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The top five Call of Duty Zombies maps in history

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World at War to Black Ops 4, these are the five best Call of Duty Zombies Maps.

From Nacht der Untoten to Zombies in Spaceland, over the past ten years players have been introduced to new features, new locales, and new characters. With the newest Zombies map, Dead of the Night, dropping this month for Black Ops 4 players, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a look at the past.

With more than 40 Zombies maps over eight games and three studios, there are a handful that stand the test of time and are regarded as the best. A couple of things go into consideration when coming up with these top maps, however the most important factors are replayability and fun.

A great map isn’t just great the first time you play it. A great map continues to be great the 100th, 300th, and 500th time you play it. In the same vein, a great map has to be fun to play. There are many maps that have amazing environments, exotic Wonder Weapons, and unique ideas, but if the map isn’t fun, those things are meaningless.

While fun is of course extremely subjective, I base the fun of a map on its ability to balance complexity and simplicity. Getting set up on a great map shouldn’t feel tedious, rather you should feel like you’re accomplishing something with each door-buy and buildable you craft.

That said, here are my top five Call of Duty Zombies maps (in no order):

Der Riese (The Giant)

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

The final DLC map in 2008’s Call of Duty World at War, Der Riese is the first map to fully embrace the Nazi Zombies vibe. Nacht der Untoten could’ve been a bunker anywhere and while Verruckt definitely had a spooky Nazi atmosphere, Der Riese leaned heavily into the sci-fi nature of the mode.

This map introduced players to both teleporters and the Pack-a-Punch machine, which would go on to become core features of every future map. Without teleporters (or some equivalent form of travel) large Zombies maps wouldn’t exist. And with no machine to upgrade your guns, high rounds would go by at half speed.

Der Riese has seen many iterations, its original form in World at War, an updated version in Black Ops 1 with different Mystery Box guns and Mule Kick, and most recently appearing as The Giant in Black Ops 3. However, since all three retain the same core layout, I bundled them into this spot on the list.

Kino der Toten

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

Kino der Toten is easily the best Call of Duty Zombies map to launch on-disc. The maps beauty lies in its simplicity. With only eight doors and a power switch, Kino manages to remain fun and engaging every time you jump in. Easy enough for new players to survive for a while with no prior knowledge, yet deep enough for hardcore fans to maximize their strategies for high rounds.

Whether you were rocking the new Thundergun or the classic Ray Gun, Kino der Toten served as the test bed for Black Ops 1’s new armory. Classics like the Galil and RPK sat alongside unique special weapons like the upgraded Ballistic Knife and Crossbow.

This is also the first map that doesn’t require any unlocking or DLC to play, which makes it sort of an introduction to the mode for most modern Zombies players.

Der Eisendrache

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

Der Eisendrache takes some of the best concepts and ideas from the maps before it and refines them to perfection. Right off the bat, you’re greeted with familiar animal heads, in this case dragons, that you need to feed. While in Mob of the Dead, feeding three wolf heads grants you the Hell’s Retriever, feeding the dragon heads in Der Eisendrache is just step one to crafting some of the greatest weapons in Zombies history – the Bows.

Although the base level bow, Wrath of the Ancients, is easy to get and not half bad, only when upgraded does this map truly start to shine. Following in Origins footsteps, Der Eisendrache has four unique, powerful, elemental Wonder Weapons that require some work to craft, but well worth the effort.

Colloquially known as the Storm, Ice, Void, and Fire bows, every player has their favorite, and even close friends often get into fights over who called which bow first. But it’s not only the weapons that make this map great.

The layout is gives enough breathing room for four players to comfortably form their own hordes of zombies, which still keeping everything relatively close in case someone goes down. This means that teams don’t get over run too early on, and that mistakes mid-game can be easily corrected and the match can continue. 

Ascension

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

With Black Ops 3 and Black Ops 4 sticking with the same perks they’ve had since launch, a DLC map bringing two new perks with it seems unimaginable. Yet that’s exactly what Ascension did. While Stamina-Up is still with us today and is a go-to for many players, fans had to say goodbye to PHD Flopper after Black Ops 1.

What makes PHD Flopper so special in relation to Ascension, is that it’s a perk perfectly fit for the map. With all the high staircases and tall ledges, players were encouraged to dolphin dive off everything they could creating huge explosions. But that’s not all! PHD Flopper grants immunity to explosive damage therefore turning the Ray Gun into a fun get out of jail free card.

Getting to the map itself, a Soviet Cosmodrome provided a very fresh take on Zombies, with Space Monkeys, rocket ships, and lunar landers creating a coherent atmosphere. Camping spots are plentiful and weapon selection is superb.

Ascension is also the first map to include an easter egg main quest, setting the community on a rigorous hunt every time a new map is released.

Origins

(via callofduty.wikia.com)

Origins took us back. Way back. Not only did this map bring together the original crew for the first time in Black Ops 2, we were also introduced to a new, younger version of the gang. Seeing a spry Tank, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen for the first time in the opening cutscene would’ve been enough, but then the Giant Robots showed up.

I still can’t think of a map that has a grander scale than Origins. Yes, there are maps that are bigger, but no other maps include three towering Giant Robots strolling across the map. Between that and the dig site that just keeps going down, this map is LARGE yet still accessible. Thanks to the portals underground and the Mark IV Tank, smart players can zip around this map pretty fast.

Giant Robots, Tanks, and a young crew doesn’t even scratch the amount of things Origins has to offer. Between the Maxis Drone, G-Strike grenades, Elemental Fists, and shield, this map set a precedent for future maps when it comes to buildables and secret weapons.

Lastly, there are the four Elemental Staffs and their upgrades. Tranzit and Die Rise both had their own buildable Wonder Weapons that couldn’t simply be found in the box, but these Staffs are so much more than buildables. They’re part of the map and its environment. Digging up parts, shooting things out of the sky, placing them in medieval statues of yourself, even collecting them from inside Giant Robots, all helped give the feeling that you were playing a part in the map rather than simply playing on the map itself.

Some notable maps that didn’t make the list include Mob of the Dead, Gorod Krovi, IX, and Die Rise, yet those are still fantastic maps and worthy of praise.

Do you agree with this list? What are your personal top five maps from any Call of Duty Zombies game? Let us know in the comments down below!

FIFA 22

FIFA 22 Ultimate Team review: A future star

In our FIFA 22 Ultimate Team review, we place FUT under the microscope and see how it stacks up. Check out our thoughts below.

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FIFA 22 Ultimate Team review

FIFA 22 Ultimate Team is finally here, and after nearly a week of playing early access for this review, there’s plenty to be excited about. But there’s still work to do if FUT 22 is going to mount a title challenge – instead of settling for mid-table obscurity.

Ultimate Team is the premier mode FIFA and one of the main reasons why football fans come flooding back through the turnstiles year upon year.

The lure of building a squad packed with the stars of today, as well as the ICONS of years gone by, is almost irresistible to lovers of the beautiful game.

After the big overhauls in FUT for FIFA 22, how does it stack up once the boots are laced and packs start opening?

Check out our full FIFA 22 Ultimate Team review.

Tactical masterclass

FIFA 22 teams lining up

Despite all the cosmetic and presentational changes that EA has made to the FUT format for FIFA 22, it’s on the pitch where this truly feels like a new game. The gameplay has been overhauled to make for the most authentic football experience the series has created to date – and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Gone are the end-to-end nine-goal thrillers that were commonplace in FIFA 21. Instead, players are asked to take part in an elaborate chess match to break through stubborn defenses with well-timed moves.

Defending as a whole is more robust, with players much more willing to stay in position and make blocks than last year. It can take a few hours to get used to, but grinding out a result as your opponent throws men forward is just as satisfying as a 3-0 dunking.

Games, in general, feel more tactical than ever before. The first 10 or so in-game minutes are often spent sizing the opponent up and being savvy enough to adjust your gameplan mid-game feels more vital than ever.

The midfield, which has often taken something of a backseat in previous years, is now the battleground where matches are won or lost. Finding the right balance of protection for the backline and support for the frontmen is crucial, and welcomes lots of tinkering from us aspiring tactical masterminds.

FIFA 22 customized stadium with fans

There’s a lot to love in FIFA 22, especially if you’ve looked at the PES (or eFootball now) series’ more simulation-based approach to gameplay and wished it could come packaged with EA’s knack for securing official licensing.

It’s a shame, then, that the on-the-pitch action is held back by some glaring issues that are frustrating at best, and rage-inducing at worst.

Game of two halves

It’s far too common that players you control won’t lock on to the ball after it breaks loose. There have been dozens of occasions where a pressing striker will poke the ball away from a defender, only for the midfield to stand by and let the opponents gather it back up.

The same issue crops up when crossing. Seeing Erling Haaland make a busting run into the box only to sprint away from the ball when it comes in really breaks the immersion – and probably controllers.

FIFA 22 Manchester United players

Goalkeepers are also widely inconsistent. The new animations and AI make often make them seem impossible to beat, as they save one-on-ones time and time again. But after seeing so many shots tipped around the post, it feels cheap to then score, or concede, because they parried a tame header into the side-netting.

Finally, there’s also a real problem with swapping which player you control when defending. You sometimes have to press switch four or five times before it changes to the man who is nearest the opponent, using up precious seconds that can cost you the chance to make a tackle.

The good news is that most of these issues can be fixed in updates and patches throughout the year. Hopefully, these fixes come soon so that this prospect can live up to his full potential.

Away from the pitch

FUT Champs rewards in FIFA 22

It’s not just on the field that has seen a reinvention, there have also been some major changes to the FUT modes and how you earn those valuable rewards. After years of demanding huge time and investments from its players, accessibility is the name of the game in FUT 22.

The way modes that the two main modes, Division Rivals and FUT Champions, have been changed means that you no longer have to sink in an obscene number of hours to still earn packs and coins.

Rivals now resets after each season, and you only have to win seven matches to be eligible for weekly rewards. While FUT Champs is broken up into Play-Offs and Finals, the latter of which requires you to play 20 games over a weekend. Much more manageable than last year’s 30.

PSG players in FIFA 22

The cost of all this accessibility is that unless you have the time and skill to compete in the FUT Champs Finals consistently, the rewards themselves are much leaner. It’s early days but substantial packs and coins have been hard to come by so far, and the well-documented “FUT grind” is back in full effect.

By making the pack rewards less valuable, and coins harder to grind for, FUT still has the gross feeling that it’s geared around its notorious monetization model that seems to pressure players into consistently coughing up real money for the chance of packing a Messi or a Ronaldo.

This is an issue that has plagued the mode almost since its inception, and it’s disheartening as a long-time fan and football fanatic to see that it’s still attacking my wallet, if not my time.

In conclusion

Chelsea players FIFA 22 defending a free kick

FIFA 22 Ultimate Team has a lot of potential. The more thoughtful, methodical gameplay makes it the most vivid recreation of the sport in the series to date, and a true joy to play at times.

There are some kinks that need to be ironed out, and the constant push towards its loot boxes feels as gross as ever, but there is a great football game here, underneath all the issues and gambling.

Overall, we’re hopeful that FIFA 22 Ultimate Team can evolve and grow as the year goes on, and live up to its billing as a future star.

Verdict: 8/10

For more on FIFA 22 Ultimate Team, check out our guide on how to snipe players and the latest Team of the Week.

Image credits: EA

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Call of Duty: Vanguard

Call of Duty Vanguard Beta Review: Big potential but major tweaks needed

The Call of Duty: Vanguard Beta was full of thrills and spills, but how close is it away from being perfection?

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The first full weekend of the Call of Duty: Vanguard Beta has been and gone, and after a few hours with it, we can safely say that fans should be excited.

The Call of Duty: Vanguard Alpha was merely a snippet of what the full game is going to offer, only showing off the new Champion Hill mode. With solid gunplay and a mode with potential, the Vanguard alpha certainly won us over, but the biggest test for the game so far was yet to come.

It’s arrived in the form of the long-awaited Beta testing with PlayStation users getting early access. Early indications are that whilst there is some obvious room for improvement, Call of Duty: Vanguard could be heralded as a classic upon its release.

Maps, modes, and meaty mayhem

gavutu map in cod vanguard

Keen testers are able to sample three of the game’s maps, a selection of guns, and other key elements like killstreaks, loadouts, and Perks.

Each map contains an abundance of personality: Gavutu is a gorgeous tropical island with weather effects playing havoc with your screen, Red Star is a brisk stroll through a snowy, war-torn square, and Hotel Royal could be one of the best Call of Duty maps ever.

To adequately test them out, the Beta removes the ability to custom-select the game modes you want to play, which is understandable given that Sledghemamer wants all the content to be played equally.

Alongside the classic Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed stipulations is the new Patrol game mode. It’s essentially Hardpoint, but the objective area is constantly moving, making for a more dynamic and proactive experience.

cod vanguard operator aiming pistol

For anyone who missed out on the Alpha, Champion Hill returns to challenge eight teams of either 2 or 3 members to go toe-to-toe and whittle down each other’s lives. We covered our full experience with it in our Call of Duty: Vanguard Alpha review, but it’s safe to say that it’s a mode that will keep people coming back for more.

The final major change that tries to set Vanguard apart from previous entries is the new Combat Pacing variants – Tactical, Assault, and Blitz.

Tactical is usual 6v6 fare, Assault ups the player count to around 20, and Blitz is a chaotic duel between two huge teams – roughly 40 players in total. In our experience, we found that this function certainly changes the way matches play out, not always for the better though.

Assault and Blitz on Red Star are immense, Tactical is not – with fewer people, the map inherits the problems that Miami originally had in Cold War by having a huge map with no one around, leading to sluggish, uneventful gameplay. If players are able to filter pacing choices in Vanguard’s full release, then we expect Assault and Blitz to be picked a lot more than Tactical.

Plenty of customization, but glaring issues

call of duty vanguard gunsmith options

Gunsmith returns in Call of Duty: Vanguard with players able to select up to 10 attachments per gun.

Each slot contains a variety of different attachments, each with its own subtle differences, so we expect to see lots of interesting loadouts for the STG44, MP40, MG42, and more.

The Perk meta may not be as interesting though, as unless another one or two are added, then we expect to see almost everyone running Ghost and Radar.

Vanguard also suffers from two problems that we can’t help but comment on – visibility and spawning. We are in love with the PS5’s ability to process breathtaking particle effects and give each map a rich, premium shine, boosted by HDR and exquisite ray tracing.

cod vanguard red star map

But its technical polish is scuppered by constant visibility issues, a common flaw of Black Ops Cold War. We found ourselves on the receiving end of deaths without ever knowing where they came from.

Maps like Hotel Royal have so much going on that it’s easy to become lost in the action, and Gavutu’s extravagant scenery also becomes perfect folly for campers. Maybe the addition of a faint silhouette or outline could help matters, but we feel that it needs to be improved somehow.

The audio seems to be fine, and with a headset, we experienced few problems, but the main issue with Call of Duty: Vanguard at present sticks out like a sore thumb – spawns. CoD games have never been renowned for having the best spawn placement, but Vanguard’s different pacing across each map is clearly affecting the game’s logic and decision-making.

We simply lost count of how many times we were killed from behind from nonsensical spawn placements and how often enemy players just appeared right in front of us, enabling us to score an easy kill.


In Conclusion

lounge area in cod vanguard

On the plus side, the game is a lot of fun to play. Guns feel distinct and tight, the hitmaker sound effect is ridiculously good, and the game modes on offer help to keep the Beta fresh.

But as the Beta progresses and we draw towards Call of Duty: Vanguard’s release, it’s vital that Sledgehammer looks at some of the game’s unwelcome distractions. We understand that visibility and spawns are hard to get perfect, but they definitely need improvement.

Overall, we feel quite optimistic about Call of Duty: Vanguard, and players who are unable to take part in the Beta can remain confident and excited ahead of its November 5, 2021 release date.

Verdict: 8.5 / 10

Image Credit: Activision / Sledgehammer Games

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Call of Duty: Vanguard

Call of Duty: Vanguard Alpha Review – A promising start

The Call of Duty: Vanguard Alpha was open to all PlayStation players and delivered a lot of promise ahead of its November 2021 release.

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call of duty vanguard review champion hill

The public got their first real taste of Call of Duty: Vanguard with Champion Hill in the free Alpha test. It was available to all PlayStation 4 and 5 users, and there was a lot to like about Sledgehammer Games’ newest project.

After months of rumors and leaks, Call of Duty: Vanguard was finally announced on August 19, 2021. It signaled the next chapter in the storied franchise and instead of a foray into more modern-day war or Vietnam, the game is instead going back to its World War II roots.

Sledgehammer continues to polish the next entry into the legendary CoD franchise, and the devs announced an Alpha test phase would take place exclusively for PlayStation gamers.

We were able to get hands-on with this exciting first chunk of playable Vanguard, and we’ll dissect what we loved about the game so far.

The Champion that Vanguard needs

operators in call of duty vanguard

The Vanguard Alpha sadly had no customization options for clan tags, calling cards, etc, and only had one mode, but, thankfully, it was the brand new Champion Hill mode. A combination of Counter-Strike, Apex Legends’ Arenas, and Warzone, Champion Hill is a deep game mode.

Check out our full guide explaining what Champion Hill is, and how it works here.

We played several hours of it, and it was more than able to sustain our interest. Wins are most definitely possible, and dubs give you a great feeling of euphoria.

From the first match to the last, Champion Hill is several small games of Call of Duty with lots of strategy and teamwork required.

Old dog, new tricks

layout of champion hill map in vanguard

Breakable cover is nothing new in first-person shooter games but with competitors such as Battlefield 2042 emphasizing destruction, Call of Duty has decided to step up.

Each of the maps contained a multitude of vulnerable doors, walls, and surfaces. Meaning you can’t always just hide behind something and expect it to protect you now.

Although it wasn’t too thrilling on one map where we spawned and were immediately shot from the other side of the map through a wall. We also had multiple instances of killing a player, and them spawning right near us and killing us very quickly. So spawn points definitely need to be looked at and addressed before the beta phase.

map in vanguard champion hill

Another slight issue with the 2v2 format is that there was quite a lot of camping, even in smaller maps. There were multiple instances of the enemy team lying prone at the back of the map, especially when they had a much inferior life count.

Whilst you are technically penalized for non-aggressive play by not winning matches and obtaining cash as a result, it still feels like there needs to be a way to force players to compete and not hide.

Nevertheless, destructible cover is welcome, wall-mounting adds an extra dimension and can be effective if used right and the jury is still out on the new blind-fire mechanic.

Variety is the spice of life

vanguard operator firing an lmg

Despite some camping and more run-ins with SBMM, there’s so much to consider during the course of a full game of Champion Hill.

Do you focus all your money on upgrading your BAR or STG-44? Do you try to collect Perks? Do you focus on buying extra lives? Or do you try and save up an obscene amount of money to earn a game-ending V2 Rocket?

Even the maps themselves have an extra life in each one, leading to unreal dilemmas of whether you should gamble to get it or not.

players firing guns in cod vanguard

Maps do possess a decent bit of personality, despite being quite similar in some respects. One is Airstrip, a literal giant airstrip with bunkers and watchtowers, and another is Market, and it’s filled with stalls and cover.

Beautiful battles

cinematic skyline in cod vanguard

Our experience was on a 4K HDR TV on a PS5, so we can’t say how the PS4 version fares. However, PlayStation’s newest beast is capable of making Vanguard a dream to look at.

Call of Duty continues to excel in its ability to have hyper-realistic lighting and does so by returning to the Modern Warfare engine once more. The way dust particles fly up and stream across your screen is breathtaking.

Explosions look spectacular and the way in which they affect the environment feels spot-on. The audio feels pretty good, but we have found that footsteps can be inconsistent, with no sound coming through until the last second.


In Conclusion

Polina Petrova in cod vanguard

The Call of Duty: Vanguard Alpha bodes well for the game’s beta testing and eventual release. Champion Hill looks like another winner, and it has more maps to come in the future as well to flesh the experience out.

Given that this is very much an Alpha, there was always going to be an issue or two. Spawn points and audio mix irregularities are two things that can be cleaned up, and Sledgehammer has already confirmed some fixes.

The rest of the Alpha and Champion Hill as a whole is a lot of fun, and we look forward to seeing what Sledgehammer Games has in store for the Vanguard beta!

Verdict: 8 / 10

Image Credit: Activision / Sledgehammer Games

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