In November of 2008, Call Of Duty seemingly gave birth to what would happen to be their most popular Co-Op mode besides multiplayer. Initially a secret at the end of the “Call Of Duty: World At War” campaign, players would enjoy the rolling credits after successful winning the Battle Of Stalingrad, to then, after a small introduction, see themselves thrown into a german facility in the middle of the night. Known by many as “Nacht Der Untoten”, with an ever-growing group of zombies trying to overrun you, your goal was to simply survive. Below are my personal all-time, top ten favourite Call Of Duty: Zombies maps from 2008, until now.
10 – Shangri La
Kicking off the list is a map featured in the third DLC package for Call Of Duty: Black Ops 1, renowned as one of the most difficult locales in the modes history, this, in my opinion, is what makes the map stand out even more. Tight design and narrow underground corridors make for an intense battle between the living and dead, frequently keeping you on your toes and not letting you stay still for very long.
Furthermore, Shangri-La was also pivotal in the Zombies storyline which Treyarch was expertly conveying with the time-travelling escapades our four heroes were taking part in. Partnered alongside statistically the most powerful Wonder Weapon of all time, the “31-79 JGb215” or to the community simply as the “Baby Gun” would shrink zombies to tiny-sized enemies. The first innovations in zombie design were also included, the “Napalm” and “Shrieker” variations would either explode or scream to blind the player, which is one of the main parts of the bump in difficulty. I like a challenge and Shangri La ticks that box without a doubt.
9 – Der Riese
Although being remade in 2015’s Black Ops 3, the original Der Riese is by far the best rendition of the classic German facility. “The Giant” translated into English, added the Pack-A-Punch upgrade machine and the Hellhound enemy type, a group of dogs that spawned every few rounds to attack the player instead of the undead. Above all this, however, one of the main reasons Der Riese enters my top ten is purely down to the nostalgic and legendary catwalk.
Whilst playing Co-Op with other players, after getting set up with points, perks and weapons, grouping together at the back area of the catwalk was the tactic. Zombies had only one way of attack, funnelling them into a straight line as they sprinted towards you and your team, easily picking them off with headshots and the classic “Wunderwaffe DG 2”. This was the classic strategy of achieving high rounds with your friends, and still worked just as good in the 2015 remake.
8 – Call Of The Dead
Call Of Duty: Blacks Op 1’s second DLC map came out swinging with its ambition. A personal favourite, Call Of The Dead was the first introduction of a celebrity cast. Including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, Robert Englund and Micheal Rooker. Also introducing a series first in the form of a Zombie boss who followed you around the frozen landscape, famous director George Romero slowly stalked you, armed with his director’s spotlight.
The horror movie theme Treyarch aimed for in their casting and map design is still to this day, phenomenal. Introducing Ziplines and Ice Slides for quicker traversal alongside a thoroughly enjoyable Easter Egg quest to help progress the story even further. To many, Call Of The Dead is one of the most unique zombie maps ever designed for the mode in its now thirteen-year history, simply regarding how Treyarch mixed the casual survivor mode trope up with one of the most in-depth experiences ever.
7 – Kino Der Toten
An all-time community favourite, the first-ever zombie map I played back in 2010, Kino Der Toten is what began my love of Zombies, which is still present today. For players, the Cinema of The Undead is a classic zombie map, Kino’s eerie abandoned cinema locale, with gas-filled Nova crawlers, Hellhounds and Zombies took players from the dark german facility’s of World At War’s maps to now more vibrant and realistic locations.
With Treyarch’s first Black Ops zombie map, the hours spent Pack-A-Punching weapons to ultimately end up training the Undead, a term meaning sprinting around to form a group behind you, to eventually turn around and decimate them, on the main cinema stage was entertaining. To then teleporting to the classic film room above, to rain down grenade after grenade on enemies below. Kino Der Toten’s three-lane design was simple but for its time, undoubtedly iconic.
6 – Gorod Krovi
Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3’s penultimate entry in its DLC season saw players travel to war-torn Stalingrad, ravaged by the undead and the bombastic inclusion of Dragons, Gorod Krovi was an absolute blast to experience. With the addition of wearable helmets, aiding you with buffs and a wider variety of melee weapons. I found Stalingard a tragic surrounding that I couldn’t help but admire, an almost twisted version of beauty. The maps design is reminiscent of Der Riese, each section cut off from the rest but at the same time, ultimately join together as one.
Secondly, describing the Easter Egg quest and its conclusion as pulling on our heartstrings, is an understatement. As much as we love these characters and have grown up with them, they are unfortunately going through hell, and the way the developers conveyed this into Gorod Krovi’s plot was perfect storytelling. Never would I have thought a Zombie mode could emotionally run so deep.
5 – Shadows Of Evil
Whereas I previously mentioned certain maps succeed in how they portray their surroundings, Shadows Of Evil turns that dial to eleven. Starting Black Ops 3 off with a huge bang. The noir style of Morg City was Treyarch boasting of how far they can take their survival mode. An absolute joy to look at and experience, on early playthroughs I found myself in awe of the bright neon lights and vibrantly lit building interiors. Straight out of a 1940’s American movie, the vibe is nailed from the get-go.
Not to mention the addition of further enemies, from mythical “Keepers” to the squid-like three-headed “Margwa”. HP Lovecraft inspiration is at the heart of the City’s streets, Shadows Of Evil also includes yet another Celebrity performing cast. Jeff Goldblum, Heather Graham, Ron Perlman and Neal McDonough star as four cursed souls requiring a sacrifice to each escape their hellish predicament. Shadows Of Evil set a bar that I personally feel will never be topped, of course, there’s a handful of other iconic maps, but none portray the setting quite like Morg City.
4 – Origins
As we start to approach the top three, from Shadows Of Evil onwards, it’s been tough to decide what goes where. The amount of love and respect I have for these maps is unquestionable, and Origins is no different. After a somewhat disappointing beginning to Black Ops 2’s DLC season, fans were conflicted. However, with the final zombie maps release, the tides turned. Labelled by some as the best Zombie map in the modes history, a classic was born, a statement which I can’t help but agree with.
The trenches of World War 1, putting together and wielding four powerful staffs to take down hordes, a new boss zombie known as the Panzer Soldat, towering robotic figures stomping through the battlefield altering the map and yet another Easter Egg quest that was fantastic to take part in. Origins brought Zombies back to a peak they hadn’t visited for a while. As our original four characters returned, only this time a different version: Primis, Origins just didn’t live up to expectations, it smashed them, becoming a pivotal part of the storyline. A masterpiece in map design for Zombies, many spacious and wide areas were present, but at the same time, Treyarch somehow made you feel slow, cramped and insecure frequently. In my opinion, Origins will forever be looked upon as a testament to the Zombie mode.
3 – Der Eisendrache
It was a tough decision between second and third on this list, but Der Eisendrache is one of the biggest examples of how to begin a DLC season. Continuing with our Primis characters from Origins. The German castle turned base is gorgeous to survive in. With the return of the nefarious Panzer Soldat, weapons of higher damage were undoubtedly required. Enter the Elemental Bows, reminiscent of the Origins staffs. The power felt as a player, firing a Storm bow arrow into a group of the undead, spawning a large electric tornado or a Fire bow shot spreading lava everywhere, was exhilarating.
Der Eisendrache also set a standard for what the Zombie storyline is becoming. Each of our four heroes is tasked with killing their opposite version, the original characters from the Black Ops 1 Zombie maps. Having to see characters you’ve grown to love have to kill their parallel universe self is tough, but ultimately is what makes Der Eisendrache stand out. Furthermore, this map saw the first-ever boss battle introduced into the Easter Egg, which is by far one of the best endings to a quest I ever experienced. Blowing up the Earth in 2010 on the map “Moon” was amazing, but somehow destroying the Moon in Der Eisendrache’s final step, is simply jaw-dropping.
2 – Mob Of The Dead
Where to begin with Mob Of The Dead. If it wasn’t for the nostalgia and memories of the Number One spot on this list, Mob Of The Dead would take the crown. Set in the iconic Alcatraz prison in San Francisco, players were tasked with escaping the island by building a makeshift plane. Out the gate, the surroundings are phenomenal, blood-soaked canteens and cells to the rooftops covered by the night sky, shape Alcatraz in a way it hasn’t been before. Our third celebrity cast on this list includes Ray Liotta, Micheal Madsen, Chazz Palminteri and Joe Pantoliano, all well known for playing mobster roles in film.
Mob Of The Dead also introduced quintessential aspects for Zombies. Firstly was the weaponry, classic Tommy Guns were present, the Hell’s Retriever, a fierce tomahawk available for the player to throw to finally the Blunder Gat. Based on Civil War firearms from an earlier era, the Blunder Gat performs like a single-shot break action shotgun. Secondly, a new boss Zombie was introduced, known as Brutus. Scouring the map, covered in armour and wielding an officers truncheon, Brutus was a frequent antagonist around Alcatraz. These points alone are what made me fall in love with Mob Of The Dead.
Escaping from Alcatraz, wondering if you can trust your fellow survivors and a music soundtrack to creepily fit alongside makes for an experience that isn’t just unforgettable, but legendary. Even as it turns nine years old next year, fans will never forget the experience Alcatraz gave us.
1 – Ascension
This is it, my all-time favourite Zombies map, which for sure is going to be a surprise to some. The amount of praise and love I have for Ascension grows with each and every round I play, the only map I have ever hit round 100 on, and I wouldn’t want it to be anywhere else. To begin with, the whole design and aspect of this map is enthralling, a Russian cosmodrome overrun by the undead, surrounded by usable Lunar Landers to traverse the map and caught in the vast shadow made by a towering rocket makes for a great setting.
Ascension was the first map ever to introduce an Easter Egg quest, albeit simple, it laid down a foundation that is still present today, setting off a story that would span years and games onwards. Furthermore, instead of Treyarch introducing a Zombie variation, they instead opted into changing the classic Hellhounds into tiny Monkeys. These little pains would attack you but more importantly, attack your perk machines. I personally love how much variation and risk was put into Ascension, ditching the basic survival rules and opting in for a slight change of pace.
In conclusion, Ascension will always have a special place in my heart. From Monkeys and Black Hole spawning devices to introducing a new perk and continuing a story I would grow up with. It’s map I will never put down or become bored with. All these maps in this list I have endless hours on but none are quite the map Ascension is to me, eleven years on.