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Sometimes, Undead is Better: Looking Back on Call of Duty’s Zombies Mode

Tenshishi

He's gotten his hands on every console from Atari to Xbox, and he's cracked open every single one of them. He's Tenshishi, a name which is either a brilliant example of the flexibility of the Japanese language, or just a bad alliteration of the name of his favorite band... We'd like to think that it's both. When he's not busting open old consoles, the wild Tenshishi enjoys reading and writing, drawing cartoons, and consuming media in the most convoluted ways possible.

30 Responses

  1. FIRST says:

    FIRST!!

    • Saying First like its 2006 says:

      And?

    • Ghost Ryder says:

      You definitely do not play zombies. You have the ranking absolutely incorrect. Also, Der Eisendrach is my third favorite map, Origins is number two, and Moon will always be my number one, because all of those maps had more character than you ever will in bed.

      • Tenshishi says:

        Yeah, I definitely don’t play Zombies, that’s why I listed 45 different maps and wrote 36,000 words total to explain my reasons for the ranking of each and every one, because I’ve never played the mode before. Something something virgin, blah blah blah.
        Grow up.

  2. Slowpoke says:

    First!

  3. Samuel Stanbury says:

    How is Der Eisendrach not in the top 3 as well as Buried above it when most of the zombies community think that DE is better than spaceland

    • Tenshishi says:

      Der Eisendrache is great, but as outlined in the description, it has trouble carving out its own identity; everything above it manages to be good at all of the same things, but with distinct elements that make the maps their own thing.

  4. Saying First like its 2006 says:

    Nope, and why would you want to be? Just saying first isn’t cool, it makes you look like a fool

  5. cum says:

    did you ust call zombeis in spaceland the best map ever….
    what?

    • Tenshishi says:

      To be fair, there’s a lot of leeway in the top five, and nostalgia is good for no points at all. That being said… Yeah, I’d still label Spaceland as the best. It’s good for pretty much every type of player: high-rounders, egg-hunters, barebones survivors, explorers, wonder-weppers, roleplayers… It’s a complete package. Maybe it’s not the absolute best at any one of those categories, but the fact that it’s so good – at least – at all of them at once really cements it as “that one map” in my opinion.

      • Jarrod says:

        I’m sorry but this list is garbage, I’ve played zombies since I was 10 years old on World at War when it first came out and you know absolutely nothing about zombies bud I can’t even begin with how out of order it is, and how could you not involve nostalgia and time period of release when creating the list? Ironically, it seems most of your analysis is based on personal preference and your own nostalgia for each game/map anyways, which lends you zero credibility. Your rankings are mishmashed, confused, and all over the place, and you simply regurgitate the same mouthful of lackluster diction to make similar points about every map. And seriously, Zombies in Spaceland at number 1? Are you actually insane? Number 1 is one of the following: Origins, Mob of the Dead, Der Eisendrache, Buried, Kino Der Toten, or Der Riese, and I think that 99.99% of zombies players would agree with that. You absolutely bash Treyarch and put Infinity Ward on some pedestal in this article, when Treyarch has easily put out THE BEST zombies maps of ALL TIME. If anyone has taken a *** on the zombies universe and made an abomination of it, it’s Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer with their offbrand, tacky, money-grab knockoffs of the truly amazing and innovative Treyarch mode. Despite the lazy mistakes they’ve made, more proper credit is due here for the OGs of Nazi Zombies. Case closed

        • Tenshishi says:

          Of course the list is personal preference, a human being wrote it! If I did this purely based on nostalgia, Black Ops 1 maps would all be at the top. I gave my reasonings for the position of each and every map, and I never specified how large any of the gaps were – lots of maps, like Shadows and Eisen, are only separated by a very tiny margin.

          Treyarch is still the king of the mode overall, but while Infinity Ward had some fun with the ideas of the mode and made original experiences with its game, BO4 only had half-hearted remakes and mediocre originals (aside from DotN); just because it’s Treyarch doesn’t make it infallible, and just because it’s Sledge or IW doesn’t make it “a crappy ripoff”.

          As for the “lackluster diction”, that was for practical purposes; these are all different maps for just a single game mode, so I had to focus on shared themes – like layout, visuals, and gunplay – in order to actually rank them… You know, the point of this article? It’s not as if the core mechanics are going to change much!

          I mean, feel free to disagree, sure; even I’ve changed my mind on some of the placements two days after writing the thing. But please, don’t attack me! I have played and enjoyed the game mode for a long time, and I just wanted to write an article to express that. I’m sorry you didn’t like it…

          • Jarrod says:

            It’s cool, I went on a bit of a rant because I’m very passionate about the subject. I see what you’re saying, but I’m still just unsure what you’re actually basing the likeability on for the maps. But hey, we each have an opinion on it and it’s not my place to be so cruel about your ideas. I just thought you were a bit lopsided and contradictory on some of your points. My apologies if I was bashful and rude, I understand your viewpoint and didn’t mean to offend you my fellow zombies enthusiast play on and oorah

          • Jarrod says:

            And I’m sorry, but the other games’ versions of the mode are cheap knock offs lol, and Zombies in Spaceland is NOT number 1. That’s just a fact.

        • Tenshishi says:

          No problem, I understand where you’re coming from… Fact is, all the other attempts WERE knock-offs, which ranged from Infinite Warfare’s “NECA Mirage” level (the bootleg TMNT figures from that line are nearly identical in quality to the real things, but have colored headbands, which means some actually prefer it) to Advanced Warfare’s “Eh, good enough, I guess” level (like name brand Oreos VS Dollar Store brand)… Still, because the maps there have a good amount to actually do – WaW and BO maps before Ascension are for high-rounders and nobody else – they average out around the middle of this “even-weight” (considering how every type of player may enjoy the map) list rather than the bottom. There’s no way Five or the WaW bunch would be so low if I was giving more weight to release time and considering nostalgia, believe me!

          And yeah, Spaceland isn’t my absolute favorite to play on altogether; I just feel like it’s the most complete package, and since it’s still in my personal top five anyway, it felt like a natural fit.

          Keep killing zombies, brother! Ut Semper Immortui!

  6. Jordan says:

    I feel like you’re exaggerating about Cold War. I’ve been past round 100 (I have the “Another Round?” Achievement to prove it) and I’ve never had a crash. In fact, the only crash I have had is on the PS4 version, and that was at launch. Never happened again.

    As well as not mentioning any of the positive changes (starting weapon, PaP changes, taking away points per hit so that all weapon classes are viable, great progression with some of the best camos, upgradable perks, etc)

    Most of the hardcore Zombies community says Cold War is up there with some of the best in a lot of regards.

    But either way, I enjoyed the rest of the list for the most part, and you’re a great writer. Thank you.

    • Tenshishi says:

      I had a real axe to grind against Cold War, for sure, but the problems I listed were 100% true: I and my friends have never, ever been able to seriously play it without fatal crashes.

      It is a shame, because I have heard a lot of good things and I’d love to really try it… But if it won’t even load up (now it outright won’t get past the load screen; once the players get off the helicopter or van, GPU CRASH!), I have no way of reflecting on any good points. So… Well, that resulted in its write-up being the way it is.

      Glad you emjoyed the rest of the article, at least! Thank you!

      • Jordan says:

        Sorry to hear that you’ve had so many issues, that’s strange. But I can understand why that would be frustrating.

        I have a 5600X and 3080 Ti, so maybe the power of my PC is just bruteforcing past the poor optimisation. I also use the latest version of Windows 10, and I think you mentioned being on 7. Not that you should be expected to change OS to have a playable experience, but just a theory.

        I have high hopes for Vanguard Zombies, since it’s being made by Treyarch, and is on the much more recent and better performing Modern Warfare (2019) engine.

        You’re welcome!

  7. nCadeRegal says:

    Nice write up here man. I was a huge zombies player back before I had kids. Kino is what I always love to come back to, but I would have to say that moon, and shadows of evil are my 2 favorite Easter eggs. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this write up. Thank you.

    • Tenshishi says:

      I’m glad you liked it! It was a lot of fun to make and really fun to revisit some old haunts to get an idea of how to rank them… Brought back a lot of memories. Kino and Moon are still incredible to this day!

      If you have BO3 on PC, check out the mod-map Leviathan: it plays a lot like Moon, but takes place in an underwater base instead!

      • DarkSoul says:

        Nice reviews, I didn’t know how much work this zombie mode have, definitely must give it a try

  8. Brubrubrub says:

    I crash a lot more on Bo3 than Cold war. In fact, I think Cold war only crashed once. Even the bugs have bugs lmao

    • Tenshishi says:

      Oddly enough, BO3 has been having more net issues and even the occasional crash lately for me, too; maybe a rogue patch hurt some things? It was pretty rough at the game’s halftime season when they first broke performance on Haswells…

  9. Concerned Citizen says:

    I get this list is personal, but… wow, it is just… so incredibly bad. I’d love to count every which way, but this comment would be 1000 paragraphs if I did. I couldn’t even get past the first legitimate ranking on this list without laughing.

    So I guess that’s my first point: Classified, Tag Der Toten and Blood of the Dead as the bottom 3?? 2 maps that massively improved upon their predecessors and Blood of the Dead, while not AS GOOD as Mob, is still easily the best single map story in zombies history. Even if you HATE BO4, that makes them BOTTOM 3? And if that’s the case, how aren’t ALL BO4 maps the bottom 8? Dead of the Night, Alpha Omega and Voyage of Despair are all bogus compared to your bottom 3.

    Infection somehow ranks above those 3, Nuketown and REVELATIONS???

    The amount of maps that ranked about both Der Riese AND Gorod despite both being easily WAWs #1 and BO3s #2/#3 is ridiculous. You’re really trying to tell me Die Rise, Tranzit, Carrier, Rave in the Redwoods and Shaolin Shuffle rank about GOROD?

    Where is The Tourtured Path? It’s quiet easily the best WWII zombies experience and also in my personal top 5 despite not liking WWII zombies.

    I understand the Zombies in Spaceland love, and I appreciate it, but… above.. well.. EVERY OTHER MAP? You’re spazzing and I LOVE Zombies in Spaceland. It’s aesthetic and mini games are fun, wonder weapons are cool, but it is SO barebones basic compared to Der Eisendrache, Origins, Shadows of Evil, Mob of the Dead or, truthfully, both Blood of the Dead and Tag Der Toten.

    I also love Call of the Dead and appreciate the love, but wow.. does it not deserve top 3, let alone #2. So, so, SO many issues, from George to the wonder weapons to traversing the map to PAP to weather to the frozen water and much more. The map is so flawed that I’m honestly confused how it’s #2, but Tag is #2 for the bottom of the list, considering how much it fixed the maps issues and expanded on its great mechanics.

    • Tenshishi says:

      Yeah… Only a couple days later, I’ve reevaluated some of these positions, and I’d definitely give the list some major tweaks. That being said…

      Classified, Blood and Tag rank as low as they do because I took off major points for the maps being remakes, and with the BO4 guns and perks no less; I’d bump up Classified to be slightly above Five in retrospect, but I haven’t enjoyed a single game of the other two despite my best efforts… There’s just no reason to play them over the others.

      Voyage… Well, frankly, that one’s pretty personal. I guess the main reason I dislike it so much is that it isn’t good, but I expect so much better from the developer that brought us CotD and Buried, you know?

      Revelations I think I need some new perspective on, but to me it just played like an uninspired mish-mash of ideas that was worse than any one of its parts… That being said, yeah, it’s definitely better than Infection. Don’t know what I was thinking, there…

      Yep, I absolutely believe that everything I listed above Der Riese and Gorod are actually better; I ranked everything on a modern “look-back” scale and tried to list maps by which had the most features that were the most well-realized. That’s why Spaceland did so well here – it’s jam-packed with things to actually do, and they’re reasonably easy TO do with some practice. As good and classic as Der Riese is, it’s just survival!

      Probably the weirdest bit about this list is that I barely ranked the story events… Yeah, the results would be COMPLETELY different if I did, but I focused on how much fun they are to PLAY… If you’re including IW and Sledge in there, you kind of have to rank it like that. Otherwise, Treyarch would dominate the top completely; and they get enough attention already. My goal here was to provide a different perspective.

      Glad to get a chance to talk with fellow Zombies fans, here! Opinions being so diverse is part of what makes the mode great.

  10. Alex says:

    Someone please show this trash to Lex and Noah because this list is a total disaster 😀

    • Tenshishi says:

      Ha ha let’s make fun of the internet man because his rankings don’t match up exactly to mine! Come on… All I wanted to do here was get a few more people talking about (and potentially playing) Zombies! Why all the hate?

      • anon420 says:

        Yo fr tho I just wanted to know your thoughts on my favorite map, I could care less the rankings bc each is to their own, I just enjoyed your commentary.
        P.s. to everyone else, Tranzit was the best
        Gofuqyurself

        • Tenshishi says:

          Green Run, if nothing else, was certainly one of the – if not the absolute – most ambitious maps across the whole mode. Honestly, with just a hint of retooling – a slightly improved weaponset (adding in the MSMC and QBB LSW alone would work), a completely revamped Jet Gun, and a bus call button at each stop (that made the bus travel at full speed without stopping until it reached you) – Tranzit would be several positions better, and add in a Survival mode on Diner and Green Run would finally reach its potential!

  11. AetherOr says:

    … Said undead Jud Crandall…