'Call of Duty: Warzone': How to Become a Zombie and Skull Icon Explained

Call of Duty: Warzone received a sneakily substantial update Thursday afternoon, adding the Sykov full-auto pistol to battle royale and Modern Warfare alike. But, perhaps more interesting than that slightly bugged weapon unlock, is the fact that player-controlled zombies have returned to Verdansk. In this no-nonsense guide, we'll explain how to become a zombie and what that new skull icon in the top-right corner means for your matches.

How to turn into a zombie in Warzone

As soon as you open up the latest version of Warzone's minimap, you'll notice Prison and Shipwreck have large red circles around them. This means they're considered containment zones and are home to a unique type of radiation not available anywhere else on the map. That radiation is essential to spawning as a zombie.

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'Call of Duty: Warzone' lists Shipwreck and Prison as radiation zones. Die here to become a zombie. 'Call of Duty: Warzone' is available now on PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC. Raven Software/Activision

As seen in this screenshot, approaching either Prison or Shipwreck immediately occupies your screen with a green haze effect similar to the traditional Verdansk gas cloud that expands over the course of a match. It still ticks off damage from players like always, but it does so at a much slower rate than the traditional cloud. That rate can also be slowed down even further with help from a Gas Mask, just like always.

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When approaching Prison or Shipwreck, this gas cloud slowly erodes your health bar. Raven Software/Activision

In order to respawn in the game as a zombie, you must die in this special radiation cloud. The only exception to this rule is that at least one other player on your team must also be alive for you to become a zombie, which means you won't find any zombie activity in Solos queues.

Zombies control identically to the iteration used during the Haunting of Verdansdk Halloween event late last year. They have access to a Charged Jump, Gas Grenade and EMP Blast, and typically eliminate their foes with a persistent melee scratch attack. They're also immune to the Verdansk gas cloud as well, which could be leveraged as an effective strategy when coordinating with the human members of your squad who are still fully alive.

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Zombies have a Charged Jump, Gas Grenade and EMP Blast. Raven Software/Activision

So what does the skull icon mean?

You may have noticed that our radiation cloud screenshot features a new skull icon in the right-hand corner of the screen. For those who still haven't figured it out, that number indicates how many player-controlled zombies are live on the map. As that number potentially increases over the course of a match, be prepared to encounter some rather atypical Warzone gameplay.

These zombies are harbingers of craziness to come, as Call of Duty social media channels have announced "the end is near," with a major event set to take place April 21 at 3 p.m. EDT. The long-fabled nuke is presumably about to make its way to Verdansk, ushering in a completely new era of Activision's virally popular battle royale.

Call of Duty: Warzone is available now on PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC.

What are your thoughts on playable zombies coming back to Warzone? Will you be watching the nuke event as it happens? Tell us in the comments section!