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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – EXO Zombies review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £11.59
inc VAT (DLC pack with 4 multiplayer maps)

A more mobile take on the zombie formula but being bundled with multiplayer maps will anger some

Where would video games be without massacring the already-dead in huge numbers? Not only do the recently deceased amble about in a pleasingly predictable manner; but as they’re already dead, it makes dismembering their corpses a far more morally-justifiable, and less genocidal, act.

Call of Duty’s zombie mode has been a long-running fan favourite in the sub-genre, popularising survival modes and becoming a stalwart of couch co-op sessions. There’s little more fun than crowd-managing a mob of the undead, picking them apart while staying just out of reach.

The mode was originally created by Call of Duty’s alternate developer, Treyarch, but has become so key to the series that it’s now been integrated in Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It’s called EXO Zombies and has been released as part of the Havoc DLC pack.

There’s only one map in this initial release, Outbreak, with additional maps looking likely to be doled out in further DLC updates. If you really want to play Zombies but aren’t that bothered about Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer, it’s a painfully expensive bit of content. Although that’s not likely to apply to a huge number of people, and releasing them this way means there’s a huge number of players online to team up with – with support for 4 players online or over LAN, or 2 players in split screen.


With Ed Wood, Roger Corman and of course George A. Romero including Zombies in their work, it’s arguable that Zombies are the quintessential B-Movie monster – after all they’re not exactly an expensive special effect. With that in mind Sledgehammer has brought in quite possibly the greatest B-Movie cast for its take on Call of Duty Zombies.

John Malkovich loves to ham up a B-movie baddie, and his appearance in 2013’s Warm Bodies also gives him a zombie connection. Though that pales compared to The Walking Dead’s John Bernthal, who plays Shane in the show. Bill Paxton is most recently famous for being Garrett in Agents of Shield, but after Aliens he should be able to manage a crowd of flesh-eating monsters. Then there’s Charmed’s Rose McGowan to round off the group. It’s a real nerd-fest in short.

As with Kevin Spacey in the main campaign, each character is rendered in scary detail. Beyond their appearance, you also get a rather fancy intro video for the map (and presumably for upcoming maps too) and appropriate one-liners that tie in with the action. The whole effect brings to mind Left 4 Dead and should mean that further maps will be released in a loose narrative.


The new mode, in fitting with its parent title, has a science fiction twist, taking the EXO suits of the main game and working them rather cleverly into classic Zombie’s gameplay. You start with a pistol, a handful of rounds, some frag grenades and a knife. You get points for every hit and kill, with more points for headshots and melee kills. A few rounds into the initial shuffling dead, followed by a final knife strike being the best way to harvest points.

Those points can be spent on weapons and ammo, with these being available from 3D printers mounted on the walls, replacing the chalk outlines from the old WW2 take. You can then upgrade your weapons using the Upgrade Station, where they gain more stopping power as well as changing attachments and skins for each level.

There are also EXO upgrades to buy, giving you perk-like abilities: increased health, an EXO slam move, improved weapon swapping and reloading. Plus occasionally you get Orbital Drops, giving you various kit, most notably automated turrets you can set up to help fight off the horde.

^ There’s no shortage of footage online of player’s bossing the game through to Level 25 … we haven’t quite made it that far yet …

You’ll also need to spend money to access areas further into the level. There’s a basic map that flicks up at the beginning showing the location of things. Most notable is that you don’t start with EXO suits, but must instead unlock the room containing them.

Once you have a suit the game starts to feel very different from previous Zombies games. The mobility provided by the suit’s boost and jump capabilities allows you to stay one step ahead of basic zombies. Rather than holing up somewhere defensible and mowing them down, you find yourself bouncing around the level while dropping grenades in your wake. With no barricades to repair in this version, it’s a far more mobile with almost non-stop action.


Some Zombies can now stun you, so you lose your EXO suit’s abilities for a short but often lethal period; while others are infected and any hit from these put you on a countdown timer to death, you must quickly find the decontamination machine before it’s too late.

If you die of infection and bleed out, you’ll lose your EXO suit when you respawn for the next round, leaving you with a desperate journey across the map to get a new one before your team is overwhelmed trying to protect your vulnerably slow progress. At present there’s no option to skip levels, so if everyone dies it’s right back to the beginning for you all.

We had a great time playing EXO Zombies, the old mechanics have been neatly integrated with the new EXO suits for a more dynamic feel.The only problem is that there’s only one level to play at the moment, and although it comes with four rather good multiplayer maps, if Zombies is your main reason to buy the Havoc DLC pack then this is pretty expensive at £11.59, or £35 for a season pass that includes all four packs.

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