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Black Ops 4 shows just how important Zombies is to Call of Duty

Zombies is becoming the closest thing that Call of Duty has to raids

Voyage of Despair zombies Treyarch/Activision
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Zombies has been a part of the Call of Duty package for 10 years now, first arriving with Call of Duty: World at War. Over the past decade, players have been hunting for cleverly hidden Easter eggs in puzzles that range from hunts for songs to wave-spanning storylines that require a dedicated team.

The new Zombies maps in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 are no different. The community has been slowly picking at the maps this week, and still have mysteries on their plates for each map included in Black Ops 4 — including the remakes.

Reading the instructions for how to complete these Easter eggs can lead to a lot of confusion. They can read like instructions for Ikea furniture. But the Easter Eggs have always been obtuse and strange — but that’s why the community loves them so much.

Dedicated hunters have been trying to interact with broken glass bottles and shooting random walls for years now. But Treyarch seems to be leaning harder into allure of Easter eggs as a feature with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

Black Ops 4 will now count the number of times you complete the “main quest” on a Zombies map
Treyarch/Activision via Polygon

In Zombies, Black Ops 4’s in-game menu offers hints on player objectives and shows them how close they are to completing an objective, while also alerting them to when they’re successful. The map select menu for Zombies now also has a counter for how many times you complete the “main quest,” which seems to be the new in-game name for the Easter egg hunt.

This push for more players to experience the Easter eggs is an interesting one by Treyarch. These puzzles are time consuming to solve even with a guide. But in a way, it’s almost as if the Call of Duty team has started to treat the mode as Call of Duty’s own version of end-game cooperative content.

These days, players are accustomed to coming together and solving a seemingly impossible task. From solely the puzzle perspective, Zombies has almost a Destiny-like raid vibe to it now, with the true Easter egg hunters working hard on day one to create guides for the rest of us.

For example, players have spent hours combing over every corner of the two new maps — IX and Voyage of Despair. On IX, the main quest involves finding a hidden skull in a temple and smashing it with a specific weapon type. Players then have to gather a variety of ingredients — including a pile of feces from the coliseum’s belligerent audience — transform those ingredients into fertilizer, then charge the fertilizer by killing enemies with a certain weapon perk, which will then allow players to teleport into an alternate dimension to complete a small shooting puzzle.

That’s only part of the Easter egg, and things get far more complicated from there. Those steps alone took players days of playing to discover. The quests for both maps have been completed now, but it took some serious testing and the community coming together to make it happen.

IX’s secret weapon: Serket’s Kiss

But there is more to discover in each of the maps. Both IX and Voyage of Despair have secret weapons that can be acquired through another vague and strange task — on IX, it involves poisoning the infamous Mystery Box. The level of detail and obscurity that comes with these Easter eggs is staggering, and falls under the same “How the hell did anyone ever figure this out?” umbrella that Destiny’s strangest secrets have held.

Zombies has pursued this level of obscurity for many games now, though Treyarch has always been the masters. Since at least the first Black Ops, hardcore Zombies fans have been coming together to find these Easter Eggs and piece together the story of the universe.

Sometimes it’s for a reward like a secret gun that helps you survive more easily, but other times it’s simply a trophy or achievement and a pat on the back. But players don’t pursue these puzzles for the rewards, they do it because the completion is worth seeing, and the complexity behind it gives day-one adopters bragging rights.

Treyarch is encouraging players with visible stats and information directly now, which ties to the broadening of the Zombies scope. It’s a pursuit that should be made by the casual Zombies fan base as well as the hardcore, even if the casual players will need one person guiding everyone else through each time.

Of course, the actual story of the Zombies mode has always been told through these Easter eggs. If you’re thinking to yourself, “There is a story to Call of Duty Zombies?” then watch the video above. You may not be able to make heads or tails of it — and who could blame you — but there’s definitely a through line in the Zombies series.

Zombies has a long lineage, and has evolved significantly over the years. What started as a Easter egg on its own has exploded into a dedicated mode filled with its own, very complex progression system.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Easter egg hunt, the Zombies subreddit is filled with players still looking to solve its mysteries.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.