Black Ops Cold War Zombies Meta Upgrades (Aetherium Crystals) Guide

Season 2 brought a bunch of new Zombies content to Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and even unleashed the undead hordes on the standalone battle royale mode, Warzone.


However, the main changes alongside Outbreak affect the upgrade system in every Zombies match you'll play from now on.

Teased in the original content reveal of Season 2, now that the update is live we have full intel about the new Refined and Flawless Aetherium Crystals that Requiem agents can collect when fighting against the undead, as well as the new Tier IV and V upgrades that can be unlocked with them.

As part of Operation Threshold, Requiem is expanding its operations into new regions - this is the background of the new open-world Outbreak mode set in a remote area of the Ural mountains where new Dark Aether outbreaks have been detected. It also explains how Requiem is now capable of utilizing stronger Aetherium crystals.

Previously, the most potent form of Aetherium Crystal - Raw - was awarded upon completing the 10th round of a Zombies match, with an additional one earned by successfully exfiltrating. Players can now also earn Raw crystals in the brand new Outbreak mode by completing an experiment and, as in the regular mode, with a successful exfil.

The new Refined and Flawless variants, which have an even greater power potential, require greater and more long-term achievements to earn. You'll need a great deal of coordination and teamwork to acquire them, as to do so your team must reach higher rounds and complete more objectives.

In Zombies, Refined Aetherium Crystals are awarded by reaching round 20, and Flawless Crystals are dropped at round 35. Meanwhile in Outbreak you need to successfully complete 3 objectives to earn Refined and 4 to earn Flawless Aetherium Crystals.

With the bar for earning them set so high, these new resources had better unlock appropriately powerful upgrades - you can decide whether they're worth it for yourself, since we have all of the Tier IV and V upgrades listed and described below.

Weapon Classes

With weapon classes, things are pretty simple. For all classes save Melee, Tier IV is a mirrored upgrade of Tier I and Tier V is an upgrade of Tier II, but greater in both cases. This means that if one weapon has an longshot damage upgrade of 10% at Tier I, then that weapon will get a longshot damage upgrade of 25% at Tier IV. This same model applies to all classes.

Melee, the sole exception, has its Tier II upgrades mirrored to Tier IV, and the Tier V upgrade adds a chance for each melee hit to heal you - this is one of the most significant upgrades introduced in Season 2 as far as the meta is concerned.

The ability to heal yourself with melee attacks will add a whole new dimension to strategy, not only giving players a new way to get out of a hair situation, but also letting them micromanage health levels throughout the match by getting a few melee hits in every now and then.

Weapon Mods

Season 2 introduced Shatter Blast, a new over-the-top ammo mod, but every mod that's already been in the game gained the benefits of the two new upgrade tiers. At Tier IV, all mods except Shatter Blast gain the ability to affect Special Enemies, something previously impossible, whereas they get unique new upgrades at Tier V.

  • Napalm Burst: Burn effect can spread from an affected enemy to up to 5 normal enemies.
  • Dead Wire: Stun effect can spread to normal and special enemies.
  • Cryofreeze: Slow effect can spread to up to 5 normal enemies.
  • Brain Rot: Turns 3 enemies instead of just one.

The odd one out is the brand new Shatter Blast. At Tier IV, Shatter Blast gains a 100% explosion range, and at Tier V gains the chance to trigger "explosive barrage" which unleashes a storm of explosive rounds that strips armor off enemies and knocks them down too.

Field Upgrades

Season 2 already brought some new blood to the Field Upgrades by introducing Frenzied Guard, essentially turning players into raid group tanks, but the two new tiers will change things up even more. We'll take a look at these broken down by upgrade.

  • Frenzied Guard: at Tier IV this Field Upgrade gets a major duration boost, whereas in Tier V it also reduces the movement speed of nearby enemies, giving you more breathing room.
  • Frost Blast: at Tier IV players get an additional charge, and at Tier V it completely freezes those zombies that are nearest - when frozen, zombies can be shattered with one hit, essentially making them ripe for the instakill.
  • Energy Mine: we get a similar upgrade at Tier IV here as Frost Blast by adding another deployable mine, whereas at Tier V each mine gives off three successive stun-bursts, making it an ideal weapon against hard hitting special enemies.
  • Aether Shroud: with Tier IV, the shroud user gains greater mobility, while Tier V adds more charges to this Field Upgrade, making it a versatile ability in both offensive and support contexts.
  • Healing Aura: the Tier IV upgrade allows revived teammates to keep all of their perks on the decay meter, while Tier V makes the healing beams persist in their original locations for 10 seconds, providing teammates with constant healing during this time.
  • Ring of Fire: at Tier IV the burning effect will have a slight percentage change to instakill any affected enemy, whereas the Tier V upgrade buffs players inside the ring even more than usual.


Perks are given exciting new dimensions with the two new tiers, which are bound to shake up how your team approaches tougher challenges in the later rounds of each match. Again, we look at the upgrades per perk.

  • Tombstone Soda: at Tier IV, players with this perk will be revived fast, whereas at Tier V it completely nullifies perk decay.
  • Jugger-Nog: with a focus on tank gameplay, the Tier IV upgrade further reduces armor damage, but the main attraction is the Tier V upgrade due to which all killing-blows will only take you down to 1 HP instead of 0, giving you a second chance to get out of a hairy situation.
  • Speed Cola: this perk gets things rolling quicker at Tier IV by speeding up barricade repairs and Mystery Box rolls, while at Tier V it turns you into a whirlwind of bullets by enabling reloads and hip-fire while sprinting.
  • Quick Revive: at Tier IV, both the reviver and the revivee get a 5 second movement speed boost to escape the hot zone, while the Tier V upgrade is basically the "fight for your life" mechanic from Borderlands: score a kill when down and be revived.
  • Stamin-Up: players will be able to use Equipment items when sprinting with this perk at Tier IV, and at Tier V sprint slowdown it completely removed.
  • Elemental Pop: Tier IV is pretty standard here by giving users a buff to elemental damage, however at Tier V reloading an empty mag will grant you a game-changing damage boost.
  • Deadshot Daquiri: users get a 10% crit rate boost at Tier IV, and a consecutive damage bonus at Tier V, so make every shot count!
  • Armed with this new knowledge, it's time to start farming those Refined and Flawless Aetherium Crystals so you can grab these game-changing Meta Upgrades and reach new heights in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Zombies.

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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