Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – A Complete Guide To Zombies

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Treyarch’s iconic Zombies game mode has found its way to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. This is the first time that Zombies has made its way to a modern setting, and it’s the second iteration of open world Zombies for the franchise.



MWZ, short for Modern Warfare Zombies, is a blend of MW2’s DMZ experience and Cold War’s Outbreak. Fans of Outbreak will find a surprising amount of content here, and those burnt out of DMZ’s PvEvP gameplay might be surprised at the intensity of this PvE game mode. But before we cover how to survive in the infested landscape of Urzikstan, we first need to cover what MWZ is and how it differs from previous Zombies experiences.

What Is MWZ?

Modern Warfare 3 Zombie Soldiers

MWZ is a PvE permutation of MW2’s DMZ mode, an extraction royale with an emphasis on completing in-mission contracts and faction quests within an open world. MW3’s take on the Zombies formula is a hybridization of the DMZ experience and Cold War’s Outbreak mode, featuring a gameplay loop similar to DMZ with Outbreak’s bosses and progression systems.

Squads of three will deploy into Urzikstan to acquire better gear, complete contracts, and progress factional questlines before extracting. Unlike DMZ, MWZ is purely a PvE experience with no PvP gameplay. Work together with other squads to defeat tough bosses, unlock powerful crafting schematics, and upgrade your character with Perk-A-Colas and Pack-A-Punched weapons. But beware: should you die in Urzikstan, you’ll lose everything.

Notable Differences From Treyarch Zombies

  • MWZ has a set time limit. You have 60 minutes to complete your objective and extract before the map becomes uninhabitable.
    • There are no options for a more traditional round-based experience.
  • There are 24 players in every MWZ match. You can form alliances to create up to six-player squads.
  • Extracting allows you to carry items between matches.
  • Easter eggs take a backseat in MWZ. This mode is more focused on cooperative play and faction quests.

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Creating A Loadout

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Loadout Menu

You won’t get far in MWZ without a loadout. Before the start of every MWZ match, you’ll be able to create a custom loadout to start the match with. The “Strike Team” tab contains all of your loadouts, separated by Operator type. Each character can be equipped with the following:

  • Two Weapons – Contraband or Insured
  • Tactical and Lethal Equipment
  • Field Upgrades
  • Acquisitions

By default, your Operator will have a small stash of Contraband Weapons—weapons with pre-installed attachments you cannot configure. You can then choose your choice of equipment and Field Upgrade before deploying. As you play MWZ, you’ll come across one-time use items called Acquisitions. These include items like Perk-A-Colas, crafting schematics, and killstreaks. You’ll start with a small rucksack that can only carry five acquisition items, but this can be expanded by scavenging Urzikstan and completing certain faction missions. Any items you successfully extract will be added to your Operator’s stash, accessible from this menu.

Insured Weapons

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Insured Weapons Menu

Picking up every weapon you find might be useful to start, but Contraband weapons can only get you so far. To take on the hardest content in MWZ, you’ll want to bring something more tailored-made for your character. Insured Weapons have access to the Gunsmith and are capable of using any attachment you’ve unlocked through Multiplayer or MWZ. MWZ also features exclusive attachments that you’ll only find in Urzikstan, so keep your eyes peeled for elemental ammo types and other exotic upgrades.

While selecting a weapon for your loadout, you’ll see that the top row contains three spaces for Insured Weapons. You’ll start with one slot and unlock the other two through faction quests. Should you fail to extract, any Insured Weapons on you will enter a recovery period before you can use them again. Any weapon from MW2 and MW3 may be used as an Insured Weapon.

Speeding Up Your Insured Weapon Cooldowns

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Extraction Cooldown Bonuses

Extracting with spare essence will reduce the cooldown of all Insured Weapons. The more essence you extract, the more time will be deducted from the cooldown.

Field Upgrades

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Field Upgrades

Modern Warfare Zombies has a unique suite of Field Upgrades to choose from that are exclusive to this game type. Field Upgrades act closer to on-demand power-ups than utility effects in MWZ, each with a fairly lengthy cooldown. Operators have six Field Upgrades to choose from:

Field Upgrade



Aether Shroud

Become invisible to Zombies for 10 seconds.

Works identically to the Zombie Blood power-up from past games.

Medium Recharge

Energy Mine

Spawns an explosive mine that deals massive damage to enemies who set it off.

Medium Recharge

Frenzied Guard

Repair armor to full and force all nearby enemies to attack you for 10 seconds.

While active, kills repair your armor.

Slow Recharge

Frost Blast

Release a frost nova that damages and slows targets caught in the blast.

Medium Recharge

Healing Aura

Heals every squad member to max HP. Downed allies are immediately revived.

Slow Recharge

Tesla Storm

Lightning connects you to other players for 10 seconds, stunning and damaging enemies.

Slow Recharge


Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Acquisitions Stash Menu

Acquisitions are one-time use items that fit in your Operator’s rucksack. These items include:

  • Killstreaks (named Armaments).
  • Perk-A-Colas.
  • Aetherium.
  • Schematics for crafting any of the above acquisitions.

Killstreaks and Perk-A-Colas behave as you’d expect from a Zombies mode. Perks last until your character is downed, offering powerful effects such as increased HP with Juggernog or immunity to explosive damage with PhD Flopper. Killstreaks are one-time use items that deal immense damage or offer unrivaled utility.

Aetherium and Schematics act as progression systems in MWZ. As you complete Contracts in Urzikdstan, you’ll find Aether tools which can be used to upgrade the rarity of your weapons or Pack-A-Punch tiers. For example, you can find or create Aetherium Crystals which will unlock higher Pack-A-Punch tiers. Schematics are found in Urzikstan’s harder zones and from certain faction quests. Most schematics allow you to create acquisitions of your own, allowing you to start every mission with Perk-A-Colas or killstreaks.

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Acts And Tiers

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Act 1 Tier Objectives

Faction quests from MW2’s DMZ mode have been renamed to Acts in Modern Warfare Zombies. These Acts are made up of multiple subobjectives or Tiers, requiring you to complete certain tasks while in Urzikstan. Only one Tier mission may be active per game. As with DMZ, these start fairly easy and get progressively more difficult as you progress through the Acts. Upon completing all Tier objectives, you will progress to the next Act and receive a bundle of rewards, typically cosmetics like Operator skins or emblems.

More important than cosmetics are in-game upgrades. Tiers and Acts are your only way of unlocking additional Insured Weapon slots, and they unlock larger rucksacks for all of your Operators. There are a total of three Acts in the pre-season for MWZ. It’s unclear if Act progress will reset or expand with future seasons. If DMZ is anything to go by, we wager it’ll be the former.

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Exploring Urzikstan

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Squad Driving Past A Horde Of Zombies

Fans of DMZ will immediately be familiar with MWZ’s gameplay loop. You will start the match at the edge of the map with no immediate objectives. You have 45 minutes to upgrade your character, complete any Tasks you accepted before the mission, and extract before the Zombie outbreak begins to spread. Once the 45 minutes are up, the high intensity sector of the map will begin to grow until it covers all of Urzikstan. If you do not extract within the next 15 minutes, you will die and lose all of your gear.

Your first order of business is to acquire Essence. This acts as your main currency in MWZ and allows you to purchase wall weapons, perks, and Pack-A-Punch upgrades. You’ll earn a steady amount from killing zombies, but you can earn large sums of Essence through Contracts and selling miscellaneous items that fill the map.

Finding Upgrades

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Tactical Map Hovering Over A Contract

Opening your map and zooming in will display all nearby wall weapons, Perk-A-Cola machines, and Pack-A-Punch stations. You can typically find better armor vests and backpacks in storage containers, and weapons are usually found in bulky storage crates. Smaller storage units can house Essence, Aetherium Tools, or a spare perk.

If you need a better weapon, keep your eyes peeled for a mystery box. They emit a faint blue light that pierces the sky.

Unlike DMZ, MW3’s Zombies mode has weapon rarities that determine its damage output. Weapons are color-coded to represent their rarity, ranging from white (Common) to orange (PAP Level II). Your weapons will start at common rarity, regardless of their status during your previous game. You can upgrade your weapons by using Aetherium Tools, acquired from Contracts and the occasional container. Higher rarities are found in harder zones. Upgrade your weapons, get some perks, and try to complete any Tasks before you need to evacuate.

Threat Levels

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Tactical Map Showcasing Threat Levels

As with DMZ, MW3’s Zombies mode divides its play space into three distinct zones:

  • Low Threat: The white outer portions of the map. Zombies are weak, Contracts are easy, and loot is of low quality.
  • Medium Threat: The orange portion of the map. Zombies are tougher and occasionally armored, special zombies are more common, and loot is of much higher quality.
  • High Threat: The red portion of the map, typically near the center of Urzikstan. Zombies take an immense amount of punishment, special and boss zombies are common, and loot reaches its highest quality.

For your first few MWZ games, it’s recommended you stick to the low and medium threat regions, only entering the medium threat zone to use a Buy Station or purchase perks. Generally, medium threat is balanced around Pack-A-Punched weapons, and high threat is tuned for players with the strongest gear possible. The difficulty increase from low to medium difficulty is quite significant, so be sure you’re prepared before you approach the center of Urzikstan.



Your best source of Essence at the start of each MWZ match is Contracts. Contracts are opt-in missions with a simple objective and large Essence payout. MWZ has spiced Contracts up by spawning a loot cache at the end of every Contract as well, typically awarding Aetherium Tools, Perk-A-Colas, and/or weapons. You’ll ideally want to complete a few Contracts to upgrade your gear.

Contracts can be found by opening your minimap and zooming in. Pinging the Contract’s location should make it easy to find. Activate the Contract, complete the listed objective, and claim your rewards. Objectives range from escorting cargo to destroying mercenary equipment.

Mercenary Camps

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Mercenary Camp Flag

Scattered throughout the map are Mercenary Camps that are patrolled by AI soldiers. Mercenaries are tuned similarly to DMZ bots and are extremely dangerous. They can shred through three armor plates in less than a second if you aren’t careful. Try to take these enemies out from a distance with a long-range rifle or explosives. Armored mercenaries can also appear in convoys that patrol the map, certain Contract objectives, and the high threat region of Urzikstan.

Infested Strongholds

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Infested Stronghold Building

Certain buildings in Urzikstan have been plagued with a strong virus that will down your character in seconds. The infestation must be cleared by destroying glowing cysts on the walls inside the structure. Be sure to bring a gas mask to survive the toxic air inside. Once the building is cleared out, you’ll be able to loot all the containers inside. These tend to include rare weapons, materials, and even Perk-A-Colas. If you need to gear up your character and are in a squad, clearing a Stronghold is always an option.


Modern Warfare 3 Zombies High Threat Zone With Abomination Boss

The high threat region of Urzikstan is where the toughest zombies and mercenaries call home. You’ll find mutated abominations, juggernauts, and other tough boss units roaming the center of Urzikstan. Defeating these bosses will require a coordinated team and the best equipment possible.



What You Can’t Extract

Extractions will wipe your weapon’s upgrade status, all active perks, and any Wonder Weapons you have in your inventory. Any spare items are then converted into Essence, reducing your Insured Weapon cooldowns.

Partway through a MWZ match, three extraction points will reveal themselves on the map. You must reach the extraction site and call in a helicopter to safely leave the map. Evacuation sites are marked with green plumes of smoke and can be interacted with in a wide radius. Once activated, a swarm of zombies will spawn at your location until the helicopter arrives. Stay on the move as you clear the horde.

You have 45 seconds to enter the helicopter before it leaves, so be sure to get in before your window expires. Should you miss an extraction, you can wait a minute to call in another helicopter. Extractions may be attempted an unlimited number of times until 45 minutes pass, at which point the high threat zone will begin to expand. Once that region takes over the extraction site, it may no longer be used. A final extraction site will appear at the very end of the match. If you miss this helicopter, you’ll lose everything on your character.

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MWZ Tips

Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Successful Exfil Screen

  • Vehicles are incredibly strong in MWZ. Use them to quickly flee an area, run over a horde, or as mobile cover.
    • You can park your vehicle near a gas station to refuel and repair it.
  • Keep an eye out for crates covered in Aetherium Crystals. These tend to house high-tier Aetherium Tools and Perk-A-Colas.
  • You can join other squads mid-game. Hold the ping input and select the “Invite Nearby Players” option.
    • You can have up to six players in a squad at a time.
  • You can farm an extraction point to level your weapons quickly.
    • Call in the helicopter, kill all the zombies, let the helicopter leave, then call it in again. Repeat until the weapon is fully leveled.

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