Call of Duty’s famous zombies mode has undergone a significant mutation over the last few months; the launch of Black Ops Cold War introduced multiplayer-centric elements like scorestreaks, permanent upgrades, and crafting mechanics, and the most recent update, Outbreak, offered up an all-new spin on traditional gameplay which married the mode to the open-world chaos of Warzone.
It’s been quite a wild ride for fans of Treyarch’s staple addition to the first-person shooter franchise, but what new innovations could be on the horizon?
Black Ops Cold War's Season Two Midway Point
We’re currently in the midst of the second season of Call of Duty’s soft reboot of the Black Ops subseries, and, with recent rumors suggesting that 2021 will see the release of yet another installment of the franchise—this one a potential throwback to the game’s original World War II setting—it seems safe to assume that support for the current CoD game will wrap within the year. The previous title, a reboot of the Modern Warfare lineage of games, managed to debut six total seasons before calling it quits, and Black Ops Cold War seems suited to follow that precedent.
This means that Treyarch should, barring any unprecedented events, have enough zombies content in store to sate fans for four-and-half more seasons. Thus far, the first two seasons saw the introduction of an all-new map in the form of Firebase Z, as well as the aforementioned Outbreak game mode. With the midway point of Cold War’s second season quickly approaching, the developers seem primed to add a few more maps, weapons, and blueprints before the third season rolls around sometime near the end of April.
There’s already been a small hint at what’s in store in the immediate future for zombies players over on Treyarch’s Twitter; the team posted a gif of an Outbreak loading screen which offered an obscured view of a forthcoming new map, the fourth in the experimental new horde mode. There’s no title present in the gif, though it does offer a look at a decidedly urban environment, something that would be fairly refreshing given the remote settings of the first three maps.
Beyond that, we should expect new missions, weapons, and extra challenges to come to Outbreak within the next several weeks. Fan response to the new mode seems to have been very positive, indicating that Treyarch will maintain the mode until support for Black Ops Cold War ceases.
New Survival Maps, And A Return To Kino?
Beyond that, we expect a new survival map to debut either alongside or sometime shortly after the launch of the game’s third season sometime in April. Of course, it’s difficult to make assumptions, as Call of Duty no longer adheres to the regularly-scheduled map pack content update structure to which fans had previously grown accustomed. Firebase Z debuted in mid-February, roughly three and a half months after the game launched. Should Treyarch delay the launch of its next mainstay zombies map for a similar amount of time, we could expect to be waiting until June to experience the next chapter of the convoluted zombies chronology.
As for what exactly to anticipate on that front, rumors have been circulating which suggest that Kino Der Toten, the marquee zombies launch map of the original Black Ops, may be getting some sort of remake. That seems like an easy assumption given Die Maschine’s ties to World At War’s Nacht Der Untoten, but these leaks, which date back to early December and also correctly predicted the setting of the Firebase Z map, seem to have at least some degree of authenticity to them. What’s more, given the community’s response to Black Ops Cold War’s launch map, a partial remake of Kino Der Toten would likely be well-received.
New Game Modes, Remakes, And Another Zombies Chronicles?
It’s hard to say what may be coming after that, though rumors concerning a remaster of the once-despised Tranzit map from Black Ops II have been circulating since before Black Ops Cold War’s November 2020 release. While it likely wouldn’t fit all that well among the relatively constrained survival zombies maps seen so far, there’s no reason to think that a rendition of Tranzit couldn’t be included in Outbreak in some form.
There are also persistent rumors of a second iteration of the Zombies Chronicles DLC, the original having been one of the highest-selling pieces of extraneous content in Call of Duty history. However, given the revamped monetization structure of the new games, this seems unlikely.
Though they often go unmentioned, Treyarch has a habit of adding extra game modes to their zombies experiences, with Black Ops 2 experimenting with the controversial Turned and Grief PvP game modes. Black Ops 4 also offered ulterior modes of play, with the also controversial Gauntlet mode enthralling and frustrating players in equal measure.
We’ve already seen one extra gameplay mode introduce to Black Ops Cold War’s zombies, though very few players seem to have an interest in Crank, a mode that was originally seen in the Call of Duty: Ghost’s multiplayer. Yet, Treyarch may introduce a new version of Gauntlet to Cold War, and even a revamped installment of Grief or Turned doesn’t seem to be out of the question.
Where Are We Going From Here?
Finally, while it may seem outlandish, the debut of Samanth Maxis as a playable operator may lend credence to the idea that the World At War zombies crew of Dempsey, Nicholai, Takaoi, and Richtofen may return at some point in some form. At the moment, that may be a bit much to hope for, but it doesn’t seem to be too outlandish of a theory at this point.
All told, we would expect a minimum of five standard survival maps, a slew of Outbreak updates and expansions, as well as one or two more extra game modes to appear before Black Ops Cold War is usurped by whatever Activision is cooking up for us for 2021. Plus, if the rumors of a standalone zombies game are true, then there’s truly no telling what kind of content zombies fans could have on hand by year’s end.
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