The 3 best and 3 worst Call of Duty games of all time
There’s been some real ups and downs in this successful franchise.
Image via Activision
For as consistently monetarily successful as Call of Duty has been, big money doesn’t always mean big happiness or memories when it comes to certain games in the franchise.
For every huge hit, there’s been a dud in the CoD series. And that’s bound to happen when there’s a new entry every single year for nearly 20 years. They can’t all be great, or at least that’s exactly what history has proven.
CoD has shaped the landscape of gaming since its inception in 2003. And 20 years later, it has still shown no signs of slowing down when it comes to finding its way into players’ homes on a yearly basis. Twenty years is a long time, though, and the hits have hit as hard as the misses have stunk.
Here are the three best and three worst CoD games ever.
The three best Call of Duty games of all time
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
CoD’s first big step into the mainstream, CoD4 dropped in 2007 and truly thrust the franchise into the homes of gamers everywhere on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
A Hollywood-like blockbuster campaign featuring memorable characters and moments, CoD4 set the stage for the series to become the massively popular billion-dollar franchise that it is today.
CoD4 introduced Prestige Mode, an addictive multiplayer grind for players to play after hitting the maximum level of 55. This was just the beginning of the CoD multiplayer that gamers around the world have come to know and love.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Arguably the most complete package of any CoD game, Black Ops 2 will go down as an all-time favorite for many CoD players. Its multiplayer offerings were stellar, the campaign was excellent, and it also had some of the most memorable zombies maps to boot.
Related: All Call of Duty games in release order
Black Ops 2 only got better over time, with multiple map packs, DLC weapon camos, and the first-ever post-launch weapon added to the game with the Peacekeeper SMG/AR hybrid gun.
As if that wasn’t enough, BO2 was also one of CoD’s most successful and influential esports titles, introducing the CoDcaster Mode built distinctly for competitive viewership.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
If CoD4 was the series’ first step into the mainstream, MW2 was kicking the door down.
MW2 was a blockbuster hit from day one, taking the Modern Warfare franchise from a household name into a veritable pop culture institution. And it was backed up by some of the best and most memorable multiplayer maps and weapons in the franchise’s history.
Couple it with an astounding campaign that turned everything up to 11 (“Remember, no Russian”) and the game is still talked about to this day as one of the best, supplemented further still with some of the most fun downloadable map packs in history.
Honorable mentions: MW3 and Black Ops 1
The “golden era” of CoD, from 2007 to 2011, gave us the best in the series. And that’s not just nostalgia talking. While times were different, so were the map design, and overall simplicity of the games that made them the best pick-up-and-play FPS titles on the market and made CoD what it is today.
MW3 and Black Ops 1 both deserve a spot on the list but are outshined by some of the above titles for various reasons.
The three worst Call of Duty games of all time
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
In the CoD franchise, there are two types of games: boots on the ground and jetpack. Infinite Warfare jumped way off the ground, said ‘fuck you’ to jetpacks, and instead took the game to space, and the result was a game that’s widely regarded by many as one of the worst in the series.
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The campaign was its biggest strength, but the co-op and multiplayer offerings are both wholly unforgettable in the long-running FPS franchise. Activision plummeted the franchise back down to Earth in its next several iterations after IW’s huge miss.
Call of Duty: Vanguard
CoD attempted to regain its footing in the World War II era once again, after the decent CoD: WWII in 2017. But 2021’s Vanguard proved players seem to be completely over fighting in that era after doing so for years and years prior.
Not even a half-baked zombies mode by Treyarch could save Vanguard, which many believe to be one of the worst entries in the franchise, and that’s something I’m inclined to agree with.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Ghosts was, for many, a massive misstep, especially following the success of Black Ops 2. Ghosts dropped in 2013 and was a bit too same-y for players, and nothing really stood out about it, whether it be the lackluster multiplayer or forgettable campaign.
Dishonorable mentions: MW2 (2022) and Advanced Warfare
It’s hard to argue against the newest MW2 being on this list. Infinity Ward seems to have dropped the ball when it comes to the game’s multiplayer, and even the Warzone component is not beloved like its predecessor. Has Infinity Ward lost its magic?
Advanced Warfare was good in its own right, but its inclusion of pay-to-win weapon blueprints really screwed over any chance it had of finding a positive spot in this article. It was also the beginning of the franchise’s big-time hit-or-miss foray into jetpack gameplay.
About the author
Staff Writer & Call of Duty lead. Professional writer for over 10 years. Lover of Destiny 2, Metal Gear, Pokémon, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Marvel Snap, and more. Previous bylines include PC Gamer, Red Bull Esports, Fanbyte, and Esports Nation.DogDad to Yogi the Corgi, sports fan (NY Yankees, NY Jets, NY Rangers, NY Knicks), Paramore fanatic, cardio enthusiast.