Call of Duty has been a prominent marker in the first-person shooter realm for almost twenty years now, with instalments forever influencing third-party devs to step up and replicate the warmth the renowned series radiates. And while hands have often switched during its rollercoaster journey atop the apex of war gaming, the series has still continued to secure its position and stay connected to the genre through compelling stories and heart-wrenching warfare.
Today, we look over a bustling collection of twenty-four video games, as well as an entire arm of DLC and meaty add-ons. And while some will argue that Modern Warfare above all other chapters stacks the highest in terms of popularity, others will strongly disagree, and point more towards the earlier chapters in the timeline. But then, I guess you could say that no answer is really correct. It's a matter of opinion, of course. And so, if we had to put our spin on it — then it would look something like this.
5. Call of Duty: World at War
Ah yes — zombies. Can't live with them, can't live without them. Or at least that's what Treyarch's approach was to the newfound mode that latched on to Call of Duty: World at War, anyway. And let's face it, although the undead mode was slightly out of the blue and with no real connection to the bulk of the actual game, it was still a prominent slice of the pie. And, it was also something that would later evolve the Black Ops series as we know it today.
Okay, so zombies tossed aside, Call of Duty: World at War was still perhaps one of the greatest games Treyarch ever put out. As a newcomer to the series, essentially filling Infinity Ward's weighty boots for a shot at the title, the team pretty much enveloped all ingredients that previous chapters nailed to a tee and amplified them accordingly. Through its powerful World War II revival, World at War was able to reignite multiple flames at once, all whilst paving the way for later chapters with innovations and foresight.
4. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Arguably one of the best games to ever grace the first-person shooter platform, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare practically swept the world off its feet when launching back in 2007. Since then, of course, people have only ever looked to Treyarch as pioneers of a gleaming world with infinite routes to escalate the series. And while the shoes were definitely on the heavier side, Treyarch definitely stepped up to the challenge of evolving Modern Warfare into something even greater.
After trudging along with mixed reviews over the first three instalments, Treyarch themselves knew that the only way out of the rut would be through redesigning the face of the franchise. World War II was out, and Modern Warfare, subsequently, was in. From there, Call of Duty only continued to expand and brave vast new waters, with new weapons, immersive story arcs and modes to bolster its booming reputation.
3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
After toying with multiple layers of the earlier Call of Duty games, as well as dipping toes in multiple eras and global conflicts, Infinity Ward made the ultimate decision to step back into some familiar boots and breathe life into the dirt once more. And that, of course, meant unearthing Modern Warfare and building it from the ground up for an all-powerful reboot that would look to take the world by storm. Sure enough — it did. And then some.
2019's take of Modern Warfare brought a whole lot back to the table, with even more innovations thrown on top of it to essentially mould a new and improved carrier of all things Call of Duty-related. Characters were redesigned and built upon, the gameplay was tweaked to absolute perfection, and the overall flow of the story transitioned like a well-oiled machine. Everything was there and more, and Infinity Ward did a pretty spectacular job at breathing life into some old and dusty veins.
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
After realising the honest potential the Black Ops branch had in the Call of Duty family tree, Treyarch essentially took the burning hammer and used it to strike the anvil twice as hard, ultimately forging a bigger and better game for fans to gawp over. And while some would say Black Ops 2 was just a glorified repackage of the first instalment, others would strongly disagree, and likely say it was more of a standalone venture. A venture that, fortunately, conquered the market on release.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 continued the best-selling narrative of the preceding chapter without dwelling too much on old material. The characters up until that moment had been unveiled and deployed, and the story arc was already well in motion. So what was left for Treyarch to touch up? Well, not a whole lot, to be completely honest. Black Ops 2 boasted an all-round gamechanging experience, with five times the thrills as any other previous journey. Throw in a few intriguing curveballs and you've got yourself a worthy contender.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Well, you probably already guessed that Modern Warfare 2 would rank the highest on the list, to be fair. And for good reason too. The fact is, Infinity Ward's critically-acclaimed MW has built such a remarkable following over the years (mainly down to its multiplayer front, no doubt), that it's pretty much all OG fans ever seem to talk about. And while others would often shed light on other links in the Call of Duty chain, the majority will usually flock back to the one that stole the entire show.
Besides having an absolutely phenomenal multiplayer front, along with some of the most memorable maps and game modes, Modern Warfare 2 also had one of the best offline campaigns too. Of course, like most Call of Duty games, it was relatively short but oh so bittersweet. The fast-paced narrative, the wall-to-wall combat filled with endless moments of bliss and nostalgia, and everything between. Modern Warfare 2 had the lot. Infinity Ward had cracked it, finally.