Best 5 Call of Duty Games from the Call Of Duty Franchise
25-Jun-2021 by Sparky
It's really hard to make a "best 5 of" a video game franchise like Call of Duty. Few video game franchises are as influential and successful as Call of Duty. What began as a polished World War II shooter has morphed into something else entirely over the last 15-plus years, with games going everywhere from the Vietnam War to the far reaches of space.
For this list, we’ll choose the top 5 Call of Duty games from the main entries in the Call of Duty series. This means excluding spinoff titles, as well as simplified games released for previous-generation systems like World at War – Final Fronts. Seventeen games were eligible, and we had to narrow them down to best 5.
No matter the location or story, Call of Duty games usually deliver heart-pounding single-player campaigns and an intense competitive multiplayer mode. Even when 2018’s entry, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, switched it up and ditched the campaign, it brought another thrilling experience into the fold with its new battle royale mode, called Blackout. But not all Call of Duty games are created equal. Some were simply better than others, and we’re going to rank them from the best to the worst.
5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare almost single-handedly redefined the modern first-person shooter with its thrilling campaign and endlessly customizable multiplayer component, so the bar was sky-high for Modern Warfare 2 when it released two years later. Somehow, Infinity Ward managed to outdo itself, delivering another campaign filled with twists, betrayals, and action-packed set pieces while also building on what made the first game’s multiplayer so successful.
The kill-streak concept was expanded to allow for even more ways to eliminate your enemies, and the progression system remained one of the most satisfying in all of gaming. Even a decade later, there’s just something about Modern Warfare 2’s pacing and map design that makes it a classic — it’s one of those games you could put in your Xbox 360 for months and never get tired of it. You can play a remastered version of its single-player campaign on modern consoles now.
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops
Treyarch was finally able to get out of Infinity Ward’s shadow and establish itself as a premier Call of Duty studio with 2010’s Black Ops. A thrilling mystery set during the Cold War and partially taking place in Vietnam, its ambitious story dealt with conspiracy theories and the role the United States could have played in the JFK assassination, along with the failed Bay of Pigs operation.
It even called back to characters and scenes from World at War, blending elements from the World War II shooter into the newer game. Top-notch voice performances from actors like Sam Worthington and Gary Oldman helped sell the whole thing, and we still yell about “the numbers” regularly.
Though it didn’t drastically reinvent the Call of Duty formula, Black Ops nonetheless delivered well-balanced combat across a variety of maps, ranging from the jungles of Vietnam to the famous Nuketown. The map was so beloved that it has been released in every Treyarch game to date, and they’d feel downright incomplete without it.
3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Remastered)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare gets even more confusing to players who are familier with the 2007 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare when you discover that the games share characters but are not narratively connected aside from the mention of a few events. Regardless of the naming conventions, the rebooted 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare nails the atmosphere and tense first-person action of the older games’ campaigns, complete with several set-piece moments and a generous sprinkling of stealth.
Modern Warfare doesn’t disappoint as a multiplayer game, either, building on the foundation of its predecessors while adding new mechanics, such as reloading while aiming down the sights. Its straightforward progression system emphasizes continued play and doesn’t include microtransactions for unlocking any weapons. The new massive mode Ground War is a fantastic addition to its multiplayer offerings that should satisfy those left in the cold by DICE’s decision to skip a 2019 Battlefield release.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
By 2011, Call of Duty had already cemented its legacy with several stellar first-person shooters, but franchise fatigue had also begun. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 wrapped up the groundbreaking trilogy with another action-packed campaign and tight multiplayer mode, but without much of the original Infinity Ward team on the project, it felt like the developers were tracing a drawing rather than creating something on their own.
This isn’t to say that Modern Warfare 3 isn’t worthy of the Call of Duty name. Its multiplayer was as addictive and fast-paced as ever, and there were plenty of set-piece moments, but without the passion behind it, the game never escaped the shadow of its older siblings.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The follow-up to the excellent Black Ops had expectations soaring, possibly out of any developer’s reach. Call of Duty: Black Ops II felt like a game that had been designed by two entirely different studios. Its multiplayer emphasized customization with its Pick 10 system and a mix of futuristic weaponry, but its campaign was a scattershot series of missions that struggled to find an identity.
It isn’t for Treyarch’s lack of effort, though. Real-time strategy elements were even mixed into certain missions, and while they were only mildly successful, it showed the studio’s commitment to always trying new things.