Ultimate Guide to Modern Warfare 3 Zombies

Call of Duty has reinvented its iconic Zombies mode once again in Modern Warfare 3.

Called Modern Warfare Zombies (MWZ), this new co-op experience blends elements of the DMZ and Outbreak modes into a unique open world survival game.

Experienced zombie slayers will need to adapt their strategies to master this hybrid mode. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about MWZ, from creating your perfect loadout to Wonder Weapons and completing missions and acts to survive in Urzikstan.

What Is MWZ Mode?

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MWZ Spawn

MWZ is an open world, PVE (player versus environment) game mode set in the war-torn fictional country of Urzikstan. Teams of three players are dropped into sprawling maps filled with zombies to scavenge for weapons, complete missions, and extract before time runs out.

There are no traditional Zombies round-based maps. Instead, MWZ focuses on open world survival against zombies and AI enemies. Players have 45 minutes during each match to upgrade their loadouts, take on missions, battle zombie hordes, and exfiltrate before the map becomes inhospitable.

The mode supports up to 24 players divided into teams of three. Squads can form alliances of up to six players to cooperate. The goal is to survive as long as possible and extract with hard-earned rewards and unlocks. Similar to DMZ, the main objective in Zombies is to obtain items and successfully escape in the Exfil chopper.

The Story So Far

The ultimate guide to Modern Warfare 3 Zombies, featuring a group of zombies with a Jugger-Nog in front of them.
MWZ Guide

MWZ introduces an original storyline focused on surviving the aftermath of the Urzikstan conflict. Rogue mercenaries, violent factions, and the undead now control the Exclusion Zone. Reports have surfaced about inhabitants exhibiting strange behavior…

Operation Deadbolt is Task Force 141’s mission to explore the zombie outbreak area and find intel on enemy arms dealer Victor Zakhaev’s plans.

Players complete story Acts and Tiers in MWZ that comprise Operation Deadbolt, unraveling the mystery behind the undead infestation. Mastering MWZ gameplay is key to advancing the story and learning Zakhaev’s motives.

Accessing Modern Warfare Zombies

To access Modern Warfare Zombies, players can navigate through the main menu options in Call of Duty HQ. These options include Lobby, Gear, Strike Team, Customize, Battle Pass, and Store. The bottom screen displays match and progress details for quick launches and Zombie Story Mission tracking.

MWZ Enemies

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MWZ Hellhounds

Unlike DMZ, MWZ is a purely PVE experience. However this doesn’t mean you won’t encounter enemies that wont have you sweating and sitting on the edge of your seat. There are two types of enemies in this mode – Zombies and Mercenaries.


The relentless Standard Zombies might seem weak alone, but in groups they can rapidly overwhelm.

Armored Zombies are tougher to take down, requiring more shots due to their protective armor.

Hellhounds are quick and attack in packs, exploding after death.

Cunning Mimics disguise themselves as loot chests, surprising unwary players.

Crawlers are small zombies that creep along the ground before detonating near their target.

The real threats are the elite zombies. Manglers blast players from range with their arm cannons and are hard to trap. Disciples buff hordes of zombies while being difficult to kill themselves.

Stormcaller is a Warlord Disciple boss that can be found in Aether radiation zone. Check out our quick guide for defeating Stormcaller – this will be useful if you’re on the Act 3, Tier 4 mission Closing Time. If you’re looking for more in depth information on the Zombie types and how to kill them, visit our Zombies Guide.

Hardest of all are the towering Mega Abominations with their massive health pools and ability to endlessly summon reinforcements. These can be found in Zone 3.


The Ultimate Guide to Modern Warfare 3 Zombies features a group of men in a cave armed with guns.
MWZ Mercenaries

The mercenaries in MWZ are lethal opponents not to be underestimated. There are several different types:

  • Elite
  • Recon
  • Sergeant
  • Shock troop
  • Soldier
  • Unique

These mercenaries are akin to fighting real players on the highest difficulty setting in terms of their damage output and aiming accuracy.

Unlike normal zombies, power-ups and Pack-a-Punch weapon upgrades have minimal effects when battling them. Essentially, they provide a PvP-like challenge but aren’t as strategic in positioning.

While their AI is lacking, their sheer damage and precision still enable them to swiftly defeat players if underestimated. Exercise extreme caution when confronting MWZ’s mercenaries.

Creating Your MWZ Loadout

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MWZ Loadout Screen

As a Strike Team Operator, you can customize your operator’s gear to match your playstyle. Operators have 5 equipment slots for crafting unique loadouts:

  • Primary Weapon – Bring a powerful automatic rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle or launcher.
  • Secondary Weapon – Have a versatile SMG, pistol or melee for backup.
  • Tactical Equipment – Flashbangs, decoys and gas grenades to disorient enemies.
  • Lethal Equipment – Frag grenades, breacher drones and more for extra firepower.
  • Field Upgrade – Equip powerful abilities like frost blasts, healing auras and energy mines.


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M4 Soul Harvester

You begin with two Insured Weapon slots to fill. Insured weapons can be customized in the Gunsmith and any attachments you’ve unlocked can be equipped. As you progress through Acts and Tiers, you’ll unlock additional Insured Weapon slots.

Choose your guns wisely – high capacity rifles and LMGs are ideal. Aim for weapons with large magazines since reloading often isn’t an option when hordes advance.

The M45 Soul Harvester

If you happened to preorder the Vault Edition of Modern Warfare 3, you would have received the the M4 Soul Harvester Blueprint.

Not only are the attachments powerful, it comes with the Dead Wire ammo mod which has a chance to electrocute enemies with coils of lightning. This can be surprisingly useful, especially in early gameplay as you’ll load in with the ammo mod equipped.

Best Weapon Build/Loadout in Modern Warfare Zombies

Weapon TypeRecommendation
Agile WeaponsARs or SMGs
High DPSLMGs for enemies with high health, like bosses.
Large MagazineImportant as zombies have higher health later on.
Tactical GearChoose based on personal preference but breacher drones are effective.
Field UpgradesEnergy Mines and Healing Aura are recommended.

Rucksacks in MWZ

A screenshot of a character in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies.
MWZ Rucksack

A key piece of gear is the operator rucksack. This backpack allows you to pick up and carry acquisitions found on missions. Acquisitions provide boosts like faster health regen or extra armor. The rucksack enables looting during levels without taking up weapon slots.

MWZ Rusksacks are as follows:

  • You start the game with a small rucksack which gives you 5 slots.
  • Medium rucksack can be bought at buy stations in game for 2000 essence (or get lucky and find one looting). They give you 7 slots.
  • Large rucksacks can be found by looting in game and give you 9 slots. These are relatively easy to find after a few runs, especially if you’re looting in tier 2 areas.


Equip lethal and tactical equipment in your loadout for dealing with zombies. Frag grenades and C4 are particularly useful to take out large groups. Flashbangs can provide breathing room when overwhelmed.

MWZ Tacticals

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MWZ Tacticals

The list of tactical available in MWZ is:

  • Stun Grenade
  • Smoke Grenade
  • Scatter Mine
  • Decoy Grenade
  • Shock Stick
  • Stim
  • Experimental Gas

MWZ Lethals

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MWZ Lethals

The list of lethal equipment available in MWZ is:

  • Claymores
  • Throwing Knife
  • Thermite
  • Proximity Mines
  • Drill Charge
  • Semtex
  • Breacher Drone
  • C4

Unlocking New Field Upgrades

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Ranking up your Strike Team unlocks new Field Upgrades for your loadout. Field Upgrades are powerful abilities with cooldown timers, separate from standard equipment.

Here are the Field Upgrades that are available:

  • Energy Mine – Deploy a mine inflicting massive explosive damage to enemies near it. Great for ambushes and defending objectives.
  • Frenzied Guard – Enter a frenzied state to instantly recharge armor and draw aggro from zombies. Clutch for surviving overwhelming hordes.
  • Healing Aura – Instantly restore lost health to you and nearby teammates. Essential for group recovery in tight situations.
  • Frost Blast – Release an explosive frost nova freezing zombies and dealing damage. Buy yourself time to escape or revive allies.
  • Aether Shroud – Become ethereal while moving faster for a short time to escape groups of enemies.
  • Tesla Storm – Call down a localized lightning storm that stuns and damages foes. Ideal for controlling enemy waves.

Test out Field Upgrades to find combinations that match your playstyle and chosen operators.


A set of Modern Warfare 3 energy drink cans perfect for gamers and zombie enthusiasts.

Perk-a-Colas are back in Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies mode, providing crucial effects to extend your survival. While Perk-a-Colas can’t be equipped before a match, tracking them down is key. Let’s breakdown what each of these soda fountain power-ups does for your operator.

Deadshot DaiquiriAutomatically aims at critical locations, removes scope sway
Death PerceptionMakes hidden enemies and important objects easier to spot
Elemental PopGives shots a chance to gain random ammo mod effects
Jugger-NogIncreases max health to withstand more damage
PHD FlopperCreates explosion when diving, immune to fall damage
Quick ReviveReduces revival time for downed allies
Speed ColaSignificantly increases reload and armor repair speed
Stamin-UpImproves sprinting speed and overall movement speed
Tombstone SodaDrops retrievable tombstone with inventory upon death

Wonder Weapons for Mass Destruction

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MWZ Wonder Weapons

For truly devastating firepower against the undead, operators can acquire Wonder Weapons.

There are three Wonder Weapons in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies: Ray Gun, Wunderwaffe DG-2, and The Scorcher.

  • Obtaining Wonder Weapons can be done through the Mystery Box, finding a Schematic, or getting lucky with random drops.
  • The Mystery Box offers a chance to get a Wonder Weapon for 950 Essence.
  • Schematics can be earned by completing quests and allow players to craft Wonder Weapons.
  • Random drops from defeating difficult enemies also have a chance of yielding Wonder Weapons.

Crafting Wonder Weapons from Schematics

The schematics for the Wonder Weapon guns – the Ray Gun and the Wunderwaffe DG-2 – can only be found rarely in the Dark Aether’s most dangerous locations. Assembling their schematics lets you craft these mighty weapons at the Crafting Table.

Wonder Weapons live up to their name in the field, able to annihilate dozens of enemies in seconds with advanced firing modes. Their sheer power can turn the tide in dire situations.

Ammo Mods in MWZ

Need to Know about Modern Warfare 3 Zombies.

Ammo Mods add unique effects to your bullets like freezing, electric stunning and napalm fire damage. Install Mods at the Crafting Table to experiment with enhancing your arsenal’s capabilities.

Some powerful mods to hunt for:

  • Brain Rot – Turns enemies into allies fighting for you for a short time before exploding.
  • Cryo Freeze – Frost damage causes enemies to freeze solid so they can be easily shattered.
  • Dead Wire – Chance to electrocute enemies with coils of deadly lightning.
  • Napalm Burst – Ignites zombies with volatile napalm payloads on each shot.
  • Shatter Blast – Bullets detonate with explosive energy on impacts.

Objectives, Acts and General Gameplay

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MWZ Gameplay

Modern Warfare Zombies offers plenty of key objectives to accomplish. Your main goals are surviving relentless zombies and the PMC group Terminus Outcomes, as well as exploring and progressing through the open world.

You need to search the environment to find valuable Acquisitions and Schematics during Operation Deadbolt missions. Acquisitions provide temporary battlefield boosts, while Schematics allow crafting permanent custom gear.

Completing Contracts is another priority to earn Essence (in-game currency) and Acquisitions. Contracts involve tasks like eliminating high value targets. Clearing Missions also uncovers intel on what’s really happening in the Exclusion Zone.

The gameplay allows flexibility to explore and complete activities at your own pace. You have freedom to explore the Exclusion Zone and choose mission tasks before starting a match. Infilling enables tackling various operations each match, not just selected missions.

Aside from chosen missions, each match provides opportunities to:

  • Investigate Low, Medium and High Threat Zones
    • Low Threat areas help learn enemy behaviors
  • Complete Contracts to earn Essence and Acquisitions
  • Upgrade weapons and gear with Essence at machines
  • Extract to keep Acquisitions for future matches

Let’s look at what you can do once you’re dropped in.

Acts and Tiers

Acts contain clusters of objectives similar to DMZ faction missions. Completing Tiers within each Act unlocks permanent loadout and backpack upgrades. Prioritize advancing Acts to strengthen your character as they’ll give you progressively better rewards that will help with later missions and general gameplay. Completing the Acts will also give you access to story missions that will help to set the scene for what’s happening in the Zombie universe around you.

There are currently three story mission Acts, each with multiple Tiers. Check out our complete guide to all of the MWZ Acts, with mission objectives and rewards.


Contracts are optional mini missions that award Essence currency upon completion. Examples include eliminating high value targets and extracting mission items. Contracts encourage exploration and earning Essence.


These are PvE objectives to clear out zombie infested structures. Destroying nests, eliminating elite enemies, and securing intel are common goals. Strongholds spawn high level loot and yield plenty of Essence.

Legacy Stronghold

This is an endgame dungeon containing the hardest enemies and loot. Surviving the Legacy Stronghold requires exceptional skill and upgraded loadouts. Defeating the grueling battles here is the ultimate challenge.

Acquiring Loot and Rewards

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Schematics allow crafting permanent custom gear at the Crafting Table. Gather schematic pieces from hidden treasure caches, side objectives and leveling up to assemble blueprints. Use schematics at the Crafting Table to build weapons, equipment and perks adding massive benefits for your operator.

Rarity Levels for Quality Loot

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All acquisitions and schematic gear feature color-coded rarity levels indicating their quality:

  • Common (Green) – Good basic bonuses
  • Rare (Blue) – Useful advantages
  • Epic (Purple) – Strong boosts
  • Legendary (Yellow) – Powerful effects


Earn Essence from eliminating enemies, completing contracts and acts. It’s used to purchase wall weapons, perks, and upgrades during a match. Essence does not carry over between matches.

Wall Weapons

Purchase weapons off walls indicated on the map. Prices range from 2,000 to 15,000 Essence.

Mystery Boxes

These deadly loot boxes contain rare and legendary weapons. Locations randomize each match. Cost is 10,000 Essence per roll.


Upgrading weapons via Pack-a-Punch machines scattered across the map improves damage and adds unique attributes. Packed guns retain upgrades between matches.

Exfil Rewards

Extracting successfully allows you to keep Insured Weapons, Acquisitions, and Essence. Failed extractions result in all match loot being lost.


MWZ reimagines everything players know about Call of Duty Zombies. By blending DMZ and Outbreak mechanics into the mode, MWZ offers a fresh take on survival combat. With deadly new enemies, deep customization, and engaging cooperative missions, this is an innovative evolution that provides unique challenges.

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Harriet Gough
Over 20 years' experience as a writer and games journalist. Avid gamer and enjoy a wide range of game genres including MMOs, FPS and RTS. My favorite games include Warframe, Skyrim, Destiny 2, CoD and Age of Empires.

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