There aren’t many franchises that have impacted the gaming community as much as Call of Duty. Even if you no longer play the game (or never have), there’s a good chance you’ve at least felt it’s mass influence on the culture. What started as a fun WWII first-person shooter has steadily evolved into a gaming empire that’s responsible for some of the most riveting tales and experiences imaginable.
Here is how every Call of Duty game released so far holds up.
All Call of Duty Games Ranked
Before we get started, it’s important to note that we only included the main entries in the Call of Duty series. Meaning that no spinoff or simplified titles from older generation consoles have been featured on our list. Such as The Finest Hour or the Big Red One.
So, with a total of 19 titles to choose from, here’s every game in the Call of Duty series ranked.
#19 – Call of Duty 3 (2006)
First, we travel all the way back to 2006 with the release of Call of Duty 3. This was right after Treyarch took over, and was the developer’s first crack at the franchise. While the game’s campaign did impress some by introducing certain features, like a new Canadian section and improved melee combat. Overall, the game was largely disappointing. Outside of the numerous bugs and glitches, Call of Duty 3 had an incredibly boring multiplayer mode, a non-existent main story, and felt generally unpolished.
#18 – Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013)
Designed as the franchise’s introduction to the next-generation consoles at the time (the PS4 and Xbox One). Ghosts took bits and pieces from older titles to make something entirely different. In a fictional world that pits North America versus South America, the game did a good job of painting a picture for how lonely this world could be. Overall, Ghosts kept you engaged enough in the story and was well-designed at the very least. Though, everything felt a little bit rushed and forced at times.
#17 – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016)
Released in 2016, Infinite Warfare took a futuristic turn in the classic franchise offering epic space combat, futuristic weapons, and a meaty storyline. It thrived in that it presented a new approach to the game, whilst introducing the idea of interplanetary travel and exotic never-before-seen battle scenes. However, the game ranks lower on our list due to the excessive movement during matches, poor map designs, uncomfortable shooting mechanics, and lack of more modern, grounded combat.
#16 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015)
As you can probably already tell, Call of Duty went through a bit of a rough patch between 2012 and 2016. In large part because Treyarch felt that the franchise needed to introduce more advanced elements, which bled over into the Black Ops games as well. Much like Infinite Warfare, BO3 featured some exciting high-tech battle scenes and fascinating technology like mind-controlled drones and futuristic weapons. But let’s be honest, if you played Black Ops 3, then you probably just stuck to the multiplayer mode or killing zombies. Other than that, the campaign was boring and the story was repetitive.
#15 – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014)
By now, you’ve probably caught on to the trend here. This time, Sledgehammer Games was provided with the opportunity in 2014 with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Coming out right after Ghosts, Advanced Warfare was able to build off this futuristic feel with enhanced gameplay and movement mechanics. Above all else, with the use of high-tech weapons and a fresh new Exo suit, players could utilize various techniques to maneuver mid-air. Which was an exciting development in and of itself. All in all, it was over the top at times but nevertheless exciting. The game just doesn’t rank as well as a few other titles on our list.
#14 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018)
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was certainly a lot better than Black Ops 3. The gunplay is masterful, multiplayer is competitive and zombies is riveting. This is also the Call of Duty game that first introduced the idea of a battle royale with its Blackout mode, which eventually led to the release of Call of Duty Warzone. The bold decision to leave the campaign mode out entirely and replace it with a battle royale mode paid off. Though, it’s still far from a masterpiece.
#13 – Call of Duty (2003)
Now it’s time for the game that started it all. The original Call of Duty tends to get left off top ten lists, and yet, it remains an underdog for exactly this reason. Despite being modeled off the Medal of Honor series, the game was responsible for creating the best war-themed first-person shooter in history. Taking place over various regions during WWII, the classic Call of Duty still holds its place in every fan’s heart. Sure, the graphics weren’t amazing and the game was still dealing with mechanical issues. But it still had a competitive multiplayer mode and planted the seed for the next two decades of shooters to come.
#12 – Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (2020)
Despite being the first game made for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, Black Ops Cold War did a good job of blending the new with the old. Paying homage to some of the original Black Ops titles, while also introducing tons of new content across the Multiplayer and Zombies game modes. Also, Call of Duty tends to lean more towards WWII than the Cold War, so that was a nice change. Primarily focusing on the Ronald Regan-era of politics. Even though the campaign was interesting, as were some of the new maps and game modes. It still felt unpolished at times and will likely go down as one of the less-remembered entries in the Call of Duty series.
#11 – Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021)
Call of Duty: Vanguard is the most recent installment in the Call of Duty series centered around a special task force that faces an emerging threat at the end of WWII. The game doesn’t hold up to previous titles when it comes to the campaign mode or zombies, as both are fairly underwhelming. However, the multiplayer gameplay is one of the best in the series’ history. It offers a more advanced strategic approach in combat and far more dynamic battle scenes. Though perhaps the best part about Vanguard is the level of customization. In that, you can utilize up to 10 attachments for almost every weapon in the game.
#10 – Call of Duty: WWII (2017)
Now, admittedly, this one was tough. On the one hand, Call of Duty: WWII came out at a time when fans were desperate to see something other than futuristic space weapons and jet packs. It also featured some of the most iconic battle scenes from the war, like storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day or the epic Battle of the Bulge. On the other hand, the zombies’ mode left a lot to be desired, and multiplayer was mediocre (at best). All in all, the game is ranked above the others mentioned because of its cinematic cutscenes and enthralling dialogue.
#9 – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is easily one of the better CoD games in history due to its fast-paced style of play, incredible multiplayer gameplay, and one of the more intriguing campaigns in recent memory. All of which is saying a lot considering how highly-anticipated this game was as the final chapter in the Modern Warfare trilogy. Some would argue that the plot line was nothing more than average, and some of the maps were difficult to handle. Nevertheless, it was full of intense and adrenaline-pumping action scenes. Which is exactly what Call of Duty is all about.
#8 – Call of Duty 2 (2005)
Many consider Call of Duty 2 to be the title that molded modern audiences into what the series has become today. As the launch title for the Xbox 360, it was met with high expectations, and somehow, it delivered. With split missions across various regions of WWII, primarily focusing on the Russian, British and American soldiers, Call of Duty 2 is perfect for those war historians out there. Obviously, the graphics can’t compete with some of the more recent titles, but its cinematic cutscenes, incredible map designs and open-ended approach made it one of the more enticing CoD titles to date. By all definitions, Call of Duty 2 is a classic.
#7 – Call of Duty: World At War (2008)
Next up we have another all-time classic, Call of Duty: World At War. Similar to Call of Duty 2, World At War brings back the WWII theme and offers an incredibly detailed storyline that can match up with any in the series. However, beyond that, the graphics are exceptional, given the time (2008), the gameplay is challenging and the multiplayer mode is captivating, to say the least. This time, the series focuses on American soldiers in the Pacific, and Russian soldiers as they start to narrow their focus on Berlin. Leading to some of the bloodiest battles in the series. It’s also one of the first games to include the notion of zombies, which has now become a staple in the CoD franchise.
#6 – Call of Duty: Warzone (2020)
Who could forget the battle royale that’s captivated the globe over the last few years, Call of Duty Warzone. Now, I still believe that part of the reason why Warzone is so popular is that it came out in the middle of a pandemic when we were all forced to stay indoors. Nevertheless, it’s changed the future of the franchise and gaming (largely) for the better. First of all, it’s the first free-to-play game in CoD history, which is revolutionary in and of itself. Not only that but it’s also featured various maps from years past, which has led it to become an instant classic. Between the iconic Verdansk map, Rebirth Island, and the Gulag. Warzone has left behind some fond memories for fans and remains popular to this very day.
#5 – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
Probably the most notable thing about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is the stunning graphics and overall sound design. With it being one of the newest installments in the franchise, this is where the game shines. However, it’s really just an overall well-done game. Modern Warfare essentially brings back friendly faces but takes them down alternate story paths. Taking advantage of world-class sound editing and voice acting, making it feel like more of a movie than a video game. It also introduced a number of quality components to the multiplayer mode, such as 2V2 Gunfight and massive Ground War matches.
#4 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)
If you want to talk about a title that completely changed the game, then look no further than Black Ops 2. Not only did it switch up the standard format of campaign mode, turning it into more of a nonlinear storyline. But it also spun the previous Cold War idea into something completely different. Introducing more of a futuristic setting for the first time in franchise history. The multiplayer mode also saw some noteworthy changes. Like the Pick-10 class system, which offered more strategy in players choosing their class. While zombies was introduced as a separate game mode for the first time also. All in all, the gameplay and multiplayer portion in Black Ops 2 are widely regarded as two of the best CoD history. Making it one of the greatest Call of Duty titles and one of the top-ranked games to this day.
#3 – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was as close to a complete game as you’ll find. The story was intriguing, the graphics were immaculate, and most importantly, it’s nostalgic for all fans of the franchise. It was also revolutionary in its own right. Almost single-handedly redefining modern first-person shooters through its masterful campaign and endless innovations. The campaign featured multiple story settings and some of the most memorable missions in the series. With loads of twists, betrayals, and adrenaline-pumping drama. While the multiplayer portion saw an expanded kill-streak concept, an improved progression system, and overall solid gameplay. This is why it’s been ranked as one of the best games ever made.
#2 – Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
Much like Black Ops 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops was set during the Cold War era between the Soviet Union and the United States. However, it became so much more than that. The storytelling alone has it as one of the greatest games ever made, regardless of genre. With thrilling mysteries and conspiracy theories hidden throughout. Beyond that, we also saw massive improvements to Nazi Zombies, and arguably the best multiplayer mode in the series. Featuring iconic maps that spanned from the jungles of Vietnam to the famous Nuketown. If it wasn’t for how complete this next game is, Call of Duty: Black Ops would have easily claimed the number one spot on our list.
#1 – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
Not only does Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare carry the best IMDB rating, but it’s also been a fan favorite since its release way back in 2007. Its legendary campaign is home to some of the most exciting missions in any first-person shooter, including “All Ghillied Up” and “One Shot, One Kill”. While the riveting character development is truly something to behold. With emotional storylines following Captain Price, Soap MacTavish, and others. Not to mention the improved multiplayer mode that rivals any other in series history. With an extra emphasis on personal performance as opposed to winning individual matches. It also features some of the most iconic maps in the history of online gaming, such as Crash and Shipment. All things considered, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is an absolute masterpiece, and claims the top spot as the best Call of Duty game of all time.
That concludes our list of every Call of Duty game ranked. Be sure to check out more of our Call of Duty-related content here at Gamer Journalist. Such as whether or not Call of Duty is coming back to Steam with the release of Modern Warfare 2. As well as our dedicated guides section for more information on other popular gaming titles.