Modern Warfare 3 Zombies debuts first cinematic trailer, featuring undead versions of returning Call of Duty characters

The first Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Zombies cinematic trailer is here, and it shows which returning characters are alive, dead, and undead.

There's an unbelievable amount of lore packed into Modern Warfare 3's first crossover with the Call of Duty: Zombies universe, so be kind as I attempt to break down what's happening here.

Basically, it's all Victor Zakhaev's fault, at least according to the above trailer. The villain, first seen in a cinematic all the way back in 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, leads a squad of Operators into the bowels of a hotel and finds two vials filled with some sort of glowing substance. He and his squad steal the vials, seemingly not knowing what they contain, and he ends up throwing one to the ground as his forces are overwhelmed by the opposing military police.

The vial explodes and sends clouds of toxic fumes suffocating the streets and their inhabitants while Zakhaev and his men retreat to their vehicle for safety. Shortly after, one of his soldiers emerges from a stupor and appears to turn into a violent, undead mutant along with everyone else, dead or alive, caught in the smoke without protection. Zakhaev, the evil bastard, only smiles as he realizes the catastrophic potential in the formula he's managed to run off with.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Call of Duty: Zombies fans will recognize a few familiar faces in the new trailer, although some are in better shape than others. Early in the trailer you'll spot the decaying corpses of the core members of the CIA-backed faction Requiem: Grigori Weaver, Elizabeth Grey, Oskar Strauss, and Mackenzie Carver. At least they have a second shot at life as the undead now that Zakhaev's gone and kicked off a zombie pandemic.

The trailer closes with the return of a few more fan-favorite Call of Duty badasses: SSO Kate Laswell, Sergeant Johnny "Soap" MacTavish, Chris "Torch" Greene, and Captain Sergei Ravenov, AKA Old Man Ravenov. The group has assembled for a mission codenamed Operation Deadbolt with a pretty simple brief from Soap: "Until we know what's going on, containment is the name of the game. No one gets in and nothing, I mean nothing, gets out."

Activision and developer Treyarch have promised the fan-favorite third game mode will be "the largest Zombies offering" in Call of Duty history, tasking co-op squads with taking down threats both human and undead across an open-world map that's bigger than any other Call of Duty: Zombies map to come before it.

The brand new Zombies mode will launch with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on November 10 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC.

Only time will tell if Modern Warfare 3 joins the ranks of the best Call of Duty games so far.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.