Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone become Santa's Slayground for the holidays

CODMAS comes to MW3 and Warzone followed by the VORTEX event
(Image credit: Activision)

🎵It's beginning to look a lot like CODMAS . . .🎶

Whatever the Call of Duty dev teams have done to matchmaking has led to the unfortunate demise of Christmas Noobs, and ole Krampus isn't making a comeback. However, there's still plenty of Christmas cheer (and horror) to be found by Operators this holiday season. Season 1 has officially turned MW3 into Santa's Slayground until January 3 at 8 am PT/11 am ET, with holiday festivities all across Multiplayer, Zombies, and Warzone.

When the event went live, the Call of Duty Team shared details about CODMAS in a post on the official Call of Duty blog. Here's what players can look forward to this holiday season: 

Santa's Slayground in-game event

Players can find new challenges for the Santa's Slayground in-game event, complete with prizes like consumables, calling cards, and the "Elfsecution" finishing move. There's also a new weapon blueprint and Operator skin for those bold enough to be on Santa Gnaws' naughty list.

MW3 CODMAS: Limited time maps and modes

Holiday map: Shipmas

Shipmas returns, albeit with less festive lighting and more frigid corpses. (Image credit: Activision)

Shipmas is returning, but the map will not feature the holiday decorations we've seen in the past. Instead, frigid temperatures and freezing seawater have left the map covered in ice and snow. The ice may not help you slide around any corners, but you'll still want to stay frosty or risk being lit up by an enemy frag.

Holiday map: Hangover

Call of Duty MW3 and WZ get CODMAS event during Season 1

Highrise gets a nighttime variant for the first time. (Image credit: Activision)

For the first time ever, Highrise is getting in the holiday spirit. Ring in the new year among lights, garland, and other festive decorations under the light of a winter moon. That's right, Highrise is going dark! 

Limited-time mode: Infectious Holiday

Santa Gnaws and his Paindeer. (Image credit: Activision)

If one Santa Gnaws isn't scary enough, how about a whole lobby full of them? Infected is getting a holiday reskin, with turned Operators now donning the Zombie Santa skin.

Limited-time mode: Snowfight

Watch out for the yellow snowballs.  (Image credit: Activision)

Gunfight only just joined MW3 during the launch of Season 1, but it's the perfect mode to pair up with your favorite duos partner and engage in a festive Snowball fight. The first two rounds are limited to snowballs only, and an oddly hued yellow snowball in the center of the map can be captured for a one-hit elimination on an unlucky foe. Regular loadouts return in the third round, but there are still plenty of snowballs that can be looted around the map for a frosty surprise. 


The exclusion zone gets a festive overhaul.  (Image credit: Activision)

While no holiday-specific events or modes are coming to MWZ's exclusion zone, players can still look forward to a festive take on Urzikstan. Hellhounds will be decked out with reindeer antlers, and Tier 3's Mega Abomination might be looking a little more seasonal, as well. There's also updated infil music and collectible snowballs, which can really pack a punch against the undead.

Warzone CODMAS: Santa's Slayground

Limited-time mode: Slay Ride Resurgence

Slay Ride Resurgence comes to Warzone. (Image credit: Activision)

Warzone's resurgence mode, where squads continue in game so long as one of the teammates remains alive long enough for the others to spawn back after elimination, will be getting a festive update for the holidays. Urzikstan is covered in Christmas trees that can be decorated by the Operators to unlock high-quality loot. But watch out for Santa Gnaws who is riding around the map on his festive, albeit deadly, train.

Slay ride

Santa Gnaws is making the rounds of Urzikstan on his Slay Ride. (Image credit: Activision)

Ho-ho-ho, Santa Gnaws is taking a slay ride around Urzikstan, gifting good little operators with high-powered loot and an emblem. You did remember to leave out some milk and cookies, right?


Oh, well. Looks like you'll have to battle JuggerClaus for the loot, instead.

Deck the halls

Deck the halls with high-tier loot. (Image credit: Activision)

Slay Ride Resurgence will be marked with Deck the Halls tree-themed capture points, giving Operators the chance to pick up some high-tier loot right at the drop. Players who stand near one of these festive trees with no opponents nearby can begin decorating the tree. Stand your ground and upgrade your tree to Tier 2 or fully decorate it to Tier 3 for the best loot. Enjoy weapons, killstreaks, and in-game cash for your effort.


Oh, you thought CODMAS was the last of the in-game events? Psh, ring in the new year with the fire and flames of Vortex. Three multiplayer maps will be getting the hellspawn treatment, and players can unlock 15 rewards just by playing Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone.

The Vortex event will begin right after CODMAS ends on January 3 and will last for two weeks until January 17.

Vortex event map: Tetanus

There's something strange going on here.  (Image credit: Activision)

We've spent our time on Rust, and now we have to deal with the aftermath: Tetanus. Operators have become transported to an otherworldly variant of Rust, complete with neon green lights and a planetary storm. 

Vortex event map: Satan's Quarry

If you thought Quarry was Hell before, just wait for the Vortex event. (Image credit: Activision)

We're trading limestone for brimstone. Quarry is suspended in the sky by massive chains as fire and ash take over the landscape to create an unnerving limited-time map variant. This map variant makes me wonder if they've heard all the times my squad and I have complained that Quarry was hell.

Vortex event map: Sporeyard

Sporeyard goes dark with bioluminescent flora. (Image credit: Activision)

Mushrooms and spores have taken over the boneyard, leaving the map covered in a glowing blue fungal infestation and giant toadstools around the edge of the map.

How to play the CODMAS event

CODMAS and Vortex events are available in Warzone and MW3.  (Image credit: Activision)

If you're looking to dive into CODMAS but unsure of how to play, we've got you covered. Limited-time modes for multiplayer and zombies require users to purchase Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Slay Ride Resurgence and other Warzone specific modes and event changes will be free to play in Call of Duty: Warzone. Both games will require users to have installed Call of Duty HQ, the launcher for Modern Warfare 3, Modern Warfare 2, and Warzone. 

CODMAS events are live now and will remain playable until January 3.

VORTEX events will go live on January 3 and will last until January 17.

All progress will unlock rewards in the currently active in-game event and will count toward the Season 1 battle pass. 

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 cross-gen bundle | $70 at Best Buy

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Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.