Call of Duty is one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time, with 18 main games in the series and several spin-offs and console exclusives. Millions of players have fond memories of each game in the series, although some likely stand out more than others. Some titles are universally acclaimed, while others are often overlooked and forgotten.
Determining the best Call of Duty game of all time is a tough challenge, especially as there are so many games to consider. To make it easier for you, we’ve ranked every main game in the CoD series, ignoring console exclusive, mobile, and strictly battle royale titles.
18) Call of Duty
The original Call of Duty is kicking off our list, not because it is a bad game, but just because it’s almost 20 years old at this point and is outshined by its predecessors. This game did kick off what would turn into one of the most successful franchises of all time, but it’s not really worth going back and playing unless you need a dose of nostalgia.
17) Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 2 takes the 17th spot on the list for similar reasons to the original Call of Duty. You won’t miss much if you weren’t around to play this game when it was first released, although it gave us the iconic multiplayer map Carentan, later reimagined as Chinatown in Modern Warfare.
16) Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Ready for some controversial takes? Black Ops III is the worst CoD of the jetpack era. The jetpack system in Black Ops III was less fun than Advanced Warfare, the specialist abilities were obnoxious and added an unnecessary element to the game, and the campaign is a convoluted excuse of a story. This game is only above the first two CoD games because it is modern and still playable.
15) Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Infinite Warfare is one of the most infamous CoD titles of all time. At this point, the community was sick of jetpacks, and many fans took the year off from CoD during Infinite Warfare’s lifecycle. Thankfully, the game was available in a bundle with Modern Warfare remastered, getting at least some veterans to try the game. Infinite Warfare wasn’t terrible and even had a fun campaign with Kit Harington (Jon Snow), but it’s a forgettable title.
14) Call of Duty: WWII
For some reason, CoD fans can never decide if they want a modern, futuristic, or WWII setting. WWII took players back to the roots of the series, which was almost universally hated. It didn’t help that the game had a terrible spawn system at the start, and the campaign was a lackluster experience starring Josh Duhamel, better known as the guy from the first two Transformers movies. The game was eventually updated to provide a better gameplay experience, and it did have a fun hub you could explore with friends. Still, the WWII experience isn’t a highlight in the memory of most players.
13) Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Black Ops 4 swapped a campaign for a battle royale mode called Blackout, which was a surprisingly fun experience before Warzone took its place. The multiplayer felt like Black Ops III without jetpacks, making it slightly more tolerable. But instead of leaving the Black Ops storyline alone, Treyarch decided to introduce virtual versions of iconic characters for some reason and a story about experimental soldiers that needed to be pieced together like a puzzle. Blackout was the clear highlight for Black Ops 4 and deserves its spot in the CoD battle royale history books.
12) Call of Duty: Ghosts
Ghosts somehow took inspiration from one of the coolest characters in CoD history and introduced a cast of forgettable characters instead of focusing on the titular character from Modern Warfare 2. Ghosts’ multiplayer gameplay was solid, and many have changed their tune since 2014. However, this campaign was terrible and even ripped the boat sequence from Modern Warfare 2 for some reason. It also ended on a cliffhanger just to add to the frustration.
11) Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
Black Ops Cold War is a terrible name. It’s a mouthful, and it should’ve just been Cold War or Black Ops 5. But the campaign lets us spend more time with Mason and Woods and has some exciting and unique missions. The multiplayer felt like a Treyarch game, although most players weren’t happy with it and were excited to move on to Vanguard. But of course, the cycle continues, and the same players are once again unhappy.
10) Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty 3 came out when the focus was still primarily on the campaign and story. This game allowed players to control multiple protagonists across WWII and had a new quick-time combat system when fighting up close and personal. Struggling with a german soldier while his pals are shooting at you is exhilarating, and the campaign served its purpose. The multiplayer mode also expanded, giving players a glimpse of what was on the horizon.
9) Call of Duty: Vanguard
Vanguard is the latest CoD game and once again takes players back to World War II. This game feels similar to Modern Warfare 2019, which is a good or bad thing based on who you ask. Vanguard isn’t perfect, but it has satisfying gameplay and a robust customization system for Operators and weapons.
8) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
2019’s Modern Warfare rebooted the iconic sub-series, allowing fans to revisit classic characters like Gaz and Captain Price. The campaign was one of the best in recent years, providing intense moments that felt impactful. The multiplayer was fun, although it introduced some annoying competitive elements, like destructible walls and doors.
7) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Modern Warfare 3 served as the climax to the original Modern Warfare trilogy, but it only provided more of the same. The multiplayer felt familiar despite small updates like the new Specialist streak system or MOAB killstreak. The campaign also tied up the story but didn’t blow us away like the first two games. But it was still a fun game and has aged better than a few other entries on this list.
6) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Advanced Warfare is a controversial CoD game as it was the first to significantly alter the movement system. Players could now dash around the map easily, and encountering enemies mid-air was not an uncommon experience. The campaign was also well written and provided us with the press F to pay respects meme. This game was hands down the best of the jetpack era and deserves more appreciation.
5) Call of Duty: World at War
World at War served as a return to the World War II setting, although in a much darker and brutal manner. Players fought in some of the fiercest battles in history, complete with dismembered enemies and gore. This game also served as the beginning of the Black Ops storyline and had some of the best moments in CoD history. The multiplayer mode was also incredible, and it marked the beginning of CoD Zombies, which has become a staple of the series.
4) Call of Duty: Black Ops
Black Ops has one of the best stories in FPS history. Mason is unknowingly a Russian sleeper agent that must face his past to figure out a mysterious broadcast. Players were forced to escape a Russian gulag, fight their way across rooftops as CIA agents, and even escape a Viet Kong prison camp. The multiplayer also built off World at War and felt crisp and smooth, with each weapon feeling viable. The wager system also allowed players to bet an in-game currency in party games, a fantastic system that should be brought back.
3) Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Modern Warfare was the first time players experienced a Call of Duty in a modern setting, significantly changing the gameplay experience. Players could call in killstreaks for the first time, and the customization system significantly changed how you could approach gunfights. You could also show your dedication with a new prestige system before it became customary for every player in a lobby to be level 500. This campaign also had some of the best moments, like hiding in tall grass in Pripyat as enemies surrounded you.
2) Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Black Ops 2 is considered one of the best Call of Duty titles of all time. This game’s multiplayer served as the crux of the competitive scene, and some of the best professional players today got their start in this title. The gameplay felt smooth and deliberate, allowing players to dominate their enemies with raw guns kill. The campaign also continued the Black Ops story surprisingly well, mixing flashback levels with modern missions that required players to make choices with real consequences.
1) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the best CoD game ever made. The multiplayer mode provided one of the best experiences across all modes and maps, regardless of your weapon choices. Some perks and weapons were absolutely broken, but that was part of the fun. Meleeing enemies 10 feet away with Commando Pro was fantastic, and spamming noob tubes with One Man Army was a right of passage. Some believe these issues dampened the overall experience, but the rough patches are why many players fondly look back on this title.
The campaign also has some of the best moments in gaming, like the bitter betrayal by Shepard or being forced to participate in an atrocity in a Russian airport. Hopefully, the upcoming reboot can live up to the original’s legacy.