Call of Duty is a long-running series. Several studios have been part of the titles released in this series which include Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software, Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Beenox, and High Moon Studios among others. All of their games are published by Activision, and it is a nearly annual series. Call of Duty is a first-person shooter phenomenon, and all of their games sell like crazy. They have had some great games over the years. Their Modern Warfare series is one of the best in the entire video gaming history. Other than that, their Black Ops series is nothing short of amazing. But, all years don’t go equal, and there have been some trash releases too. Check them out in our “Worst Call of Duty Games Ever” article. We will look at the very best the series has to offer today.
How We Ranked Them
Call of Duty has had 39 releases spread across home video game consoles, handheld consoles, smartphones, PC, and more. Ranking the best games among these 39 releases will be extremely difficult, and unfair. So, we will only consider the main 19 releases that made it to the leading home video game consoles like the PlayStation and the Xbox, and Microsoft Windows or PC. The rest of the titles are spin-offs of the main games, and titles that never saw the light of the day.
Even if we chop 20 releases right off the bat, the remaining list is huge. Among these, you get some really bad games, like Call of Duty 3, and some masterpieces, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019). Let’s jump right in and check out the best games in this series so that you have a library that your friends will be jealous of.
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a sensation. Everything from the charismatic personality of Captain John Price to the nerve-wracking “Ghillied Up” mission in Chernobyl will shake you up, and memories spent busting a ship in “Crew Expendable” will stay with you forever. Modern Warfare was a game that proved what Infinity Ward is capable of. It became the fifth most selling video game in the year it launched, having sold over 7 million copies even though it just launched on November 5th of that year. It has the best campaign missions of any first-person game ever released, and the remade multiplayer set Call of Duty as a genre-dominator. The game looks even better in the Remastered version that was launched alongside Infinite Warfare in 2016. This game is a must-play, and it is a gem to be kept in your library.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 carried the success of Call of Duty 4. The campaign is astounding with villains of the caliber of Makarov. Missions like Cliffhanger and The Gulag are respected in the gaming community even 12 years from their release. The success of Call of Duty 4 meant that the bars for its sequel would be set high, but Infinity Ward over-delivered. The new revamped multiplayer felt even more enjoyable with killstreaks and the pacing of the game is just perfect. Modern Warfare 2 was the game that redefined first-person shooters single-handedly. It is a game that you would never get bored of. Although the game has been remastered from the bottom up, the original version still looks crisp and is quite playable.
The remastered version of this recent classic was released in 2020, and it is worth noting that unlike the CoD 4 remaster, the Modern Warfare 2 remaster has no multiplayer. However, players will return for the classic campaign, because Call of Duty multiplayer has improved a lot since Modern Warfare 2 after years of fine-tuning. It is another title that your library should not miss out on.
3. Call of Duty: Warzone
Arguably one of the most popular games in the entire video gaming industry today, Call of Duty: Warzone took the battle royale genre by storm when it was released in March 2020. The game has over 120 million players and hits almost 300,000 concurrent players in peak hours every day.
Although the game was initially launched as an expansion to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), it has been periodically updated to match the content of the successive Call of Duty launches. Part of this included nuking Verdansk, its map, and going back to the 1980s to match Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The game also recently ditched Verdansk completely and introduced Caldera, a new Pacific map, to match Call of Duty: Vanguard, a war game. These changes, bundled with new content almost every week keep Call of Duty: Warzone a very live game, and sets it apart from the competition. Add to these facts, it is free to play. This brings more and more players into the game regularly.
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops is yet another amazing sub-series. Treyarch developed the game in its entirety after they set themselves up as an independent studio. The campaign was amazing, and although it did not reinvent the classic Call of Duty formula, it put together all the good aspects of the series already had developed. This included references to Call of Duty: World at War, and this made the game a perfect mixture of a war game with a shooter set in the modern age. The campaign is set in the Cold War era, and the game focuses on the role the USA could have played in the assassination of JFK, the former American president. Other than that, the game also showcases other contemporary historical events, like the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation, and the happenings in Vietnam.
Black Ops also had an awesome multiplayer across a wide variety of landscapes and maps. It also introduced the famous Nuketown map which is a staple in every Treyarch game these days.
5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
Modern Warfare is undoubtedly the most successful sub-series Call of Duty has ever seen. Thus, their decision to reboot the series 8 years after it ended was warmly welcomed by the fans and the gaming community. Modern Warfare 2019 was a perfect game. The campaign broke the records set by any other Call of Duty game before, and it was a showcase of visual fidelity and cinematics. Infinity Ward over-delivered yet again, and although the campaign was riddled with several heroes and villains, all of them fought to end a similar bigger force: corruption and dictatorship. And the plethora of characters in the campaign is completely acceptable as this game is an exposition to the upcoming Modern Warfare that will follow. This can be proved from the fact that the epilogue saw the re-formation of Task Force 141, with Captain Price leading it once again.
The multiplayer experience was a step-up from Black Ops 4 but the Co-Op was utterly disappointing and broken. However, considering how great the campaign and multiplayer was, it demands a position on this list.
Call of Duty is a great series, and they are a dominating player today. The series has offered a lot, but it still has a lot more to explore and deliver. All of their games are extremely well done, and although their yearly consistency is hated among the community, it is amazing how Activision pulls everything off.