Here is every main series Call of Duty game ranked in a tier list that fans check out while they wait for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Activision’s Call of Duty franchise has been going strong for nearly two decades now, with most entries in the series topping sales charts and earning high marks from critics. Later this year, Call of Duty fans can look forward to the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a direct sequel to the 2019 Modern Warfare reboot that will pick up where that game left off.
Hype is high for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with Infinity Ward expected to deliver yet another blockbuster Call of Duty experience. Time will tell how Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 fares, but fans will find out sooner rather than later, as the game’s release date is October 28.
While Call of Duty fans wait to get their hands on Modern Warfare 2 in the beta and when the full release rolls around in October, they can revisit some previous games in the series. To get a better idea of which Call of Duty games should be prioritized and which ones should be avoided, here is the entire Call of Duty series ranked in a tier list.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the game that catapulted the franchise to a whole new level of popularity. Call of Duty 4‘s campaign was innovative at the time, with a high stakes-story and creative level design that resulted in some of the most memorable missions in series history. When players had their fill of the blockbuster campaign, they could jump over to the multiplayer offerings, with Call of Duty 4 changing the face of online multiplayer gaming as we knew it. Call of Duty 4‘s impact on online multiplayer can’t be understated, and to this day, the franchise follows the blueprint made by this game.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) – Infinity Ward hit it out of the park with Call of Duty 4, and so it’s incredibly impressive that the studio was able to do it again with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a couple of years later. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2‘s campaign dials things up to 11, with each mission memorable in its own right. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 introduced fan favorite characters like Ghost, and it also featured No Russian, one of the most controversial missions in series history. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2‘s campaign was accompanied by an incredible multiplayer experience with some of the series’ best maps and the co-op Spec Ops mode, making MW2 the complete package when it comes to Call of Duty.
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) – When it comes to Call of Duty, Infinity Ward had firmly established itself as the franchise’s lead studio. After all, Infinity Ward is the one that created Call of Duty in the first place, producing the original CoD, the excellent sequel, and the Modern Warfare games. However, Trey arch found equal footing with Infinity Ward when it released the original Call of Duty: Black Ops, which offered a more suspenseful, mind-bending narrative, innovative Wager Matches for multiplayer, and some of the best Zombies maps that the series has ever seen. Call of Duty: Black Ops remains a fan-favorite Call of Duty game to this day, and for good reason, with remakes of its Nuke town multiplayer map still showing up regularly in new Cod titles.
Call of Duty 2 (2005) – The first Call of Duty game was made as a Medal of Honor-killer, setting a new standard for military shooters. The sequel had a lot to live up to, but Infinity Ward not only met those expectations with Call of Duty 2, it exceeded them. Call of Duty 2 is widely considered one of the best World War 2 first-person shooter games there is, with clever enemy and partner AI and intense combat that holds up to this day. The Call of Duty 2 campaign is the real highlight of the experience, and while the multiplayer is fun enough, it had yet to reach the potential it would realize with CoD4 and the games that followed.
Call of Duty: World at War (2008) – Before Trey arch was known for the Black Ops sub-series, it was chasing the success of Call of Duty 4 with Call of Duty: World at War. Call of Duty: World at War‘s concept is simple: it takes the framework of Call of Duty 4 and applies it to a World War 2 setting. Call of Duty: World at War may not have been quite as popular as CoD4, but it’s still an incredible game in its own right, and it’s also notable for being the first Call of Duty game to feature the fan-favorite Zombies game mode.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) – Trey arch followed up Call of Duty: Black Ops with the aptly named Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 blended historical FPS action with more futuristic game play, while retaining the unique multiplayer and Zombies elements that fans loved from the first Black Ops. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2‘s Zombies game modes were quite experimental for the time, with the unique Tran Zit map breaking away from the framework established by the first Black Ops. Not all its gambles paid off, but overall Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is still a top-tier Call of Duty experience.
Call of Duty (2003) – The original Call of Duty game was a big deal at the time of its release. It took home numerous awards when it first launched in 2003, and it also enjoyed some success when it was later re-released as Call of Duty Classic. Elements of the game don’t hold up quite as well today, and its use of a classic health point system makes it feel at odds with the other games in the Call of Duty series, which have mostly used regenerating health. In any case, the original Call of Duty is still a landmark release, even if it feels antiquated compared to the other games in the franchise.
Call of Duty 3 (2006) – It took a few games for Trey arch to truly find its footing with the Call of Duty series, but its early efforts were still commendable. Call of Duty 3 rarely tops the lists of best Call of Duty games, but it’s still a solid entry in the franchise. Call of Duty 3 is notable for having a more story-driven campaign than its predecessors, with a bigger focus on specific characters that was expanded on in the games that followed. Call of Duty 3‘s multiplayer was also solid, even if it didn’t generate quite as much interest as CoD4 or the other games that followed.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011) – Some hail Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 as the best in the series, but for others, this is the game when franchise fatigue started to settle in. Aesthetically, Modern Warfare 3 is very similar to Modern Warfare 2, and the basic set-up was more or less identical with the previous two MW games. Regardless, Modern Warfare 3‘s Survival mode is a blast and the multiplayer is overall more balanced than MW2. Modern Warfare 3 also introduced the popular Kill Confirmed multiplayer mode, which remains a fixture in the Call of Duty series to this day.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) – After failed attempts to make futuristic Call of Duty games, Infinity Ward went back to its roots with the 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot tells a new story with familiar characters, bringing back fan favorites like Captain Price. It offers a grittier campaign that leverages the added horsepower of modern hardware to deliver one of the best-looking Call of Duty games to date. The multiplayer experience was also fairly top-notch, though not everyone is a fan of the doors and other gimmicks added to the maps. The butchered “Spec Ops” mode was also a letdown, especially since the Spec Ops Survival variant was exclusive to PlayStation for an entire year.
The 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is also notable for including the Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale experience, which was added to the game a few months after its launch. Warzone breathed new life into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and while it may not be as highly-regarded as it once was, there was a time when Warzone was at the top of the online multiplayer gaming world.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014) – For years, Infinity Ward and Trey arch took turns making Call of Duty games, but then Activision introduced a third studio into the mix. Sledgehammer Games’ first Call of Duty title was 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which added exo suits to the Call of Duty experience. Advanced Warfare significantly increased the game’s speed and mobility, to mixed results. Many Call of Duty fans enjoyed this faster-paced multiplayer experience, but others would have preferred a boots-on-the-ground approach. Advanced Warfare‘s Exo Zombies mode had its fans, too, but it wasn’t available in the game at launch, only added later as paid DLC.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015) – With Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Trey arch had its first big Call of Duty misstep. At this point, the Zombies game mode started to wear out its welcome, with Trey arch trying to keep the mode interesting by stuffing it full of new gimmicks. Black Ops 3 moved forward with Advanced Warfare‘s advanced mobility options, which didn’t sit well with classic Call of Duty fans. Despite its flaws, though, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 multiplayer was still plenty fun to play, and while the campaign’s narrative may have been especially bizarre for a Call of Duty game, it at least tried new things and featured 4-player co-op support.
Call of Duty: WW2 (2017) – Sledgehammer Games pushed the Call of Duty franchise into the future with Advanced Warfare, but for its second CoD effort, it took things back to World War 2. There once was a time when World War 2 shooters were a dime a dozen, but they were hard to come by when Call of Duty: WW2 released, making it a fresh of breath air in that regard. Call of Duty: WW2‘s micro transactions and loot boxes saw the series become even more monetized than ever before, and while it was nice to see a World War 2 game with modern graphics, it didn’t stop the campaign and multiplayer from having a distinct sense of “been there, done that.”
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018) – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launched without a proper campaign mode, instead focused entirely on multiplayer and Zombies, to mixed results. Some Call of Duty fans enjoyed the new hero-shooter focus in the multiplayer and the new modes that came along with it, while others continued to yearn for a classic Call of Duty game that returned the series to its roots. The same went for the Zombies game mode, which continued to pile on gimmicks and stray further from what made it popular to begin with. That’s not say to that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is without its fans – there are many that still play its multiplayer to this day – but it definitely failed to live up to the high bar set by the first two Black Ops games. Something else of note is that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 featured the Blackout battle royale mode, the first major BR in a Call of Duty title, paving the way for what would come with Warzone.
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) – Until Call of Duty: Ghosts, Infinity Ward had a near-spotless track record. It put out one hit after the next, but Call of Duty: Ghosts launched in 2013 to some of the lowest review scores in series history. Not only was franchise fatigue in full force when Call of Duty: Ghosts launched, but the game dropped the ball in a number of other ways as well, with its unusually large multiplayer maps often cited as one of its biggest downsides.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (2020) – Behind-the-scenes turmoil between Raven Software and Sledgehammer Games forced Treyarch to fast-track Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and it shows. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War features a decent amount of content considering its relatively short development time, offering fans access to a campaign, the classic CoD multiplayer experience, and a fresh take on Zombies, but it has serious and severe technical problems that keep it from reaching its full potential.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016) – Following the underwhelming Call of Duty: Ghosts, Infinity Ward’s losing streak continued with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in 2016. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare took the futuristic style of Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3 to the next level, setting the game in space and fully embracing the sci-fi genre. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s multiplayer and Zombies were nothing to write home about, and many fans rejected the franchise’s pivot from military shooter to sci-fi FPS. Gameplay-wise, the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare campaign was by-the-numbers for CoD, though the game does have one of the better CoD stories with a great cast of surprisingly well-written characters.
Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021) – Sledgehammer Games has always been looked at as the C-team for Call of Duty, and unfortunately, it was unable to shake that reputation with Call of Duty: Vanguard. Call of Duty: Vanguard once again features a historical setting, but it does very little to differentiate itself from other games in the series. The changes it did make were not for the better, with Vanguard notorious for having one of the worst Zombies modes in franchise history. Vanguard‘s missteps have caused the game to be the lowest-rated Call of Duty game made to date, and it’s also failing to meet sales expectations.