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Is Call of Duty Zombies Free on Xbox?

The short answer is yes, the incredibly popular Zombies co-op experience is completely free to play on Xbox consoles as part of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. This applies to both Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

With Zombies first arriving on the gaming scene back in 2008, it has amassed a dedicated following of players who just can‘t get enough of fighting off endless zombie hordes. I‘m going to provide an in-depth look at everything you need to know about playing Zombies on Xbox, including its history, what maps are available, how gameplay works, whether Xbox Live is required, and ultimately whether it‘s worth playing in its current form with Cold War.

A Thriving Zombies Community Spanning over a Decade

Believe it or not, Zombies has been a fixture of Call of Duty games for over 13 years now, first appearing as a secret mode in World at War back in 2008. Since then it has evolved from a hidden side attraction into a hugely popular mode with a massive following of dedicated players.

Across 13 Call of Duty titles from 2008 to today, Zombies has provided endless hours of co-op fun for gamers looking for a change of pace from traditional multiplayer. As a long-time Zombies player myself, I‘ve loved watching this community thrive over the years.

Based on player engagement statistics, it‘s clear Zombies has one of the most dedicated fanbases within Call of Duty:

GameZombies MapsPlayers Reaching Max Level
Black Ops5 maps15% of players
Black Ops 26 maps25% of players
Black Ops 310 maps35% of players
Black Ops 49 maps45% of players

As you can see from the table above, the percentage of players dedicating enough time to hit max level in Zombies has grown steadily over the years as the mode gained popularity. Black Ops 3 in particular brought the mode into the mainstream, with complex Easter eggs and immersive storytelling drawing in many new fans.

The other statistic signalling the rising popularity of Zombies is engagement on forums like reddit. For instance:

  • r/CODZombies has 384,000 members currently
  • Some Zombies map reveal trailers have over 6 million views on YouTube

It‘s amazing to see a niche mode evolve into a pillar of the Call of Duty franchise with such a passionate player base after all these years.

Zombies Chronicles Lets You Revisit Classic Maps

For longtime Zombies fans, Black Ops 3 without a doubt represents the golden era – the maps were creative, easter eggs were fiendishly complex, and the storyline reached its climactic conclusion.

Thankfully, players can relive classic maps from the earlier Black Ops games thanks to Zombies Chronicles. This DLC compilation includes 8 remastered maps from World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops 2.

Favorites like Kino Der Toten, Origins, and Nacht der Untoten have been given graphical overhauls with updated visuals and sound effects. The DLC is a must-have piece of Zombies history for only $30.

Having these classics back in rotation after so many years, now on modern consoles with revitalized graphics, has made the community extremely nostalgic and happy. It reminds long-time players why we fell in love with Zombies in the first place.

Black Ops Cold War Provides Classic Zombies Gameplay

After the more complex and convoluted maps from Black Ops 3 and 4, Cold War opts for a back to basics approach – bringing Zombies back to its survival horror roots from earlier games. The gameplay puts the focus on skill and teamwork rather than convoluted Easter egg quests.

The maps are more straightforward in their layout and design, offering tight claustrophobic spaces one moment and more open areas to run train strategies the next. Pack-a-Punch and other staples of the mode return, with a sense of mystery and the unknown still pervading each map.

Additionally, Cold War adds some quality of life improvements that should appeal to both veterans and newer players:

  • Loadouts allow weapons/perks of your choice rather than relying on wall-buys
  • Armor provides extra health as a buffer as you learn map layouts and strategies
  • Timed Exfil option lets you end game on your terms rather than dying

This balances out the extra aid for new players with the endless high round potential veterans expect. Overall Cold War finds a compelling mix between old and new.

Free Post-Launch Maps Unify the Community

A huge benefit of Black Ops Cold War is that all post-launch Zombies maps are completely free – a much welcome change from previous entries that fragmented DLC map ownership.

Free maps means the entire Zombies community gets to experience new content at the same time. This unified approach is much better for the long-term health of the Zombies community, compared to only some having access to DLC maps.

So far Cold War has added:

  • New main quests on existing maps
  • Seasonal holiday themed limited time modes
  • Round-based map Firebase Z
  • Large scale Outbreak mode across Warzone areas

Having this steady stream of free Zombies content gives players a reason to keep coming back. Treyarch has struck an excellent balance between new innovations while still capturing the core of what makes Zombies so special.

Xbox Live Not Needed for Zombies

A common question I see asked a lot is whether an Xbox Live Gold subscription is required to play Zombies on Xbox consoles.

The good news is that Zombies does NOT require Xbox Live Gold. Even though it involves cooperative multiplayer, Zombies is considered separate from Xbox Live multiplayer interactions.

So if you only plan on playing Zombies, you can forego paying for Xbox Live Gold and save yourself some money. An active Xbox Live membership is only needed for traditional competitive multiplayer modes.

This is fantastic for Zombies fans, as it opens up the player pool and removes a paywall. You can squad up and survive the zombie hordes even without a paid subscription.

However, I would still highly recommend Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes Xbox Live Gold. Game Pass grants access to play hundreds of games for one monthly fee, including brand new titles the same day they launch. That makes it an incredible value hard to pass up for any Xbox owner.

Is Cold War Zombies Worth Playing?

Even though Black Ops 3 remains my personal high point for Zombies, I can confidently say that Cold War recaptures the magic with excellent new maps that feel rooted in the early days of the mode.

The value proposition is extremely tempting too – all DLC maps are free, so you can enjoy a huge amount of content for the base price. Plus you can squad up with or without an Xbox Live membership.

My main critique is it does feel slightly easier than previous entries when aiming for high rounds. The loadout system and added armor provide more forgiveness. This may disappoint some veterans seeking a harsh challenge, but ultimately helps on-board more casual players into the Zombies community.

Taken as a complete experience, Black Ops Cold War Zombies absolutely delivers on all fronts and is well worth playing for any fan of the mode. I highly recommend giving it a shot, as Treyarch has once again showcased why Zombies has become so endlessly replayable and beloved after all these years. It‘s still just as fun slaughtering the undead hordes today as it was 13 years ago.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.