Author
Dan Wenerowicz
Dan has been writing gaming guides, features and news for four years after graduating with a BA in writing. You can find him endlessly covering COD, Diablo 4, and any major releases. Otherwise he's cooking up another opinion piece.