Grab your helmet and head into battle; it’s time to check out the best Call of Duty games of all time
Call of Duty is certainly one of the best AAA first person shooter franchises in video game history.
So it wouldn’t be difficult to find fifteen great games to put on this list. The hard part is choosing which are the best.
Picking a “best” is usually quite subjective, and has a lot to do with your own experience with the games.
I certainly remember my first Call of Duty experience, and I was absolutely blown away.
Coming from the distant memory of first person shooter games like GoldenEye 007 and Turok 2 (both incredible!) and jumping into games like Killzone 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was quite the jump.
Games felt more real. The game play was so well done, the graphics looked so good, the AI was smarter, and the stories were rich and engaging.
And it only got better from there.
Call of Duty has always been at the front of the pack in creating first person shooter titles. And to this day, the franchise remains one of the strongest.
Here are our favorite Call of Duty games to date!
Let’s just start this list off right where Infinity Ward did!
The very first Call of Duty video game was released way back in 2003 for the PC.
The game focuses on the events of World War II and presents the battle from multiple view points.
Call of Duty also had an emphases on team combat, where AI controlled party members assist you.
It is said that many of the developers of Call of Duty came directly from the team responsible for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
So it is easy to see why the original Call of Duty title shares concepts with the Medal of Honor franchise.
The original Call of Duty game saw an enhanced remaster released in 2009 along with the remastered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which will also make an appearance on this list.
It’s hard to ignore a game that kicked off a franchise that went on to be a leader in a genre.
So Call of Duty (the O.G.) has to be included in this list of best Call of Duty games of all time.
And lucky for us, it only gets better from here!
‘Advanced Warfare’ was an entry in the Call of Duty franchise for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
And as the name might suggest, this entry saw our beloved franchise step into the future. Literally.
Game play was a fast-paced, high-tech, smash & bang extravaganza set in 2054-2061.
Fans and critics praised the improvements made in the franchise, the exciting game play, and the voice acting by Troy Baker and Kevin Spacey.
It’s also kind of nice to step away from the usual scenery and set a game in an entirely new time and location to shake things up.
Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare introduced some exciting new game modes, only possible in a futuristic setting.
Exo Survival had us battling waves of AI robots, and Exo Zombies mode had zombies wearing mech suits coming after us.
Both modes were as crazy and exciting as you might hope for. And made ‘Advanced Warfare’ one of the most unique… and best entries in the Call of Duty series.
As the final entry in the Modern Warfare trilogy story; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 saw development by two teams we already know in the Call of Duty franchise.
Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games worked together to deliver this title after many of Infinity Ward’s crew formed their own company, Respawn Entertainment.
Of course, Respawn went on to develop Titanfall, Apex Legends, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
So companies losing team members to form their own companies is usually a good thing for gamers.
Where gamers benefited in relation to the Call of Duty franchise is that Infinity Ward brought in Sledgehammer to pick up the slack, and we now had two awesome teams working on Call of Duty.
Big changes were made to the game’s engine, and multiplayer also became the focus of development.
Some say that the single player campaign is where less focus was placed, which is why this entry is lower on our list than other entries in the “Modern Warfare” trilogy.
But it is due to the incredible multiplayer experience and Sledgehammer now being a strong force behind Call of Duty that makes Modern Warfare 3 a critical point of the COD timeline.
And let’s not ignore the fan response to the game…
Modern Warfare 3 is the second highest selling Call of Duty title at almost 31 million units.
That is surely due to the fact that Call of Duty had a reputation for being one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences at that time.
So we had no doubts we’d see this game on our list of best Call of Duty games of all time.
So when we wrote about our previous game, we did forget to mention something…
Not only did Infinity Ward bring Sledgehammer Games into the mix… they had help from a few other teams for various ports and game modes.
And in 2020, the two would team up to work on a PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S game title: Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War.
The game is set in the 1980s, between the events of Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012).
Fans loved the massive amount of content available in the multiplayer mode, which was now the obvious star in the Call of Duty series.
And of course… zombies.
Zombies was now a mainstay in the franchise and a fan favorite.
Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War went on to be the highest selling game of 2020 in the United States market.
We included this one on our list of the 10 Best Multiplayer PS5 Games as well, so you know… that’s maybe the best recognition of them all.
Remember we said we’d see more from Sledgehammer Games? Well here we are!
Ten years after Sledgehammer made their mark on the Call of Duty series, they were still developing their own projects for Activision.
And after many entries in the series in the modern era, we were taken back to that classic WWII setting.
Why this particular game is special is that we have all of the growth of the franchise coming full circle in the World War II themed shooter.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is what happens when you take nearly twenty years of trial and error of game play mechanics and combine all of the best concepts into one awesome title.
Add in all of the best multiplayer modes from that long history as well… including zombies.
And you’re sure to have an incredible package on your hands.
Nearly twenty years of Call of Duty and ten years for Sledgehammer Games working in the series… you’ve got one of the best Call of Duty games of all time.
Remember when we mentioned Treyarch earlier? They first made their mark on the Call of Duty franchise back in 2005.
And they were such a great addition for the franchise that Activision started giving them their own projects!
Their main entries in the Call of Duty franchise are the ‘Black Ops’ titles. Spoiler alert: we will be seeing a few of those entries further down the list.
But the first appearance on our list of the best Call of Duty games is Black Ops 4.
What makes this game so special (but also not as great as the other Black Ops games) is that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 does not feature a traditional single player campaign.
But what they lack in a single player mode, they more than make up for in multiplayer modes.
With the inclusion of four zombie modes, as well as a precursor to Warzone… Blackout.
Blackout was a massive online multiplayer mode that could host up to 100 players in the same map.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was a pretty awesome experience if you are a fan of multiplayer, which is one of the main elements of the Call of Duty formula.
Black Ops IIII also appeared on our list of the 25 Most Popular Video Games Today.
We saw the Call of Duty returning to the WWII scene when we talked about the 2021 ‘Vanguard’.
But this was not the first step back in history.
Sledgehammer Games also took us back to WWII in 2017’s Call of Duty WW2.
The game was quite realistic, even touching on some more graphic aspects of the war not previously covered in the Call of Duty series.
In some ways, the game was a step backwards, as it removes some of the advanced movement features like double jumps and wall running.
But Sledgehammer had hoped to take us back to that classic first-person shooter style that made Call of Duty so popular.
But of course, with a ton of modern touches.
The game receives praise for the story, a return to classic game play style, and the impressive graphics.
The single player campaign was particularly moving with its deep historical content.
And for that particular reason, we want to recognize Call of Duty WW2 as one of the best Call of Duty titles of all time.
If you are a fan of the World War II themed first person shooters that Call of Duty was first known for, then we have a treat for you!
A blast from the past… Call of Duty 2. The epic follow up to the original Call of Duty game.
Developed by Infinity Ward for Activision for PC and eventually became a launch title for the Xbox 360.
Call of Duty 2 follows the perspective of four soldiers from different countries on the battlefield of WWII.
It marked the first time the game presented regenerating health, doing away with the retro style health bar.
Everyone loved this feature. It seemed revolutionary at the time, and became the way the best first person shooters handled health during battle.
Infinity Ward also made massive improvements in the multiplayer offered in the Call of Duty series.
Keep in mind, way back in 2005, Call of Duty was still pretty new to the first-person shooter scene. So they still had a lot of room for growth in their multiplayer.
Fans and critics praised the sound and graphics of the second entry in the Call of Duty series. It was a massive jump in quality from the original.
And to this day, we consider it a critical milestone for Call of Duty.
As we see the Call of Duty franchise move through the 2000s and several development teams taking their own branches of the series… let’s not forget who started it all: Infinity Ward.
And thankfully for fans of Call of Duty, Infinity Ward are still here delivering classics in the series.
In 2019, Infinity Ward and Activision rebooted the Modern Warfare series of Call of Duty titles.
That reboot was quite successful (we’ll hear more about that reboot later on our list).
So to continue the momentum, they released a Modern Warfare 2 reboot as well.
These reboot titles are not direct remakes or remasters. They are entirely new games with their own storyline, which are actually a prequel to the original series.
As we should hope for in any followup in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) saw massive improvements to the mechanics thanks to a newly created game engine.
Advanced AI, better physics, and a bunch of small improvements to the player and environment mechanics.
And like the 2019 reboot that we will hear from soon, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022) also spawned the free-to-play online multiplayer title Warzone 2.0 that came out just a couple weeks ago.
The reboot of the Modern Warfare series is absolutely incredible, and also has its own identity separate from the other games in the Call of Duty franchise.
So we are happy to see it appear on our list of the best Call of Duty games of all time.
When the Call of Duty series went from WWII to the modern era, we got some of the best games in the entire series.
So it is no surprise that Infinity Ward decided to revisit their classic Modern Warfare series in a big way!
The 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot was made with an entirely new game engine that allowed for the most realistic graphics and the inclusion of ray-tracing.
Almost every aspect of the game ruled, from the graphics, the storytelling, and the multiplayer.
And speaking of the multiplayer of Modern Warfare (2019)…
Besides including a ton of game modes that we know and love from the entirety of the Call of Duty series, the new game engine for Modern Warfare was leveraged into a mode that grew into a monster of its own merit…
Yes, Call of Duty: Warzone is marketed as a solo title, but we actually have the 2019 Modern Warfare reboot to thank for this classic.
Capitalizing on the popularity of online battle royal style multiplayer experiences, the kings of first person shooters submits their offering.
The battlefield can host up to 150 players at once, all vying for the top spot on the online leaderboards.
‘Warzone’ also features a unique feature for battle royal games: the gulag.
For those unfamiliar, the gulag is a feature where a defeated player is sent to a Russian prison and can fight another defeated player in one-on-one combat for a chance to return to the battlefield.
This feature, along with super solid game play and features made Warzone one of the most popular free-to-play games ever created.
As we should all be aware of by now, these kinds of “free” games are monsters when it comes to sales for the company that releases them.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has earned over $1 billion in sales, while Warzone alone has earned Activision/Infinity Ward over $5 billion in total sales.
You can absolutely play the game for free. And any kind of pay-to-win type feature remains severely frowned upon.
But that doesn’t stop millions of users from spending some serious cash on costumes and weapon skins for their characters when they spend some serious time within the game.
And I see no problem with this. The game developers offer a free game to millions of users, and some of those users repay the company by buying a new outfit for their avatar. Fair play.
Infinity Ward delivered an incredible gaming experience and has made a ton of money as their reward. And we celebrate this exchange.
Treyarch absolutely killed it when they were given their own series within the Call of Duty franchise.
Call of Duty: Black Ops is easily one of the best Call of Duty games of all time!
Black Ops featured a darker tone than previous Call of Duty games, while also having a bit of fun.
To me, the Black Ops series feels very rock and roll compared to the other games in the Call of Duty franchise.
It’s gritty, it’s down and dirty, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
This was not the first time it made an appearance in a Call of Duty game, but it was in 2010’s Black Ops that really made Zombie Mode popular for the franchise.
I still remember the release of Black Ops, and that is the first thing everyone talks about was zombies.
And if you’re familiar with Call of Duty post-Black Ops, you know that zombies has become a mainstay for the series.
Call of Duty: Black Ops was one of the highest grossing games of all time, at the time of its release.
And it is still the highest selling Call of Duty game to date, at over 31 million copies sold.
Plus, one of the highest honors, Black Ops also appeared on our list of the 10 Best PS3 FPS Games.
Treyarch does it again. Literally and figuratively.
We already know that the Black Ops series is absolutely incredible.
The first entry was a classic, one of the most enjoyable experiences in the Call of Duty franchise, quite unique, and became the highest selling Call of Duty game ever.
That’s a lot to follow.
Treyarch knew they had to go big with it.
As a followup to the story of the original Black Ops game, Black Ops II sets its story in the 1980s AND in 2025.
Black Ops 2 was the first entry in the Call of Duty series to feature futuristic technology, setting the stage for 2014’s Advanced Warfare.
Treyarch also utilized nonlinear gameplay and multiple possible endings with the players choices affecting the outcome.
Black Ops 2 introduced new elements to multiplayer that would become mainstays in the franchise, such as multi team battles (more than two teams per match).
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is both a successful followup to the original Black Ops game, as well as a favorable step forward for Call of Duty in general.
So for that reason, we give it a very slight edge over the original Black Ops.
Really, you could flip a coin on those ones and probably get very little pushback.
But there’s one branch of the Call of Duty franchise that has very few arguments as being the best:
Fifteen years after its original release date, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is still widely considered one of the best entries in a long line of killer games.
In COD4, developers Infinity Ward turned away from their World War II focused games, and stepped into the modern war era.
The campaign featured a rich and engaging storyline played through the eyes of six different soldiers.
And Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare also features one of the best multiplayer experiences in the franchise.
Experience points can be earned in multiplayer, which are used to level up, buy new weapons, and unlock new game modes.
Players can rank up to level 55, then return to level 1 in Prestige mode. They retain all perks and upgrades. This process can be done 10 times total. That is a lot of progression possible for players.
I can’t really get into multiplayer, because the scene is way too advanced for my gaming level.
And COD4 is one of those games that offers a ton of opportunity for becoming one of those elite level killers. I stand no chance!
Infinity Ward had a massive hit on their hands, and the fans were absolutely eating it up.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the highest selling game of 2007 at over 7 million units, and has sold nearly 20 million to date.
Modern Warfare was also honored with a 2016 remaster, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.
It nearly topped our list of the best Call of Duty games. But Infinity Ward took this awesome title, and somehow improved on it in the follow up:
I think it’s safe to say that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the absolute best Call of Duty title ever created.
And it also happens to be my first experience of the franchise. So lucky me, I get to be subjective with my number one pick.
‘Modern Warfare 2’ followed the storyline that began in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but added so much more to the experience.
In particular, the multiplayer greatly expanded on previous titles, adding so many new modes.
Two DLC packages also emerged which expanded on the multiplayer content, including new maps to play.
Spec Ops (“special operations”) were unique short missions that offered a ton of replayability due to their difficulty and also because they made it fun to try to execute the missions perfectly.
Obviously that makes it less realistic. But memorizing the location and behaviors of each enemy, so you can speed run through a level like John Wick or somethin’ made you feel like such a badass.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who loved Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, because the demand for a remaster was strong.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered was released in 2020 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is one of those games that received the “universal acclaim” stamp of approval from fans and critics, and I also happen to think it’s pretty great.
So I am happy to say that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is my number one pick for best Call of Duty games of all time.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.