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Call of Duty Outbreak Zombies: Beginner’s guide

Season 2 of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War might be the most extensive free-content download since Warzone itself dropped in March of 2020. Season 2 introduced brand-new operators, weapons, and maps into the game. A cargo ship full of zombies crashed landed on the Prison shore in Warzone, and exposed nuclear missile silos currently cast an ominous aura over the future of Verdansk. However, the most widely anticipated feature of Season 2 is the release of Outbreak Zombies.

Outbreak Zombies is a semi-open world zombie experience set across Black Ops: Cold War‘s three Fireteam maps, Alpine, Ruka, and Golova. Players will warp between each area to complete objectives and slay the undead. Each location is full of buildings to loot, secrets to find, and dragons to feed. Yes, we said dragons to feed. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about Outbreak Zombies, Black Ops: Cold War’s latest un-dead experience.

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Outbreak at a glance

Cold War Outbreak Zombies Car and Zombies
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You objective is to explore all three maps searching for top-tier weapons, loot, and gear. Each map will feature one main objective that will rotate between five different options. You’ll also be presented with three side objectives and a bonus objective should you be so lucky. Now, each map isn’t guaranteed to be fully loaded with missions. The best thing you can do for yourself is get acquainted with the different map markers and understand what each one means.

After completing the main objective, you’ll be prompted to activate a beacon that will warp you to the next map. When you warp, the beacon will take you to a different fireteam map, and the difficulty will be ramped up to the next level. You can also choose to Exfil at the beacon. If you choose to Exfil, you’ll have to run toward a marked area on the map and eliminate a certain number of zombies to clear the landing zone. The same Exfil strategies from Firebase Z and Die Machine apply to Outbreak. Chopper Gunners and Monkey Bombs will be your best friends.

To put the difficulty of each wave in perspective:

Wave 1 — Round 1 zombies

Wave 2 — Round 5 zombies

Wave 3 — Round 10 zombies

Use this five-round scale to determine when it’s best to upgrade your weapons at the Pack-a-Punch and mannequin. Each Outbreak map will come fully equipped with everything you’ll need to upgrade. However, you’ll have to do some exploring to find each station. Alternatively, you can rush the main objective and activate the beacon. Doing so will spawn the Pack-a-Punch machine, a crafting table, the Wonderfizz Machine, and the upgrade mannequin in the immediate vicinity.

You’ll earn significantly fewer points than typical games of Die Machine or Firebase Z. Killing zombies will award you 25 points instead of 100. Critical kills will reward you with 35 points. While there are hundreds of infinitely spawning zombies to kill on each map, players will receive 1/4 the points for each one.

The main objectives 

Cold War Outbreak Zombies back to back
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There are five main objectives to complete in Outbreak Zombies. Players are free to loot and explore as much as they want before they start the objectives. However, once they do, there’s no stopping it until the mission is complete. Upon completion, players will be able to activate the beacon. Again, they do not have to go through the beacon right away and are free to explore, loot, and upgrade. Here are the five main objectives:


In holdout, players are transported through the Dark Aether to a close-quarters building that they cannot escape. The windows are boarded up in classic zombie fashion, and players will have to stay alive for 3 1/2 minutes. Holdout is very easy in the early stages, but once players get up to round 5 or 6, they’ll be in for a real challenge. 

The most effective way to complete a Holdout is to hunker down in a corridor and defend the doorway. As long as one teammate keeps an eye on the window, the rest of the team can bottleneck zombies in the door and kill them with ease. One Holdout building will transport players to a two-story cabin. Head up the stairs and down the hallway. There will be a boarded-up door to your back. Zombies will ignore the door and only come up the stairs. All players can focus their fire on the stairs and doorway to the left.


Escort will have players following an armored rover with a caged monkey on the back. It will travel to three different portals before finally passing through into the Dark Aether. Defend the rover from incoming zombies and don’t let them damage it. The Rover will not move if there are zombies in front of it. Keep the path cleared, and don’t lose track of the Rover. 

While Escort will prove easy at first, don’t underestimate how much damage elite enemies can do. A team of four should keep two people in front and two people in the back. Each time the rover gets spat out of an aether portal, its cargo (the monkey) will transform. If the monkey transforms into a pick-up like Max Ammo or Double Points, approach the cage and melee it to grab the upgrade.


Retrieve is the most difficult of all five objectives. Players are tasked with picking up and transporting two aether canisters to a rocket. While holding the canister, your movement will be restricted. You cannot sprint, and you cannot jump. You can still shoot to defend yourself. You’re also free to drop the aether canister if you get overrun.

You’ll also get a special field upgrade that releases a powerful pulse wave in every direction. Use the pulse wave when you make it back to the rocket to load the aether. It will clear out nearby zombies and leave a window of opportunity. It takes a few seconds to load the canister in, so make sure your teammates are nearby to provide cover. 

Players can drive cars while holding the aether canister. However, the vehicle will take damage as they’re driving, so keep an eye on its health and bail out when it’s at critical damage. It is wise to drive two cars up to the rocket before starting the objective, especially on higher rounds. Just be careful of the Tempest’s EMP blasts. 


This objective is straightforward. Players will load a severed head into a machine and defend the machine from incoming zombies. This objective is broken up into three waves of increasing difficulty. Do not underestimate the ease of the first wave. Sentry turrets will come in handy when defending the church building. Chopper Gunners are better suited for outside areas. 


This objective will spawn a powerful elite nearby. This mini-boss fight will have three stages as the elite jumps around to different nearby POIs. Track it down and kill it before it kills the Requiem team. 

Side objectives

Black Ops Outbreak Zombies Loot Chest
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While completing the main objective is the only way to activate the beacon, completing side objectives is equally important. This is the best way to earn more points to spend at the Pack-a-Punch and Wonderfizz Machines.

Three objectives will randomly spawn on each map. Sometimes you’ll get all three; sometimes you’ll only get one. Check the map as soon as you spawn and formulate a plan to hit all objectives available. These side objectives are the best way to find upgraded weapons. However, the best part about completing these is the random perk reward. Whether it drops as a purple pick-up or a green Max Ammo-like bonus, random perks will save you some serious cash in the early rounds.

Feed the dragon

Marked by an encircled dragon head on the map, players will find what looks like a rocket ship with two large canisters on each side. They’ll be prompted to “begin feeding time” at the machine. Activating the machine will spawn a purple Ring of Fire-like circle in front of the dragon. An actual aether dragon head will pop out of the machine as well.

Zombies start spawning in every direction, but players will have to wait for them to enter the circle to feed the beast. Wait for the zombies to glow purple before killing them. Keep track of your progress by checking the canisters on the side of the dragon. They’ll be filling with pink liquid. You’ll know you’ve succeeded if the horizontal bar at the top of each canister is full. After a short amount of time, the dragon will rocket into space and leave behind a loot box relative to how many zombies you killed in the circle.

Eliminate the HVT

Marked by a cluster of skulls on the map, for this objective players will find a deceased Requiem team. Interact with a radio on the corpse to spawn a group of elite enemies nearby. You’ll see large beams of blue light descending from the clouds, and the same skull cluster will mark them. Multiple zombies, Plaguehounds, and Hellhounds will guard the HVT (high-value target). The target itself will differ depending on the wave. Early-round HVTs will be an average Mangler or Megaton. However, higher rounds will spawn mini-bosses with massive pools of health dealing absurd amounts of damage. Tread lightly.

The HVTs will drop upgraded weapons, perks, equipment, and killstreaks when defeated. These are the most fruitful of the three side objectives and should be done before the main objective.

Golden Loot Box

A lightning bolt on your map marks the Golden Loot Box. As you near it, you’ll see a blue light shoot down from the sky and spawn the loot box out in the open. Interact with it to “confront the Dark Aether.” A circle of zombies will spawn, ranging from average undead to high-level elites. You must eliminate all of them to unlock the loot box and claim your reward. Again, this is the best way to get free perks and upgraded weapons.

The Screaming Aether Orb

The Screaming Aether Orb is not marked on your map and can only be found through exploration. Once you’re close enough, you will see it pop up as a ridged circle on your mini-map. Unload on the orb to spawn multiple Zombie Essence canisters. Once you shoot it enough, the Orb will let out a child-like scream and start moving. Thankfully, it will only move in a straight line, so following it is easy.

However, do not lose track of the Orb as it’s not easy to locate once lost. After three times, the Orb will explode with valuable loot. You can also take advantage of a Double Points upgrade when collecting the essence dropped from the Orb. Instead of 100, it’ll be 200.

Elite enemies (new to Outbreak)

Outbreak Zombies Krasny Soldat
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Elites will be scattered all over each map and are easily identified by the skull symbol on the mini-map. Most of the roaming elites will be Manglers and Tempests, with a few Megatons mixed in. Krasny Soldats will make appearances on high difficulties, and Mimics will be disguised as they always are. You already know all about Mimics, Megatons, and Manglers. So, let’s dive into Outbreak Zombie’s latest elite enemies.


Tempests are easy to kill but annoying to encounter. Their sole purpose is to disable your vehicles with their EMP blasts. These same blasts will also slow your movement and blur your vision if they connect. They’ll warp around the vicinity when shot. However, you can get an idea of where they’ll warp to by the blue wisp they give off.

If you can bunny hop, wait for the Tempest to shoot at you, then jump left or right. Don’t jump too soon, though. We all know how enemy projectiles track in Cold War Zombies. The same trick applies to Manglers. However, you’ll want to concentrate your fire on the Manglers’ arm cannons to kill them quickly. Tempests are small-framed, so you’ll need to be accurate with your shots.

Krasny Soldats

These are going to be the most challenging enemies you’ll encounter when playing Outbreak Zombies. They are heavily armored, with only a small window of opportunity for critical headshots. They’ll shoot an arm-mounted flame thrower when at close range. Get too far away, and Krasny Soldats will shoot an incendiary grenade at you. Whenever one of these bad boys appears, the entire team should focus on killing it. They’ll jump great distances and close gaps in the blink of an eye. Don’t be afraid to burn a killstreak to kill Krasnys, especially on later rounds.


When completing objectives like Eliminate, Golden Loot Chests, or HVTs, you’ll encounter upgraded mini-boss versions of these elite enemies. They’ll have unique names and an upgraded health pool. You’ll easily recognize mini-boss Megatons by their red features.

Outbreak Zombies: Best strategies

Outbreak Zombies Large Loot Chest (1)
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Now that you know how all the inner mechanics of Outbreak work, let’s talk about the best way to complete objectives, upgrade weapons, and survive high rounds.

Outbreak is a time investment. It’ll take two to three hours to reach round 8 or 9 with everything fully upgraded. The bulk of the time will be spent between rounds 1 and 3, as you’ll be exploring all three maps to complete objectives and earn points while the game is still relatively easy.

Ideally, you should earn enough points to Pack-a-Punch your primary weapon before completing the first main objective. You’ll have already gotten a random perk from side missions and hopefully have a decent secondary to back you up. Of course, Outbreak still operates on a random number generator. There is no guarantee you’ll get every side objective in the first area. If you do, consider yourself lucky.

By the end of round 3, you should have most of the perks, ideally Juggernaut, Stamin-Up, Quick Revive, and Speed Cola, two high-tier-double-Pack-a-Punched weapons, and a killstreak to use in case of emergency. Use rounds 4 and 5 to triple-pack at least one of those weapons. By rounds 6 and 7, you’ll start getting Wonder Weapons to drop upon completing objectives. You can find the Rai-K 84, Ray Gun, and D.I.E Machine as challenge rewards and elite drops.

Ideal loadouts

When it comes to building your Outbreak Zombie loadout, you’ll want to be using automatic weapons with large clips. LMGs take too long to reload, even when equipped with the fast mags. Your best bet is any Assault Rifle with the largest clip possible. Make sure to equip any attachments that increase your salvage or equipment drop rates as well.

A team of four will want to strategize when it comes to field upgrades. There’s no reason all four players should be running Ring of Fire. The new Frenzied Guard field upgrade will keep players armored and proves useful in Outbreak. One team member should also be running Healing Aura to revive downed teammates from a distance. Healing Aura will also help if the team gets overrun during a Holdout or Defend mission.

Keep your vehicles at a safe distance

There’s a lot of splash damage and ranged attacks in Outbreak Zombies. Vehicles are necessary for traversing the map on higher rounds as to not waste ammo and armor on roaming zombies. However, once you arrive at your destination, leave your vehicle away from the action. One accidental blast from the Rai-K or Ray Gun can blow it sky-high.

Split up on early rounds

Rounds 1, 2, and 3 should be manageable for any experienced Zombies player. Everyone should be able to split off on their own to expedite the looting progress. Four-player squads can split up into teams of two to be safe. Players will reconvene to complete challenges and primary objectives. They should also be activating reward challenges whenever they pass by the station. These challenges are a great way to earn bonus essence, perks, and a possible Wonder Weapon.

Stay together on higher rounds

Once players have completely upgraded, there’s no reason to split off from the pack. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything more valuable than your upgraded Wonder Weapon or legendary primary.

On a related note, don’t challenge every group of zombies you see once you’ve made it to the higher rounds. Again, there’s nothing else you’ll need at this point, and your main focus should be completing the main objective and making it as far as possible. Don’t even worry about side objectives anymore.

Final thoughts

Outbreak Zombies Retrieve
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The only thing Outbreak Zombies is currently lacking is a useful map. If Outbreak were to implement the same interactive style map as Warzone, it would make marking objectives and waypoints much easier. It’s easy to get lost and sidetracked on your way to side objectives and upgrade stations. Otherwise, Outbreak Zombies might be the best zombie mode Call of Duty has ever released. If players are willing to put the time into a game, they can expect a fun and challenging experience.

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Mike Colucci
Michael Colucci is a lifelong video game fan based out of the greater Boston area. He's the one insistent on searching every…
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