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Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3
Zombie Mode Explained

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The Black Ops Zombies storyline can be traced back to the early days of World War II after German scientist Dr. Ludvig Maxis discovers a strange new form of malleable energy within crashed meteors that he names Element 115. Maxis then found a secret group called Group 935 whose purpose is to use Element 115 in the development of new technologies to benefit mankind. However, a lack of funding eventually forces Group 935 to strike a deal with the Nazi Wunderwaffe Program, with the Nazis supplying resources to Maxis and his team in exchange for weaponized forms of Element 115.

The Nazis also connect Group 935 with a similar Japanese group called Division 9. Among those hired on for Group 935 is Dr. Edward Richtofen, an old college buddy of Maxis who serves as second-in-command. Against Maxis’s direct orders, Richtofen eventually manages to develop a teleportation device using Element 115 that takes him to both a hidden alien archive on the moon and a lost Himalayan shrine called Shangri-La.

During these inaugural trips, Richtofen learns of a mysterious alien force called Vril, who are the force behind Element 115. Returning to Group 935’s Der Riese facility, Richtofen then works with like-minded Group 935 scientists to secretly found a hidden base on the moon where they can continue their teleportation experiments. Meanwhile, Richtofen and Maxis also develop several different weapons using Element 115 including the Ray Gun and Wunderwaffe DG-2.

The pair even manages to create several new teleportation devices (Richtofen obviously kept his own devices a secret). During the initial testing of these devices, Group 935 makes a horrifying discovery: test subjects who are killed from direct exposure to Element 115 don’t stay dead and instead reanimate as mindless zombies. Maxis wants to shut the program down right then and there, but the Nazis see the use of undead hordes as yet another advantage in the war and order Maxis to find a way to control the zombies.

While Maxis abhorred the idea of experimenting with undead corpses, Richtofen has no such qualms and secretly travels to a remote Siberian Group 935 outpost to continue experimenting on human test subjects, this time using captured prisoners of war. He eventually manages to secure three promising subjects: Takeo Masaki, Nikolai Belinksi, and American army corporal Tank Dempsey who was part of a failed attempt to rescue an OSS spy attempting to infiltrate Group 935. Around this time, World War II ends with the defeat of the Nazis.

However, Group 935 continues to experiment with teleportation in the hopes of making the process stable enough for public use. During one such experiment, Maxis and Richtofen used Maxis’s daughter Samantha’s pet dog Fluffy as a test subject. Unfortunately, once again the experiments give birth to a nightmare, causing Fluffy to be reanimated as a vicious Hellhound. When Maxis and Samantha attempt to approach the monstrous dog, Richtofen sees his chance to assume full control over Group 935.

Richtofen proceeds to lock both Maxis and Samantha inside the testing chamber with Fluffy, assuming the dog would kill them. Unbeknownst to Richtofen, Maxis and Samantha end up being teleported to two separate locations in space and time, causing alternate timelines to form. In the base timeline Richtofen, Takeo, Dempsey, and Nikolai manage to escape Der Riese after the facility is overrun with zombies. They eventually traveled to several other locations across Europe (with Richtofen also making brief side trips to other points in time such as the events featured in the Mob of the Dead, Call of the Dead, and Five Zombies maps) in order to activate three different polarization devices.

Richtofen tells his companions that these devices will close all connections between Earth and the Vril’s homeworld of Agartha, connections which were opened when Samantha and Maxis were teleported. However, Richtofen secretly hopes to merge himself with the powers of Agartha and gain complete dominion over the zombie hordes. Depending on the player’s actions the base storyline ends with either Richtofen succeeding and becoming an omniscient being, or the player betraying Richtofen to help Maxis (who is trapped in the Vril base on the moon). However, after helping Maxis he reveals himself to be just as evil and power-hungry as Richtofen, opening up a direct link to Agartha and obliterating the Earth in the process.

In the alternate timeline that spawned as a result of Maxis’s and Samantha’s teleportation, Richtofen discovers the existence of the original timeline and the presence of a Vril force known as the “Ancient Evil.” Richtofen decides that the best way to stop the original timeline’s events from happening (thus preventing the Ancient Evil’s return) is to kill both the original timeline version of himself and his companions, and he recruits his timeline’s versions of Dempsey, Takeo, and Nikolai to aid him in this quest. While Richtofen travels between dimensions to Morge City (the location featured in Black Ops 3’s Shadows of Evil Zombies map) to retrieve an artifact called the Summoning Key (an artifact needed to stop the Ancient Evil), Dempsey, Nikolai, and Takeo travel to the original timeline’s version of Der Riese to stop the original timeline Richtofen.

Unfortunately, they arrive too late to prevent Richtofen from trapping Maxis and Samantha. However, alternate timeline Richtofen appears after original timeline Richtofen triggers the teleporter, shooting his original timeline counterpart in the head (as seen in the opening cinematic of The Giant Zombies map in Black Ops 3). In doing this, Richtofen permanently alters the chain of events from the original timeline and traps original timeline Richtofen’s soul in the Summoning Key. The group then flees Der Riese and manages to track down and kill original timeline Dempsey at the nearby Der Eisendrache facility.

Richtofen absorbs original timeline Dempsey’s soul in much the same way as he did to his own original timeline counterpart, and reveals to the rest of the team that he want to use the souls of their original timeline counterparts to stop the Ancient Evil for good. The group then stows away on a Japanese freighter in the Pacific Ocean, but are soon discovered. After a daring escape, Tank, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen wind up marooned on a nearby island (Zetsubou No Shima) that also happens to contain a Division 9 facility. It is on Zetsubou No Shima that the team eventually finds original timeline Takeo, who reveals to his alternate timeline self that it was the Japanese Emperor who allowed Division 9 to take Takeo and experiment on him.

The original timeline Takeo then takes his own life, allowing Richtofen to absorb his soul. Richtofen also reveals he has gathered vials containing a blood sample from each of the four men, saying they will act as an insurance policy for a future chain of events. As of the time of this writing, alternate timeline Richtofen’s ultimate goal is still a mystery. While he claims his intentions are noble in nature, the other three men in his group have plenty of reasons to distrust him, especially given the actions of his origins timeline counterpart.

The true scope of Richtofen’s plan won’t be revealed until Black Ops 3’s final two Zombies maps are released, but one thing is for sure: there are many more twists and reveals which are likely on the way.

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