The best Aetherium Crystals upgrades in Black Ops Cold War zombies

Here's how to get those precious crystals, and where you should invest them

Keep getting clobbered by zombies even when you’ve chugged down a Juggernog? Want to make your best zombies loadout even stronger? Need to keep reviving your puny teammate? Well Aetherium Crystals may be the solution all of the above in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War zombies.

Aetherium Crystals are a new currency in the Call of Duty zombies mode and give players a chance to upgrade their weapons, ammo, perks, and field upgrades to give them more of an advantage against the undead. Each class of weapon, ammo mag, perk, and field upgrade has three stages to upgrade to, each costing slightly more crystals each time. To fully max everything you possibly can out right now in Black Ops Cold War zombies, you will need 138 Aetherium Crystals. This is also the maximum amount you can currently earn.

Aetherium Crystals aren’t easy to come by though, and getting all 138 can be a daunting task. So how do you earn them, what upgrades are there, and if you haven’t got the time to grind and earn all of them, where should you invest your Aetherium Crystals?

How to get Aetherium Crystals in Black Ops Cold War Zombies

There are currently three ways to earn Aetherium Crystals in Black Ops Cold War zombies.

The first is to complete milestone rounds during a zombies run. These milestone rounds are every five rounds from round ten onwards. The amount of crystals you earn for each milestone round does vary, so here’s a chart showing you how many you’re expected to get at the end of each milestone round.

Aetherium Crystals Completed milestone rounds
1 10, 15, 20, 25
2 30, 35
3 40, 45
4 50, 55
5 60, 65
6 70, 75
7 80, 85
8 90, 95
9 100, then every five rounds after

Note that the amount can sometimes fluctuate from the figures shown in the chart above and there are instances of players getting one extra or one less crystal than expected when completing a milestone round. It is not currently clear why these discrepancies happen.

The crystals also stack as you go through a zombies run, so if you reach round 21 for example, you would have earned three crystals in total for hitting milestones at 10, 15, and 20.

The second method is through exfils, which allow you to end your zombies run by jumping aboard a chopper and leaving the undead behind.

Similarly to milestone rounds, you will be awarded a certain amount of crystals depending on which round you exfil on. For example, a round 31 exfil should award you two crystals, as you have passed the round 30 milestone. However, exfil crystal drop rates have been found to be a bit more random and can sometimes drop far below what you expect.

The final method is to complete an easter egg on Die Maschine. This is very time consuming, so isn’t an efficient way to grind for crystals.

How do I spend Aetherium Crystals in Black Ops Cold War zombies?

Aetherium Crystals can be used to upgrade everything in your best zombies loadout in Cold War. To see what upgrades you can spend your crystals on, go to the loadout tab in the zombies lobby menu, then to skills, and then to one of the four categories of upgrades: weapon classes, field upgrades, perks, or ammo mods.

Related: Black Ops Cold War split-screen setup guide

Each upgradeable item or class has three upgrade tiers, costing one, two, then three crystals. This means a total of six crystals are needed to fully upgrade the item or class you want.

To fully upgrade everything to tier three in Black Ops Cold War Zombies, you will need 138 crystals.

Best Aetherium Crystals weapon class upgrades

Each class of weapon in Black Ops Cold War can be upgraded using Aetherium Crystals to help you in zombies runs.

Most of the upgrades are quite similar, ranging from damage increases to unlocking extra attachment slots for some classes of weapon. If you’re looking to make the best Cold War zombies weapons even better, we recommend investing crystals into the shotgun, melee, and assault rifle classes first.

Note that like in multiplayer, weapon classes will unlock and be available for upgrades at certain player levels. The final weapon class, melee, is unlocked at level 50.

Best Aetherium Crystals field upgrade upgrades

As well as tweaking your guns, you can also upgrade the five zombies-specific field upgrades in Black Ops Cold War: Frost Blast, Energy Mine, Aether Shroud, Healing Aura, and RIng of Fire.

While many of the weapon class upgrades were quite similar across the board, Aetherium Crystals can be used to radically change your field upgrades in a number of ways. For those looking to go on long, high-round runs, we recommend maxing out either Aether Shroud for getting out of tricky spots, or Ring of Fire to help take down the tanky bosses.

Best Aetherium Crystals perk upgrades

The six currently available perks in Black Ops Cold War zombies can all be upgraded to be even more useful with your Aetherium Crystals.

While every perk has its uses, the upgrades on offer for Juggernog and Speed Cola are ones you should definitely pay close attention to.

A fully upgraded Juggernog will see your max health increase by 100 and will allow you to pick up more armour when you find it as ground loot. Meanwhile, a maxed out Speed Cola will up your reload, field upgrade recharge, and weapon swap speeds considerably.

Aetherium Crystals ammo mod upgrades

Ammo mods can be super useful in Black Ops Cold War zombies to give your favourite weapon an extra kick. Using Aetherium Crystals, you can make their effects even more powerful by upgrading them.

The specific upgrades are fairly self-explanatory – they essentially make the benefit of having the ammo mod far stronger or last for a longer period of time.

If you have a favourite go-to ammo mod, you should definitely spend some crystals in making it much stronger. However, if you’re low on crystals, you should definitely invest them in upgrading weapon classes, perks, and field upgrades first in our humble opinion.

That’s all on Aetherium Crystals for now. While there are only a set amount of upgrades available right now and a max of 138 crystals to spend, new Cold War content in Season 1 could change that.

New zombies modes could provide extra ways to get crystals, and new weapons, perks, field upgrades and more being added to the game will mean more things for you to spend your crystals on. We’ll be sure to update this guide when more content is added.

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