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Call of Duty MW3 Zombies, gameplay, map, story, and more

Find out everything you need to know about MW3 Zombies, including the story, the perks, Wonder Weapons, and the new open-world time-gated matches.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies: A zombie screeching.

Having originally been introduced in Call of Duty World at War, the beloved Zombies mode has once again materialized with Call of Duty MW3 Zombies. The undead-smashing mode has made many appearances in CoD titles over the last 15 years, though it’s never been a feature of the Modern Warfare line of games up until now. So, here’s all there is to know about MW3 Zombies in 2023’s CoD game. But don’t expect a traditional Zombies experience.

Alongside MW3 Zombies, there’s also the MW3 multiplayer and a bone-chilling narrative in the MW3 campaign, albeit the campaign isn’t so great according to our Call of Duty MW3 review. Nevertheless, Zombies is back in a big way, including an exclusive set of eye-catching MW3 camos, so here’s all you need to know.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies explained

The Call of Duty MW3 Zombies mode, Operation Deadbolt, is an open-world Zombies experience for up to 24 players, though it can be played solo or in a group. This makes it the largest Zombies mode in CoD history. Unfortunately, it’s time-limited instead of round-based, but the MW3 Zombies timer can be extended.

Aptly titled Modern Warfare Zombies, or MWZ, it offers a grander experience akin to Black Ops Cold War’s Outbreak Zombies. Here’s an overview of all the new features and important changes:

  • Open world map with difficulty zones
  • 24 player lobbies
  • Story missions
  • Zombies and enemy soldiers
  • New zombie types
  • Multiple Wonder Weapons, including a new one
  • Extraction mechanic
  • No round-based gameplay
  • A one-hour time limit (can be extended)

Even more interesting than these important changes to the mode is how it will be supported. Like the game’s multiplayer components, Zombies is set to receive content updates. When MW3 Season 1 kicks off, MWZ will see its first major content update. Mysterious gateways have opened up across Urzikstan and you’ll be tasked with investigating them. Alongside that, we’ll get our first new post-launch Wonder Weapon – the V-R11. The V-R11 turns enemies (both zombies and humans) into allies that will fight alongside you.

While the idea of an open-world Zombies that gets expanded over many updates sounds exciting, we would love for some traditional Zombies maps to make their way into Modern Warfare Zombies, especially if they are round-based too.

You can watch MW3 Zombies gameplay by ‘MrDalekJD’ in the video below:

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Call of Duty MW3 Zombies gameplay

Modern Warfare Zombies is an extraction survival PvE mode within Call of Duty MW3 and will have you going from various regions of the map to others to complete story missions and objectives. In many ways, it’s a unique mix between Warzone’s DMZ mode and traditional Zombies.

Unlike most past COD Zombies experiences, MW3’s Zombies mode removes the typical round-based gameplay but challenges you by requiring you to exfil when you think things are getting out of hand. While you’ll still get rewards if you succumb to the hordes, escaping alive is much more beneficial. While we feel that MWZ’s approach is “not quite as good as hitting higher rounds of traditional Zombies,” as per our MW3 review, “taking on the dangers of the Extraction Zone is blood-pumping, adrenaline-rushing fun.”

MW3 Zombies: A player emitting electricity to a nearby horde of zombies while waiting for the extract helicopter.

With 24 players in a lobby, you can choose to enter the game solo or with a pre-assembled squad of players. However, you can also combine squads with other players and groups during the match. Thanks to the inclusion of proximity chat – one of the best features in any multiplayer game, we’d argue – finding and teaming up with other players has never been easier. Compared to the original 4-player maximum of normal Zombies, this is a huge difference.

Due to the extraction nature of MW3 Zombies, you’ll have to take on the mode – successfully, might we add – to be able to beat the harder zones. We’ll go over the zone system later, but as you reach the center of the map, the challenge will increase. This increasing difficulty demands better gear, so you will often need to get in and get out alive to then head back in next time stronger than before.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies: Operator rucksack menu in Modern Warfare Zombies where players can equip gear onto Operators

Fortunately, players will start each game of Zombies with a selected Operator from your Strike Team, each of them offering their own ‘On-Solider’ gear. The gear you find and successfully exfil with during Zombies matches can be added to one of the five customizable gear slots for each Operator. Any Operator from MW2 and MW3 can be used, and two Operators are unlocked by completing specific Zombies challenges.

Alternatively, if you find Schematics for certain items, called Acquisitions in Zombies, you can craft these one-use items in the lobby between matches. Each Acquisition has a certain rarity, indicating the difficulty finding it and how much it’ll affect your weapons or items.

Speaking of weapons, all MW2 and MW3 guns are usable in Zombies, alongside the ability to find Contraband weapons during matches. However, Contraband weapons will disappear if you fail and die during the match you use them. There’s also the introduction of Aether Tools, which will upgrade your current weapon to a rarer form. The rarer it is, the more damage it delivers to the hordes of undead and villainous mercenaries.

However, you’ll only have a single hour to complete your goals, unless you’re able to extend it somewhat. That’s right, you can’t play a single Zombies match (theoretically) forever as you could in previous iterations of the mode. From the moment you’re dropped into the match, you’ll be against the clock to slay zombies, collect items, and complete objectives until you have to exfil. If you don’t make it out in time, say goodbye to any loot you collected.

Given the narrative details we’ll go over soon, Modern Warfare Zombies also features human enemies for the first time in the series. Things can get chaotic if you’re facing off against a horde of zombies and Terminus mercenaries armed to the teeth. This simple addition changes how you play, as running around in circles works wonders against the undead, but not so well against soldiers armed with firearms.

MW3 Zombies: A group of player sat in the back of a jeep driving through a field in MWZ.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies missions

The MW3 Zombies missions are:

Act 1:

  • Direct Line (Tier 1)
  • Treasure Hunter (Tier 1)
  • Wall Power (Tier 1)
  • Road Rage (Tier 1)
  • Firepower (Tier 1)
  • Take Up Arms (Tier 1)
  • Interceptor (Tier 2)
  • Freezer Burn (Tier 3)
  • Minelayer (Tier 3)
  • Pit Stop (Tier 3)
  • Saboteur (Tier 3)
  • Automated Backup (Tier 3)
  • Infiltrator (Tier 4)
  • Hands Off (Tier 5)
  • Bring ‘Em On (Tier 5)
  • Blasted (Tier 5)
  • Hostile Takeover (Tier 5)
  • Chaperone (Tier 5)
  • Nest Wrecker (Tier 5)
  • Where’s Dr. Jansen (Tier 6)
  • Extraction (Tier 6)

Act 2:

  • Same Day Delivery (Tier 1)
  • Ascension (Tier 2)
  • Safe Cracker (Tier 2)
  • Reaper (Tier 2)
  • Merc Cleanup (Tier 2)
  • Guardian Angel (Tier 2)
  • Shocked (Tier 2)
  • More Firepower (Tier 3)
  • Essence of Aether (Tier 3)
  • Bounty Hunter (Tier 3)
  • Heist (Tier 4)
  • Mind Control (Tier 5)
  • Exterminator (Tier 5)
  • Frost Bite (Tier 5)
  • Shepherd (Tier 5)

Act 3:

  • Two Factor Authentication (Tier 1)
  • Firestarter (Tier 2)
  • Alternate Current (Tier 2)
  • Ghosted (Tier 2)
  • Most Firepower (Tier 2)
  • Paint the Target (Tier 2)
  • Crash and Burn (Tier 2)
  • Storm the Castle (Tier 3)
  • Closing Time (Tier 4)
  • Holdout (Tier 4)
  • Spring Cleaning (Tier 4)
  • Defeat Zakhaev (Tier 4)

Another important MW3 Zombies gameplay feature that can’t be ignored is the increased focus on story missions. While you can enter a match solely for the fun of racking up points and taking on the horde, there are also story missions and objectives to complete. Doing so will progress the narrative, with key characters talking over gameplay, and even featuring as AI allies at times.

Completing missions within a Tier will unlock certain rewards, with Tiers making up Acts of the storyline. Completing all Tiers also earns some rewards, and finally, completing three Acts will give you a secret reward, as well as being able to uncover the secrets of the exclusion zone. Each Season is set to add even more content into the story, with Season 1 kicking things off.

MW3 Zombies: Zakhaev holding a vial of Aetherium.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies story

The story for Modern Warfare Zombies in Call of Duty MW3 takes you to the Urzikstan as a member of Operation Deadbolt. After a mercenary group called Terminus Outcomes steals the last quantities of Aetherium, with plans to weaponize it, you’re tasked with stopping them from further harvesting the resource.

Unfortunately, when attempting to escape, Terminus created an incursion that causes zombies to spread and infect the map, meaning you’ll have to deal with hordes of the undead while on your mission. Things can’t ever be easy, can they?

In Operation Deadbolt, you’re tasked with countering the threat posed by the Exclusion Zone as Task Force 141 Operatives under the command of SSO Kate Laswell and SSO Selma Greene. That means the one and only ‘Soap’ MacTavish is leading the charge against Zakhaev and Terminus. However, the much larger implication for the story is that you’ll be facing down not only the zombie threat but also a human threat through the Terminus group, which is a series-first for the mode.

Operation Deadbolt’s story takes place between Modern Warfare (2019) and Modern Warfare 2 (2022)’s story. As for the larger narrative at hand, Modern Warfare Zombies is connected with Black Ops Cold War’s Zombies mode with the Dark Aether story. This means that, technically, both the Dark Aether Zombies, the Cold War campaigns, and the rebooted Modern Warfare series are in the same universe.

MW3 Zombies: An overview of the Operation Deadbolt map and its difficulty zones.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies map

The Call of Duty MW3 Zombies map is Operation Deadbolt, an open-world PvE environment with several different regions that escalate in difficulty due to hot zones.

With the hot zone system, the center of the map (where Zakhaev unleashed the Aetherium vial) is the hardest area, marked with red. Outside of here is a medium difficult zone, with some of the effects of the Aetherium creeping out. The rest of the map, however, is a lot easier. You’ll still have to deal with huge hordes of zombies that will no doubt offer a significant challenge to the uninitiated, but it’s a great place to start for new players.

The design philosophy of these zones is intended to replace the traditional round-based gameplay fans have come to expect. Given there are no rounds in MW3 Zombies, you’ll have to head into the harder difficulty zones in search of a bigger challenge. Luckily, this is demanded of you if you want the best upgrades and for story missions.

This is a somewhat controversial decision, as many hardcore Zombies fans are clamoring for a more traditional Zombies experience. Nevertheless, the larger format will, at the very least, create a unique mode that distinguishes MW3 Zombies from other incarnations of the mode. Hopefully, post-launch updates will add more small-scale maps for those seeking a more traditional experience.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies: All six Field Upgrades available in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies Field Upgrades

Like Black Ops Cold War Zombies, there are six Field Upgrades in Modern Warfare Zombies that players can use:

  • Energy Mine
  • Frenzied Guard
  • Healing Aura
  • Frost Blast
  • Aether Shroud
  • Tesla Storm

Energy Mine

With a medium recharge time, the Energy Mine Field Upgrade will spawn an explosive that deals massive damage to enemies that approach it.

Frenzied Guard

A risky investment, the Frenzied Guard Field Upgrade will restore your armor to full, but enemies will target you for 10 seconds. However, enemy kills restore your armor too.

Healing Aura

Perfect for the medic of the squad, the Healing Aura Field Upgrade will restore all players’ health to full immediately, even those in Last Stand. However, it offers a slow recharge time.

Frost Blast

Struggling to chill out for a moment? Frost Blast will send out an icy blast that deals damage initially and will also slow any enemies that enter the area of effect.

Aether Shroud

If you’re looking for a quick escape, Aether Shroud will make you invisible for a short time. However, you’ll only be invisible to zombies, so watch out for any soldiers nearby.

Tesla Storm

Upon using the Tesla Storm Field Upgrade, you’ll produce electricity that can stun and damage normal enemies, and the lightning also connects to other players too.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies: All perk-a-colas in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies perks

Much like normal CoD Zombies modes, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Zombies also offers a range of Perks, also known as Perk-a-Colas, to purchase from those iconic vending machines:

  • Deadshot Daquiri
  • Death Perception
  • Elemental Pop
  • Jugger-Nog
  • PHD Flopper
  • Quick Revive
  • Speed Cola
  • Stamin-Up
  • Tombstone Soda

Deadshot Daquiri

If you find yourself missing critical hits, then Deadshot Daquiri is for you. This Perk will cause your aim-down sight to point to enemy critical locations, while also increasing your critical damage against enemies.

Death Perception

Struggling to find any enemies or hidden treasures? Death Perception will help you spot obscured enemies, chests, resources, and item drops.

Elemental Pop

What’s better than one Ammo Mod? All of them. Elemental Pop will give you a chance to have a random Ammo Mod elemental effect with every bullet you fire.


Arguably the most iconic Perk-a-Cola in Zombies history, Jugger-Nog is a must-have, as it increases your maximum health. It’s essential anyway, but especially if you’re going further into the Hot Zone.

PHD Flopper

Why throw bombs when you can become the bomb? Any time you dive into prone you will unleash an explosion, with the radius increasing depending on how high you fall. And, better yet, you’re immune from fall damage when diving and immune from any area of effects from weapons you’re firing.

Quick Revive

Quick Revive, another mainstay for the series reduces your health regeneration delay, while also reducing the time it takes to revive a downed ally.

Speed Cola

Running out of bullets in the middle of a horde? Speed Cola increases your reload speed, as well as how quickly you replate your armor.


Alternatively, if the hordes are getting a bit too much for you to handle, why not drink Stamin-Up and have faster run and sprint speeds?

Tombstone Soda

Finally, if you’re finding it hard to exfil before succumbing to the zombies and soldiers after you, Tombstone Soda will create a tombstone stash where you die, allowing you to pick up your items in the next match.

MW3 Zombies: A player holding the Scorcher Wonder Weapon in MWZ.

Call of Duty MW3 Zombies Wonder Weapons

The Call of Duty MW3 Zombies Wonder Weapons are:

  • Scorcher
  • Wunderwaffe DG-2
  • Ray Gun
  • V-R11 (Season 1)


The Scorcher is the brand-new Wonder Weapon in MW3 Zombies’ Operation Deadbolt mode and it sure packs a hefty punch.

The Scorcher is capable of wiping out massive hordes of zombies with a powerful blast, though it will take time to charge which will leave you vulnerable. When it fires, anything in your path will be demolished.

However, there’s also an incredibly handy alternative fire mode that propels you into the air. Sure, it won’t wipe out a horde of zombies but it’s great for getting out of tough situations and traversing the map. In fact, it can launch you so high that you can use it to start gliding across the large swaths of the map.

MW3 Zombies: A player sliding on a road holding the Wunderwaffe Wonder Weapon in MWZ.

Wunderwaffe DG-2

The iconic Wunderwaffe DG-2 is also back in MW3 Zombies. Powered by Element 115, this Wonder Weapon packs 20,000 amps of electricity into a single bolt of lightning. Not only is this superb for taking down a single tough foe, like one of the bosses, but it’s also great for taking down hordes as the lightning can chain between enemies.

Ray Gun

Perhaps the most iconic Wonder Weapon of all, the Ray Gun finally returns in MW3 Zombies. This high-damage full-auto laser weapon is a classic for a reason. While it’s not anything fancy, it’s incredibly reliable, boasting high-precision damage.

MW3 Zombies: The V-R11 Wonder Weapon placed on a table.


The V-R11 will be available in Season 1 and is the first new post-launch addition to MWZ. Excitingly, the V-R11 turns enemies into allies that will fight for you. Being able to take over both zombies and human enemies, the V-R11 will likely be a great support weapon, drawing enemies’ attention and helping to deal some extra damage. However, we don’t see it’s damage or crowd control quite outpacing the likes of the Wunderwaffe, Ray Gun, or Scorcher.

If you recognise the V-R11, that’s because it’s actually a Wonder Weapon from Black Ops Zombies. Here, it would turn a zombie into a human, and from the sounds of it a similar effect happens here. Although, since it also turns human enemies into allies, we expect the ‘science’ behind it to be slightly different than its first incarnation.

MW3 Zombies: A player downed on the ground, bleeding out while looking at the Abomination in MWZ.

Call of Duty MW3 zombie types

The Call of Duty MW3 zombie types are:

  • Standard zombies
  • Hell Hounds
  • Mimics
  • Disciples
  • Mangler
  • Abomination

The strange new zombie types in MW3 Zombies are certainly worth pointing out, as they have unique abilities that will pose a significant threat.

MW3 Zombies: The Mimic zombie type attacking a player.

Firstly, the Mimics are large zombies that can disguise themselves as chests. Not only are they deadly with a mix of close and long-range attacks, then, but they will also catch you off-guard.

MW3 Zombies: A Disciple zombie buffing other zombies.

Next up are the Disciples. These aren’t too dangerous on their own, but Disciples are incredibly powerful when accompanied by a horde. That’s because Disciples buff other zombies, making them even more terrifying.

MW3 Zombies: The Mangler zombie type looking down.

The Mangler has made a couple of appearances in past Zombies experiences, and it is back for MW3. Armed with a large cannon on one arm and a sharp machete on the other, the Mangler does what it says on the tin; stay on the move and take this zombie type down ASAP. Oh, and did we mention that they also have armor?

MW3 Zombies: The Abomination zombie type charging its massive laser attack.

Last but by no means least is the Abomination. This zombie type is huge, with three large mouths and even laser beams. The good thing is that the Abomination can’t enter buildings due to its size. That doesn’t mean you’re safe indoors though as the Abomination commands other creatures to flush you out.

MW3 Zombies: Call of Duty MW3 Zombies Operator Skin, Bone Collector, which is a reward for completing all Acts

MW3 Zombies Operator skin

For those daring enough to take on the hordes of the undead numerous times, you can unlock the Bone Collector Operator skin by completing all Acts of Modern Warfare 3 Zombies. You’ll unlock the reward by completing the Act 3 mission ‘Confrontation’.

In the mission, you’ll be tasked with deploying to Zakhaev’s Stronghold and defeating the Orcus boss. Once this is done, you’ll get a final cutscene, causing you to exfil from the game and granting you the Bone Collector Operator.

Who is the developer for Call of Duty MW3 Zombies?

Modern Warfare Zombies for Call of Duty MW3 is developed by Treyarch, the developer behind most of the Zombies modes in previous games, as well as the Black Ops games in the CoD series.

Despite Sledgehammer Games being the lead developer on MW3 as a whole, Treyarch (as it did in Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty Vanguard) is at the helm for the Zombies experience. The studio’s classic round-based Zombies formula isn’t present in MW3. However, it also had experience making a similar, open Zombie experience with its Outbreak mode in Black Ops Cold War.

That’s everything you need to know about MW3 Zombies. Be sure to use the MW3 best guns and best MW3 loadouts while you’re taking on the undead. You’ll need them, and you’ll want to level them up when you take on the various MW3 maps in multiplayer too. You’ll also want to take a look at some of the best PS5 controllers and best Xbox controllers. After all, having a hair trigger lock could be the difference between you getting out and getting chomped.