Call of Duty has been a yearly mainstay since Call of Duty 2’s release in 2005. 13 years later, we now have 14 games available – but which one’s best? And which one’s the worst? Here is the first part of this ranking, with the bottom nine games featured. Stay tuned for the top five over the next few days.
14. Call of Duty Ghosts
We start off this list with my personal worst game in the franchise, Ghosts. Released in 2013, it was the launch title for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, developed by Infinity Ward after many members had left to form Respawn Entertainment. It didn’t really do anything new, apart from implementing a new game mode, Extinction, which felt like an attempt to achieve something similar to Zombies, but ultimately was a bit shit.
It ended up being the last of the “current day” instalments before the introduction of the exoskeleton dominated the next three years. Ghosts saw a fictional war between North and South America unfold, which generally was not well received. If you see this on sale and fancy an older Call of Duty game to scratch the itch – skip this one.
13. Call of Duty 3
The third instalment in the series was the first to be developed by Treyarch, following the successful first two entries from Infinity Ward. It did not prove to be as successful as later iterations, however, as it was seen as very similar to its predecessors. It was a launch title for the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, however inexplicably never received a PC release – the only Call of Duty game not to do so. Ports were planned originally, but cancelled.
The campaign split itself into four playable factions; U.S. Army, British SAS, Canadian Army and the Polish 1st Armoured Division. The objective: Capture Hill 262, modelled after “Operation Overlord” (otherwise known as the Battle of Normandy) in 1944. Of course, in the end – spoiler alert – the goodies win.
12. Modern Warfare 3
After the success of Modern Warfare 2, personally I was excited to see how Infinity Ward would improve upon it. Instead, what we got was a nonsensical plot, which saw the Russians effectively try to take over the world, and multiplayer that featured a few changes in an attempt to keep things fresh, but for me ultimately did not pan out. Pointstreaks were added to replace killstreaks, to try to encourage players to contribute to objectives and distribute more rewards.
It also featured the controversial London Underground train crash scene, along with the exploding truck that took with it the Davis family. Controversial for controversy’s sake in my humble opinion.
11. Infinite Warfare
Infinite Warfare was Infinity Ward’s first foray into exoskeleton warfare, allowing you to run on walls and leap as high as Erlich Bachman (from Silicon Valley). It was disappointing to many, however, which is why it has landed itself 11th on this list. Simply put, it was uninspired, and did absolutely nothing new over Black Ops III from the year prior, or Advanced Warfare the year before…or the game before that…and before that…
The campaign had something a little different to offer though, taking us up into outer space at a time after Earth has been depleted of its natural resources. Kit Harington took a break from riding "dragons" in Game of Thrones to feature as the antagonist, adding to an all-star roster of the Hoff and Pam Grier who both featured in Zombies.
10. Advanced Warfare
Sledgehammer Games’ first entry into the Call of Duty franchise is widely regarded as a positive one, and ushered in the futuristic combat for the next two iterations. The story featured Kevin Spacey as the CEO of Atlas Corporation, a private military contractor who ultimately wages war with the entire world. Naturally, it’s then up to the USA to defeat him and the rest of the corporation.
Advanced Warfare was a much needed change to the formula after the disappointment of Ghosts, and the exo-zombies mode was another interesting addition. This featured characters voiced by Jon Bernthal and John Malkovich, among others.
9. Black Ops 3
The 12th game from Treyarch, released in 2015, set itself 40 years after the events of Black Ops II in 2065. No job is safe from the robots either, with front line soldiers being replaced with droids. The campaign encouraged four player co-op, with larger maps offering something a little different from the previous games.
Of course, Zombies was here too, although slightly disappointing for me at launch because it was just one big map. I did prefer having smaller, frantic environments to slay the undead in, even if they are all linked together like in Black Ops II. More have been added since then as part of DLC packs, and you could even play “Nightmare” mode whereby all enemies in single player are turned into zombies.
8. Call of Duty
I had to put the original Call of Duty relatively high up in the list because it brought to the table something a little different. It was originally released exclusively for PC, and was unavailable for those on console until 2009 when Modern Warfare 2 released. It was also Infinity Ward’s first title, with much of the development team previously having worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
It was one of the first FPS games to use the iron sights to allow the player to aim, giving greater accuracy. Infinity Ward also employed a different take on AI, whereas previous games would rely on a singular character to save the world, in Call of Duty these artificially controlled allies would help you along the way.
7. Call of Duty 2
In Call of Duty’s sequel, Infinity Ward took what it had done previously and made several refinements. Releasing in 2005, this was the first to be available on console – albeit only for the Xbox 360 as a launch title. It still retained its PC focus, however, with mods and map editors unavailable on the 360.
CoD 2 added in health regeneration, something that has now become a staple across multiple genres but was not so big back then. It kept itself to the World War II era following from Call of Duty. The campaign, once again, allowed you to play as one of three soldiers in the Allied forces. It even gave you a little symbol to let you know when an enemy grenade was close to you.
6. Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops released way back in 2010. Treyarch took us back to the Cold War in the 1960’s, following CIA operative Alex Mason as he is strapped into a chair in an interrogation room. “The numbers, Mason!”
In just five days, sales worldwide reached $650 million, up $100 million on Modern Warfare 2 a year prior. It didn’t have any ground breaking new features, but for me everything it did, it did very well. The multiplayer included a massive 14 maps, including a debut for everybody’s favourite map: Nuketown. Trap yourself in a fridge, because there’s a nuke comin’ down on us, folks.
And that just leaves my top five Call of Duty games. We have the following remaining:
Call of Duty: World at War
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Call of Duty: WWII
What are your top picks from these? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!