Is Call Of Duty Zombies Dead and Buried?

Is Call Of Duty Zombies Dead and Buried?
Images via Treyarch

Written by 

Joseph Kime


18th Feb 2022 16:17

Call of Duty fans have been burned time and time again.

The mode that began as an end-game accoutrement to Call of Duty: World at War has since gained a life of its own, with a dedicated fanbase that will buy the AAA titles year in, year out just for it. It's a bizarre phenomenon, and one that game developers have tried (and ultimately failed) to replicate.

There's something incredibly special about the Zombies fanbase, as their unrestrained dedication is clear from the liveliness of YouTube channels, subreddits, and open discussions around it - and given that this began as an afterthought for the franchise, it's immensely impressive that Call of Duty has been able to foster such a rich community.

But, recent years have seen this love turn sour, and with missing efforts from the ever-growing list of developers taking the mode on, Zombies has taken a swift nosedive. And it could spell the end of this special community.

Where Did Call Of Duty Zombies Go Wrong?

Is Call Of Duty Zombies Done For?
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Infinity Ward

The common suggestion is that Zombies died somewhere on the road to today, and it'll vary from fan to fan as to where that was. The mode has had massive successes, from World at War and Black Ops all the way to Black Ops III's Zombies Chronicles and Black Ops Cold War's Die Maschine (basically, slap "Black Ops" in front of it and fans are on board), but it's had just as many flops.

Infinite Warfare's Zombies in Spaceland failed to be memorable despite its perfect setting, Advanced Warfare's Exo Zombies was too far a leap from the game's core to stick the landing, and in the official mode's absence, the likes of Ghosts' Extinction tried to fill the gap and failed dramatically. The secret sauce of Zombies is unknown, but every so often, it'll just click. But we're now at a stage where there are as many stinkers as successes.

Fans are now accustomed to an on-off structure to the mode, with one year bringing a faithful undead-slaying experience, and the other, a pale imitation. If there's one thing that can certainly be said about the Zombies community, it's that they're incredibly patient - surprisingly so, given that it's part of the Call of Duty franchise.

But, it's beginning to feel as though this patience is wearing thin.

Vanguard Zombies Is The Final Nail For Many

Is Call Of Duty Zombies Done For?
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Though Zombies fans are willing to accept a lot, some are beginning to call enough, enough. Call of Duty: Vanguard made attempts to do away with the year-on year-off accidental archetype by letting developers Treyarch carry their Dark Aether narrative they started in Black Ops Cold War over to Vanguard for the game's Zombies mode, creating a prequel that takes the fight to the Second World War. This was a great decision on paper, making sure that the relative Call of Duty newcomers Sledgehammer Games wasn't likely to put their foot in it. But it was dead on arrival.

Not given enough time to make the game work, the first Vanguard Zombies map was a reskin of the multiplayer map Red Star, offering little enough progression, excitement and objectives to let players fall away from it after a single 15-minute playthrough. The long-championed mode had become rotten - and not even the subsequent map, Terra Maledicta, has been able to rope it back. Fans have zero faith in Vanguard Zombies, and we've only barely started the game's second season.

Reddit is ablaze with disdain and disappointment. Fans have been left without anything else to latch onto. Could this finally be it?

Is Call Of Duty Zombies Done For?

Is Call Of Duty Zombies Done For?
Click to enlarge

The mode might be at a tipping point. Fans have been patient so far, but this is a weak blow from their beloved Treyarch, the team behind the very best Zombies experiences that the franchise has ever had. If the mode can garner any level of hype after Vanguard's failures, it'll be a special kind of miracle, and even then, whatever comes next has to be fantastic to begin the cycle anew.

The mode's topsy-turvy nature will snap at some point, and it's hard not to feel as though this is it. If even Treyarch can squander the mode, what's left? Who can do it better than the team who created it, and saw it transition from the dingy Nacht der Untoten to the dramatic Origins?

Though many FPS fanbases can get incredibly toxic, I feel for die-hard Zombies fans. They wait and wait, only to be met with more disappointment, and remain optimistic for whatever is next. Though many fans are giving up on the mode thanks to Vanguard's mess, we've got our fingers crossed that Zombies can be pulled from the soil. Not for us, mind - for the fans. They need this.


Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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