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Call of Duty’s latest zombies mode is fresh but familiar, and here’s your guide to surviving

Call of Duty zombies mode creator Treyarch didn’t have a hand in Advanced Warfare‘s Exo Zombies, but the latest game’s walking dead survival mode definitely follows the lead of its predecessors. While many of the classic mode’s familiar elements get new names, basic strategies, design concepts, even easter eggs remain the same.

All of which means there’s a lot to learn! Exo Zombies’ first map, Outbreak, deposits players in an Atlas facility that’s been overrun by reanimated corpses. Your basic goal is to survive endless waves of zombies for as long as you can, but — much like Treyarch zombies modes of the past there’s a hidden objective as well.

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Read on to learn how that works, along with some basic survival tips and others bits of knowhow that should help you stay alive just a little bit longer.

The basics

Zombies veterans can go ahead and skip to the next section. The following is just a basic description of how the mode works.

If you’re new to Call of Duty Zombies, the premise is simple: Survive. Each new wave of undead brings the fresh challenge of more and generally tougher baddies. Sometimes you face down special zombies, such as Hellhounds, EMP zombies (which temporarily short out your Exo suit), and gas-spewing infected that, if they get a good hit in, require a trip to the map’s lone decontamination shower.

The more zombies you slay, the more points you earn. Points are your currency in Exo Zombies. Spending them in specific locations allows you to open sealed doors; buy weapons, weapon upgrades, and perks (now they’re Exo Abilities); and, for 250 points, use the decontamination shower. There’s also a 3D Printer — Exo Zombies’ twist on the Mystery Box of previous games — that, when used, spits out a random weapon.

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Wall weapons and doors can be accessed at any time, provided you have the points, but the 3D Printer and a handful of other elements in Outbreak require power. There’s a handful of power stations around the map that you need to interact with, and turning one on activates any powered machines in the vicinity.

New features

Most of the familiar zombies trappings are here. You start with a weak-ass pistol and some grenades, you spend points to improve your situation, and leaving one zombie (or, better, a legless crawler) around at the end of a wave gives you the freedom to explore a bit. Elements like perks and the Mystery Box are back, they’re just a little different. So is the idea of flipping on the power from a single location.

We’ll start with that. There’s no longer a single power switch that governs the entire map. Instead, each discrete location has a power station of its own, and turning it on gives you access to the goodies in that location.

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One new feature of Outbreak: All throughout the map are little control boxes on the walls that can be interacted with. When they show a green light, walking up to one and using it nets you some free points. Each one recharges after some amount of time, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the green panels.

Perks are reimagined in Outbreak as Exo Abilities, meaning you can only buy them after you’ve picked up your free Exo suit from the mode’s northernmost chamber. They work the same as their counterparts from the earlier games, but they’ve all got new names: Exo Medic (quick revive), Exo Slam (no equivalent from earlier games; identical to the same ability from other parts of COD:AW), Exo Reload (faster reloads), Exo Health (increased health), and Exo Soldier (speeds up weapon swap, improves hip-fire, and allows you to reload and shoot while sprinting or sliding).

Outbreak also features randomly appearing Orbital Care Package drops that anyone can grab. There are four possible rewards from these: Sentry turret, aerial assault drone, camouflage (makes you temporarily invisible to the zombies), or credits.

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Weapons work much the same as they always have, with a limited assortment of firearms available for purchase from wall slots and a larger selection of random drops from the 3D Printer, which is the new Mystery Box. Much like the earlier boxes, the 3D Printer appears in several locations, but only one is active at a time. It expires after a few uses, at which point another printer activates.

Weapon upgrades work a lot differently. The Pack-A-Punch machine is gone, and with it is the single-upgrade path for each weapon. Instead of one, big change after you upgrade a gun, Outbreak upgrades span 20 levels, with more incremental improvements for each level. They’re also cheaper than before; 2,500 points per upgrade, versus 5,000 for the older Pack-A-Punch setup.

Finally, grenades get a new life in Outbreak thanks to some under-the-hood changes to the way they work. Thrown explosives now scale in damage as you get to later waves, so they’re always effective. New contact grenades, one of Outbreak’s wall weapons, are very handy to have in later waves. You can build up a big group of zombies behind you and wipe a large chunk of them out with just one well-placed grenade toss.

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Lastly, power-ups return in Outbreak, and they work much like they have in the past. Zombies drop them occasionally (and Hellhound rounds always end with one appearing), and they can be collected for a variety of benefits.

Hyper Damage is the same as Insta-Kill from past games, giving all players one-shot kills on zombies for a limited time. DNA Bomb is the same as Nuke, wiping out every spawned zombie on the map. Multiplier works just like Double Points (you can probably figure out how that works). Full Reload is the same as Max Ammo. And Power Surge is Outbreak’s Fire Sale, which activates all 3D Printers temporarily, reducing their cost to just 10 points. Security is the only newcomer; grab it and every trap on the map activates.

The map

This is the map, as seen on Outbreak’s load screen:

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New zombies

Exo Zombies changes things up by introducing an assortment of “special” zombies in addition to the standard shamblers. EMP zombies are the most straightforward. They crackle with blue energy and have the ability to temporarily deactivate your Exo suit abilities if they score a hit on you.

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Infected zombies appear during special infected rounds. They give off a cloud of green gas and pass whatever funk they’re carrying onto any players they come into contact with. Once infected, you’ve got about a minute to get yourself to Outbreak’s lone decontamination shower, where you have to spend 250 points to get yourself clean.

Hellhounds return from previous games, appearing in rounds of their own just like the infected zombies. They’re fast-moving targets that run low to the ground, so they can be tricky to take out. Clear a wave of Hellhounds out and a a Full Reload pickup drops.

New tricks

Easter eggs are a hallmark of Call of Duty’s Zombies mode, and Outbreak doesn’t disappoint. There are two known ones at this point, though one is considerably easier than the other. Note that we haven’t had the opportunity to tackle either of these personally just yet, so thanks to those credited below for doing the heavy lifting.

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First is a new unlockable song. In previous zombies maps, you could get a song to play over the game by interacting with an assortment of not-at-all-obvious locations. That feature returns in Outbreak, and the song is Wagner’s famous “Ride of the Valkyries,” which is perhaps best known for its appearance in the film Apocalypse Now.

Thanks to YouTuber xCharbz for taking the time to demonstrate how this one is done.

The second easter egg is much more elaborate, and it’s in the same vein as the multi-part, story-driven easter eggs that rules past zombies maps. There’s an excellent 11-part guide to solving it right here at Note that you need a full team of four to get this one done.

Adam Rosenberg
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Previously, Adam worked in the games press as a freelance writer and critic for a range of outlets, including Digital Trends…
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