With the popularity of Call of Duty waning in the wake of Infinite Warfare, this year saw Activision offer more ways to play their flagship shooter than any other in recent memory. They remastered the original Modern Warfare as a bonus for this year’s game, and now mid-way through the year they’ve re-released a collection of the popular Zombies Mode maps in “Zombies Chronicles” as an add-on for last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
Since Treyarch introduced the mode in Call of Duty: World at War, Zombies has been a relative mainstay for the series. A hidden bonus for those that completed the World at War campaign has turned into something much more over the years. It started with a relatively simple premise. Four players work cooperatively to defend an area from a zombie onslaught, earning points for killing zombies and using those points to purchase weapons and power-ups to help them stay alive longer. There’s no end game, just level after level of increasingly difficult enemies. As each iteration of the mode was released we saw the developers for Zombies start adding more features and hidden secrets for fans to uncover. Alongside the broadending of the scope of the maps, the perks and power-ups of the game have expanded as well. All the way to the most current iteration of what was introduced in Black Ops 3 with a system of craftable items called Gobble Gum.
In Zombies Chronicles, players get a selection of remastered maps with the most noticable upgrades being in the lighting and HD resolution bumps that we see when compared to the original releases. Upgrades to the audio, character models, and environments enhance the experience on the presentation front as well. Eight maps in all, Zombies Chronicles spans World at War, the original Black Ops, and Black Ops 2. While the whole catalog from those previous games isn’t in Chronicles, most of it is. It’s unclear why Treyarch didn’t package all of the previous maps from their games in this release, but nevertheless, they didn’t.
As the name denotes “Black Ops 3” Zombies Chronicles means that you’re gonna need Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 to play this game. For those that didn’t purchase it when it released nearly two years ago or have gotten rid of the game not expecting this release, this is gonna be a hard sell. You’ll need the base game and the expansion to access the new maps so this could be a pricey proposition. For those that already have a copy of Black Ops 3 it’s still priced a little on the high side when compared to other multiplayer expansions that the game has offered over the years. But, the $30 expansion is a nice addition for newcomers to the world of Call of Duty zombies. An the other hand, a worthwhile upgrade and reason to revisit some beloved maps from the series. Zombies Chronicles offers not only a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but also brings the game in-line with its more modern offerings enhancing not only the visuals but the gameplay as well.
This is mostly changed through the inclusion of the GobbleGum mechanic introduced in Black Ops 3, and the weapon loadout system that’s been added to this release to allow additional customization to the experience. While the maps and strategies haven’t changed all that much since the original release of these maps, these new systems can certainly add tweaks to the way that they can be tackled. For those unfamiliar with the GobbleGum mechanic it offers a multitude of power-ups that can be used throughout a zombies match and these are layered on top of the existing perk system. Weapons found in each of the maps won’t be the same as you remember them either. The weapons from Black Ops 3 are now included in the wall buys for the game and in the mystery boxes. A system that unlocks new weapons at different levels within the zombies progression allows you to select and customize which weapons are in the aforementioned locations.
When it comes to mixing the old and new, Zombies Chronicles does a nice job. You’d think that shoehorning these new mechanics into these old maps would somehow break something along the way, but it hasn’t. The modern character models, the upgraded visuals, the gameplay mechanics and weapons from Black Ops 3 all come together to form what is a pretty incredible package of content that could offer many hours of gameplay. These old maps still hold up to this day, even if they aren’t quite as complex as some of what we see in the more modern releases.
A combination of price point and the need to own Black Ops 3 might end up being a sticking point for this technically exceptional remaster. Treyarch has certainly taken care in bringing these older maps back from the dead.