Another year, another successful run of DLC for Call of Duty. Apocalypse, the fourth and final map pack for Treyarch’s Black Ops 2, is officially here to demand your time and attention. There’s nothing unusual about this pack: for $15 (or nothing, if you pre-paid via a Season Pass), you get four multiplayer maps and a new co-op Zombies adventure called “Origins.” If you’re reading this, then you’re looking for an edge. Something to help you score a better K/D ratio. Something to carry you past round three of a Zombies match. Something to stem that nagging urge you’re feeling to turn your Black Ops 2 disc into an angrily flung Frisbee.
We can help you with all of those things. Or the first two, at least. Suppressing the desire to hurl a game disc in anger is every Call of Duty player’s basic rite of passage. Besides which, this guide does you no good if you’re busy crying over shards of shattered plastic. It’s cool. Maybe play something that’s a little bit more your speed.
(Editor’s Note: Ryan here. For whatever reason, Apocalypse appeals to my particular type of play. I don’t claim to be a great CoD player, but the new maps are designed in a way I really like, so I added a few tips that worked for me. Lets us know in the comment section if you have any tips of your own.)
Dig is the first of two Apocalypse maps that brings back a fan-favorite death arena from one of Treyarch’s previous Call of Duty games. This one is World at War‘s Courtyard map, now re-skinned as a sprawling archaeological dig site. The mid-sized, roughly symmetrical layout makes Dig a great choice for any of Black Ops 2‘s objective-based game modes. While the heaviest firefights tend to flare up around the two centrally located pits, an abundance of flanking routes and well-concealed pathways help prevent any engagement from descending into a stalemate.
There’s a deceptive emphasis on verticality in this space. Low sets of stairs lead to slightly raised platforms that offer good sightlines across the entire map. Fearless players can climb up even higher to completely exposed, centrally located platforms. Using these is a risk/reward scenario, since you’re trading the safety of cover for a bird’s-eye view of roughly everything. Dig is friendly as well to those that favor close range encounters. Pathways skirting around the edge of the map provide lots of cover, and the two pits amount to deadly ambush locations for those that are brave enough to try controlling the central section of the map.
Ryan: Depending on the game mode, your equipment loadout is going to make a huge difference, especially your killstreaks. Domination, Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy, or any mode with a locked point you can defend will be perfect for a Guardian or a turret. The raised platforms Adam mentioned, or the multiple walls that protect the back of either weapon, make it difficult to destroy either weapon without an EMP. Regardless of the game mode, you need to keep moving – leaving traps in narrow areas can also be a great way to piss off the opposing team. The open nature of the map means there are very few safe areas to avoid grenades, and a persistent killstreak like a stealth helicopter can be devastating (if one is called in on you, switch over to a class with a rocket launcher, asap.)
Frost is your obligatory “snow map,” and this one built around an iced-over European city. A frozen canal runs down the middle of the map, with one wide bridge connecting its two halves in the center and a narrower footbridge creating an alternate route. Each half of the map is highlighted by a cluster of buildings gathered around a main street, with alleys and side doors offering flanking routes. The canal itself is almost entirely frozen over; you’ve got to take care not to step into the water – it’s instant death – but the low elevation, particularly under the central bridge, offers great ambush opportunities.
Much like Dig, Frost’s symmetrical layout favors balanced play in objective-based game modes. Strategically placed windows and overlooks give both teams the ability to keep overwatch eyes on the canal. The central bridge crossing is a dangerous trek to make solo, as it’s quickly become a favorite killing field for snipers. To flank the enemy, you’re better off taking the footbridge or the frozen chunk of canal near the boat in the southern portion of the map. Note as well that climbing up boats offers a quick, if risky, route to get the drop on anyone that may be crossing the central bridge.
Ryan: Learn where the open windows are. There are a lot of buildings in Frost, and many of them have multiple ways. One facing the canal is especially useful if you are trying to assault the “C” domination point. Speaking of domination, practice throwing grenades (but not semtex) at “B” on the main bridge from the side. The area is relatively enclosed, so if you see someone taking B a well placed grenade thrown from the relative safety of the footbridge, for example, can ruin someone’s best plans. Frost offers a lot of options on how you want to play. A shotgun or even a good handgun can be effective as long as you stay away from the few open areas, but an assault rifle can help to create choke points on the bridges and pathways.
Pod is set in the overgrown ruins of a failed utopian community from the 1970s. It’s a deceptively flat map, with no elevated locations that players can access despite an abundance of high walls and towering residential pods. The layout is built on the ideals of organic architecture, with a flowing, naturalistic feel which gives the impression that these buildings simply sprouted up from the ground. Many Call of Duty maps tend to embrace a three-lane philosophy – in that there are three basic “lanes” of travel that cross the map – Frost, for example, takes a similar approach – but Pod is much more segmented.
The three lanes that cross the map are largely cut off from one another, with only a handful of pathways available for moving from one area to the next. This setup encourages teams to stick together and stay on the move; it’s difficult to guard against all possible flanking routes due to the way the three lanes feed into each team’s respective starting spawn. The lack of elevated roosts and emphasis on action over ambush means that Pod generally favors short- and mid-range players more than it does snipers. Bring grenades.
Ryan: I had a lot of success with the AN-94 assault rifle equipped with a hybrid scope. There are a few choke points on the map, including the enclosed section with only two access points that connects the “C” to “A” areas (based on domination placement). There is a small tunnel players need to run through to get to A, which can be held with relative ease – as long as you have a weapon that can keep you out of range of the inevitable barrage of grenades. For cutting through the center of the map, stick to the pods and watch your flank. Silenced weapons can also be extremely annoying here. Unless they are being used by your team, in which case they are awesome. For objective based games, bring smoke.
Takeoff is the other remake map in Apocalypse, this time re-skinning Stadium from the first Black Ops DLC pack as a spaceport on a rig in the Pacific Ocean. Like Pod, Takeoff features an asymmetrical layout, roughly designed around three lanes of travel. This one is more intricate, however, with a wider assortment of routes to choose from in any given lane, and a handful of elevated positions that aim to punish those careless enough to run freely across the central part of the map. The team spawns are also highly susceptible to surprise attacks and spawn-campers due to the abundance of nooks and crannies arrayed around them.
Takeoff is one of the rare Call of Duty maps that really encourages multi-role play, at least as much as such a thing can exist in a fast-paced game like this one. If you’re going to snipe, learn where the balconies and other elevated locations – such as the construction scaffolding – are. Assaulters should work to keep a firefight raging in the area around the centrally located fountain, and in the launch center’s wide corridor that bridges the east and west corners in the southernmost portion of the map. Shotguns and SMGs, meanwhile, benefit from learning the flanking routes in the launch center and around the buildings clustered in the northern section of the map.
Ryan: I preferred an assault rifle here too, because the balconies and overlooks will eventually be occupied and you can often hit enemies from a distance before they have a chance to orientate if you are expecting them. Regardless of your weapon, you must keep moving. If you get a few kills in the same position, run for your life – it isn’t that hard to toss a grenade from almost anywhere on the map. Speaking of, flack jackets, smoke, and trophy systems are a huge help if you are trying to defend a position or capture a domination point. The arena in the launch center is a great place to cut through if you want to try to sneak around and flank, as surprisingly few people bother to look there. The center, on the other hand, can be a death trap, but if you are quick enough to make it through you can occasionally catch people unaware who aren’t expecting anyone to be that crazy.
Origins. That’s not only the name of the new Zombie map, it’s also an indicator of where in the series timeline this latest undead adventure is set. Origins heads back to World War I, and to the moment that Tank, Takeo, Dempsey, and Richtofen teamed up for the very first time. This is a large map – perhaps the largest yet – and there are many moving pieces. In truth, it will take a while to learn its many secrets. There’s a new Perk-a-Cola delivery system, two new power-ups, and four new Wonder Weapons – not to mention an armored flamethrower zombie, a bunch of giant robots, and a tank you can hitch a ride on. Also, shovels. Four of them.
Moreso than our previous looks at the Zombies maps, this one is a beginner’s guide. With so many bits and pieces that are entirely new, you’ll need to have a good understanding of what’s going on in Origins before you even think about trying to tackle the Easter egg or assembling the four Wonder Weapons that connect to it.
Generators: Spread across the Origins map are six large machines, marked by signs as generators one through six. You need to power them up in order to use the Mystery Box or a Perk-a-Cola machine in that area, and you’ll also need all six running simultaneously in order to make use of the Pack-a-Punch machine at the Excavation Site, on the hill at the center of the map.
Generators cost points to power up, and the price is 200 points per each player in the game, which is all paid out by one person. Once someone spends the points to switch on the generator, at least one player must remain on the metal grating that surrounds it while a horde of zombies – some dressed in armor reminiscent of the Crusades – rushes in. A meter at the bottom of the screen fills up as the generator charges, and it fills more quickly when multiple players are present. If the player that spent points to activate the generator can stay on the grating for the entire charging process, their points are refunded. Once a generator is active, any powered items nearby – Perk-a-Cola machines and the Mystery Box – can be used.
One final note on generators: survive for long enough in a match and those “Templar zombies” (the ones in Crusader armor) start appearing randomly and stealing the power from a generator. When this happens, a stylized circular icon appears as an indicator of where the thieving zombie is. Hunt it down and kill it before it escapes to restore the inactive generator. Fail to do so and you’ll have to charge it up again, just like you did the first time.
Der Wunderfizz: Origins features a new type of Perk delivery system, called Der Wunderfizz. You’ll find these metal contraptions near some of the generators. Spend 1,500 points on an active Der Wunderfizz machine and you’ll get a randomly chosen perk. The selection draws not just from the machines on the map but also from all of the perks that have ever been in a Zombies mode. So, for example, Der Wunderfizz can give you PhD Flopper even though there’s no such machine for it on the map.
Much like the Mystery Box, Der Wunderfizz machines are randomly activated and available for a limited number of uses. You can tell when one is active by the lightning arcing into it from high up in the sky.
Shovels: There are four shovels scattered around the map. Two are found in the starting room, hanging on hooks set into the wall. Once a player grabs a shovel, it’s held onto for the rest of the match, even if said player dies and respawns in the next round. Once you’ve got a shovel, you can use it to dig up the small mounds of dirt and bones that are scattered around the map. Doing so unearths a variety of items, anything from a weapon or a pickup to a zombie. Sometimes you might even find – and immediately run away from – a live grenade. The Shovel is necessary for assembling the Ice Staff, one of the new Wonder Weapons. Simply dig whenever it starts snowing, and there’s a chance that one of the three staff pieces will appear.
New pickups: There are two new pick-ups to be found in Origins. Blood Money only appears when you dig it up using a shovel; collecting it earns you a random number of points. The other pick-up, Zombie Blood, is a random drop from downed zombies. The player that collects it can move faster and won’t be attacked by zombies for a full 30 seconds. Their outward appearance also takes the form of a zombie while the power-up effects are active.
Riding the tank: Explore far enough into the Origins map and you’ll eventually come to a church with a tank parked in the open space beneath it. Get on top of it and hit the button on the panel that you find there to send the war machine trundling off on a circuitous path around the map. The tank spits flames out of its front and sides while moving, but it eventually needs to stop and spend multiple minutes cooling down roughly halfway around the map. Zombies only leap onto the tank from the back and the sides while it’s in motion, but they’ll pour on from all sides when it’s stopped.
Panzer Soldat: Eff this guy. Seriously. These armored special zombies randomly spawn in starting at round 8. You can’t miss them. They’re huge, they spit fire out of front-mounted flamethrowers, and they have a claw that they can use to grab a distant player with. They’ve also got a devastating melee attack that is a one-hit kill (or a two-hit kill if you’ve got the Jugger-Nog perk). The trick to bringing down a Panzer Soldat is headshots. That’s easier said than done when you’ve got this rampaging monstrosity spitting flames into your face, but it’s what you’ve got to do.
The best bet for bringing down a Panzer Soldat is to lead him to the tank and scramble up on top of it. He can’t hit you while you’re up there, so he’ll just stop and sort of stand there like an idiot. At that point, have one player introduce his face to a swarm of bullets while the rest of the players worry about zombie crowd control. Note as well that the Panzer Solder is susceptible to one-hit kills if you’ve got an Insta-Kill active, but only if you manage to score a headshot.
Giant freaking robots: There are three giant robot mech things that wander around the map, crushing anything unlucky enough to be caught under their feet. More an environmental hazard than anything, it’s a good idea to watch and listen for these iron giants; they appear semi-frequently as a group, and you’ll want to make sure you’re watching the skies when they do. Note that you can actually get inside each robot’s head. In fact, you must do so in order to collect the three parts for one of the Wonder Weapons. Simply check out the bottom of each robot’s feet to find the one that is lit up. Then, position yourself beneath that foot and shoot at it to open a hatch. Let it step on you once the hatch is open and you’ll be teleported inside. Just make sure you grab the part and get out quick by interacting with one of the tubes at the back of the head.
Buildables: Buildables return in Origins. The four Wonder Weapons – staves of Ice, Fire, Air, and Lightning – all must be assembled, by finding the three parts for each, along with a gramophone and staff-specific record (both located near the Excavation Site). The Zombie Shield returns with a slightly different look, and its three parts appear in random locations. Finally there’s the Maxis Drone, which is basically a Dragonfire drone that’s powered by the brain of Maxis. You can always find the brain jar in the starting spawn area; the other two parts appear in several different, completely random locations.
Ryan: I find that shooting the zombies before they kill you is an effective strategy. Pew pew pew… (Yeah, I got nuthin’)
Chime in with your own tips and tricks for surviving the Apocalypse DLC. Know how to quickly assemble a Wonder Weapon? Got a surefire way to crush your opponents in Pod? Tell is in the comments below.