Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War - Using Meta Upgrades In Zombies

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War brought the heat with the Season 2 update not too long ago, making substantial changes to all three segments of the experience. Both multiplayer and Warzone got a wealth of new content, but arguably Zombies stole the spotlight - not only did Outbreak bring the Zombies experience to the open world, but with two new tiers of Meta Upgrades the strategic element gained a whole new depth.

Even with Black Ops Cold War having only received its biggest update yet, Activision is already planning for the next big thing in the Call of Duty franchise.

Here's what Meta Upgrades are, how to farm Refined and Flawless Aetherium Crystals, and how to elevate your gameplay to the next level with Tier 4 and 5 upgrades.

What are Meta Upgrades?

Meta Upgrades are the umbrella term that Treyarch uses to refer to the Tier IV and V upgrades in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Zombies. At launch, Requiem operators had access to three tiers of upgrades spread out across perks, field upgrades, ammo mods and weapon classes, which increased their effectiveness and augmented their function.

With the introduction of the new tiers, your equipment and abilities will pack even more of a punch. In some cases Tier IV is just another numerical stat increase for an aspect of the weapon or ability in question that already benefits from a previous tier, but when it comes to Tier V, it's a real gamechanger in pretty much every instance.

How to get Refined and Flawless Aetherium Crystals

As powerful as the new upgrade tiers are, it makes sense that earning them should be a challenge. You will need to farm Refined Aetherium Crystals for Tier IV upgrades, and when gunning for the even stronger Tier V, Flawless - and thus even rarer - variants will also be needed.

The way to get these crystals isn't much different than the method of farming Raw Aetherium Crystals, except the stakes are higher this time. It is possible to earn the new crystal variants in both regular rounds of Zombies matches, and the new Outbreak mode - though the specific requirements are different.

In Zombies, crystals are awarded based on how far you get before dying or exfil. You need to reach at least Round 20 before you get Refined Aetherium Crystals, and Round 35 for the Flawless variant. In Outbreak, there is no round system - instead the rewards you earn are determined by the number of objectives you complete. It takes 3 objectives to get Refined and 4 to get Flawless Aetherium Crystals.

Since these thresholds are set pretty high up, it'll require a great deal of coordination and teamwork to earn them, and no small measure of skill.

Meta Upgrades - Tier IV and V

So what are we doing all this grinding for, anyway?

Just like regular upgrades, the Tier IV and V meta upgrades vary from category to category, so let's take a look at all the benefits you'll incur from investing in these new improvements.


Tombstone Soda Perk progression

Perks are the first and foremost way of augmenting your playstyle whenever a Zombies match kicks off, and with these new upgrade tiers your favorite perks take on entirely new dimensions.

  • Deadshot Daquiri
    • Tier IV: 10% crit rate boost
    • Tier V: consecutive hit damage increase
  • Elemental Pop
    • Tier IV: elemental damage increase
    • Tier V: damage increase when reloading on empty
  • Stamin-Up
    • Tier IV: enables use of Equipment when sprinting
    • Tier V: sprint slowdown reduced to 0%
  • Quick Revive
    • Tier IV: 5 second speed boost for both reviver and revived player
    • Tier V: revives you if you score a kill while down
  • Speed Cola
    • Tier IV: speed boost to barricade repairs and Mystery Box rolls
    • Tier V: hip-fire and reload enabled when sprinting
  • Jugger-nog
    • Tier IV: reduction to armor-damage
    • Tier V: killing blows reduce HP to 1 instead of 0
  • Tombstone Soda
    • Tier IV: increases revival speed
    • Tier V: eliminates perk decay
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Field Upgrades

Energy Mine Field Upgrade progression

The brand-new Frenzied Guard Field Upgrade joined the fray with Season 2 as well, and gets the new upgrade tiers alongside the older options as well.

  • Ring of Fire
    • Tier IV: chance to instakill affected enemies
    • Tier V: increases player buff
  • Healing Aura
    • Tier IV: perks of revived players stay on decay meter
    • Tier V: healing beams persist for 10 seconds
  • Aether Shroud
    • Tier IV: increased movement speed
    • Tier V: additional charges
  • Energy Mine
    • Tier IV: additional mine
    • Tier V: each mine triggers 3 stuns
  • Frost Blast
    • Tier IV: additional charge
    • Tier V: makes enemies brittle, allowing for one-hit kills
  • Frenzied Guard
    • Tier IV: duration increase
    • Tier V: reduces enemy movement speed

Ammo Mods

Napalm Burst Ammo Mod progression

Field Upgrades weren't the only category to welcome a new arrival in Season 2 - Shatter Blast is a powerful new ammo mod that debuted at the same time, bringing explosive ammo to a whole new level.

  • Shatter Blast
    • Tier IV: 100% explosion range increase
    • Tier V: chance to trigger explosive barrage, removing enemy armor and knocking them back
  • Brain Rot
    • Tier IV: affects special enemies
    • Tier V: affects 3 enemies
  • Cryofreeze
    • Tier IV: affects special enemies
    • Tier V: slow effect can spread to 5 enemies
  • Dead Wire
    • Tier IV: affects special enemies
    • Tier V: stun effect can spread
  • Napalm Burst
    • Tier IV: affects special enemies
    • Tier V: burn effect can spread to 5 enemies

Weapon Classes

Special Weapon Class progression

Weapon class upgrades infer permanent boosts to certain stats for all weapons in a given class, regardless of how you acquire them when in a game of Zombies. The new upgrade tiers work a little differently with Weapon Classes than the other categories, in so far as every class except Melee gets the exact same Meta Upgrades.

At Tier IV, they all get the same bonus as at Tier I but amplified, and at Tier V they get an amplified version of the upgrade at Tier II. The odd one out here is Melee, where the Tier IV upgrade is an increased mirror of Tier II, and Tier V gives you a chance to get healed on each hit. This just might be the most significant upgrade of them all to be introduced in Season 2.

Now that you're armed with all there is to know about Tier IV and V upgrades, check out our guide covering Season 2's Prestige levels.

Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. Graduating summa cum laude from Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi with a BA in Media Production, Aron has been a game journalist since 2014. When not writing, editing or playing, Aron is building models which you can find on Instagram.