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How To Survive In Black Ops III's Zombies Mode

by Daniel Tack on Nov 05, 2015 at 05:01 PM

Call of Duty Black Ops III has a range of cool multiplayer modes to dive into, but if you’re into survival against impossible odds, Zombies is the mode for you. The wave-based combat tasks players with handling a delicate balance of progressing through a city full of secrets and holding back, attempting to play it safe against waves that continue to increase in power.

Players get points for every creature kill and can spend these points on new weapons by finding gun outlines on walls throughout the city. This currency can also be used to unlock gates that lock off areas of the city, ride the train to move quickly to far areas of the city (or attempt to escape a failing wave), or purchase special gumballs.

Here to kick ass and chew bubble gum 

Gumballs provide some of the customization elements in this mode, as players form a “gumball loadout” before each game that can provide powerful boosts that can make all the difference during a critical situation.  Some of the more powerful boosts are limited use; players can refresh their stocks of these rare gumballs by collecting special blue fluid. While the gumballs that come out of the machines can be anything in your set, having a stacked gumball loadout of a bunch of tasty rare treats can give your team the edge when you’re going for a real “progression” run.

Unlocking the shadows

As you explore the city, you’ll find tools to give you advantages on each run. Items like the fulminator (which you can always find right at the start in the beginning alley, though its location changes a bit) can be used to break down the plant pods that infest various areas. 

These pods can contain everything from errant live grenades, zombies, or free weapons, so it’s up to you to determine whether the timing is right to risk popping one open. Some important sections and secrets of the city can only be opened by using The Beast, which is a cooldown-based “buff” that allows players to turn into a monstrous octo-monster that can be used as a powerful defense against a difficult wave and an essential door-buster and crate-smasher. 

Various areas of the city can only be interacted with by using Beast abilities. Whether it’s charging an electrical device with its lightning blast or smashing open a door with its tentacles, you want at least one player on your team well versed in using Beast abilities. Players can turn into the beast at many locations around the map, and the starter alley contains what amounts to a Beast “tutorial” with a few Beast-accessible objects and Beast-specific secrets.

Progress as a pro team or slowly over time

While Zombies might feel a bit frustrating at first, with players only surviving a few waves and gaining a handful of account-level experience and minor unlocks, over time (and maybe with a group  of curated friends) progress becomes easier. This is a challenging survival gauntlet, and while I fully expect some crazy “raid-style” team to complete it quickly after release, it may take regular players quite some time to move through the shadowy city. 

That’s alright, because it’s a fun experience whether you know your allies or not. Players intuitively pick up on ways to “game the system” as they discover just how the waves work. For example, if your team decides to “farm” the first alley for a bit before moving on, one strategy allows you to leave one monster alive in a wave and then take advantage of the extensive breathing/exploration room this will give you – Wave six includes a smattering of highly annoying flying bug creatures, but leaving one alive is easy to do and the one errant insect does not pose a lethal threat in the slightest. Using the currency you’ve acquired to that point to explore the town safely until the game decides to kill the last remaining spawn and trigger the next wave (it takes a while!) is fairly easy, and a good way to explore the early areas of town as you search for artifacts and secrets.

Zombies is a super-cool game mode, and can actually stand solidly on its own without the other content that Call of Duty: Black Ops III has to offer. I highly recommend diving into the dead, knowing that it’s an unforgiving experience that’s perfect for those craving a co-op challenge. Zombies is available to play solo, but the experience is absolutely better with others, either randoms online or a hand-selected crew of undead slayers.