Live to fight another day with this Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 zombie survival guide

Amidst Call of Duty: Black Ops 3′s cinematic single-player campaign and addictive-as-ever multiplayer is none other than the franchise’s signature Zombies mode. As is typical with previous iterations of the feature, players take to the task (by themselves or with friends) of ridding a particularly large, labyrinth-style map of a near-infinite horde of flesh-hungry zombies. Appearing originally as an Easter egg “Nazi Zombies” mode in Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World at War, the feature quickly gained notoriety for its addictive, over-the-top fun and change-of-pace regarding the gameplay.

So when Black Ops 3 released this past November, it should come as no surprise Zombies mode made its triumphant return and, even less surprising, it’s a wild good time. Though the basic concept and end goal remains unchanged, exactly how you survive and get to pay dirt is as convoluted and difficult as possible. And that’s a good thing. To help you enter the realm of the undead and escape unscathed, we’ve put together this survival guide aimed at giving you everything from the mode’s basics to some advanced tips for staying alive. Good luck.

Step into the Shadows of Evil

At first glance, seeing just one available Zombies map right out of the (standard) box for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 may move some gamers to assume Treyarch took a step back with the popular game mode in 2015. The thing is, there couldn’t be a statement further from the truth. In reality, Shadows of Evil represents one of the most diverse and varied Zombies experiences ever created by Treyarch, providing gamers hours of over-the-top, undead fun.

Set in a fictional, mind-bending town known as Morg City, players assume the role of four separate protagonists: Nero Blackstone, Jessica Rose, Jack Vincent, and Floyd Campbell. As is true with past Zombies mode iterations, Treyarch pulls out all the stops with the mode’s cast, employing the voice-acting talent of Jeff Goldblum (Nero), Heather Graham (Jessica), Neal McDonough (Jack), and Ron Perlman (Floyd). Moreover, each character possesses a unique (and twisted) backstory which only lends itself to the overall craziness of the mode. For instance, Goldblum’s character Nero is an arrogant magician sent to Morg City for murdering his wife so he could collect her life insurance. Again, it’s twisted.


The characters aren’t alone, however, as Morg City is just as demented. Set in the 1940s and more an ethereal setting than a real city, the backdrop for Shadows of Evil is a sprawling nightmare chock-full of hidden secrets, something called a Gobblegum machine, and of course, the soulless corpses vying for your flesh. No big deal. As we get into the best ways to stay alive in Morg City, one principle reigns supreme: just stay alive. Famous last words, right?

As you’ll notice before booting up Shadows of Evil, Treyarch includes a brand new, XP-based progression system which allows you to customize your Zombies experience even further. Experience points earned while battling horde after horde of undead zombies allows you to upgrade the weapons found throughout the map, including adding different attachments and earning new classes for your weapons. Right out the gate, however, you wake up in Morg City an experience-deprived character pushed to fend for yourself with nothing but the basics. That’s why we’re here to help.

There’s no I in team

We’re well aware this is the easiest tip in the book, but don’t overlook the simple fact staying near your teammates is the single easiest way to stay alive for long periods of time. Whether this means standing back-to-back and shooting or slashing your way to the next round, or methodically working your way through Morg City like Seal Team 6, playing as a team is paramount to Zombies mode success. Of course, you won’t have the ability to stick together the entire time but the more time spent covering your teammates’ backsides, the deeper into the game you’ll get. Plain and simple.

With that said, this tip goes completely out the window if you choose to slay some zombies solo. There’s no shame in doing this but know the mode gets incredibly more challenging without a teammate by your side. Luckily, Treyarch makes it possible to either link up with players online while also allowing for offline, local split-screen play. So after going at it alone causes enough stress for you to throw a controller, find someone to play with. You won’t regret it.


Know your enemy

If you’d believe it, Black Ops 3’s Zombies mode isn’t just about fending off hordes of flesh-hungry undead, as a slew of equally destructive foes stand between you and the final credits. As the waves increase in difficulty, you’ll begin seeing different enemy types which range from flying insects and rolling bombs, to a gigantic charging baddie. Here’s a bit more of each basic enemy type to give you a better idea of what to expect:


Simply called Parasites, these flying insects are incredibly adept at pulling your attention away from the onslaught of zombies just long enough for you to meet your eventual demise. We recommend selecting one of your teammates as the go-to Parasite destroyer while the others continue to beat back the advancing dead. If you’re lucky enough to survive this wave (and there’s no reason you shouldn’t), the last Parasite killed drops a Max Ammo power-up. We’ll cover more about power-ups below.


This three-headed monster is the stuff of nightmares. Seriously. Armed with three tentacles capable of critically damaging any player stupid enough to get close to this thing, the Margwa is a force to be reckoned with. In order to down this beast, simply wait until it opens one of its three mouths before unleashing an onslaught of bullets into said mouth. Continue this process until you’ve successfully destroyed all three heads. Keep in mind that after the removal of a head, Margwas move faster and typically dole out a Parasite to further impede your process of ousting it.


Known as the Robotic Anti-Personnel Sentry, the R.A.P.S. is essentially a rolling time bomb. Similar to Parasites, these frustrating contraptions have their own dedicated round so once again, we recommend assigning one player to eliminate them while the others go after zombies. Keep your eyes on the ground for these annoying bots, they’ll roll up on you quickly and explode on unsuspecting players before you know it.

Choose your guns and equipment wisely

Pick a gun, any gun

Zombies mode presents two ways for you to pick up its variety of weapons: chalk outlines scattered around the map and Mystery Boxes. Concerning the chalk outline gun varieties, it may take some guess and check work before finding your favorite combination. Whether you prefer shotguns, pistols, or assault rifles, it takes a bit of time before settling on your deadliest weapon of choice. Once you rack up enough experience points, we recommend outfitting your favorite gun with some useful attachments to give you a leg up on the undead. As you level up throughout the game, you’ll also unlock upgraded versions of each chalk-outlined weapon type.

As far as Mystery Boxes go, these useful crates pop up randomly around the map and require a chunk of change to enjoy what’s inside. With that said, however, they do tend to house some of the most powerful weapons in the entire mode. Unfortunately, these guns also require some cash to reload so we recommend taking it easy with the ammo while you can and save it for some of the more formidable foes which show up in later rounds.


Don’t forget about your equipment

You know how annoying a well-placed claymore is while playing Call of Duty multiplayer? Yeah, us too. Well, guess what? These little nuisances prove wildly effective against a gaggle of your undead fan base, providing a perfect way to take out several at once. The same can easily be said for utilizing grenades, strike beacons, and the rest of the array of available equipment, just don’t forget you have it at your disposal.

Fumigate pods at your own risk

Scattered across the Morg City map are a few pod-like plants which can either be your best friend or worst enemy, depending on your luck. To activate these pods (and unleash their innards), simply pick up the Fumigator located at the beginning of the map, and proceed to fire it at the alien-looking plant. Once destroyed, pods drop either a weapon, a useful powerup, a non-useful live grenade, an increasingly useless attacking zombie, or nothing at all. It’s like playing the lottery, only sometimes your life depends on it. So yeah, just like playing the lottery.


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