Survival Mode is a new addition to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and seems to be capturing a lot of players’ interests. In a way it’s a new take on Zombies offered up in Black Ops, only instead of being hounded by the undead, you’re now faced with waves of varying enemies on each of the sixteen available multiplayer maps.
Each one can be tackled on or offline, and with or without a partner to assist you. I’d very much recommend tackling them with a partner, as with each progressively difficult wave the task becomes a daunting one, and having someone there to back you up or revive you when the going gets tough can be invaluable.
Selecting a Partner
Offline this will obviously come down to preference, but you’ll need someone who is pretty familiar with the first-person shooter genre if you’re looking to make any real progress. There’s nothing worse than having to carry the burden of dispatching enemies and saving your partner every time they get swamped and bleed out.
Online it’s more of a minefield, where your partner, despite their level, can be a nightmare to play with, and go running off into large hoards without any real thought of the consequences. A good tip is to friend those who you work well with, although you should also peruse the leaderboards. You’ll be amazed how helpful some of the best on the planet are, even the top ten ranked players, some of which I’ve personally befriended and tackled levels with on multiple occasions.
You’ll also want to look out for people with bad connections. As it scrolls through the numbers <50ms, etc, you’ll probably want to steer clear of anyone higher than say <100ms as chances are it will be lag city and even the simple task of turning and aiming becomes more of a chore than it’s worth.
Know Your Weapons
One of the biggest assets you can have in the heat of battle is a full understanding of the arsenal available to you and what each one can do to make your life a whole lot easier. For the completely uneducated, the armouries are split into three main categories, and are located at different points on the map. They are:
Weapon Armory – Here you can buy all the various guns featured in the game, their upgrades, and refill your ammo.
Defense Armory – Here you can buy armour, sentry guns, grenades and other various countermeasures.
Air Support Armory – Here you can call in air strikes, launch predator missiles, and even get support from Delta squads.
Now there are no bad choices available to you, but there are bad combinations of weapons, and more crucially, bad times to buy certain weapons as it can be a complete waste of your funds and mess up any potential strategy you have going. For example, there’s no point in using a predator missile towards the end of wave nine when there are few enemies left and the toughest enemies in the mode, the riot shield Juggernauts, are about to arrive in wave ten.
Picking Your Location
Each map obviously has its strengths and weaknesses and these can be exploited to your advantage. The main thing you want to be aware of is the locations of your three armouries as running like a headless chicken between these can make or break your survival in the next wave. Speaking of survival, if you want to live for a long time there is one strategy to adopt that trumps all others, and it’s a strategy that has been used since the birth of the genre – camping.
Now this may be frowned upon by some, but in this instance I believe it to be perfectly acceptable and will probably be the difference between you surviving to wave thirteen or surviving to wave thirty and beyond.
You want somewhere that allows you to get to all of the available weapons quickly, so preferably somewhere towards the middle of the map is ideal. It needs to be somewhere with two entrances and no exposure to enemies from surrounding windows or ledges. Then get comfy in the crouched or prone position, pick an entrance each and get ready to pick off the enemies one by one as they come into view.
Now there are some exceptions where you will have to move, such as when explosive attack dogs break through, and that’s when you will need to take them down, wait for them to blow and then revert to your position. This is important as becoming adept with the art of executing all in front of you quickly is achieved with familiarity.
Let’s Get to Killin’
With every enemy you kill in the game you’ll be given funds, as you will at the end of each wave, and knowing what to do with these at the right time will help you immensely. Of course it depends what map you’ve picked, what compliments your team mate and a whole host of other circumstances as to what is selected at what time, but there are some general rules to follow.
The first rule is to take out enemies on the first few waves primarily with melee attacks as this saves ammo and ultimately money. It’s also a good idea to pick up the weapons dropped by enemies and then upgrade to more suitable weapons later on as and when you feel they are needed. Here are a few more tips to help you on your way.
Sentry Guns can help land more hits faster, which means you can move onto the next enemy faster and this can be vital in not getting overrun. So positioning one at a point where you and it are firing simultaneously is a good base. You don’t want to position one of these outside of a doorway that you are the other side of as it’s harder to protect and it won’t be long before it’s destroyed.
You are allowed one per person so make sure there is one near each of you at all times and when the time comes to replace it do so as quick as is financially possible.
You Only Live Twice
A Self Revive is also quite literally a life saver. There’s nothing worse than bleeding out and forcing your team mate to leave his post to come and save you, leaving you vulnerable in both spots. So if by chance you do get hit by a rogue grenade or similar then you can simply blast your way back to life and continue slaughtering all before you. They may be pricey but can ultimately make or break a tough wave.
As with Sentry Guns, each of you will be able to call on a small team of allies to aid you in your quest. If you can afford it go for the riot Delta squad as they are far less susceptible to being taken out and have the added bonus of being able to charge down on enemies. They also act as a distraction, allowing you more time to pick off enemies one by one.
The thing to be wary of when you have a team deployed in front of you is explosives. You want to make sure if you can that anyone with bombs strapped to them are taken out far away, so that your guys aren’t taken out in the blast. You also want to be aware of where you throw your grenades and plant your explosives in conjunction with their position.
Claymore is Less
A great way of thinning the herd is to plant claymores in places you know enemies will spawn near and also key areas around your location that they will have to pass in order to reach you. This not only makes your job easier when they finally reach you, but it’s also a way to rack up kill streaks and rampages that give you more money to play with. Again, just be wary of you, your Delta squad and your team mate potentially being caught in any blast.
Rotation Over Refill
Make sure you have two guns on you that are capable of rapid and prolonged fire. Guns with short bursts or a long reload time are no use to anyone in this particular instance. This means less money spent constantly refilling the one weapon. This way once one is running low you can switch out to the other and continue the carnage, using your money for more useful things. Those ammo refills might seem cheap, but the price soon adds up over the long run.
These are the main source of death for most for all sorts of reasons and we will try to cover a few of them here. The main fopaux is becoming trapped in a corner by one of these things and then being blasted away to oblivion. You are now trapped in a small room or corridor and when your team mate comes to rescue you he is downed too.
The best way to avoid this scenario is to always stay on the move while they’re in play. You should aim to take out all the lesser enemies first, preferably before a Juggernauts even reaches you so that way you won’t have to worry about additional fire from other targets. From here it’s a case of flash banging them and letting loose as near to their head as is physically possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s a standard Juggernaut or one with a riot shield as the latter will leave themselves unguarded once the grenade hits.
Remember not to panic and not to find yourself in a place where there’s no escape because more often than not this will spell the end of your game. You can always outrun these things and if needs be take turns with your team mate letting off shots at him while the other recovers.
The only problem with running and gunning is when you have to tackle a chopper while one of these things’s is pursuing you it limits your field of play to an indoor arena. The key here is to run to a safe place and take out that chopper as quickly as possible, before turning your attention back to tackling the Juggernaut. Preferably having a Predator Missile to hand is the easier method of taking out any flying foes.
Some make the mistake of using their predator missile on the first Juggernaut that touches ground, which is all well and good early on, but when you have many to deal with and a chopper it may not help you as much.
25 Second Splash-and-Dash
A good rule of thumb is, if you don’t think you can make it back to your safe house before the next wave begins then it’s probably best to stay put, or only visit the one armory in the allotted time. Unless it’s something imperative to staying alive, such as an ammo refill, it may be best waiting for a more suitable opportunity.
There’s nothing worse than being across the other side of the map, albeit with your ideal choice of weaponry, only to be surrounded by fire, or see your team mate trapped because you weren’t there to watch his back. Staying together in Survival Mode is the single biggest aspect of staying alive.
Another tip if you struggle for time is leave the chopper until last, if it's safe to do so, and then use that time to duck and cover whilst you restock. That way, in theory, you have unlimited time to equip yourself for whatever lies in the next wave.
Remembering the Sequence
The waves for each map will always follow a set pattern and if you want to make it above and beyond wave twenty, which is usually a good benchmark, then remembering when to buy a predator missile, when to deploy a Delta squad and where to plant your Claymores are all thing’s you should be thinking about.
In fact, write them down on a pad if it helps. Then for example, you can look down and think wave eleven is coming up, it’s Juggernaut time, let’s go stock up on flash bangs and a predator missile so they won’t stand a chance against me. It might seem a little arduous but it will bring you the results you desire.
A Final Word
I don’t claim to be the know-all expert on this mode, these are simply observations I have made after some fifty hours of gameplay. Many of these hours spent experimenting with the various trials and tribulations of the mode and discovering what works and the most efficient way to get the job done.
By all means I welcome differing strategies or variations on anything I have mentioned here which I’d be more than happy for you to share with others. For now though, happy gaming, and if you’re reading this with a particular goal in mind – a trophy or leaderboard glory- then I wish you the very best of luck.