Complete Black Ops Cold War Zombies Gameplay Guide & Tips

BOCW ZM Reveal

This is our general guide to the Zombies mode in Black Ops Cold War. If you can't find the information you are looking for here, or need more specific information, check our more detailed Zombies guides (pack-a-punch, weapon camos, perks, etc).

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War brought about the triumphant revival of the Zombies side-story with a soft reboot, both in terms of story and gameplay. The same Zombies formula we've come to know and love is still here, but a few changes and tweaks have been added to get with the times. The wave-based horde mode is the best it has ever been, so let's take a look at what's new and how you and your squad can survive the onslaught.


1. Die Maschine

Die Maschine (pronounced dee-maa-shee-nuh) is the launch map included in Black Ops Cold War Zombies. It introduces a brand new Zombies story called the Dark Aether story.

Based in Morasko, Poland, Die Maschine features an abandoned Nazi research facility where particle-colliding experiments were carried out under a project named "Projekt Endstation".

The experiments went south (i.e. bad!) causing an opening of a rift responsible for the interdimensional breach and transportation to/from the Dark Aether. The accidental opening of a gateway to the Dark Aether caused an outbreak at the facility, where it was overrun by the undead.

Perhaps the most interesting part about this map is the new iteration of the classic Nacht Der Untoten map. Zombie veterans would know about this, but if you just jumped into Zombies this year then it is worth noting that Nacht Der Untoten was the first Zombies map ever. It was introduced in Call of Duty: World at War Zombies. Nacht Der Untoten is a bunker that was used by the Nazis during the war.

The revised version of Nacht in Die Maschine has the exact same layout but brand new aesthetics, with a completely destroyed interior and an exterior filled with graffiti. The return of Nacht Der Untoten really hits home for long-time Zombies’ fans.

As mentioned above, the "Nazi Experiment Gone Wrong" scenario occurred which lead to the opening of rifts into the Dark Aether. Dark Aether is the exact mirror image of the real world but darker. It is a fantasy world, but not the good kind. Dark Aether is home to the Zombies, Plaguehounds, and even Giants. Whenever you kill a Zombie in Dark Aether, they float away into the sky.

The new wonder weapon introduced in Die Maschine is called the Decompressive Isotopic Estrangement Machine or D.I.E. Machine. The classic Ray Gun also makes its return.

The map also features six perks as of launch (with more expected to be released in the future): Quick Revive, Elemental Pop, Stamin-Up, Jugger-Nog, Speed Cola, and Deadshot Daquiri. In addition to the classics (Speed Cola & Jugger-Nog) returning, we also have a brand new perk called Elemental Pop.

Pack-A-Punch Machine

Our guide to turning on the power and activating the Pack-A-Punch machine in Die Maschine is here.

Map Layout

On the surface, you have Nacht Der Untoten in the center of the map surrounded by a yard (spawn), a crash site, and a huge pond area.

There are two tunnel entrances. One from the pond and the other from the crash site. Each takes you to the facility entrance. The facility consists of an enormous central particle accelerator, medical bay, weapons lab, control room, and main power room.


General Comments

Perks are essential elements of any good Call of Duty zombie mode, and they're back in a new form. Since Black Ops Cold War is unifying progress and unlocks across all modes including regular multiplayer, Warzone and Zombies, some of the less conventional and more zany perks we've come to expect are delivered a bit differently.

Zombies Perks come packaged as cans of soda - if you're new to Zombies, expect more such silliness - with appropriately punny names. At launch, you could sample 6 flavors and Treyarch added more in DLC.

  • Jugger-Nog: Increase maximum health by 50.
  • Quick Revive: Reduce the time it takes to regen to full health by 50%. Reduce the time it takes to revive an ally by 50%.
  • Speed Cola: Increase reload speed by 15%.
  • Stamin-Up: Increase run and sprint speed.
  • Deadshot Daiquiri: Aiming down sights moves to enemy critical location. Remove scope sway.
  • Elemental Pop: Every bullet has a small chance to apply a random base Ammo Mod effect.
  • Tombstone Soda: When downed, become a shadow in the Dark Aether armed with your weapons that can revive you. If your shadow loses all its health, you die.
  • Mule Kick: Carry a third primary weapon.
  • Death Perception: Obscured enemies are keylined.
  • PhD Slider: Sliding into enemies triggers an explosion. The size and damage increases the farther you slide before impact.

The first four of these Perks are what will be the most useful to the average player. Depending on your playstyle, either can be the right choice for you, though we'd recommend Stamin-Up for more skilled players who do not need to fall back on the crutches provided by the others to get out of near-death situations.

Quick Revive will see most use when you are playing together with others, since half of its functionality is lost on solo players, and at that point you may as well just roll with Jugger-Nog.

Deadshot Daiquiri is best avoided unless you are among those players who doesn't dislike the egregious aim assist baked into console ports by default, because this perk will give that effect a boost. Elemental Pop sounds like a fun perk, but it has more entertainment value than functional worth, since you are relying on RNG for the effect to trigger and none of the Skill Tiers - more on those below - actually increase the percentage change of the effect triggering. You might want to pick that one if you are playing for the laughs with some friends, or are streaming/making videos, since when the effect does trigger it's bound to be a spectacle.

Die Maschine Locations

Our in-depth Perks location guide for Die Maschine is here.

Skill Tiers

General Comments

Skill Tiers are a new system designed to give players a way to permanently upgrade some of their abilities and equipment that is only available in Zombies. The most important and apparent upgrades relate to Perks, but since the Skill Tiers system has much broader applications we chose to cover it separately.

Skill Tiers let you increase the effectiveness of Equipment, Perks, Weapon Classes, Field Upgrades, and Ammo Mods. Skill Tier upgrades are applied permanently when purchased and cost Raw Aetherium Crystals, a rare resource that you can earn by playing Zombies. Since these crystals won't be super common, early on you need to distribute your tiers tactically to best improve your performance, allowing you to earn more crystals - focus on the Perks, Equipment, Weapons, and Upgrades that you use the most so that you can become a better player without having to drastically alter your preferred play style.

Perks change the most when upgraded, and should be your main focus. That said, some Perk upgrades only benefit you if some other factor they are affected by is also appropriately upgraded.

Each tier upgrade costs one extra Raw Aetherium Crystal than the previous one, with tier 1 costing you 1 crystal. This means that the second tier will cost you 2 crystals and the third will cost 3. In turn, that means you will need a total of 6 crystals to fully upgrade a perk.

Perk Skill Tiers

  • Jugger-Nog
    • Tier 1: Reduce status effect duration by 50%.
    • Tier 2: Armor Plates replenish 25% additional armor.
    • Tier 3: Increase maximum health by 100.
    • Tier 4: Armor durability increased by 25%.
    • Tier 5: Instead of getting downed on a lethal hit, armor is depleted and health is reduced to 1.
  • Quick Revive
    • Tier 1: Downed crawl speed is increased by 100%.
    • Tier 2: Reduce the delay before health starts regenerating by 50%.
    • Tier 3: Reviving an ally will also heal you to full health.
    • Tier 4: Reviving an ally will increase both players movement speed for a limited time.
    • Tier 5: Killing an enemy while downed will revive you and remove Quick Revive Perk.
  • Speed Cola
    • Tier 1: Swap weapons faster.
    • Tier 2: Field Upgrades recharge 20% faster.
    • Tier 3: Increased reload speed by 30%.
    • Tier 4: Repair barricades faster. The mystery box settles muchg faster.
    • Tier 5: Fire and reload while sprinting at full speed.
  • Stamin-Up
    • Tier 1: Increase backpedal speed.
    • Tier 2: Immunity to fall damage.
    • Tier 3: Walk faster while aiming down sights.
    • Tier 4: Use equipment while sprinting.
    • Tier 5: Remove sprint speed falloff.
  • Deadshot Daiquiri
    • Tier 1: Deal 100% extra critical damage if an enemy is at full health.
    • Tier 2: Increase damage against armor pieces by 50%.
    • Tier 3: Reduce hip-fire spread.
    • Tier 4: Increase critical bonus damage to 10%.
    • Tier 5: Each consecutive hit on the same enemy deals 2$ more damage to maximum of 20% damage.
  • Elemental Pop
    • Tier 1: Equipment damage also has a small chance to apply a random base Ammo Mod effect.
    • Tier 2: Reduce Ammo Mod cooldowns by 20%.
    • Tier 3: When a random Ammo Mod is applied, it uses your current Skill Tier instead of the base.
    • Tier 4: Increase enemy elemental weakness damage by 50%.
    • Tier 5: Reloadiung creates an electric charge damage discharge that damages and stuns nearby normal enemies. The more empty the magazines, the stronger the damage.
  • Tombestone Soda
    • Tier 1: Shadow form can regenerate health.
    • Tier 2: Increase downed duration to 60 seconds.
    • Tier 3: On death, drop a Tombstone stash that saves your weapons, equipment, and resources.
    • Tier 4: Respawn near the end of the Round instead of the beginning of the next. Respawn timers are reduced by 50.
    • Tier 5: Prevent Perky decay while downed. Tombstone Soda is always lost when downed.
  • Mule Kick
    • Tier 1: Crafted equipment grants an additional equipment if able.
    • Tier 2: All enemies have a small chance to drop ammo.
    • Tier 3: Stowed weapons slowly refill ammo from stock.
    • Tier 4: 25$ chance to keep non-retrievable equipment when used.
    • Tier 5: 3rd primary weapon is recovered when purchasing Mule Kick.
  • Death Perception
    • Tier 1: Minimap update rate is increased.
    • Tier 2: Enemies give danger indicators when behind the player.
    • Tier 3: Gain 20% more looted salvage and high-grade salvage.
    • Tier 4: Increase armor penetration damage by 25%.
    • Tier 5: Nearby chests, resources, and item drops are keylined through walls.
  • PhD Slider
    • Tier 1: Immunity to environmental damage while sliding.
    • Tier 2: Increased slide duration.
    • Tier 3: Immunity to self-inflicted explosive damage.
    • Tier 4: Increased slide speed.
    • Tier 5: Falling from a large height will trigger an explosion. The size and damage increases the higher you fall.


General Comments

The way you acquire weapons in Zombies has been tweaked to rely slightly less on random chance, and also give players more options that are actually worth using at any given time. The Buy Wall and Mystery Boxes are back, but you can also bring your preferred loadout from Multiplayer or Warzone into the fight as well. The new Weapon Rarity system is what everything revolves around.


Weapon Rarity has been introduced in a way to make your efforts feel more rewarding as you progress through the rounds. Split across five tiers, rarity will determine how much of a damage bonus weapons have compared to the baseline and how many random attachments they will have. As you proceed through the rounds, the drop chances for higher-rarity weapons increases from Mystery Boxes, reducing the possibility that you'll luck into a Legendary gun with your first box and get worse weapons for the rest of the match. Rarity stats are as follows:

  • Common - No damage boost, 1 attachment
  • Loadout - No damage boost, whatever attachments you have in your loadout
  • Uncommon - 50% damage boost, 2 attachments
  • Rare - 100% damage boost, 4 attachments
  • Epic - 200% damage boost, 6 attachments
  • Legendary - 300% damage boost, 8 attachments


Bringing your custom loadouts into Zombies is a good way to give you a starting boost, since Loadout-rarity weapons can potentially come with more attachments than Common weapons. Additionally, since the game assumes your custom loadout is what you prefer, there is an increased chance for you to find higher rarity versions of your own loadout in Mystery Boxes as the game progresses.

Weapon Camos

Our in-depth guide to unlocking all the weapon camos is here.

Field Upgrades

Though the Field Upgrade system itself is shared with Multiplayer, the upgrades themselves are completely different and designed to fit the Zombies narrative - meaning less realism, more over-the-top wackiness, and arcane results. Field Upgrades can drop from enemies when killed, crafted, or found in Mystery Boxes. They can also be upgraded in the Skill Tier system.

  • Frost Blast - Create a frigid blast of wind that deals frost damage and slows enemies caught inside of it. Slowed enemies take additional damage.
    • Tier 1: Blasts lasts 3 seconds longer contributing to slow enemies.
    • Tier 2: Increase mxaimum charges to 2.
    • Tier 3: Double the size and damage of the blast.
    • Tier 4: Increase maximum charges to 3.
    • Tier 5: Normal enemies are frozen for 5 seconds and insta-killed when damaged.
  • Healing Aura – Summon beams of energy down on yourself and allies to instantly heal to full health.
    • Tier 1: You and allies gain a regenerative healing effect that lasts 10 seconds.
    • Tier 2: Beam knocks down normal enemies and stuns Special and Elite enemies.
    • Tier 3: Beam revives downed allies.
    • Tier 4: Allies revived keep all Perks on their decay meter.
    • Tier 5: Beams persist at their initial locations and continue to heal players for 10 seconds.
  • Energy Mine – Create a mine of pure energy that detonates on proximity of enemies, dealing explosive damage.
    • Tier 1: Increase maximum charges to 2.
    • Tier 2: Double the size of the blast.
    • Tier 3: Mine detonates 2 times in rapid succession.
    • Tier 4: Enemies damaged by the blast have their armor destroyed.
    • Tier 5: Mine detonates 3 times in rapid succession, stunning special enemies.
  • Ring of Fire – Create a ring of ethereal fire that boosts damage for you and allies. Normal enemies who enter gain a burning effect that deals fire damage. Lasts 15 seconds.
    • Tier 1: Double burn effect damage.
    • Tier 2: Ring blocks enemy projetciles.
    • Tier 3: While in the ring, ammo is taken from your stock instead of the magazine.
    • Tier 4: Burning effect has a small chance to insta-kill.
    • Tier 5: Ring duration, burn effect damage, and insta-kjill chance all increase the longer any player is insde.
  • Aether Shroud – Phase into the Dark Aether for 5 seconds becoming hidden from enemy detection.
    • Tier 1: Activation instantly reloads ammo for your weapon.
    • Tier 2: Increase shroud duration to 8 seconds.
    • Tier 3: Activation instantly warps you forward a small distance.
    • Tier 4: Increase movement speed while shrouded.
    • Tier 5: Increase maximum charges to 2.
  • Frenzied Guard – Force all enemies in the area to target you for 10 seconds. Armor takes all damage during this time.
    • Tier 1: Activation repairs your armor to full.
    • Tier 2: Enemies you kill repair 10% of your armor.
    • Tier 3: Normal enemies explode after hitting you.
    • Tier 4: Increase duration to 15 seconds.
    • Tier 5: Normal enemies are slowed to walk speed while active.
  • Toxic Growth – Summon a deadly growth of thorns in front of you. Enemies moving through it are slowed by 50% and take toxic damage.
    • Tier 1: Double the health of the growth.
    • Tier 2: Increase maximum charges to 2.
    • Tier 3: Double the damage enemies take while moving through the growth.
    • Tier 4: Increase maximum charges to 3.
    • Tier 5: Enemies killed by the growth explode dealing toxic damage to nearby enemies and slow them by 50% for 3 seconds.
  • Tesla Storm – For 10 seconds, lightning connects to other players, stunning and damaging normal enemies.
    • Tier 1: Double the damage dealt to enemies stunned by Tesla Storm.
    • Tier 2: Increase the duration to 15 seconds.
    • Tier 3: Special enemies can be stunned and damaged by Tesla Storm.
    • Tier 4: Players generating a field gain 25% increased movement speed.
    • Tier 5: Elite enemies can be stunned and damaged by Tesla Storm.

Ring of Fire and Healing Aura will both see most use when you are playing with a squad, though they certainly have their uses for solo players too. The Energy Mine is best utilized when you have hunkered down in a defensible position and want an entrance covered, while Frost Blast is best used during the early rounds when things aren't too tough yet.

We don't usually suggest using Aether Shroud since its use-cases are few and far between - at best, if an undead horde is between you and a crucial piece of loot, you can pop the shroud to collect it without fighting.

Scorestreaks & Support

Scorestreaks have come into play in Zombies due to the progression unification, and the mode will share the available Support options with Multiplayer, bringing some realistic military kapow to bear against the undead. Support items can drop from Mystery Boxes too, but are very rare.

To balance things out for the solo player, those Support items that temporarily remove control over your operator - think Chopper Gunner - also grant immunity for that period of time.


The new crafting system enhances your zombie survival experience by allowing you to craft a variety of equipment and scoresreaks that will help you in your zombie engagements. The zombies will drop several resources such as Armor, lethal and tactical equipment, and a new item called Salvage.

Armor replaces the old crafted shield and can be found either as a rare drop from zombies or crafted using the Salvage. The Armor provides you protection from all angles. Every single hit from the zombies will still deal some damage, but it will be mitigated. Think of the new Armor as a "damage dampener" with limited durability.

Just like other power-ups that we've seen in Zombies, certain zombie types will drop Armor Shards, which can be used to partially repair your worn-out armor, or you can fully repair it by grabbing the Carpenter Power-Up. You can also upgrade your Armor by two additional levels that will increase the overall durability and the damage dampening effect of the Armor.

It is important to upgrade your Armor, as progressing through the rounds the zombies become stronger and stronger. Since the classic Jugger-Nog perk is back, the combination of a fully upgraded Armor and Tier 3 Jugger-Nog is sure to give you a huge advantage in the later rounds.


In order to end a game of Zombies, you always had to get eventually overrun by zombies and die... until now. The new Exfil option allows you and your squad to exit the game without dying. You will have an option to call in a chopper using a radio, which will be in the starting area of the Die Maschine map. The chopper will rescue you and end the game. This is possible once you've completed round 10. After that, the Exfil option will be available every 5 rounds that you complete.

The majority of the players must vote to begin the Exfil. Upon the initiation of exfiltration, the current round will end, with the game instructing you and your squad to reach the Exfil site within a given time. At this point, the zombies' difficulty will go up a notch, and you will come across waves of zombies trying to stop you from getting to the extraction point.

Once you arrive at the Exfil site, you will need to clear the area of any zombies to allow the hovering chopper to land and pick you and your squad up. If you manage to complete the Exfil, you will be rewarded with bonus XP and a chance to get Raw Aetherium Crystals. Aetherium Crystals are essential to upgrade your perk tiers permanently, as mentioned above.


This is a glorious moment for 'mic-shy' players who are always shy to speak into the mic whenever they are playing online. A locational ping system is going to be introduced in Zombies. We first saw this quality-of-life improvement in Warzone where the players could easily ping locations, weapons, and enemies to alert and notify their teammates.

The ping system seems to be a recurring feature ever since Warzone as we also noticed the same in Black Ops Cold War Multiplayer. And now, we have it in Zombies for easier communication. You can ping zombies, weapons, mystery box, perk machines, pack-a-punch machine, and more.

Easter Eggs

Megaton Orlov

The Megaton Orlov easter egg is epic, and also possible to carry out solo. We have a full guide, including video, here.

Coffin Dance Meme

Besides being hilarious, the Coffin Dance easter egg is an excellent way of saving your points in the early rounds as you can get the Jugger-Nog perk for free instead of purchasing it from the machine for 3,500 points. Our full guide is here.

Secret Music

Our guide to activating the secret music easter egg is here.

Hassan Sajid

Gaming has been a part of Hassan’s life for as long as he can remember. Not only does he game well, but he also keeps his eyes open for gaming-related content to make in-depth guides and is always keen to share his game experiences. He graduated with a degree in engineering from the National University Science & Technology (formerly known as Caledonian College of Engineering). The research and technical writing skills he earned throughout his time in the university have allowed him to contribute to the gaming community by creating in-depth guides for gamers all over the world. Find Hassan on LinkedIn or find him gaming on Steam.
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