Back in 2008, players were introduced to Call of Duty Zombies inside Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World at War. A bonus mode that went unmentioned up until release, Zombies was created by a small group of developers just having fun, and the little survival mode became so enjoyable to Treyarch that it was included as a bonus easter egg unlocked after Call of Duty: World at War’s campaign was completed. Though those that made the mode did not expect it to go anywhere, as many believed a Zombies mode in a serious FPS franchise like CoD would be received poorly, the opposite happened.
Call of Duty: World at War‘s bonus mode became a surprise success, and in response, it was expanded upon with Call of Duty: Black Ops. With two maps at launch and several DLC maps released, there was plenty of content for fans to enjoy, and Treyarch had created a strong foundation to build upon. With systems like perks, Pack-A-Punch, and Wonder Weapons already in place from the previous Zombies entry, Treyarch was able to deliver a strong core gameplay loop from the beginning.
Aside from adding new features and challenges to make each map unique, the original Black Ops game also made easter eggs a focus. While main quest and side quest easter eggs have become more fleshed out and plentiful in the newer entries, Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Black Ops boast some important pieces of the mode’s easter egg history as well.
The start of everything, Call of Duty: World at War saw Zombies grow from a one-off survival experience into something more. With each map, Treyarch came closer and closer to modernizing the mode. While Nacht Der Untoten was basic, barebones survival, Verrukt introduced players to perk machines and an easter egg song with vocals. Shi No Numa saw the debut of dogs, moving Mystery Boxes, the Wunderwaffe DG-2, and the Ultimis crew. Der Riese finally gave CoD Zombies a real story, hiding radios around the map for players to uncover while they unlocked their first Pack-A-Punch machine. With Treyarch still finding its footing and building the mode up, though, easter eggs were limited and only one small quest existed.
Der Riese – The Fly Trap: The briefest main quest in history, this quest saw players playing a game of hide and seek with Samantha Maxis — the demonic girl controlling the undead hordes. After shooting The Fly Trap, players found and shot three teddy bears hidden around Der Riese, with Sam talking to the player after each one. Angrily shouting “You Win… GAME OVER” once all were found, the quest was complete — though players received no in-game reward for finishing it. Still, it was Treyarch’s first attempt at a story-related quest, and it helped players get to know Zombies’ original antagonist a bit better.
Call of Duty: World at War featured a few side easter eggs as well, though there were a lot less than what is seen in recent maps. These include:
- Easter Egg Songs: Each World at War map had an easter egg song to unlock, with Nacht’s seeing players shoot a radio to the right of the box to trigger Campaign music and the track “WTF.” In its Black Ops 1 and Black Ops 3 remasters, players could play the song “Undone” by shooting all nine red barrels outside of the bunker. Verrukt’s song quest saw players pressing a toilet three times to play “Lullaby of a Deadman,” with the track becoming a main theme for the series. Shi No Numa saw players going to the Comm Room to listen to a creepy phone call before “The One” played. Finally, players could play “Beauty of Annihilation” on Der Riese by activating three brains in jars — a format that became standard going forward.
- Der Riese’s Burning Monkey Bomb: A small but fun easter egg will see the Monkey Bomb reacting if thrown in the map’s furnace, shouting “ow” at the player.
- Nacht Der Untoten’s Song Radio (Zombies Chronicles Only): In the Black Ops 3 remake of Nacht Der Untoten, players can shoot the radio that once played “WTF” to cycle through a playlist of every easter egg song from World at War to Black Ops 3.
- Dr. Monty Radios (Zombies Chronicles Only): In Call of Duty: Black Ops 3’s Zombies Chronicles remakes, each World at War map was given a new radio from the god-like figure Dr. Monty. Explaining minor inconsistencies and plot holes from across the older maps, these radios serve as a great way to tie up loose ends. They also appeared in the other Chronicles maps.
- Free Max Ammo (Zombies Chronicles Only): In every Zombies Chronicles remake, including the World at War maps, players could press buttons around the map to activate a quick easter eggs where Samantha dolls appear around the map. Shooting all these dolls sees players getting a free Max Ammo, something that will certainly help players survive on the tougher World at War maps.
With Call of Duty: World at War laying the groundwork for what the mode would ultimately be, the original Call of Duty: Black Ops was able to put the mode on the map. Treated as less of a side mode and more of a third game mode from the get-go, players were given two launch maps and a full season of DLC content — including the first Zombies only map pack, Rezurrection. Main quests also took on a more standard form in Ascension, with Kino Der Toten being the last time an original Treyarch map released without a full main quest.
Ascension – Casimir Mechanism: Guided by Dr. Gersh, a scientist that was part of the Ascension group and tormented heavily by Samantha, players repairing this device serves as the map’s main quest. The objectives include players sucking a generator into a black hole with the Gersh Device equipment, pressing switches at the same time as other players, and riding the lunar landers to collect letters. After doing this and then shooting a black hole with the map’s special weapons, Gersh will be freed and Samantha will scream at the group to “come find her.” The reward is a 90 second Death Machine in the original version, a bit of a lackluster drop given the work that goes into the quest. In Zombies Chronicles, however, players are given all the perks for completion.
Call of the Dead – Ensemble Cast: The only DLC map in the first Black Ops game to take control away from the Ultimis crew, Call of the Dead became a fan favorite for its winter setting and unique gameplay features. It also features a fun main quest, with the cast of a George Romero film helping Ultimis complete their objective — as the group of misfits is stuck behind a door for the quest’s duration. With funny portions of the ester egg seeing the actors get Vodka for Nikolai, the quest is memorable, and the ultimate goal is to get Richtofen the Golden Rod so that he can complete his “Grand Scheme.” Once finished, players will get the Wunderwaffe DG-2 instead of a Death Machine each time they kill the George Romero mini boss.
Shangri-La – Time Travel Will Tell: A fun main quest, this easter egg saw players assisting two explorers trapped in a time loop while helping the villainous Richtofen accomplish his goals. Featuring a day and night cycle that greatly changed the visuals of the map, players were given some more confusing objectives like matching symbols and turning dials in a certain direction. One of the harder easter eggs to complete due to most players needing a guide to assist them, Shangri-La’s main quest easter egg is not for the faint of heart. In the last step, players will be given dynamite, blowing up the wall behind Pack-A-Punch to access the Focusing Stone — the other item Richtofen requires. All perks will also be award upon completion.
Moon – Cryogenic Slumber Party: The most ambitious main quest in Black Ops 1, Richtofen’s Grand Scheme requires Call of the Dead and Shangri-La to be complete before it can be fully finished. Once these are done, whoever is playing as Richtofen will have both the Golden Rod and Focusing Stone in their inventory. The first part of the easter egg sees players opening the MPD device to reveal Samantha, with the next seeing Richtofen swapping bodies with the demonic girl. At the end of the quest, Sam’s father Ludvig Maxis destroys the earth with rockets in the hope that he can limit Richtofen’s newfound power. Players get a 90 second Death Machine for the first half of the quest and a Perkaholic for the second half. While some steps like Simon Says and getting certain box items are tedious, the easter egg is exciting and evolves the story in a major way by dethroning Sam and making Richtofen a proper antagonist.
Apart from hidden radios that detail character backstories, there are several side easter eggs in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Here are some of the best:
- Easter Egg Songs: Like with other Zombies modes, there are special easter egg songs to activate. While Avenged Sevenfold’s “Nightmare” can be played on Moon after getting trapped by the excavators, the other songs have the traditional “find three items” trigger. Kino Der Toten’s Element 115 rocks fittingly play the song “115,” while phones on Five play Eminem’s “Won’t Back Down.” Ascension plays “Abracadavre” by Elena Seigman, the singer behind a majority of original Zombies easter egg songs. Call of the Dead has Avenged Sevenfold performing “Not Ready to Die,” while Elena returns for Shangri-La’s “Pareidolia” and Moon’s “Coming Home.”
- Kino Der Toten’s Rooms and Reels: While Kino Der Toten lacks a main quest of its own, it features several video reels that can be played when players teleport to the Pack-A-Punch room. While these reels tell pieces of the story, the rooms where they can be grabbed do the same — with players visiting clean and ruined versions of Sam’s room. A tiny model rocket could also be launched on one of the room’s tables, hinting at the Ascension map’s arrival.
- Kino Der Toten’s Pictures: A small but sweet easter egg, players could interact with pictures of Ultimis to see the main cast praise or, more likely, poke fun at each other.
- Five’s Bonfire Sale: Five features the unique mini boss the Pentagon Thief, with the invisible figure chasing players and stealing their weaponry. While this could be frustrating, it made every fight fun and intense. Once players mastered strategies for killing the thief, they could take him down without letting him steal any weapons — and the reward was a Bonfire Sale drop that lowered the cost of Pack-A-Punch from 5,000 points to 1,000.
- Destroying Ascension’s Rocket: If players had a Ray Gun or explosive weapon when launching the rocket to open pack-a-punch in Ascension, they could should the rocket down as it flies into the sky. Aside from a massive explosion, Zombies fans were given a double points drop for their efforts.
- Ascension’s Red Phones and Matryoshka Dolls: Two more small yet memorable easter eggs occur on Ascension. Players could interact with red phones to hear the Five cast fighting against Zombies, confirming that the two maps take place at the same time. Matryoshka Dolls can be found around the map, too, depicting each playable character — with the characters having special dialogue when interacting with themselves.
- Ascension’s Free Perk: Ascension’s special monkey rounds can be a real headache, as players need to expertly defend the map’s perks or the monkeys will steal them. If this defense is pulled off perfectly and the space monkeys never touch a machine, though, players will get a special drop that provides everyone in the lobby with a free perk.
- Shangri-La’s Free Perk: After taking a break in Call of the Dead, monkeys returned in Shangri-La — this time stealing power-up drops instead of perks. The drops change as the monkeys run away with them, and for a brief second, a free perk power-up flashes — meaning that expert players can use good timing to get perks for free.
- Moon’s Free Perk: Player’s with good jumping skills can use the platforms in the Bio Dome on Moon to reach a free perk, though they may want to buy PhD Flopper since missing a platform almost guarantees a frustrating death.
- Moon’s Space Dog (Zombie Chronicles Only): Players can activate a Space Dog easter egg inside the BO3 remake of Moon, with the adorable dog bouncing outside the map serving as a reference to an old community easter egg hunt and meme from BO1.
- Moon’s Hidden Hacker Abilities: Moon’s hacker tool is needed for the main quest, though it boasts several special abilities. Players get points every round for keeping the tool on their person, and they can use it to open all doors for 200 points. Window hacking instantly repairs all barriers, while hacking other players gives them 500 points. Players can hack the Mystery Box to lock it in place or make it appear at a location where it is not at, and hacking perks allows players to return them. One of the best abilities of the device sees players hacking wall guns to swap their base ammo costs and Pack-A-Punch ammo costs, and players can also hack Pack-A-Punch to put up a protective cage around the area while upgrading.
With Moon’s main quest easter egg ending on a huge cliffhanger, players were curious as to where the story would go next. In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, they got their answer, as Zombies’ gameplay, narrative, and easter eggs evolved in a major way.