Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’s TranZit was an infamously unpopular Zombies experience when it launched in 2012. But hear me out: now might be the best time to reintroduce the map.
Black Ops 2 served up Treyarch’s third installment of its Zombies mode, with TranZit providing an ambitious new take on the survival mode. Instead of just one map on which to survive endless waves of undead, TranZit was a compilation of maps.
TranZit spawned you into a match with up to four players, and while it mostly functioned like a normal Zombies survival map, your starting area was very small, and resources were extremely limited. Essentially, you were abandoned at a bus stop, and you could choose to hold off the zombies for as many waves as possible, or you could hop on a creepy bus to travel to another area. It was difficult to hold off the zombies by solely staying rooted at the bus station, so you were encouraged to hop on the bus to seek out essential perks and better weapons.
While the need to travel encouraged exploration, it was also one of TranZit’s main struggles. Everything you needed in your normal Zombies experience—powerful weapons, perks, Pack-A-Punch machine, craftables, and electricity—were spread out across the different areas along the bus route. The bus made a circuit of five stops, allowing you to visit the locations of Farm, Diner, Town, and Power Station, and then it looped back around to Bus Station. TranZit’s bus driver, a robot named T.E.D.D., waited on no one. It was very easy to get stuck at a location or separated from your teammates if you couldn’t get back to the bus before it left for the next location.
You could walk the road instead of taking the bus, but it was foggy and dangerous. Hiding in TranZit’s thick fog were unforgiving creatures called Denizens, who would leap on top of you and slash you with their claws. These small, feral creatures could easily catch you off guard and kill you. Even having the Joggernog perk, which grants a sizable health buff, couldn’t help you against the Denizens. You weren’t rewarded for killing the creatures either, meaning they didn’t drop items or power-ups to help you. They served as more of a warning to just stay on the damn bus.
Ultimately, it was a map that felt both infuriating to travel and felt empty for its size. Each map area had something you needed, like a perk or a part for a craftable item, but overall the map locations were lackluster and bare.
Upgrading weapons was also a nuisance. Each Zombies map often has its own unique method to power up or unlock the Pack-A-Punch machine, and TranZit had one of the worst methods. A portable wind turbine was needed to power it up, which was a very fragile craftable item in the game. Zombies could attack and destroy the turbines quite easily, meaning you’d have to go through the process of getting another one before you could access a powered up Pack-A-Punch machine.
Despite the negatives, there were some enticing factors within TranZit. The storyline quest for TranZit offered player choice, which was something that hadn’t been done before. You could choose to help two different characters in the story, ultimately getting different endings to the TranZit narrative. This paved the way for more story paths choices in Black Ops 2's DLC maps Buried and Die Rise.
TranZit also had a nice throwback Easter Egg. You could visit the original Zombies map, Nacht der Untoten from 2008's Call of Duty: World at War. You simply had to know where to deviate off the bus route, and then make your way through a foggy cornfield filled with Denizens.
There was even a nice bank feature you could use to deposit some of your points for later use or sharing. Points stayed in the bank even when the match ended, so you weren’t broke the next time you played. This is a great feature to yourself or teammates who were struggling, so anyone who lost their perks or guns could recover easily.
Flashforward to Black Ops Cold War, where Outbreak has been a really successful mode. Outbreak is also a large-scale Zombies mode with a compilation of several different maps. Instead of traveling by bus, you warp through a portal to reach the next area. And much like TranZit, the massive maps are also geared towards exploration. I’m glad Treyarch didn’t give up on the ambitions of going beyond just single map experiences. Outbreak shows that something like TranZit might find more community love in 2021, with Outbreak creating new Zombies fans who might appreciate a remastered TranZit experience, assuming some adjustments are made to make the travel less of a hassle.
TranZit’s annoying fog was a result of hardware limitations: The PS3 and Xbox 360 were nearing the end of their life cycles, and the developers have been open about past limitations of Zombies. The fog wasn’t meant to just provide a spooky ambience; it required less area of the map to need to be rendered. Now with the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, TranZit could be remastered without the need for fog and Denizens, making much more of the map playable and enjoyable.
Plus, it would be nice to also bring back the cast and give them a do over with the community. TranZit introduced a brand new cast of “Victis” storyline characters with Misty, Marlton, Stuhlinger, and Russman. TranZit’s Victis cast are still an important part of the overall Zombies narrative, and this would be a great time to introduce their debut map to newcomers.
Despite the original’s lack of popularity, there are some really well made fan remasters of TranZit that seem to be sparking some interest in having the mode potentially return in the future. VerK0, a custom Zombies map designer, is currently remastering TranZit in Black Ops 3. The perk machines and other décor were updated to more stylistically fit with Black Ops Cold War, letting the map shine without the hindrances of fog, lava, or Denizens. The map is also set during the daytime. There’s an overcast, but you really get to appreciate the environment.
Seeing all these fan remastered versions of TranZit getting created and played, minus the fog and lava, suggests there’s some fan interest in the map. Since Treyarch wouldn’t be limited by hardware restrictions this time, TranZit in 2021 could be beautiful.
Plus, some of the assets have already been remastered for both Blackout and a Zombies-themed multiplayer map for Black Ops 4. We got a remastered Diner location, T.E.D.D., the bus, and all the updated character models. Leaks and rumors have long suggested that TranZit has been fully remastered, but nothing has been officially announced, and rumors must always be taken with a grain of salt.
Even if Treyarch didn’t release it as a fully remastered standalone,TranZit would also be a great addition to Outbreak, which is easy to jump into for casual or new players. The objectives are pretty straightforward, and the rounds don’t start with every zombie on the map instantly rushing at you. Outbreak’s map objectives and world events could really help fill out TranZit with more things to see and do.
I’m not sure if TranZit’s original dark and gritty style quite jives with Outbreak’s vibrant maps, which are all set in the Ural Mountains, but it could become more cohesive with some lighting changes, much like the atmospheric changes in VerK0's remastered version. TranZit had some flaws, but maybe the map was just ahead of its time. Black Ops Cold War could give it the redemption it needs.