Highlights Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Zombies is confirmed to be an open world experience, offering the biggest map in the series’ history. While Outbreak mode in Black Ops Cold War attracted a new audience with its open world concept and casual style, it didn’t satisfy fans of round-based gameplay. There are concerns that the open world map in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies may lack personality and originality, whcih would disappoint fans of the mode.
Call of Duty Zombies has evolved greatly since its debut. Once a small round-based mode with simple gameplay, it grew to include unique mechanics like Perk-a-Colas and Pack-a-Punch. The Ray Gun was surpassed by numerous Wonder Weapons, mini bosses began to accompany the undead, and complicated quests gave players something to do each match beyond surviving. Then, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War gave players a semi-open world experience to enjoy alongside round-based content, and for better or worse, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is expanding on the idea.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Zombies is confirmed to be taking an open world approach, and thus far, fans know little else beyond that. However, the map has been described as the biggest in series history. While this could have some benefits, and should be exciting for those who enjoyed Outbreak, there are some downsides to consider too. Activision may be treating the open world nature of the map as nothing but a positive, but history shows that it could end up being very divisive.Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Could Fix or Continue Outbreak’s Problems
To be clear, Outbreak had its strengths. The mode proved to be a big success for Treyarch in Black Ops Cold War, as open world Zombies was a novel concept that attracted a new audience. Mission-focused gameplay served as a nice break from those tired of the usual survival structure, and Treyarch had huge areas to hide CoD Zombies’ intel in. For casual players, Outbreak was a relaxing experience where they could grind camos, fish, and slowly clear out maps. However, the mode did nothing for fans of round-based gameplay, something that could hurt MW3 Zombies since it is unlikely to be round-based. There was plenty of room to improve for Outbreak as well.
The biggest downside of Outbreak was that it did not feel like Zombies thanks to its map design. This makes sense, as Outbreak’s maps were repurposed locations from multiplayer. While the large zones did give players some areas that took time to explore, none had the vibe of a Zombies-exclusive map like Kino Der Toten or Der Eisendrache. While Outbreak’s first Easter egg smartly added an area to one of these maps, nearly the entirety of Outbreak’s maps were reused multiplayer assets. Without small environmental details like blood or building damage, the locations felt too clean despite supposedly being home to an undead outbreak.
Worst of all, Outbreak lacked Easter eggs, with only the main quests and Outbreak’s casette tapes being of note. This felt like a major missed opportunity, as side quests are a core part of Zombies’ identity. Hopefully, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Zombies learns from these flaws and corrects them. Going fully open world will hopefully mean that there is no loading or switching between zones, with players being fully free to explore a huge map. If there are actual side quests to discover within MW3 Zombies, and the map itself has a unique Zombies aesthetic, it could feel like a proper evolution of Outbreak that is worth sinking time into.
Unfortunately, there is reason to be concerned about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Zombies. The multiplayer of the game is leaning heavily into old content, with Modern Warfare 2 2009 map remakes and the Carry Forward system suggesting that little will be truly new in the sequel. With no details provided on this massive Zombies map, it seems likely for it to be just a reused Warzone location. This would be hugely disappointing, as Zombies will lack personality yet again – a huge problem in recent entries. Unfortunately, with Sledgehammer Games not having a full development cycle, and Treyarch hard at work on Call of Duty 2024, it is hard to imagine that there was enough time to develop a fully original, open world Zombies location. If this ends up being the case, then fans could be outraged once again.
There will be a huge map to explore in MW3 Zombies, but without carefully crafted areas, it could look lackluster and feel clunky to play. While side activities like launching the Dragon rocket or battling an Orda could return, there could be a lack of Easter eggs once again. Additionally, new enemy types and Wonder Weapons may be less likely. While Outbreak showed promise, and open world Zombies is great in theory, this map could end up feeling as soulless as it does big. If speculation proves true, and the open world location does not look and feel like a CoD Zombies map, then fans of the mode could be in for another rough year.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 launches on November 10 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.