We have done our duty and ranked all 19 Activision “CoD” games from the worst to the best.
Call of Duty debuted in 2003, and every year since then we have been conscientiously selecting a new game in this series. Activision Blizzard’s first-person shooters have become the basis of a busy autumn release season, and now that there are as many as 19 games in the series, most generations can easily point to their favorite CoD game.
While some Call of Duty games are considered classics, not all of them lived up to the hype — in short, there were a few scoundrels (spoilers — one of them is “Ghosts”). Below we have rated 19 “core” Call of Duty games — that is, without Warzone, sorry — to find out what is what, and definitely not to cause any controversy.
From the very first Call of Duty to this year’s Modern Warfare 2 — read on to find out what place your favorite CoD occupies in our rating — and, more importantly, which Call of Duty game we consider the best of all time.
19. Call of Duty 3 (2006)
Call of Duty 3. Provided by: Activision.
Call of Duty 3. Provided by: Activision.
Call of Duty 3, intended only for consoles, was a hodgepodge of ideas that was heavily overshadowed by what came next, Modern Warfare. Featuring class-based multiplayer, vehicles, and even a series of glasses, it was a mid-2000s Xbox 360 shooter that didn’t really compete with what Battlefield and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas were doing at the time.
The campaign has its moments, in particular, forcing you to engage in hand-to-hand combat that seemed cinematic for the time, and could see players using the Sixaxis motion sensor on a PlayStation 3 controller to beat enemy soldiers to death. Gloomy.
Call of Duty 3 was developed in just 8 months and, no doubt, suffered because it was squeezed between Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but it has some good ideas that were later included in the best CoD games.
Platforms: PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii.
Best Map: Most of the Call of Duty 3 maps are redesigned CoD and CoD 2 maps, but Stalag 23 is brand new and allows players to attack a prisoner of war camp while one tower skips it all.
Additional celebrity voice: American television star Mark Declin plays Major Gerald Ingram.
18. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018)
Call of Duty Black Ops 4
Call Of Duty Black Ops 4. Courtesy: Activision Blizzard.
Despite the fact that Black Ops is one of the most beloved single-player campaigns of Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 abandoned the single-player campaign and its setting of the 70s in order to move to a multiplayer shooter of the near future, which, frankly, was lame.
Instead, the story was presented in a multiplayer game, although you’d be forgiven for missing it as you race at 500 mph, desperately trying to avoid death from brand-new specialists and their ridiculous signature weapons.
It’s mostly notable for Blackout, a battle royale mode that was an early attempt at Warzone, and Ajax Specialist 9-blast, a flash-bang grenade that explodes multiple times and served as an extremely fun fuck for enemies at the campsite.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
The best map: “Contraband” is one big bridge on which there is a constant exchange of fire, while flankers are sent to two wide—open areas to fight for dominance.
Celebrity Bonus Voice: There’s little star power in this voice, but Black Ops prop James S. Burns returns as a sergeant. Woods.
17. Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013)
The US is no longer a superpower. This is the terrifying world depicted in Call of Duty: Ghosts, a rather strange installment of the series that commits a mortal sin almost completely unmemorable, with a single-player campaign that ends with a pathetic cliffhanger that will never be solved. There is also a dog and a cool moment when you defend the space station from enemies before flooding it.
The multiplayer mode is pretty unimpressive, but a lot of things have been done from the technical side: It was the first game to have sliding, tilting, and animation as you scramble around the environment, creating a more dynamic CoD feel. He also has a very fast kill time (TTK) and bigger cards than before, which hints at Call of Duty trying to reinvent itself. However, the coolest part was the Field Orders, which represented a special item after the first death of the match, which gave its owner a special mission. Complete the mission and you will get resupply and other important rewards, but die and you drop the pickup so another player can try. This can lead to the destruction of the map, for example, to mortar fire or even to the explosion of the entire baseball field.
Unfortunately, “Ghosts” could not become the first indicator that the Call of Duty series is collapsing under its own weight, which led to major changes in the way games were developed.
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Best Map: Warhawk throws you into a Nebraska city with lots of buildings for snipers, but the passageways are often filled with stealthy players ambushing and flanking
Additional Celebrity voice: Stephen Lang plays retired US Army Captain Elias Walker, but you can call him a Scarecrow. Cringe.
16. Call of Duty (2003)
I’m sorry, but it’s true. The very first part of Call of Duty was promising, but it is not even close to Call of Duty, which you will learn today, playing as a very simple Quake 3 on the theme of World War II. Which, in fact, was built on the same engine.
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to appreciate how early the Infinity Ward team fixed the main components of Call of Duty: there are different points of view, celebrity voices and a desire for realism by adding iron sights that allow players to aim for one of the first in video games. There was even a contusion mechanic that spoiled your mood if you found yourself near explosions in a single-player campaign.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360.
Best Map: Carentan, later recreated as Chinatown in Modern Warfare, is a French city with roads, buildings and backyards, and mounted machine guns serve as reliable anchor points. In addition, this is the only CoD card whose name is verified in The Office.
Additional Celebrity Voice: Jason Statham appears as your commanding officer, Sergeant Waters, and the campaign is greatly improved by him growling in your ear during the British campaign.
15. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015)
An incredible story and brilliant voice acting are huge advantages for the unforgettable Call of Duty game. Adding cybernetics, robot fighters and even a layer of cyberkernel abilities in many systems to the single and multiplayer aspects of the game, but it often seems that there is too much going on and so little freedom.
By the end of the game, for some reason (despite the sci-fi setting) you attend the Battle for the Bulge, and there is a horde of zombies there that you need to defend against. The tonal whip and the fact that these elements are not handled properly extinguish a campaign with solid ideas.
Multiplayer adds unique operators, but it’s bland and uninteresting. If you haven’t played it yet, you haven’t missed much.
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Best Card: Micro is not the best card in the game — sorry — but the most interesting thing is, it reduces your soldiers and throws them into a general battle for dominance on the picnic table. Shoot the ants to see how they explode.
Celebrity Bonus Voice: Ben Browder, star of Farscape and the later Stargate SG-1 series, is the voice of a male character. Science fiction legend Kate Sackhoff appears as Sarah Hall.
14. Call of Duty: Modern War 3 (2011)
Modern Warfare 3 was the first Call of Duty game from Infinity Ward after co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella left the company and Activision, taking with them the core team that made Modern Warfare and its sequel possible.
Modern Warfare 3 does a good job if you take into account all the dramatic events taking place behind the scenes, but mostly it relies on the name Modern Warfare. In Modern Warfare 3, the same notes sound as in MW2, even including a playable terrorist attack on civilians, which can be skipped. This is the end of the original Modern Warfare trilogy, which means that many players could have gone through this just to find out what’s going on with Captain Price and his buddies.
For players who want to tie it to AI, there is plenty of content, with a survival mode and special operations allowing players to team up and fight enemies. Multiplayer is also pretty average, a little worse than its predecessors, but interesting enough for that time. MW3 is a recurring record, not something really interesting.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii
Best Map: Hardhat: This construction site is full of unfinished buildings, but the best leftovers can be found in the central building that occupies the center. There is a fierce melee with many angles, turning every firefight into a chaotic mess. But it’s fun.
Additional celebrity voice: Idris Elba, Timothy Oliphant, William Fichtner are all stars, while Billy Murray returns as Captain Price, and Craig Fairbrass voices Walcroft in another Modern Warfare, this time.
13. Call of Duty: Peace in War (2008)
A love letter to World War II films, World at War continues the defining franchise of Modern Warfare, taking a giant step back into the past.