CoD Zombies has been around for over 6 years, starting with its first appearance as Nazi Zombies in Call of Duty: World at War. Since then it has seen numerous additions and featured in multiple games, from the original 4 WaW maps (some DLC) to its return in Black Ops with 6 new maps and a running plot, a further 4 maps in its DS version, another 6 new maps in BO2 plus a new mode… The next generation of Zombies is here, in Advanced Warfare’s Havoc DLC.
I have always been a fan of Zombies. It’s a fantastic mode for parties, it’s competitive, it’s challenging, and it’s an all-round good laugh no matter who you play with. Its original form in WaW was fantastic, it was simple. The DLCs added new interesting maps, a couple of simple new features and a bunch of exciting “Wonder Weapons”. Black Ops saw a welcome return, starting out simple, again with one or two new features. As more maps got released, the story arc began to get very thick and the new additions started to get bigger and bigger. Whilst they kept the mode fresh, it lost the simplicity that made it so fun for me. Perhaps I don’t like change and it’s just me, but the more maps that got released, the less interest I had.
Black Ops II took things further, the new TranZit mode just confused me and again it was all too much for me. I abandoned the mode entirely, I didn’t buy any of the DLC unlike previous games as I had lost interest in Zombies entirely.
Enter “Exo-Zombies” – an experience promised by Sledgehammer to be a new breed and generation of zombies. At first, as you may expect, I had feelings of doubt and skepticism of what it would bring, but I tried it anyway, and I was not disappointed at all.
Exo Zombies takes things back to the very basics, but simultaneously revamps the whole thing. 4 characters start in an open area, with zombie entry points dotted around, weapon purchase points on the walls and doors leading to different rooms. Exactly as it was. Except things are different. Players will immediately notice the lack of barricades on the entry points. The round begins, zombies spawn and they’re coming for you right away. No more tedious, slow starts, no time to prepare.
A few rounds go by and players will begin to notice something about the zombies – some are wearing exo-suits. These guys are faster, have stronger attacks and remain just as dangerous when they have no legs – using exo boost to launch themselves at you. Other new bad guys include a zombie form shrouded in green gas that will infect you upon contact, starting a 60 second countdown to get to a decontamination station. Players may also see an electric zombie that will exo-slam when near you and shut down your exo-suit for a short time, stripping you of several abilities you gain once you find the exo-station.
These abilities include the exo-boosted “double jump”, handy for escaping groups of zombies by jumping to a higher level – just don’t forget that they can follow just as quick. The exo-suit also grants a more powerful melee and the chance to gain new power-ups like additional health and faster reloads.
A lot of what you’d expect from previous zombie versions is back, including zombie-dog rounds, Perk-a-Colas reskinned as exo-upgrade stations, the random weapon box reskinned as a 3D-printer and a weapon upgrade system. The weapon upgrades work differently to how Pack-a-Punch worked, with multiple stations around the map, and a lower price. The trade-off is that the upgrades are smaller, but can be stacked. Every time you upgrade your weapon its stats improve and it receives a new camo, sometimes it will also gain a new attachment.
The new features, combined with modified original features and some unchanged ones creates a very different dynamic that requires constant activity. Instead of getting the best weapons you can, Pack-a-Punching them, downing some Perk-a-Colas and then holing up for the rest of the game, players are flushed out by infection, the regular need to upgrade and the unpredictability of exo-suited zombies.
If you’ve never played Zombies, now is the perfect time to try it out. If you’re a veteran zombie slayer, this is your next challenge, and I’m certain it’ll be a fun one for all. If you still need a reason to try this out, then let me also remind you that one playable character is voiced by John Malkovich himself, and that trumps all.