Few online game franchises are as influential and profitable as Call of Duty. What started as a refined World War II shooter has morphed into one thing else solely over the past 15-plus years, with video games going in all places from the Vietnam War to the far reaches of area.
No matter the placement or story, Call of Duty video games normally delivered heart-pounding single-player campaigns and an intense aggressive multiplayer. Even when its most up-to-date entry, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, switched it up and ditched the marketing campaign, it introduced one other thrilling expertise into the fold with its new battle royale mode, Blackout. But not all Call of Duty video games are created equal. Some have been merely higher than others and we’re going to rank them from greatest to the worst.
For this record, we caught to the primary entries within the Call of Duty collection. This meant excluding spinoff titles, in addition to video games launched for previous-generation programs like World at War – Final Fronts. Sixteen video games have been eligible, and we had them battle it out.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare virtually singlehandedly redefined the trendy first-person shooter with its thrilling marketing campaign and endlessly customizable multiplayer part, so the bar was sky-high for Modern Warfare 2 when it launched two years later. Somehow, Infinity Ward managed to outdo itself, delivering one other marketing campaign full of twists, betrayals, and action-packed set items whereas additionally constructing on what made the primary recreation’s multiplayer so profitable.
The kill-streak idea was expanded to permit for much more methods to eradicate your enemies, and the development system remained one of the satisfying in all of gaming. Even a decade later, there’s simply one thing about Modern Warfare 2’s pacing and map design that makes it a basic — it’s a type of video games you possibly can put in your Xbox 360 for months and by no means get bored with it.
2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Where have been you if you first performed Crew Expendable in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In simply minutes, Infinity Ward proved to gamers that the transfer from World War II to a up to date battle was worthwhile, as Captain Price and Soap MacTavish make their method by way of a hostile ship and eradicate targets with pinpoint precision. Not a second of time was wasted, and over the course of the legendary Call of Duty 4 marketing campaign, that might nonetheless be true. All Ghillied Up is arguably one of the best mission in any first-person shooter, and it appears to be like even higher within the remastered recreation.
Modern Warfare’s aggressive multiplayer put a renewed emphasis on private efficiency slightly than profitable particular person matches, with gamers now rigorously eyeing their kill-to-death ration as they fitted their weapons with customized sights and grips. Call of Duty would now not play second fiddle to some other collection, and its reign would final for the following decade.
3. Call of Duty 2
The first Call of Duty recreation for a lot of present followers — and a launch title for the Xbox 360 — Call of Duty 2 was the last word World War II shooter for these within the fall of Nazi Germany. Split throughout missions centered on Russian, British, and American troopers, Call of Duty 2 took gamers in all places from the seashores of Normandy to the deserts of North Africa, and its open-ended method typically gave you multiple method to method a mission. Its scale was mind-blowing on the time, however essentially the most cinematic moments nonetheless maintain up as we speak.
Call of Duty 2’s method to multiplayer was extra laid again than among the later video games, and it wasn’t fascinated by throwing one million statistics at you upon finishing a match. Despite this, the map design was unparalleled, and sniping an unsuspecting enemy from a window was extremely satisfying.
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops
Treyarch was lastly in a position to get out of Infinity Ward’s shadow and set up itself as a premier Call of Duty studio with 2010’s Black Ops. An exhilarating thriller set throughout the Cold War and partially happening in Vietnam, its bold story handled conspiracy theories and the function the United States might have performed within the JFK assassination, together with the failed Bay of Pigs operation.
It even referred to as again to characters and scenes from World at War, mixing parts from the World War II shooter into the newer recreation. Top-notch voice performances from actors like Sam Worthington and Gary Oldman helped promote the entire thing, and we nonetheless yell about “the numbers” recurrently.
Though it didn’t drastically reinvent the Call of Duty formulation, Black Ops nonetheless delivered well-balanced fight throughout quite a lot of maps, starting from the jungles of Vietnam to the well-known Nuketown. The map was so beloved that it has been launched in each Treyarch recreation up to now, and so they’d really feel downright incomplete with out it.
5. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
After helping with the event of Modern Warfare 3, Sledgehammer Games was given the prospect to steer its personal mission for 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Taking the collection additional into the long run than it had gone up to now, its exo-suit gameplay and high-tech weapons promoted verticality and fixed motion, making it troublesome to grasp however extremely rewarding. No longer have been your enemies simply coming from the left or the proper, however presumably immediately above your head.
Advanced Warfare’s techno-political thriller marketing campaign addressed the general public’s rising worry of personal army contractors and the function they’ll play in society going ahead. It was fully absurd, however Sledgehammer has a knack for blockbusters and the closing second are fairly satisfying. Despite its crucial success, Advanced Warfare didn’t gentle the gross sales charts on hearth, so a direct follow-up is unlikely.
Read our full Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare evaluate
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Confused by a recreation referred to as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare showing on our record alongside Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare? It will get much more complicated if you uncover that the video games share characters however are usually not narratively linked apart from the point out of some occasions. Regardless of the naming conventions, the rebooted 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare nails the environment and tense first-person motion of the older video games’ campaigns, full with a number of set-piece moments and a beneficiant sprinkling of stealth.
Modern Warfare doesn’t disappoint as a multiplayer recreation, both, constructing on the muse of its predecessors whereas including new mechanics, corresponding to reloading whereas aiming down the sights. Its easy development system values continued play and doesn’t embrace microtransactions for unlocking any weapons, and new large mode Ground War is a incredible addition.
Read our full Call of Duty: Modern Warfare evaluate
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 might have been the sport to kill the franchise. For the primary time ever in the primary collection, Black Ops 4 opted to go away the marketing campaign mode out fully, providing aggressive multiplayer, Zombies, and the battle royale mode Blackout as a substitute. Treyarch’s over-the-top method to storytelling was missed, however the studio managed to ship among the finest multiplayer modes within the collection’ historical past, together with loads of Zombies content material for followers.
It was Blackout that sealed the deal, nonetheless. The collection’ first crack at battle royale was an enormous success, mixing basic Call of Duty taking pictures mechanics with the sluggish and methodical gameplay from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The mode even combined in basic settings from the sooner video games, in addition to a bit full of Zombies able to tear you limb from limb.
Read our full Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 evaluate
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
By 2011, Call of Duty had already cemented its legacy with a number of stellar first-person shooters, however franchise fatigue had additionally begun. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 wrapped up the groundbreaking trilogy with one other action-packed marketing campaign and tight multiplayer, however with out a lot of the unique Infinity Ward staff on the mission, it felt just like the builders have been tracing a drawing slightly than creating one thing on their very own.
This isn’t to say that Modern Warfare 3 isn’t value of the Call of Duty title. Its multiplayer was as addictive and fast-paced as ever, and there have been loads of set-piece moments, however with out the fervour behind it, the sport by no means escaped the shadow of its older siblings.
9. Call of Duty: WWII
After practically a decade in trendy warfare and the long run, Call of Duty returned to the place it started in 2017 with Call of Duty: WWII. Set within the European theater and that includes the well-known Normandy invasion, it felt like Call of Duty 2 has been remade for the following era of gamers. This got here with some feeling of déjà vu, however the higher characterization and an emotional conclusion helped it from feeling like a primary nostalgia-grab.
The multiplayer additionally shifted away from the surplus of its predecessors, specializing in pure boots on the bottom fight with out compromising the strides the collection had made. Its convoluted development system, nonetheless, didn’t work as properly, and the Zombie mode felt pointless in an in any other case critical recreation.
Read our full Call of Duty: WWII evaluate
10. Call of Duty: World at War
Call of Duty: World at War was Treyarch’s first recreation within the collection for the reason that underwhelming Call of Duty 3, and it managed to ship the grimmest and goriest recreation the collection had ever — or has ever — seen. Focused on Americans within the Pacific in addition to the Russians closing in on Berlin, World at War doesn’t shrink back from the horrors of struggle. Limbs and heads are severed, and mountains of our bodies pile up, although it does lay the pathos on somewhat bit thick within the American part.
Treyarch took the killstreaks and common construction of the Modern Warfare video games and used it for World at War, however it didn’t work all that properly. It had an unmemorable and fewer partaking aggressive mode — the final Treyarch recreation to fail on this division.
11. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The follow-up to the superb Black Ops had expectations hovering, presumably out of any developer’s attain. Call of Duty: Black Ops II felt like a recreation that had been designed by two solely totally different studios. Its multiplayer emphasised customization with its Pick 10 system and a mixture of futuristic weaponry, however its marketing campaign was a scattershot collection of missions that struggled to search out an identification.
It isn’t for Treyarch’s lack of effort, although. Real-time technique parts have been even combined into sure missions, and whereas they have been solely mildly profitable, it confirmed the studio’s dedication to all the time making an attempt new issues.
Read our full Call of Duty: Black Ops II evaluate
12. Call of Duty
The unique Call of Duty was one thing we don’t affiliate with the collection as we speak: An underdog. Developer Infinity Ward had been fashioned from former Medal of Honor builders, with Electronic Arts’ collection nonetheless the king of war-themed shooters. It didn’t take lengthy for Infinity Ward to point out what it was able to, nonetheless, with a marketing campaign cut up throughout three totally different nations’ militaries and a aggressive multiplayer mode that planted the seeds for its future. Even Captain Price made an look!
13. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Treyarch determined to double down on the futuristic parts of the Black Ops video games with Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and it was the primary time it didn’t excite. Mind-controlled drones and weapons weren’t sufficient to beat the sense that we had performed all this earlier than, and the studio appeared to have so little religion in its writing that it gave gamers the prospect to play marketing campaign missions in any order. That is, in fact, except they performed on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, which omitted the mode altogether.
Read our full Call of Duty: Black Ops III evaluate
14. Call of Duty: Ghosts
The first Call of Duty recreation launched on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts had little or no to distinguish itself from the collection’ previous video games. Part of it was in area, a part of it was in city areas, and a part of it was within the foliage, however it lacked a robust villain or the thriller we’ve come to anticipate from Call of Duty. Multiplayer additionally made no try to innovate, however it was, on the very least, well-designed. Getting a sniper headshot nonetheless felt superb, even in case you had executed all of it earlier than.
Read our full Call of Duty: Ghosts evaluate
15. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
It pains us to place Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare so low on our record, as a result of Infinity Ward had large ambitions for the sport. Its marketing campaign ditched the linear, mission-to-mission method and as a substitute let gamers choose and select facet goals to finish, together with wonderful spaceship fight segments. Its bleak story was one way or the other understated regardless of that includes interplanetary journey, and its characters felt like actual individuals.
The drawback was that its taking pictures simply felt unsuitable. A heavy quantity of flinching made fight a ache in single-player, and poor map design made multiplayer fairly irritating. Its potential solely made the frustration tougher to swallow.
Read our full Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare evaluate
16. Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty 2 helped to make the Xbox 360 the console to get in 2005, however lightning didn’t strike twice. Released after a really quick improvement, Call of Duty 3 noticed Treyarch take management of the collection for its first primary entry. The recreation didn’t impress, with a less-engaging multiplayer mode that felt caught between Call of Duty 2’s method and the Call of Duty 4 formulation. The marketing campaign mode tried to alter issues up by together with a Canadian part and a battle mechanic for melee fight, however it lacked the polish or characters to hold it ahead. Call of Duty 3 is the uncommon Call of Duty recreation that you’re higher off avoiding.