Top 10 Call of Duty Games, ranked best to worst

Top 10 Call of Duty Games, ranked best to worst
Ranking the Very Best of the Call of Duty Franchise

It’s that time of the year again folks. The recent announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has left me thinking about the hundreds of hours I’ve spent in the franchise. Love them or hate them, it’s impossible not to notice when a new Call of Duty game comes out each year. Few games have had as large of an impact as Call of Duty, and you would be hard pressed to find someone unfamiliar with the titles. Those late nights playing “just one more match”, and the countless jaw dropping set pieces I have witnessed over the past decade or so have cemented the Call of Duty games into some of my all-time favorites.

Here is a list of the top ten entries into the Call of Duty franchise; however this is only including the main entries in the series so no love will be given to the numerous handheld versions of the game.

10. Call of Duty 3

Following the impressive Call of Duty 2, the third entry into the series did little to differentiate itself from the previous titles. While still enjoyable, it’s was hard to shake the sense of déjà vu I experienced while playing yet another World War II inspired shooter. That being said, it is an entirely competent shooter, and fans of the series might find it refreshing to revisit this 2006 title.  I personally have a soft spot for this game, and enjoy coming back to it from time to time. It’s not without its flaws, but it still remains a worthwhile experience.

3/5 stars

9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty games are sort of like pizza- even when they are bad, they are still pretty good. In a similar fashion to Call of Duty 3, Modern Warfare 3 failed to capitalize on what made the prior two games in the Modern Warfare series special. Cookie-cutter characters created a stale and uninspired story, and left gamers wanting more. Of course the frantic, fast passed multiplayer made a return, although it lacked the innovation of the prior games. More of the same isn’t always a negative however, and those invested in the Modern Warfare storyline will find something to love in this game.

3/5 Stars

8 Call of Duty: Ghosts

Many have blamed Infinity Ward for “playing it safe” in this 2013 entry, and in fact the game failed to sell as many units at launch as the previous title Black Ops 2. Set 10 years after a catastrophic event, the United States of America is in shambles, and it is up to the nation’s elite fighting force, the Ghosts, to attempt to restore order. Despite the occasional awkwardness of the story, credit should be given to Infinity Ward with their attempt to focus on one family rather than an entire squadron of soldiers. The result was a much more personal look into the effects war has on its victims. The multiplayer left much to be desired; however the standout mode Extinction was overlooked by many. Pitting a team of four against a swarm of aliens, this Left for Dead inspired mode was a heart pounding experience, and was a refreshing departure from the series staple zombie survival mode.

3.5/5 Stars

7. Call of Duty 2

Two years after the smash hit Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2 hoped to build upon the foundation the original game had laid. Perhaps due to its excellent multiplayer, the game quickly found an audience. Unfortunately, the multiplayer doesn’t quite hold up when compared to more recent entries in the series, but for the time it was revolutionary. Call of Duty 2 also touts an impressive story that still manages to be relevant today. The edges may be rough, but I believe that those nostalgic about past Call of Duty games will find much to enjoy in this title.

3.5/5 Stars

6. Call of Duty

Code named “Medal of Honor Killer”, this first entry into the future billion dollar franchise didn’t just kill its competition – it blew it out of the water. While certainly not the best in the series, I would be remiss not to mention the father of them all -- 2003’s Call of Duty. With some surprisingly helpful AI, you’re not just a super soldier like in some of the later games – you are part of a team. It might be refreshing to see Activision take notes from this game and try to focus on characters over dramatic set pieces.  

3.5/5 Stars

5. Call of Duty: World at War

Does this game have a great, memorable story? No. Was the multiplayer particularly interesting? Not really. Then why is this game so high on your list? One word – zombies. It’s really easy to excuse the disappointing story and multiplayer when you are busy shooting Nazi zombies in the face. It’s hard to imagine Call of Duty without zombies, so for that reason alone World at War deserves its spot on this list. 

4/5 Stars

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops

After two World War II titles, Treyarch seemed desperate to do something new or unique – and man did they ever with Call of Duty: Black Ops. A non-linear story with the protagonist Alex Mason, created one of the most compelling campaigns in recent memory. At let us not forget the inclusion of the zombie survival mode, which built upon and improved almost every aspect found in the original. How exactly? Well, if you thought shooting Nazi zombies in the face was fun before, just wait until you hear the playful banter between Fidel Castro and JFK as swarms of zombies invade the White House. Seriously, it’s not something to be missed.

4.5/5 Stars

3. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Perhaps the greatest leap since the original Modern Warfare, this Call of Duty game served as the shot in the arm the series needed. With the perfect mix of technology, perks, and bad-ass squad mates, Troy Baker’s Jack Mitchell takes on a private military group led by Jonathan Irons (voiced by the legendary Kevin Spacey.) This is a must play even for those who hate the series, as the new exo-suit abilities serve to overhaul the games mechanics. Somehow Sledgehammer Games managed to make the fast paced action in this Call of Duty game even faster – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

4.5/5 Stars

2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

2009’s following to the revolutionary Modern Warfare, this entry continued the series’ trajectory of excellence. Following the events of Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 sees players take control of an elite squadron of soldiers hot on the trail of a Russian ultranationalist. This Call of Duty game didn’t transform the series like its predecessor had, but it did enough to build on the formula to create a memorable game in its own right. Multiplayer felt as slick as ever, and in fact still holds up today if you are able to find a game. And of course the infamous “No Russian” mission still remains one of the most shocking of the entire series.

4.5/5 Stars

1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

My personal favorite Call of Duty game, this entry changed the way I look at first person shooters. Featuring a gripping tale from the perspective of Sgt. Paul Jackson, Sgt. “Soap” MacTavish, and Lieutenant John Price this marked the series’ departure from its traditional World War II setting. People might prefer the story in Modern Warfare 2, but it’s impossible to deny the impact the game had on the genre.

Most notably, the introduction of killstreaks was quickly adopted by the entire industry and is now a staple in first person shooters. Future titles might have improved and refined the formula, but no single Call of Duty game did as much to elevate the franchise as this sensational title.

5/5 Stars

Let’s hope that the recently announced Black Ops 3 does as much as Advanced Warfare did in improving the series. After a few stumbles along the way, Call of Duty again seems to be king of the first person shooter, and I’m excited to see where they take the genre moving forward.

How about you? Do you agree with this list? Are you beginning to feel franchise fatigue for this long running series? In the comments please discuss which games you liked or didn’t like, and even what you hope Activision does next to improve the series in the coming years.


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A passionate gamer and film maker.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: Evolve
Top 3 Favorite Games:Sid Meier's Civilization V, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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