Call of Duty is one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history. But it’s not all gravy.
When you release a new entry every single year for nearly two decades, you’re bound to have some misses along with the hits. Titles like Black Ops 2, Call of Duty 4, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops III, and others are remembered fondly by most. Others, not so much.
There have been several unfortunate releases in CoD’s history, including some recent titles and others that came out in the early days of the series. Sometimes it takes a while to realize whether a game was good or not, but other times it’s readily apparent right away.
Here’s the worst of the worst when it comes to CoD.
Call of Duty 3 (2006)
The first CoD title not developed by Infinity Ward, Call of Duty 3 was jankier than the first two titles and one of the least memorable of the entire franchise. It has since been surpassed several times over on the “bad CoD” list, but it remains one of the big misses of the franchise.
Thankfully, Treyarch has gone on to develop some of the best games in the series after CoD 3’s misfire.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)
Rose-tinted glasses have many gamers remembering the good times in Modern Warfare 3. But the title was horribly unbalanced, like its predecessor MW2, with some of the worst maps in the franchise to boot.
And who remembers Death Streaks? Who thought it was a good idea to reward players for being very, very bad at the game? Nothing killed the fun like killing an enemy only to have them go down and immediately blow up themselves and the surrounding area with C4. Just brutal.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014)
The first foray into jetpacks in CoD is remembered by most as a bad time. Advanced Warfare’s gameplay loop of jumping and strafing with the jetpacks worked best in modes like Uplink but was the first step in the wrong direction for the franchise that absolutely works best with boots on the ground.
The worst part about Advanced Warfare, however, was the Supply Drops. The loot box formula has since been almost ruled out of gaming entirely, but it was especially egregious in this title where if you didn’t have a specific weapon blueprint, you basically lost out.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016)
Infinite Warfare was the final nail in the coffin for the jetpack entries in the franchise. Call of Duty in space just did not work, and it’s a place that the series never needed to go and should never visit ever again.
The jetpack fatigue hit hard in 2016, and the series thankfully soon returned to its roots a few years later. Its campaign was pretty cool, though.
Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021)
The most recent CoD title seemingly is always the “worst” or most hated by fans, but Vanguard was genuinely a dud, including a half-baked Zombies mode, a lackluster campaign, and multiplayer mode that didn’t hold players’ attention for long for a variety of reasons.
More importantly, however, Vanguard was commercially and critically a failure in the eyes of Activision. The company blamed the WWII setting for its “disappointing” sales figures, so many fans will be curious to see where Sledgehammer’s next CoD venture goes.