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RadZakpak

Return Through Aether (10+ Years of Maps)

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As we all know, every journey must have a beginning... and an end. The fourth DLC for Black Ops 4 is set to be the finale for the Aether story. Rumor has it that it will release on September 24th on PS4. I'm on Xbox, however, so that date for me to experience the final map would be October 1st.

 

With that in mind, I had the idea to play one map a day from the Aether storyline leading up to October 1st, starting tomorrow with Nacht der Untoten. To fill out those days, I included Dead Ops Arcade I and II, excluded Chaos maps (Obviously), and excluded Green Run survival maps as I can cover those when I play TranZit. After I play each map with some level of thoroughness, I'll come to this thread and share my experiences on the map and how I've viewed it over the years. I welcome everyone to join in and share your favorite parts of and memories from each map as we move along.

 

Unfortunately I could not whiddle down the list to fit the PS4 release date without getting rid of some maps, as I just thought to do this today, so bear with me as I play most of BO3 while the last map is out in the wild. Also if the 24th turns out not to be the release date and it's later or earlier... whoops, still it will be fun to go through the maps like this.

 

Here is the calendar if you want to pop in this thread at certain dates: 

 

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Great thread idea, but I dunno if BO2 is managable for me at this point. (PS3 lag) I will definitely keep an eye out on this topic. ❤️

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Nacht der Untoten

Spoiler

 

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Nacht is simple. The layout was simple, the gameplay was simple, and the story was simple. Yet everything we love about Zombies can be owed to this little experiment.

 

Unfortunately, I do not currently have my World at War disc with me, so for the sake of trying to be as authentic as possible I played the Black Ops version. The Black Ops version is probably the most inferior version of the three available. Unlike the World at War version, the ambiance is kind of ruined by talking characters, which not even the Black Ops 3 version has. Also, maybe it's just me, but I don't remember the arcadey-sounding background music being so loud in the original, and it was pretty distracting as it reminded me of Zombies for iOS, but I digress...

 

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I had a great time going back to an old version of Nacht where the stakes felt much higher. Something I've notice compared to the gameplay of Black Ops 3 and 4 is the speed is much slower, in a positive way, I mean. I think a symptom of Zombies becoming more mainstream and the need to keep adding ways for the player to dominate have led to an unneccesary change in overall game speed, at least in the early rounds. In the original Black Ops, if I go down in the early rounds it's because I stepped too close to the zombies and was double-swiped, but I learned something from the experience. After Black Ops 3, however, going down on early rounds happens a lot in my experience due to trying to start setting up, and the last zombie has already started running at full speed, which is simply frustrating.

 

That's not to say there are not flaws in this level of game speed, and perks to a higher one. I remember distinctly what a slog high rounds on Black Ops and Black Ops 2 were. My highest round pre-Black Ops 3 was around 50 on Ascension, just simply ending out of boredom. That still happens with newer zombies, but the speed of the game and power of weapons makes the experience much more satisfying, as you still feel like you are advancing instead of simply beating your head against a wall.

 

Anyway, if I did have to complain about Nacht, it would be that it is slow. As. Hell. Even in the Black Ops 3 version, there is no location you can be where zombies will spawn at a decent rate. This all makes sense, though, as the slow pace of the start of the game was meant to add to the ambiance in your first times playing the game, and the height that rounds can go to was likely never anticipated, but it's a reasonable con to the map.

 

 

Apart from that aside about speed, there really isn't a whole lot to say about the map. I appreciate what it is. Apart from Richtofen's screaming, the atmosphere still holds up to this day, including the lighting and fog effects. Also, specifically, I appreciate the mystery just the simple intro and the plane outside the map caused.

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(Yes I bought the scoped sniper, yes I regret it.)

 

In today's game, I got to round 11, before dying to the BS Thundergun glitch: 

 

 

Might I also say, Nacht still had far and away the best game over music... well, Alpha Omega's comes close.

 

 

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You'll have to move up the timeline. Confirmed that its September.

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27 minutes ago, Boom115 said:

You'll have to move up the timeline. Confirmed that its September.

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This is based on the supposed release for Xbox. I couldn't make it work for PS4 unfortunately

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7 minutes ago, RadZakpak said:

This is based on the supposed release for Xbox. I couldn't make it work for PS4 unfortunately

Coming to realization that I have to wait longer than everyone else... 😭

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Love this idea, man. I'll be following along.

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Verrückt

Spoiler

 

If Nacht der Untoten was the spark that started the Big Bang, Verruckt would be the newly-formed stars. Verrückt is taken for granted to an even higher degree than Nacht for many reasons. One: It's the second map. Who cares about the second man on the Moon? (It's Doctor Schuster, btw) Two: Verrückt can be brutally hard compared to its two World at War successors. Three: Instead of introducing new weapons and ways to upgrade weapons, it introduced more passive mechanics to aid in survival (Traps and Perk machines). To add to that third point, I start to understand now why Treyarch felt the need to change up the Perk system with Black Ops 4. For a new player to Zombies, in a choice between a Perk, which you see no immediate effects from, or a chance at an insane, high damage gun, the new player will always go with the gun. I can see the difficulty of zombies being off-putting for a new player because they don't know Juggernog is essential, perhaps even more than a high damage gun. Add in a dash of dashing zombies and tight map design, and you have a recipe for a forgotten map.

 

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However, I don't think it's fair to say Verrückt is even forgotten, or that it especially deserves to be forgotten. The value of Perk-a-Colas cannot be understated when it comes to the longevity of Zombies. Even when the environment around you is oppressing and terrifying, there are always those drink machines with happy tunes and a lively design to keep your spirits up. Perk-a-Cola machines should clash with the setting, and yet they don't and they work so well. Parallels could be drawn to Plasmids from BioShock, which only build on the world around them despite the tonal clash.

 

In my game, I started on the American side, and was disappointed as I realized I could not buy the god-awful Springfield from the World at War version. Oh well, anyhow I bought the M1 Garand and had fun popping heads for a while, taking a peek at the scenery while I could. It never really struck me how the map seems like it is taking place in war-torn Germany, as you look outside towards the fire and destroyed structures. Weirdly, every time I walked into the morgue area, there was an explosion sound, which was really distracting as I went in and out of the area five times in a row.

 

If there's something Verrückt will be remembered for, it's the sound design. Amidst the screams of the damned, you can hear whispers and moaning coming from beyond the walls of the Asylum. It feels very much alive and dead, as you hear a man screaming for his life as he is dragged to his own death somewhere near you. You will never see him, and he will never see you, yet it triggers an instant sympathy and dread for what is coming your way. But of all the ambient sounds on Verrückt, the most unsettling to me is the numbers from the power room. The simple repetition of numbers through a static-y robotic voice just gives me chills, and it does the same in Shi No Numa, which I will get to later.

 

Another element oft-forgotten is the inclusion of a story. Well, not a story in a traditional Zombies sense, as untraditional as it already is. Simple writings of asylum patients on the walls provide only vague hints of something larger. I'm not even sure all of these ramblings even make sense now, but they sparked discussion for quite some time before Shi No Numa provided actual characters and Der Riese provided voiced radios with backstory. To add, the beautiful and legendary Lullaby for a Deadman, Elena Siegman's debut, became an early chronicle of something larger, something about a girl and her father. Verrückt's story was exactly what you wanted to make of it, and there is certainly some beauty in that.

 

I ended up trying the strategy I knew best back in the day playing the map, which was simply running throughout the entire map, turning back to shoot around the spawn area. I never got the Winter's Howl, so it really stuck out to me how I did not have a get-out-of-jail-free card, apart from Quick Revive, which wouldn't even be an option playing solo back in World at War. Verrückt is a cruel mistress.

 

For all its cruelty, Verrückt can also be a great teacher. I ended up being foolish and getting trapped as I tried to run back for the box at the beginning of a new round, getting cornered in the worst possible spot, as my HK21 was simply too slow to keep me alive. And thus, I died on round 15, back to the wall.

 

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1 hour ago, RadZakpak said:

For a new player to Zombies, in a choice between a Perk, which you see no immediate effects from, or a chance at an insane, high damage gun, the new player will always go with the gun. I can see the difficulty of zombies being off-putting for a new player because they don't know Juggernog is essential, perhaps even more than a high damage gun. Add in a dash of dashing zombies and tight map design, and you have a recipe for a forgotten map.

This is not just a problem in zombies, but also games in general. Way too much handholding and second chances it is silly beyond believe, if you ask me. Maybe way back in the day, when the internet wasn't even properly around or just a baby, I would have gotten it, why devs want some handholding in their games, but now? Strategies, Class set ups etc. all these things are easily accessible and on top of that the games get insanely easier from year to year.

 

The most recent Fifa (19) for example, my little 3 year old nephew could last a whole half time without conceding a goal, in an online match. It was the first time he played that game, or better said he watched it while the game did most of the stuff for him. There are so many other examples, and with story driven games I kinda get it, but with these competetive games, I don't.

 

Ugh...

 

Back on topic though: I expect you to revisit the WaW maps once you get a chance to play them on WaW, especially Verrückt.

Thank you for the read, Rad. Looling forward to the next ones. :- )

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I also like the lack of story references, which makes every little detail suspicious and theorizable. Brian Tuey even once asked the community "who is banging on the water room door"? Every sound, every small out of place object, could be tied to the story. Wheras Nacht was the exciting bonus map, Verruckt is where the story theorizing began.

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Shi No Numa

 

Spoiler

 

To keep with the universe creation analogy, if Nacht is the spark that started the big bang, and Verruckt is the formation of stars in our galaxy, then Shi No Numa is the formation of big hunks of rock that would become our planets. Shi No Numa is the forgotten middle child of World at War's lineup for similar reasons to Verruckt, and yet in my experience it is still even more underappreciated. Shi No Numa is where Treyarch tried their hand at creating characters and lore for their new universe, and it ended up sparking a community ravenous for answers behind every little detail carefully placed in this mode, and it also created some of the most iconic characters in Call of Duty history. While it may sit in the shadow of its younger brother, Der Riese, I think Shi No Numa deserve another look.

 

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I started the game by taking a look at the hanging man we now know as Peter McCain. Right from the start I feel a sense of darkness and mystery, and I will reluctantly explore what else this swamp has to offer. I followed my normal routine of buying the barrier in the middle of the spawn, and bought the Thompson when I had the points. After I built up enough points, I bought my way into the Comm Room area, as I have been doing for years. The Comm Room is where I spend 80% of my time playing Shi No Numa at any one time, and for good reason: The Comm Room is a wide open space with maneuverability: Perfect for training zombies. Shi No Numa was where this strategy really took shape, as it allowed for higher rounds to be achieved than camping, and was perfect for solo play.

 

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But the Comm Room is not the only location to explore. The Doctor's Quarters, the Fishing Hut, and Storage all hold their own unique traits, and each have their own sounds. I talked a little about sound in Verruckt, but I think Shi No Numa has the best sound design of any Zombies map. While playing and knowing what to expect in 2019, I still got chills listening to the whispers outside the map, the electronic voices in the Comm Room and Doctor's Quarters, and the radio from Cornellius Pernell where he seems so desperate to find hope as the world is falling apart. One of my oldest Zombies memories was playing Shi No Numa alone with the sound up when I was around 13, just walking around the Comm Room and hearing the howling of wild dogs somewhere off in the fog. Here are some clips from me just listening to sounds:

 

Then there's the laughing when you interact with a book in the Doctor's Quarters, the dialing and whispering of the phone before The One plays, and the low hum of the alien 115 rock outside Storage. Combine all that with the addition of honest-to-god characters with names and personalities, and it is clear Treyarch really went all out in making Shi No Numa something special.

 

This was the start of Ultimis' journey, though it hardly felt like a journey at the time. No one could have imagined how far our four characters could have come since their humble beginnings. Their models were recycled from the campaign, their voice actors were likely already on-hand for the thousands of other voice roles they do in the video game industry, and their personalities are stereotypes for their respective homelands, yet they have stuck around for ten years, and will soon meet their conclusion.

I cannot, however, neglect to mention the Wunderwaffe DG-2. While it is more iconic in Der Riese, I believe its place in Shi No Numa may be more significant as a sign of what Treyarch wanted for the world they had created. Nacht and Verruckt feel like war-time locations with a limited amount of technology present. Shi No Numa also has little in the ways of future technology aside from electric traps. The presence of the Wunderwaffe, however, signified in my eyes a push towards combining the World War II aesthetic with Retrofuturism, something we see in spades with Der Riese and every future installment. While the Ray Gun felt like a novelty that could easily just be from space, the DG-2 felt more realistic, like it was crafted by man. It set the precedent for space-age pseudoscientific technology clashing with the undead, and allowed Der Riese to do what it did so well without feeling like it had pushed the envelope too far.

 

After spinning the box until I got the Wunderwaffe in today's game, I'll admit I got a little cocky having so much fun with it. The most dangerous part of the Comm Room training strategy is near the door to the middle building, where if you went too fast or too slow leading up to that point, zombies would be ready to cut you off here. I unfortunately fell into this problem, getting surrounded in the mud, unable to wriggle to safety. I survived 18 rounds.

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Der Riese

Spoiler

 

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To reference the universe creation analogy one last time, Nacht is the spark that created the Big Bang, Verruckt is the creation of stars, and Shi No Numa is the formation of planets. What is Der Riese then? Der Riese is the origins of life itself. Sounds a bit dramatic, really, but Der Riese was a map so strong in quality it managed to forge a tight-knit, dedicated community of people, giving them the tools to theorize, to optimize strategies, and to form close bonds with each other, just as the universe gave life the tools to grow and evolve as they await the next great adventure. Coming back to Der Riese after so many years of playing it over and over, I was not expecting to have that much fun. Turns out, Der Riese is so renowned for some very good reasons.

 

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When I first started up the map, I was immediately inclined to look up. Previous maps started you out in a building, cramped and trying to keep the undead from entering inside. In Der Riese, however, you feel so small and vulnerable out in the open within this expansive facility. Something Jason Blundell mentioned when talking about Origins was how he really loved the sense of scale you get when seeing the giant robots from that map, and I think the same idea was applied here by Blundell and the rest of the map designers at the time. It's a truly unique experience from the rest of the maps in the lineup for this reason and many more.

 

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To add to Der Riese's pushing of the envelope, there's a real sense that you have an objective with this map, as you are tantalized with the image of some machine in the spawn room that you do not have access to. Curious, you are forced to find the power, and discover teleporters. As you look on the crazy technology and scientific data scattered around the facility, you get this sense of dread as you realize how close the Germans must have been to winning the war here, and yet something has desolated this place, and you are all that is left to fight it using the tools left behind for you. After successfully linking the teleporters, you gain access to the Pack-a-Punch. This very addition to the game is more innovative than perks, traps, or teleporters, and I'll give you a couple reasons why:

 

1. The Pack-a-Punch allowed the common man to achieve higher rounds. We take it granted now, but for the casual player, the extent of late game Zombies was get a good machine gun, maybe the ray gun and some perks, and just keep fighting back until you ran out of ammo because your guns weren't good enough. Sure, advanced players had high round strategies, but nothing truly accessible for the casual. In comes the ability to upgrade your weapons, and you have effectively extended the game's longevity, and it feels damn good as a casual to now have what is in essence a super weapon to keep you alive longer, especially because you earned it rather than getting lucky with the box. It also started a trend of inflating the amount of rounds you can reasonably get to in a game, that continues to this day.

 

2. Pack-a-Punch extended replayability. This single addition effectively doubled the amount of weapons the player can use throughout their games of Der Riese. As soon as you upgrade one weapon, you immediately have the urge to test it out, and then try to upgrade another to find out what it can do and what it is called. I even felt this, and started grabbing not-so-good guns just to upgrade and get a feel after these years away.

 

I get the sense playing Der Riese that this was Treyarch's attempt at a Hail Mary to keep the mode going into their next game and hold the community's attention, and to do that they had to push many boundaries. To quote Jason Blundell,

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That's where we introduced a thing called Pack-a-Punch, which is the way to upgrade your guns. At the time, people were shouting heresy at me. The idea of upgrading. Then the teleporter. I was just crapping myself because my thought was, 'I better not destroy this thing that people are really enjoying.' It worked out well in the end.

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I also cannot neglect to talk about the story, because things really start to shape up here. Hidden radios giving backstory on this mysterious Group 935, ciphers with hints at something larger, and the technology present here paint a story after some exploring and digging through the map. This intrigue created a whole sub-culture within the community focused on the storyline behind this mode, and some may even argue it has overtaken discussions about gameplay online. I owe so much of my knowledge on World War II history and my passion for storytelling to this mode, and Der Riese for its contributions.

 

Getting back to the game, I ended up upgrading some guns and doing the fly trap easter egg. It really is so insignificant to do now, and I only did it within a minute, but I can just imagine the rush of finding this thing for the first time. I then took to the catwalk, a classic strategy. Unfortunately, camping the catwalk does not work so well in solo, so I nearly died several times reloading. I took the dive and tried out some training. What struck me about training on Der Riese was the absolute rush that I have not felt in Zombies in a long time. I think out of all maps, Der Riese has the most perfectly balanced training areas. They aren't too wide and easy like Shi No, or insanely tight like Verruckt. They are just challenging enough to keep you on your toes, but surviving nonetheless. I tried it under the catwalk, by power, in the spawn, and in my favorite area, the Thompson room. Every moment is fun, plain and simple.

 

As rounds progressed, I began to encounter plentiful Hellhounds in the middle of rounds, a feature we didn't really see again until The Giant. At first, I was annoyed, because Hellhounds can actually mess you up in this game. However, I adjusted my strategy to cope with them, getting the Ray Gun to make short work of them, switching to my points gun for the zombies. I also realized they serve a purpose in nerfing the effectiveness of the newly added Monkey Bombs, since they don't follow them, making it so you cannot rely on Monkeys to save your skin in every situation. I continued having a blast for quite a while, activating the marvelous Beauty of Annihilation along the way. Here's one of the most Der Riese clips ever, btw: 

 

 

There's a lot more that can be said about Der Riese and the great time I had playing it again, but I don't want this post to be way too long. I ended up dying on Round 31, after shooting a horde with my Ray Gun leaving behind crawlers and an Insta-Kill powerup. I foolishly ran right for the powerup, getting swiped by the crawlers, a newly spawned walker, and a Hellhound. 

 

 

 

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Really appreciate these breakdowns. It is a pleassure to read them

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Kino der Toten

Spoiler

 

On November 9th, 2010, Zombies continued after a year away with Call of Duty Black Ops, and this is when it all began for me. I bought the game for my new Xbox 360 to play with my friends. On the way home in my mom's car, I looked at the back of the box to see the game had three modes: Campaign, Multiplayer, Zombies. I had only heard very vague things about this Zombies mode before, but I was excited to see just what it was all about. In fact, it's the first thing I tried. I loaded up Kino der Toten, bought an Olympia off the wall, and died on round 5. Wow, that was fun. I did that a couple more times, then moved on to play multiplayer. Only later in the week when some friends invited me to play Zombies did I discover you could open the doors out of the starting room... and like that, a whole new world opened up to me. After the countless hours spent on Kino for nearly half of my lifetime, I was genuinely curious today to find out just how well this map held up.

 

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I stuck to the routine I've been trained on since Middle School: Knife kills until you can buy the MP40, turn on the power, save up for Juggernog. On most maps that first weapon can be switched up every time, but not on Kino. Despite the MP40 appearing throughout World at War, it feels truly at home in Kino, and it's only now that I understand why. Despite the 40's aesthetic, the map takes place in the 1960s as our characters have been sent to the future. I used to feel like the map didn't really cater to that time period at all, but what really sets this map apart from Der Riese, for example, is it feels so still. Like the MP40, this theater is a relic trapped in time, seemingly untouched by the changing world around it. It's filled with silence, apart from the dangling chandeliers being lightly swung by the faintest and deadest of winds. The map is honestly more scary without the zombies.

 

So the question comes up again as I have been comparing the progression of maps in this series: How does this map innovate? Honestly, I don't have much to say on that. Kino der Toten in the community is often either fondly remembered or sometimes it is just called a Der Riese clone. After some time playing this map and comparing it to my game of Der Riese, I'm inclined to agree. I think of the elements they share, Der Riese does them mostly better, and of the few new features, Kino still falls short.

 

A strange phenomena came over me as I began to train on the stage after upgrading my weapons: I felt bored. I wasn't having a bad time, but running on the stage was not nearly as exhilarating as my time on Der Riese this week. I'd be hard-pressed to say that training on the stage was too easy compared to Der Riese, but there wasn't much keeping me on my toes. I determined the problem to be that the things were moving much more slowly. Despite the same base speed on zombies as Der Riese, the spawn points that lead to the stage are significantly further away so I have plenty of time to prepare as I see more zombies coming. The component that slowed the gameplay more than that, though, was the addition of Nova Crawlers to the mix.

 

I think Nova Crawlers might even surpass Hellhounds in presentation. I love their entrance into the map, crawling along the wall like some deformed, monstrous spider, pursuing you by waving its head side to side trying to pick up your scent. But I think they fail to add to the game like Hellhounds in the middle of the round did on Der Riese. On console, taking down zombies quickly relies a lot of the time on a combination of reflexes and auto-aim. From experience, I can consistently land headshots quickly on zombies because I know where their head it relative to where auto-aim will send me, and I can take down a whole horde that way. Add crawlers into the mix, and suddenly I can't effectively know where my gun is going to be aimed. This would not be a problem if they did not make up nearly 30% of enemies in a given horde. The problem with crawlers isn't that they are hard, because they are very easy, but the problem is they just slow down the game. They just force you to aim lower and cloud your vision. I think they would have been better implemented if they were less plentiful but smarter than the average zombie. Something really formidable. Oh well, at least they didn't bring them back as enemies again and again and again... oh wait.

 

It might sound like I really hated this map, but that's far from true. There's a lot to love. I love the implementation of Pack-a-Punch. While Der Riese's Pack-a-Punch was a rush to get in and out safely as you are surrounded, Kino's is a calming reprieve with the fun mini-game of tossing grenades down at the zombies below. I remember playing with some random players one time, and as they were tossing grenades down, I cooked a grenade and threw it at their feet so that they would pick it up and explode. Good times... Kino der Toten is filled with fond memories for me, and while it is a bit of a disappointment to play nowadays, it's how a large portion of the community got their start and is a fine map for a casual game of Zombies. The map itself, 115 by Elena Siegman, and the Thundergun are perhaps the most iconic Zombies staples that even people unfamiliar with its history can appreciate. Here's the quintessential Kino der Toten clip for you: 

 

 

I bought and upgraded several guns to really get that Black Ops Zombies experience, before putting myself in more danger to increase fun and eventually die. I wasn't going for records or anything. I died backing up and firing with the Skullcrusher on round 27.

 

 

 

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"Five"

Spoiler

 

"Five" holds a special place in my memory, maybe even more special than Kino. I would consider it in my top ten maps of all time and I remember it very fondly. Because of this I was afraid that the map would disappoint me like Kino has. I was, thankfully, very wrong.

 

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Every Black Ops game has launched with at least two maps: The main map with a larger layout and more time put into its design, and a bonus map. "Five" fits the bonus map category, only appearing after completing the campaign, and borrowing its whole layout to a cutscene area from the campaign. However, I think "Five" is teeming with more originality and charm than Kino der Toten. Immediately from the introduction cutscene, you are introduced to "Five"'s greatest strength in being remembered in my mind, the "camp". All notions of "Five" being a serious story are thrown out the window as John F. Kennedy faces the threat of impending undead hordes with a bold-faced, "Zombies," and then proceeds to reveal an arsenal of weaponry behind a wall, ordering the others to "Lock and load.", and declaring, "Do not pray for easy lives my friends. Pray to be... stronger men." The impersonations of these real-life figures are so over-the-top it still had me laughing today. These four men are not afraid as any reasonable person would be in this situation, instead they use it to spout off references to history and have a good time. It is such a strange idea for a map that I am shocked it was even approved to be made. Luckily for me, I got to play as Kennedy today and nearly died laughing at his quotes.

 "Taste the flavah, chompah." "That's a wicked diggah." "Oh pissah."

"Five" represents to me the strength of the Aether story's tone. Even when things seem so dark, there is always a capacity for a good laugh to be had. Not everything has to be so serious or realistic, and sometimes the best thing a story in a game can be is fun. It's a perfect balance between the gritty, seriousness of WWII Zombies, and the lighthearted, inconsequential story of IW Zombies. That for me is why Treyarch has succeeded above others who try to do Zombies. To further illustrate my point, here is John F. Kennedy slaying zombies while Eminem plays in the background:

In terms of gameplay, I had a real good time with the map's tight design. The only place you were really safe in the middle of the round is in the War Room on the ground floor, and even then the space was tight enough where you can easily be cut off if you are not weary. Spawns are fast, so getting to higher rounds can actually be quite exciting. Nova Crawlers return, but I think they are WAY better suited to "Five" than Kino, since they only spawn while in the labs, and because of the tighter space, their slower speed actually does serve a challenge as you must deal with them to navigate the small corridors. The Pentagon Thief is an excellent replacement for Hellhounds, providing a real consequence to not preparing for his arrival. Also because he runs around the labs, you are forced to learn the map better to try and reclaim your weapon. Also killing him provides a great reward. I honestly cannot think of many weaknesses with "Five", outside the random teleporters that do slow the game down when you are just trying to get a perk between rounds. There's also the fact that I don't care much for Black Ops' gun selection. Few of the weapons are worth trying and upgrading and after playing the game for a while you really can only choose between two or three guns. Here's a clip of me going through an upgraded PM63's ammo in 17 seconds:

Overall, I think "Five" holds up and I'm happy it does. "Five" innovated in more ways than you'd think, with an intro cutscene, a campier tone, adding the death machine, bringing zombies to America, and adding a new round boss with unique rewards. It may be one of the most underrated maps ever, and I was ecstatic to hear it would be reimagined as Classified. More on that down the line.

 

In today's game, I died on round 28, underestimating how much weaker the Winter's Howl was on "Five" compared to Classified. 

 

 

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Dead Ops Arcade

Spoiler

 

Some may question why Dead Ops Arcade should deserve a day in this lead up to the end of Aether. Just as many Call of Duty players primarily interested in Multiplayer may look at Zombies and see nothing special, too often many Zombies players look at Dead Ops Arcade and see something not worth the same time we put into First Person maps. There is a very real sub-community within our own sub-community that loves Dead Ops Arcade and its sequel enough to strive towards improving their skill at the mode and attain new world records. This small sub-community's history is found in this hour long documentary on the creation of Dead Ops Arcade and its best players: 

 

 

Needless to say, I was one of those players that would only play Dead Ops on occasion and usually dismiss it. Public matches usually end with the other random players eating up your lives until you all die before round 20. Solo is very daunting compared to First Person Zombies because you are constantly keeping track of both yourself and all the zombies on the map as they come at you from all angles. There is little room for error and it requires great skill in multi-tasking as well as lots of practice to achieve higher rounds. It sounds kind of like First Person Zombies, just from a different perspective. I have never been very good at the mode, having achieved my highest round ever in today's playthrough, and have still never beat the Cosmic Silverback. It's kind of crazy to me after how many hours I've put into Black Ops that there is still content I have never, and may never experience.

 

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Something I really appreciate about DOA is that it is easy to pick up but hard to master. Anyone can start up a game and pass several rounds, having a good time. But only the REALLY good players will ever beat the Silverback and start over again. Because the gameplay involves just two sticks and two triggers with nothing else, it has some universal appeal that Zombies does not even with its most simple maps.

 

In terms of presentation, DOA is an excellent showcase of the creativity of Treyarch's developers. Nearly every asset in the game is borrowed from Campaign, Multiplayer, or Zombies, some of it even being cut content from those respective modes, re-purposed to create this experience. The epitome of leaving nothing to waste. I also cannot neglect to mention the soundtrack by James McCawley, Kevin Sherwood, and Brian Tuey, with a great variety in tracks to keep your energy up. They're great tracks to listen to when exercising. My favorite is definitely Abra Macabre.

 

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I had a great time coming back to DOA, and as I said I achieved a new personal best and saw new areas I had never experienced before. The variety of powerups keeps things fresh and you are always excited to see a helicopter or a tank just off in the corner. There's secret bonus rooms that give you lots of points or a ton of weapons and powerups to choose from. I got one of these rooms that had five birds, and I had a lot of fun with that after picking up a Ray Gun, and then a flamethrower:

 

It's not effective at all, but spinning in circles with the flamethrower... you just have to do it every time.

 

I survived a good long while, but had used up enough dashes and nukes that I had but a few lives to spare on a round with little room to maneuver. I survived 30 rounds, and was promptly killed by the Cosmic Silverback in the cutscene.

 

 

 

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Ascension

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This... is where my love for this game mode truly blossomed back in the day. Ascension is where I trained myself to be better at... training. One word often used to describe Ascension is easy, and that's not a wrong description. It is the map I would always gravitate to for laid-back experience, where I didn't mind spending hours just talking to friends as I ran in circles. That is understandably a big con to this map for many people, but it is the perfect map to learn the mechanics of the game for a new player, and I remember it very fondly for what it has taught me. Coming back to it, I was worried I'd find myself bored re-using the same old strategies I've been using since its release.

 

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Ascension starts off strong in the presentation department. The simple flying in of a lander and the pleading for help from Gersh convey your characters' lack of knowledge about this place and also serves as a call to action for those up to the challenge. This could have been accomplished in a cutscene, but instead, Ascension maintains immersion in the situation, giving time for the player to situate themselves in the map as they learn their objective. This is the first time Zombies has beckoned you to do something more than survive, and these side-objectives have grown and evolved over the years into full-on quests that drive the story forward, and it is all owed to Ascension.

 

I bought the MP5k and turned on the power, before buying the bottom door leading up to Juggernog, as I've done for years. A very common complaint I hear about Ascension is that the Monkeys are annoying because they steal your perks, and without enough players it can be impossible not to lose some of your perks. I personally have to disagree, as I think they add a whole new layer of strategy as you choose whether or not to buy certain barriers that could allow Monkeys easier access to your perks. This follows the same "Tower-defense" that originally fueled the creation of Nacht der Untoten. It's like a mini-game where the goal is less survival, but effectively planning your location at the start of the round, a loadout suited towards taking down the monkeys, and planning for losses. On high rounds, perk purchases barely make a dent in your points fund anyway, so I don't really see that as an issue. In co-op, with a coordinated team you can easily acquire and maintain every perk on the map, and I think that's a great mechanic that rewards map knowledge. I'll defend Monkeys on Ascension till the day I die...

 

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In this match I decided to upgrade the M1911 to the Mustang and Sally since I had already used the Thundergun on Kino, and I wanted to take full advantage of the new PHD Flopper. The two new perks, Flopper and Stamin-Up were such great additions to the mode that one has appeared in every game since, and the other was so OP it hasn't appeared in any game since. Flopper was perfectly suited to this map, and I had a great time flopping off the stairs and blowing up Zombies. The Mustang and Sally also became pretty ridiculously overpowered, as any situation I'd find myself stuck in I would just spam the triggers and escape. It's a ton of fun, but I do see why it was eventually phased out. Flopper, the Thundergun, Gersh Devices, the wide open training areas, and lack of special enemies to cut you off made for the easiest map in the game, and thus it is a casual's paradise. I think Ascension also may be the Zombies Chronicles map to benefit the most from being in Black Ops 3, as the addition of a faster game speed and gobblegums help keep high rounds from being as boring as they are in the original.

 

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All this to say, I had a great time replaying Ascension, and I of course did get kind of bored as I became fully set up, so I bought more risky weapons to try out and tried moving around the map more. Even then, the map is incredibly forgiving for this era of Zombies. I still love it after all these years, and I hope it isn't forgotten years after Aether has come to an end.

 

I survived until round 28, where I fatally underestimated the splash damage on the Mustang and Sally without Flopper.

 

 

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Call of the Dead

Spoiler

 

Call of the Dead is a very strange map, namely for having little to no relation to the rest of the story on a surface level. It was marketed as a fun, campy romp through a remote outpost next to a lighthouse filled with undead. It's framed as a film production gone horribly wrong, and its celebrity cast are forced to fight real zombies and the legendary director George Romero. I know when the map was announced there was a great amount of confusion, even distaste for the idea of a map where celebrities replace our normal crew. Looking back on it, though, Call of the Dead was full of surprises and so many great memories. It was my first Easter Egg completion and really where I started to get involved in the storyline and on Youtube. After time away and the lack of a remaster, I was looking forward to returning to Call of the Dead with fresh eyes.

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Something I've always loved about the starting room in Call of the Dead is how a majority of the map is visible through the fog, really hammering in how big this map actually is for its time and even now. Just seeing that mystery box light in the distance beckons you to explore this place. I made my way up to power, buying the M16 before turning the power on. Then instead of buying towards Juggernog like I normally would, I decided to start the Easter Egg. Back when I first did the Solo easter egg near release, there was so much misinformation about necessary steps for the Solo vs Co-op versions. It took me many attempts as I tried to get the dials step right, activate the radios in order, and get the correct sequence of foghorns without failing and having to restart, all while trying to get the V-R11. In 2019, however, I come to find that the Solo version of this quest is literally four steps: Fuse, Generators, Turn the Wheel and Flip the Switches, and finally collect the golden rod. I got the V-R11 on the second box spin, so I finished the quest in about 20 minutes. Wow.

 

One standout game mechanic in this map is the man, the myth, the legend, George Romero. As a concept, I love it, but in execution... well he is just horribly annoying. In solo he isn't too bad to manage, but he is still something you have to manage like a mother and her child at a grocery store. One wrong move, and you've got a tantrum on your hands. In co-op, he is pure chaos, as any player coming into contact with him will cause everyone's screens to shake as they slow to a crawl. This obviously leads to a lot of griefing by particularly fiendish randoms, and can really turn off new players. I do appreciate him as a mechanic to acquire the Wunderwaffe and a free perk, though. I like little quirks like that that reward you for having background knowledge of how the map works.
 

There are several things I do like that I think hold up over time. This map introduced Deadshot Daiquiri, which may be somewhat underused, but does provide a good alternative perk and has stood the test of time. I love the unique map layout, which suits the largeness, yet it isn't a slog to get around like many BO2 maps were. You've got two ziplines, a flinger, and multiple routes to get from one place to another, not to mention Stamin-Up to help out. I also think the Scavenger and V-R11 are some of the most unique wonder weapons in the series. The Scavenger is so damn satisfying, and the V-R11 is slept on because it is borderline useless in Solo. I also really appreciate the campiness with similarities to "Five", and all the characters are at least like-able and clearly had fun in their roles. Ultimis' banter behind the door is also some of the funniest dialogue in the series.

 

So I have a confession about today's game... it was actually two games. I did the easter egg and then died on round 9 being dumb with the Wunderwaffe... I didn't really feel like I got the full Call of the Dead experience, so I played a second game and died stupidly on round 11, so hey, that all adds up.

 

 

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Shangri-La

Spoiler

 

Shangri-La was a divisive map at the time of release, and to an extent, it still is. Shangri-La brought back difficulty to Zombies, briefly halting the steady inflation of rounds that Zombies has been experiencing. For me personally, I don't have as many fond memories here as in other maps, simply because this map was difficult and I rarely was in the mood for the challenge. Over the years, people have grown a warmness to this map in hindsight, but I personally felt very neutral on it going in. I would consider Shangri-La to be somewhere in the middle when it comes to ranking maps. Going into today's game, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised in not only the map, but my own abilities I once thought were lost.

 

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Things started slow, but because of the general tightness of this map, the pace of the game quickly picked up as I equipped myself with Juggernog and an AK74u. I luckily also managed to get the 31-79 JGb215 from the box relatively quickly, giving me a huge boost in confidence right from the beginning. I have had notoriously bad luck getting this weapon from the box in the past, and it makes me appreciate Black Ops 4's system when it comes to Wonder Weapons. Apart from Ancient Evil, all maps in BO4 have a Wonder Weapon in the box, as well as methods to acquire them through a short quest, catering to those who want simple, classic gameplay vs those willing to take the steps to acquire the weapon.

 

My confidence ended up getting the best of me, and I went down fairly early after getting the wonder weapon. I then switched into what they would call "tryhard mode", and found myself successfully juking zombies left and right in the MPL area. Training in Shangri-La reminded me of Der Riese in its intensity, and was a welcome change of pace from the slower, wide-open spaces I am used to.

 

Something I and every other person who plays this map love is, of course, the beauty of the map. Unlike the dark, desolate places we've been to before, Shangri-La actually feels somewhat calm and beautiful, until the undead arrive, that is. The jungle almost feels like a separate entity entirely, unaffected by our actions and the carnage taking place. Unfortunately, as I was in solo, I could not do the easter egg quest and so I missed out on seeing the map's beauty shine in the Eclipse. Speaking of that quest, I did complete it recently in Black Ops 3 and I honestly think it is a great one. The steps aren't very related to what is going on in the story, but they are unique in their own way.

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I had a lot of fun on this map, granted, I was able to be set up pretty early. This map is unforgiving in almost every aspect, and requires an intense focus and mastery to reach high rounds. It's not something I could dedicate myself to, but I admire those who can. The problem with this difficulty, though, is it makes the map very inaccessible and unappealing to new players, which I do think is a shame.

 

I used to knock the layout of the map for being so tight and not very original, basically just being a vertical circle. Now, I can appreciate this deliberate decision after the massive map that was Call of the Dead. Something I will knock now, though, is the map is not very friendly to co-op players. The method to open pack-a-punch essentially requires all players to have a mic in order to play the game seriously. Also, to nitpick a little, I hate the mud room. I hate it so much. It's not like I get caught in it in the middle of the round all the time, but it slows the game down considerably when the random path just will not work in your favor.

 

Overall I ended up doing much better than anticipated and had a lot of fun returning. I survived until round 25 when I underestimated how many zombies were left, and was swiftly punished trying to place a spikemore.

 

 

 

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Moon

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Finally, today is the day we play Moon, my all-time favorite map in the series. If my memory serves me, this is the first map that I stayed up for the midnight release of. The marketing for Moon was fairly limited, the focus mainly being on the fact it was part of Rezurrection, an all-zombies map pack, a concept that blew my mind at the time. Moon is where I got deep into the lore of Zombies, investing time in reading up on theories and listening to radios scattered around the map detailing just how this Moon Base came to be. Even after 8 years, I still like to think of Moon as my favorite map. Did today's game change my mind? Yes, but also no.

 

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Sooo today I played the Black Ops 3 version of Moon because I continued to die very early in the game multiple times while playing the original, and became so frustrated I switched games. Why did I not experience these same deaths in my others games? It's because Moon started a trend in maps that encouraged optimization. By encouraging optimization, I mean the map presents you with a set of tools (in this case, the hacker) that can be used to optimize your gameplay in exchange for some risk. My fatal flaw when it comes to these optimization mechanics is that I know how to use pretty much all of them, but get cocky and end up overextending myself and dying as I try to optimize. For example, in one game, I simply couldn't stop myself from hacking a door for only 200 points, and as I was nearly done, I began being hit by a zombie, and right as the hacking finished I died. On one hand, these optimization mechanics encourage gaining map knowledge and reward those savvy enough. But on the other, they usually cost time, and ultimately in some cases, fun. Some are debatably better than others. All that said, I still love the hacker.

 

Playing both the Black Ops and Black Ops 3 versions of Moon back-to-back really made me appreciate the remake so much more. It stays faithful to the original while adding so much little detail, it almost feels like a new map entirely. I think it might also be my favorite map, aesthetic-wise, and you can tell so much love was put into the design for this remaster. I love how tunnel 6 looks like it's straight out of Alien. The Biodome looks and sounds so lively compared to the quiet and depressing world just outside. The labs are filled to the brim with neat little gadgets and intriguing items. My only issue with the remaster is the Widow's Wine grenades breaking open the windows in the labs and receiving bay, that is just awful.

 

Another benefit to the Black Ops 3 version is that it is finally possible to complete the Easter Egg solo! Awesome! Except, I received a harsh reminder of how luck-based this quest truly is, and ultimately had a bad time. I had tunnel 6 breach early, received the wave gun, and got Gersh devices. Even with all that luck, that is only half the battle. I filled the first tube and needed QEDs to move the plates into place to charge the golden rod. Cue about 8 rounds of me saving one last zombie, buying the box, running back to get air, running back to hack it, getting air, running back to hack it again, and taking the weapon or leaving it, then repeat the process probably about a hundred times. Meanwhile I get to hear the same three lines from Richtofen gasping for air. I wanted to scream. When I play this map Co-Op, I am always the one on hacker duty, because I actually like being the one to hack the excavators, but that means I run around the map all the time with no helmet, and after all these years I could recite to you all four characters' lines when gasping for air. It is absolutely grating.

 

So that was very disappointing, and I won't lie, the easter egg has way too much RNG to be considered good game design. Buuut, I still love the quest, when the stars do align. I know the steps by heart at this point, and it is so satisfying to complete each step from memory for other less experienced players. Also, the fact that Juggernog, Pack-a-Punch, and Speed Cola are all impossible to acquire in co-op unless your team has decent communication is pretty bad as well. What can I say, it was 2011.

 

All that said, it doesn't change my perspective on the map, because at its core I think it is the perfect Zombies experience for me. I love the low-gravity mechanics, and the fact that gravity can change in certain areas depending on your decisions. As I said before, I love the rush of trekking through the map to spawn in order to halt the excavators. No Man’s Land is such a cool concept that rewards your training ability and resourcefulness. This was the first map to do a soul-charging step in its quest, which at this point feels a bit overdone, but it could get really intense in co-op trying to fill up the four tubes on a sufficiently high round. I love QEDs, and am giddy every time a max ammo comes so I can see what the QED will give me. The Wave Gun is my favorite wonder weapon design to date. The hacker might be my favorite mechanic in Zombies, period. Moon is just so easy to love.

 

You can't have love without a little bit of hate as well, and I regretfully ended up going down on round 15, then immediately quit the game after an hour of just running back and forth hitting the box. It's just not my day.

 

 

 

 

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TranZit

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On November 12th, 2012, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 released after great anticipation. For many Zombies fans, the new experience promised in Black Ops 2 seemed like it was going to be a great leap in innovation for the mode. TranZit was made out to be this odyssey between multiple locations in the post-apocalypse, with new secrets to uncover along the way as you ride a bus through the wasteland, all in one big experience. People were throwing around phrases like "open-world" when it came to TranZit. Expectations were high to say the least, but with every franchise there comes a high point as well as a low point. TranZit is a low point, and arguably the lowest point. Before returning to TranZit today, I defended the map for some of its merits, and believed that the map could still be very fun given the right strategy. After playing, however, I think it has dropped from my second least-favorite map to my least-favorite.

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I started the match as Marlton, building the turbine and taking to the bus just like normal. So far, so good. I rode the bus to the Power Station, then to town to grab Juggernog. That wasn't so bad, but there is still more to do if I want to get the full TranZit experience: Build the Jet Gun, open pack-a-punch. This was where things started to fall apart. The Jet Gun parts are scattered around the ENTIRE map. This wouldn't be an issue if you couldn't only carry one part at a time. So how can I get from point A to point B on TranZit? Well, there are three equally tedious ways of doing that:

 

1. Ride the bus - Ride the bus to where the part is, then wait for several minutes as the bus slowly traverses the map to Town, apply the part. Great, now you have to do that three more times.

 

2. Run through the fog - If you have enough map knowledge, then you can traverse the fog to get where you need to go without waiting for the bus. In fact you HAVE to leave the bus to get three of the Jet Gun parts. You've got a little something to slow you down though, the unholy creature they call the Denizen. You will begin to slowly go mad as you hear the awful screech, then spam the melee button five times as you walk incredibly slowly, and then rinse and repeat. Even with Stamin-Up and Galvaknuckles to aid your speed, nothing will prepare you for the madness that is wandering through an area you cannot even see as something screeches at you and demands you mash the sticks on your controller again, and again, and again.

 

3. Take the light teleporters - This method has the potential to be the most efficient method of travel... or the least. Endure the suffering of a Denizen on your head for a brief moment, and jump into a portal to go... somewhere. It is completely random which of the many lightposts you will end up at, and more often than not you end up nowhere near where you need to be. So you teleport again... and again... and again... and again... you get the idea.

 

This whole Jet Gun process really took a toll on me, especially knowing the Jet Gun is nothing special.

 

Then I wanted to Pack-a-Punch, so I went to the Bus Depot to grab a new turbine, only to find I could not grab one because there is already a turbine out there in the world. I had dropped my turbine to grab a shield, then dropped my shield to grab the jet gun, and now I have to track down my old turbine, blow it up, then return to the turbine table to drop the jet gun I spent 15 minutes assembling. Now I go to the power station, ensuring the last zombie I have been holding will not touch it. Now I can run to Town and blow open the vault and Pack-a-Punch... after assembling the Pack-a-Punch... Why Treyarch... Why.

 

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Everything about TranZit is just... wrong. There are so many inklings of good ideas on this map that are just poorly implemented/lacked the time to be fully implemented. The buildables, the open-world nature, the bus... Throughout my whole time playing today, my nerves were bombarded by Marlton's constant irritating statements. Marlton is by far my least-favorite character in Zombies, and the reason his flaws stick out to me more than any other character is because I know of people like him in real life. I enjoy the rest of Victis, but Marlton nearly drove me insane.

 

I could rant further about the death of holding a crawler starting with Black Ops 2, the unappealing aesthetic, the lava, the useless buildables, or any other number of things but it has been done to death. TranZit has been beaten into the ground so harshly by this point, there is not real point in continuing with the negatives. What did I like about TranZit? I like the Bus Driver. I think the weapon selection is fair for the most part. It introduced buildables, which did end up becoming better over time. Also, after upgrading my weapons and acquiring my perks, I did have a genuinely good time training in the Town area. That just begs the question however, why didn't I just play Town and cut out all the tediousness in the middle? I think the survival maps are a lot of fun, but TranZit as a whole is a numbing experience and it is unfortunate to say.

 

I ended up dying in the fog on round 21 as the bus became overrun with zombies.

 

 

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Nuketown

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So stepping away from the mess that was TranZit, there was another option at Black Ops 2's launch called Nuketown Zombies. The idea of transforming a multiplayer map, especially one so beloved as Nuketown, piqued my interest and I much looked forward to trying this map out back in the day. It's a map I've always considered to be somewhere in the middle when it comes to Zombies maps, not one of my favorites, but pretty good. Today, I was just hoping for something a little more engaging than TranZit, and I was not disappointed.

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The first thing I noticed about Nuketown is it is much more visually appealing than a majority of Black Ops 2's lineup, with a wide range of colors that keep it from just looking like a gray, muddy mess. Aesthetically I think this nails a post-explosion Nuketown perfectly, the zombies' skin burned away and the massive mushroom cloud enveloping the sky.

 

I bought my way to the back of the Yellow house where the Mystery Box resided, getting the still-awful SMR. I then heard the first arrival of a Perk machine as it landed right next to me: Juggernog. This was going to be a good game, I could tell. Therein lies Nuketown's greatest flaw and why I hate playing it sometimes: The random perk drops. While I was able to acquire Juggernog around round 5 in this game, in another I could be waiting until around round 17, and it definitely does happen. Essentially your chance at a good match comes down to luck, and what makes this luck worse than the mystery box is no mystery box weapon is quite as essential as Juggernog.

 

But because the stars did align in my favor, I ended up having a long and prosperous game. I tried training near the center and behind the yellow house, but I've always found I am best behind the Green House. Throughout the match I managed to activate the three unique easter egg songs, and acquired a Ray Gun and upgraded LMG. There really isn't much to do on Nuketown, yet I still found myself engaged, and I think the Green House is a perfectly-sized training area with some difficulty and engagement, but also not so hard I couldn't get back into my groove. I think this map scratches that simple survival-based Zombies gameplay itch incredibly well, when the perk system works in your favor of course.

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I managed to surpass round 25, causing the zombies' eyes to switch to blue, and allowing me to be thoroughly entertained every time I got to hear Richtofen's Fire Sale music. I actually managed to surpass my previous best round, and finally died on round 34 after a series of bad decisions involving semtexes:

 

 

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I enjoy the rest of Victis, but Marlton nearly drove me insane.

Ahahahahaaaa

 

Oh well, I believe you've read the 'How Tranzit was supposed to be' thread. Nonetheless, I still really enjoy the map, but I agree that on solo, it could be a synonym for Hell

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Die Rise

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Prior to starting this journey, I would have considered Die Rise my least favorite map in Treyarch's ensemble, even going as far as to say it is a bad map. Suffice to say, I was ready to get this day over with so I can move on to future maps. However, I've come to realize just how unfair I was towards Die Rise in some cases, and have a new-found appreciation for the things it does right over its predecessor, TranZit.

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I don't want to go on and on about how I consider this map better than TranZit, though that being a recent development, the reasons why are far more apparent in my mind. Just to name a few improvements... The intro cutscene gives better context on the state of the story and the world, buildables are done far better, though not entirely perfectly, and the map is very visually pleasing. I would go as far as to say the skybox on this map is one of the best in Zombies history. It's a very unique feeling to be so high in the air you cannot even see the ground below. However, one of my main complaints about Die Rise has always been its lack of much interesting detail in the map layout. In another map, every area holds a purpose and you will most likely find yourself in that area in every game at least once if you want to get the most out of the map. In Die Rise, there are several small areas with buyable doors to get to them that serve little to no purpose gameplay or lore-wise. More often than not, you will stick to the same four areas throughout the game: The roof, the power area, the trample steam area, and the Buddha room. Other areas you simply pass through in order to get somewhere useful, unless you are intentionally trying to mix things up. The map's actual play space and number of doors far surpasses those necessary pass through to have a good game, and it is a little sad to see the art that goes into the map go to waste, in that regard. The only real story details to be explored are in Mandarin, so you aren't going to be able to form a sense of what was happening in this setting unless you know how to read the language.

 

So I'm not a fan of the layout, but what do I like? More than like, I love the Trample Steam, even if it is a slog to build on solo. It adds so much potential for unique strategies and clutch game plays than I have to give it major props. It can be a bit janky, however, as shown in this clip where I am downed by it:

I also love the new weapons added to the walls in Die Rise, and I wish more maps would mix up the wall weapon selection nowadays. Although, the three new weapons, the SVU, PDW, and AN94 are so good that I pretty much never use the mystery box when I play Die Rise since the Sliquifier is a buildable.

 

There are several reasons I still consider it one of the weakest maps yet, however. The elevator system sounds like a good idea, in theory, but there is nothing fun about standing around waiting for the elevator to come to you, and then wait again for it to move where you want it to. If the elevator could be called without the hard-to-reach keys, it would be much better. The Jumping Jacks are also cool, in theory. The sounds they make and their attack as well as rewards for 100% accuracy are a great idea, but the fact they are just reusing Nova Crawler textures makes them feel less special, and combine their stupidly fast speed with the janky Black Ops 2 knifing, and the only way to effectively acquire the free perk from them is to just stand in a corner with a Trample Steam in front of you, which isn't all that engaging. Another good idea, in theory, was Who's Who. Love the jingle and the concept, but in Solo it is actually a detriment as you are in danger of dying permanently even if you have a Revive left. There's a running theme so far with TranZit and Die Rise, and that is "Good ideas, poor execution". I think that speaks to the creativity of the Treyarch team and their lack of fear at pushing into new territory. Even when they fail to please in one aspect, the risks they take pay off in other areas and are what make the Aether Zombies maps truly unique.

 

While normally my strategy with Die Rise is running in the Buddha Room, I decided to instead camp there in a strategy akin to the classic Catwalk of Der Riese in order to prevent the game going on forever. I eventually ended up on the roof, going down with Who's Who after firing my Sliquifier in a panic. Unfortunately, my downed self was surrounded by soap and I kept slipping as I tried to revive myself. I did eventually die, despite still having a Quick Revive.

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8 hours ago, RadZakpak said:

Die Rise

My baby

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