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Modern Warfare 3 Zombies tips and tricks

Trying out Modern Warfare 3 Zombies for the first time? Use these 10 essential tips and tricks

A screenshot showing gunplay in Modern Warfare 3's Zombies mode.
Image credit: Activision

Looking for Modern Warfare 3 Zombies mode tips and tricks? Zombies is back, bringing with it a fresh take on a classic mode beloved by Call Of Duty fans. Until now, previous iterations of Zombies mode (or MWZ) featured a round-based system, with players fending off against hordes of undead. With Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Zombies steps away from rounds, dives into experimentation, and tries something entirely new.

As such, you may need a little help when diving into Zombies for the first time. Below, we'll explain how the new mode differs from previous instalments, take a look at what you can expect from Zombies mode, as well as providing you with our 10 essential tips and tricks for surviving the undead swarms.

Check out our ultimate beginner's guide for Warzone 2.0. Join vid bud Liam as he gives you all the tips and tricks you need to survive within Warzone and DMZ.

Modern Warfare 3's Zombies mode explained

In Modern Warfare 3, Zombies goes open-world for the first time ever and does so by basing itself in the most expansive Zombies map to date. Allowing up to 24 players in a lobby, the stage has been set for larger boss fights, merging 3-person squads together to defeat objectives.

As Task Force 141, SSO Kate Laswell and Sergeant Johnny 'Soap' MacTavish lead Operation Deadbolt against Viktor Zakhaev as he lets loose a vial of Aetherium on the military police that infects the dead and brings them back to life. And, alas, we have hordes of the undead to fight off once again.

Players will navigate the tiers, or circles, encompassing the map. Each of these tiers increase in difficulty as you approach the core, forcing you into contact with much tougher and more dangereous zombie types. The main goal is to complete the objectives, earn Essence to acquire perks and equipment for your fight against the Zombies, and exfil from the map with all your loot. The Aether Storm expands across the map after 45 minutes.

There's a bunch of achievements available too, like petting a hellhound or killing a certain amount of zombies or even reviving a player from a different squad. In order to achieve any of this though, you'll want to follow along with our ten top tips and tricks for playing in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies.

1. Learn the map

Screenshot of the map in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

This might seem like an obvious thing to say, but we need to stress how important it is to learn the map. MWZ is a vast open-world with different areas to advance through and battle the zombie outbreak, with increasing difficulty. Each location around the map comes with its own nuances and areas that you'll find can be advantageous or detrimental to your zombie battling. You'll learn it the more you play, but it's a great idea to pay attention and remember what works best for you and your team.

2. Take on Contracts… and complete them

Screenshot of a contract mission in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

Contracts are found across the map in MWZ and they act as mini-missions to complete. While it may be tempting to ignore them, don't. They're a great way to earn fast rewards and perks, which equals more weapons and upgrades to use and hopefully exfil with (more on this later). There's a wide variety to choose from, but two in particular are great for getting points and guns fast; Raid Weapon Stash and Eliminate the Bounty. Activating a mission is one thing on the map, but actually completing it is how you'll reap the rewards.

3. Do the story missions

Screenshot of the first main mission in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

Completing the main story missions in MWZ is another excellent way of unlocking weapons, perks, equipment, and unique cosmetics (like the Zombie Operator skin). In each Act, you'll be able to take on the story mission before the next one appears. And, unlike the rest of MWZ, you'll be able to complete missions as a separate objective away from other players in the game, apart from your own squad, of course. You'll progress through the game, which will also help you to understand more about the tiered-system and in doing so, you'll gather XP and items for your collection. Be warned, they're tricky little things so make sure you're locked and loaded to take them on.

4. Pack-a-Punch your weapons

Pack-a-Punch machine in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

Using the tips above, you'll be well on your way to gathering some much-needed and valuable Essence to spend. One essential way to use it is at the Pack-a-Punch machine, a feature from MW2. In each zone, you'll be able to pack-a-punch a weapon once and as you progress, the cost of this will increase. In Zone 1, it's 5,000 Essence. Zone 2, 10,000 Essence. Zone 3, 15,000 Essence. Pack-a-punching boosts your weapon's overall stats, thus making it easier to kill the Zombies, which is especially helpful when the Zombies themselves get more intense as you progress through the zones.

5. Group the zombies

Screenshot of a zombie horde in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

If you want to have a better chance of defeating the crazed mass of zombies that are coming for you in MW3 Zombies, you'll want to try running around in circles, or circuiting, to gather them altogether behind you. They'll follow you and so you'll get better positioning to fire into a horde rather than trying to pick them off individually.

6. Keep it moving

Screenshot of the parachute mechanic in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

Tying in nicely with our other tips so far, you'll want to keep on your toes. The zombies will be coming to you, so the longer you stay in one place, the more that will gather and you don't want to get hemmed into one spot making it near impossible to fight off the hordes. Keep the pace up, know when to use sprint, and even more importantly, know when is a good time to run away as fast as possible to regroup. It's a great tip that any Modern Warfare 3 beginner should know too.

7. Stick together

Screenshot of a reindeer hellhound in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

This one may also seem obvious, but with everything that's going on in Urzikstan, it can be quite easy to get distracted and find yourself split from your squad. Make sure you stick together so that you can protect each other from sudden influxes of the undead. It's the same as any multiplayer mode, communication is key. Let your allies know what you're planning on doing, so they can come with you or advise against it. Of course, if you've been brave enough to play Modern Warfare 3 Zombies solo, then good luck to you.

8. Swim, swim, swim

Screenshot of the player swimming away from zombies in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

If you find yourself in an especially tricky situation and you need a little moment to recover, get yourself in a body of water. Zombies cannot swim and they will not follow you. They will hang out by the edge though and throw projectiles that may well hit you if you don't swim away. If you can gain some distance in the water, take the opportunity to recharge.

9. Aim for the head

Screenshot of a headshot in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

A tip that is true for any Call Of Duty game, or pretty much any of the best FPS games, aim for the head. You'll do more damage, you'll use less bullets, and you'll get the job done faster. Hit them where it hurts so you're not wasting your time. Remember, you've only got 45 minutes before you'll need to exfil and escape the gas. Time is of the... Essence.

10. Exfil with locked weapons

Screenshot of the Carrack .300 in MWZ
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Activision

On the subject of exfilling, you've got a unique opportunity in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies. Within the game mode, you'll sometimes acquire weapons that would usually need unlocking through level progression or activating special Armory Unlock Challenges. While it's fun to use these weapons in Zombies, if you exfil with them equipped, you'll actually be unlocking them across all game modes meaning you'll have fasttracked your way to more weapons. As well as being a top tip for MWZ, it's just another top reason to play the game mode.

To successfully exfil, you'll need to reach an extraction point on the map (marked by a blue icon of a stickman exiting a door). Reach the extraction point and interact with the green smoke to call a helicopter. Remember to make sure your weapons have been upgraded via Pack-a-Punch first as the extraction point will be in a high-threat area and be quite a challenge to reach.

That's everything we've got on the top tips for Modern Warfare 3's Zombies mode. While playing MWZ is one of our top tips for how to level up fast in Modern Warfare 3, there's plenty more to do like exploring all the MW3 maps or trying out all the MW3 game modes and playlists. So, dive in to those guides to make sure you're getting the most out of your MW3 experience.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2023)

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About the Author
Grace Dean avatar

Grace Dean


Grace has been freelancing for RPS since September 2023, starting out on all things Starfield and Modern Warfare 3. She’s a huge fan of FPS games, as well as adventure and sims to mix up the pace. Studying journalism at university and then running a gaming YouTube channel before making short-form content for television, she left the world of TV to pursue her love of writing and find a beautiful balance between her busy work and family life. If she’s not playing Fortnite or COD, you’ll find her snuggled up somewhere warm playing The Sims 4 or Stardew Valley.