For years, gamers have been asking if Treyarch is going to actually fully invest in the Zombies mode and make a standalone Zombies game. As Zombies gets increasingly complicated and ambitious just in the modes in the games it's in, a full Zombies game makes more and more sense. So, in this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about if Treyarch is working on a standalone Call of Duty: Zombies game.
Free-to-Play Call of Duty Coming in 2023
A free-to-play Call of Duty game is coming in 2023, though the mainline CoD game originally planned for 2023 has been delayed to 2024. While Treyarch is handling the next mainline CoD after Modern Warfare II, the studio is also working on 2023's free-to-play Call of Duty game.
We don't know much of anything officially about this 2023 free-to-play experience, and the existence of the game itself we only know about courtesy of leaks from industry insiders. However, a 2023 free-to-play game in lieu of a mainline CoD makes sense, especially since Warzone 2 is launching in 2022 and not 2023. 2023 can't have no CoD content, after all.
Warzone Mobile will undoubtedly be free-to-play, and that's in active development, but it wouldn't make a ton of sense for this to be what Treyarch's working on. The studio doesn't have a ton of experience with mobile, while other Activision studios do, and they don't have much familiarity working with the Warzone IP, while other Activision studios do.
A standalone Zombies game, of course, would be a great fit for the free-to-play model, and it would make a ton of sense for Treyarch to make such a game, especially in light of their expansions to the original Zombies formula in Vanguard and Black Ops Cold War. However, while popular, Zombies isn't nearly the most popular mode in Call of Duty. That's multiplayer.
Considering how tactical games like Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and Counter-Strike continue to dominate the shooter world, and considering how Treyarch handles the League Play aspect of the Call of Duty world, a free-to-play competitive Call of Duty experience that does to multiplayer what Warzone did to battle royale is another likely candidate for what Treyarch's working on.
Treyarch, Zombies, and Map Editors
In the wake of Modern Warfare II's official reveal, a ton of information has come out formally, but a ton more info has also been leaking. According to famed insider RalphsValve, from where a ton of CoD leaks come, a map editor is coming to Modern Warfare II. But it's not just that, as a map editor is also coming to Treyarch's free-to-play game, according to RalphsValve.
While map editor news is cool, albeit less cool when you realize it's going to be pretty limited in scope, the fact that it's coming to Treyarch's free-to-play game is an extremely interesting detail; however, it's not clear if this suggests a Zombies game is coming moreso than a new multiplayer game. Here's why.
So, on one hand, a map editor coming to a competitive game aimed at competing with the likes of Valorant doesn't make a ton of sense. These games are about learning a specific set of maps and building strategies around those maps, not messing around with the maps and playing random gamers' homebrew maps. That's not what games like Valorant are usually about.
However, a standalone Zombies game likely wouldn't be a traditional round-based Call of Duty Zombies experience, because that kind of content will likely appear in future Call of Duty games, and Treyarch won't want to exclusively deliver this content in their free-to-play game or oversaturate the playerbase with round-based Zombies content such that people get bored of it, either.
So, it would make a lot more sense if, for example, Treyarch launched an Outbreak-style open-world Zombies game, building off the studio's work in Black Ops Cold War, as kind of its own, independent Call of Duty: Zombies experience. This game could still get regular updates and see new content added to it, but it wouldn't take away from other CoD games.
In this scenario, a map editor isn't likely either. Open-world games with huge, sprawling maps aren't good fits for a map editor, naturally. What works for a map editor is a level-based Zombies game or a multiplayer game, but if Treyarch isn't likely to spinoff round-based Zombies and tactical shooters don't really mesh well with map editors, what could Treyarch be working on?
A Zombies game could well have an open-world element, map-based modes, and then even something totally new, so a map editor could well fit with a standalone Zombies game, especially one more ambitious and packed with a ton of modes. Zombies is well-liked, after all. However, this does run the risk of stealing the spotlight from future mainline Call of Duty games that regularly lean on Zombies as a side-mode of increasing importance.
While that may be true, a tactical shooter doesn't usually play on a bunch of custom maps, either. But a Call of Duty: Online style free-to-play 6v6 game that's like Warzone but for traditional CoD multiplayer could be a smash hit. Warzone is insanely successful as a free-to-play game, but it's specifically a BR experience. A version of that for multiplayer could be similarly successful.
However, of course, this runs the risk of pulling players away from the mainline CoD games, but mainline games could offer different features, tone, or settings than the free-to-play game ever does, perhaps focusing on modern warfare while future Call of Duty games try out different settings after a slew of more modern games.