Call of Duty video games has been a prominent name in the first-person shooter genre since 2003. The franchise took off first with the single-player story narrative setting and later evolved after introducing robust multiplayer and zombies mode to the later installments in the franchise. Branching out into multiple developing teams, not all Call of Duty games received the attention. As a result, there are certain games in the series that are just hard to forget, and then there are a few which are forgettable. That is why we have curated the Call of Duty tier list, listed 16 AAA games, and ranked accordingly.
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We have mentioned only the best Call of Duty game that we think is still unrivaled. We find the audio, video, and overall gameplay value of this COD game a classic success that was too good for its time and still holds a decent value in the long-running series.
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Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is by far the best COD game in the long-running franchise. Arguably, many fans of the COD series to date love this installment the most. We think the story, audio, and overall gameplay feel were some of the many reasons Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 ranks as a top-tier COD game.
Even though COD Modern Warfare laid the groundwork for an amazing story, COD MW2 went above and beyond and delivered an even more intriguing campaign. Players get to see various in-game environments and settings in which previous installments did not offer the variety in a single game.
Other than that, the developer of COD Modern Warfare 2 also put heavy emphasis on the audio department of the game. The music composers Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer made the best soundtracks for the game. Besides creating fantastic soundtracks, a great amount of work also went into creating unique sounds for each weapon in the game. Firing each weapon, silenced or not, produced a unique sound, giving each weapon an outstanding feel while using in COD Modern Warfare 2.
Overall, for an FPS video game that focused on small details in audio, video, and more, COD MW2 was an example of how shooter games should be. That is why many COD veterans to date praise COD MW2 as the greats of all time.
All Call of Duty games that we have mentioned in our S-tier is near perfection. Even if these video game installments managed to tick all boxes and delivered top-notch quality. Still, we think they missed the mark by a small margin and have a flaw or two attached to them.
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Call of Duty Black Ops 2
We think Call of Duty Black Ops 2 deserves a spot in our S-rank Call of Duty tier list. There were many good things COD BO2 introduced to the franchise, and regardless of the many wrongs that came with the game, the overall feel of the installment was solid.
COD BO2 had an overwhelming amount of QTEs, for starters, which was not bad. However, many players found it a little exhausting to always get carried away by QTEs. I, for one, loved this addition in Call of Duty Black Ops 2; it increased the immersion level for me.
Additionally, we think the overall settings in COD Black Ops 2 were excellent. Players got to go back to some of the well-known events. The horse riding missions and combat were also some of the great memories Call of Duty Black Ops 2 has imprinted on its players.
In the previous games, players were not given the liberty to pick their weapons before starting the missions. However, it changed in COD BO2 as it allowed players to pick weapons whichever they liked and then start a mission.
Overall, if you sideline the few negative aspects, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 was an excellent FPS game of its time.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
The campaign, story narrative, and how each mission spills out into the next one are a few reasons we think Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 is famously known for. COD MW3 is the epic conclusion of the Modern Warfare series of COD games, and it closes off the series in a great manner. To our surprise, some of the veteran COD players think COD MW3 was even a better game than COD M2. However, we think the campaign and story could have been presented a tad bit better.
Moreover, we think COD Modern Warfare 3 was basically COD MW2.1; there were obvious changes between the two but not enough that the sequel was called for. Our personal favorite is the action sequences that we get the time and again while playing missions in the campaign mode.
Overall, COD Modern Warfare 3 ties all three MW games well and delivers a befitting conclusion to the saga. Sure, there were a few shortcomings here and there, such as a few repetitive sections. However, Call of Duty MW3 was by far a better game when it comes to improving the aspects of the previous installment and concluding the series simultaneously.
The list of Call of Duty games we have included in our A-tier has by far the most memorable campaign in the series. Many players to date remember the moments they played during various missions of each COD game listed below. It is because these Call of Duty video games brilliantly capture the significance of moments, which also left a great impact on how the story of these video games unfolded.
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Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 2 is by far the most memorable COD game based on the core events of World War 2. The story or campaign mode established a world war vibe that was not a common portrayal in video games. The campaign mode of Call of Duty 2 feels a little less modern because it did not really capture the cinematic vibe. However, even by today’s standards, COD 2 still captured a decent campaign mode, which heavily focused on the story, excellent control mechanisms, and other little details.
My favorite moments from Call of Duty 2 have to be charging on Pointe Du Hoc on D-Day and assaulting El Dabaa as the Desert Rats. The essence and overall vibe Call of Duty 2 had in its missions was close to perfection. Sure, there was no sprint feature in the game, which is why the combat felt slow most of the time. However, taking things slow also contributed towards a plus point for the game.
The later Call of Duty video games had shooting mechanics depending too much on perks and gear. However, this was different with Call of Duty 2. Players had to become a good aim to take out enemies. It was a spot-on experience for the time when COD 2 was released.
Overall, Call of Duty 2 picked up the pieces of the first game and improved almost all corners of it to deliver a refined and polished Call of Duty sequel.
Call of Duty World At War
Campaign and story narrative has always been a strong suit for Call of Duty games. However, the plot sometimes becomes predictable and linear. You will always get a sense of playing some covert mission. This feeling was completely challenged and changed when Call of Duty World At War was released. This installment in the series takes away the control from you, giving you a sense that you are in a war and will not always have control of the situation.
A lengthy campaign was another plus point of COD World At War’s campaign mode. You will hardly get a sense of feeling shorter story mode after ending the campaign of World At War. The characters introduced in the missions were memorable, and they were integrated into the game’s story pretty well. Moreover, the historical accuracy in Call of Duty World At War was also excellent. To think for a 2008 video game delivering content that later installments in the series missed are an effort worth applause.
Overall, we think Call of Duty World At War delivered quite an exceptional campaign mode, decent cinematics, audio, and video controls. All of these points combined make World At War a great sequel to world war 2 based on Call of Duty video games. Arguably, WAW was so a good many players jumped back to the campaign mode of Call of Duty 2, taking it all in the feeling of world war 2 settings.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the first COD game that introduced a big change in how health recovery worked. This installment in the franchise tried to introduce many new things to the table, and for better or worse, it did manage to re-invent a system that COD players appreciated.
For a 2007 video game, COD 4: MW did magic to its intense battles and crossfire elements. The unfolding of events during the main missions kept players on their toes. Also, the graphics were a decent bump over the previous Call of Duty video game iterations. COD 4: MW was also a leap ahead in how shooter games were released in the decade. Most fps games released from the early to mid-2000s were heavily focused on the world war scenario. However, it changed when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was released. Its story was fresh and carried a sense of how warfare in current times could be.
When most fps games created unbelievable stories, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare tried to shake things up and made its campaign more believable. There are not many great story-focused video games that do not show Russia as the bad guy, and COD 4: MW was probably the first one.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the original game that revamped many little details about COD video games in general. It was a perfect game for its time that had little to no reason to be made into a remastered version. However, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, released in 2019, made it clear that OG COD 4: MW, this gem of a video game, needed a beautiful and eye-candy version for today’s COD players. By all means, it lives up to its roots, keeping focus on close combat warfare, gun sounds, and story.
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While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is not a game-changing video game for the players who played the original version back in the day. As a matter of fact, those who could never play it the first time around find COD: MW an exhilarating experience, something that raises a high bar when it comes to gunplay and the importance of a story mode in first-person video games.
While it was a refreshing experience to experience the moments of COD 4: MW in modern-day graphics, most of the game’s base mechanics were pulled from the original game, which felt a little outdated. Still, for better or worse, we think the campaign mission design of this installment was spot on, and it deserves to sit in our A-rank of Call of Duty tier list.
Call of Duty Black Ops
The espionage, portrayal of interesting combat and conflict in COD games has never been perfect before the Call of Duty Black Ops release. This COD has by far the best cold war story, mission settings, and the overall mysteries the game throws while playing the campaign is genius.
To us, Call of Duty Black Ops had the best plot one could find in Call of Duty video games, especially in the Call of Duty Black Ops installment. Arguably, most players on the web agree over the fact that the portrayal of black ops operations executed behind enemy lines by CIA clandestine is genius writing. The inclusivity of iconic locations such as East Berlin, Vietnam, Turkey, and the Soviet KGB headquarters shows the level of effort developers put behind while creating Call of Duty Black Ops.
Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War
After COD MW was Remastered, the release of Call of Duty Cold War was a must-needed experience. Like most great COD games, this installment in the franchise gave due attention to its campaign and mission design. The overall ambiance of warfare in the Cold War era did take the warfare style back to the early 1980s; nevertheless, the scripted portrayal of characters and their involvement in the story reflects developers’ efforts.
The Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War story keeps the flow and immersion of the narrative smooth. However, it is the challenges, the multiple choices that make you replay certain missions or parts of it so as to experience different decisions. These challenges also compensate for the shorter campaign size of Call of Duty Cold War. By revisiting select missions and dedicating yourself to witnessing an alternate outcome gives you a sense of adventure and accomplishment.
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The soundtrack and interesting characters of Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War are the icings on the cake besides the mission design. Regardless of vehicles, weapons, or movement sound types, you’d realize that every game segment has been given due attention in this department.
The Call of Duty video games that we have listed in our B-tier stand in the middle ground. They are not the best in the lot but certainly not the worst. Even if you play these games today, some of you will have a mixed feeling after playing their campaign modes. To us, the story mode of these games was not over the top ones, not underwhelming. Still, we think these COD video games are pretty decent.
Call of Duty Vanguard
Call of Duty Vanguard takes back the story setting to the world war 2 era. The major selling point for COD Vanguard, as advertised, was to play with different characters with intriguing backstories and backgrounds. That did sound like a great idea in theory; however, when Call of Duty Vanguard was released, its campaign mode did not live up to expectations. We think it did not even come close to Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 if the world war 2 setting is kept as a common factor.
We think there are many major problems with Call of Duty Vanguard’s campaign. For starters, most game sections restrict you from exploring and basically just tell you to go in one direction. This actually kills the vibe of discovery and finding a possible Easter egg or item. Secondly, there are moments where the campaign throws three to four cut scenes one after another, breaking the entire immersion level players had while controlling the character.
Call of Duty Vanguard’s campaign mode also takes away the choice options; there is a clear lack of options when it comes to navigating missions with freedom.
The only good thing in this picture we see is the modern-day graphics, excellent sound design, and intriguing backstory of characters. Regardless of the little pros the game offers, the gameplay is far from perfect, and that is why we think Call of Duty Vanguard deserves a sport in or B-rank Call of Duty tier list.
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Call of Duty Black Ops 3
Even though Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is a successor to COD BO2, the installment did not offer a better story than its predecessor. Regardless, many new changes and additions made COD Black Ops 3 as one of the greatest COD video games to date.
The in-game mechanics and levels in COD BO3 were the cake on the icing. Sure, the campaign was a bit confusing, but it was compensated by other things, such as the addition of cybernetic abilities. It opened a new array of possibilities in taking enemies down instead of just shooting them to death using guns or melee weapons.
Arguably, many think that story had little weightage and was not clear. However, we think that Call of Duty Black Ops 3 had a decent story as it encompassed two storylines being played out at once in the game. The actual game basically is a big-scale portrayal of events that had happened before. But yes, the story was a bit out of placement in the Call of Duty universe and seemed unnecessary at times.
Overall, we believe the new additions and small changes Call of Duty Black Ops 3 offered made it one of the great COD games. If Treyarch had handled the story narration and delivery a bit better, COD BO3 could have been a gem of an FPS video game.
Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty 3, the successor to COD 2, which Infinity Ward developed, did not reach the level of fame as it was supposed to. The campaign of this COD installment was also set in the world war 2 era, which was a great setting. However, Call of Duty 3, developed by Treyarch, did a rushed development of the game. COD 3 was released almost eight months after its prequel.
Even though the story’s setting was the same as Call of Duty 2, there were many features of Call of Duty 3 introduced to the COD series of games that were absent. For starters, Call of Duty 3 introduced the much-needed sprint feature, allowing you to run past areas enhancing the feel of battle.
There were other obvious small differences that made Call of Duty 3 a proper sequel to Call of Duty 2. Unfortunately, the pitting of Axis power against Allies and the overall world war 2 setting this time around was not appealing enough. That is why we think the campaign of Call of Duty 3 stands in the middle ground; it is not over the top and certainly not the worst.
Call of Duty World War II
After a very long time, the Call of Duty series of video games made a return to world war 2 roots by releasing Call of Duty World War II. The game’s campaign mode was decent; not the best in the lot and certainly not the worst. However, a tad bit of issues held back the story mode from becoming one of the best in the Call of Duty video game series.
For starters, the campaign mode was short; it was roughly five to seven hours. Even if you played the game on the highest difficulty, ending the game will not take much time. Moreover, the plus point of world war 2 setting this time around was blessed by the next-generation graphics. The previous COD games that had world war 2 settings had either no cinematics or much lower graphical fidelity. However, this changed with Call of Duty World War II. The smooth and high-end graphics did increase the immersion level.
Another great thing we loved about Call of Duty World War II was that the action sequences in the game felt like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. They were scripted excellent and held the immersion of players. However, the mission designs, linearity, and overall vibe of playing each story mission felt dry and repetitive. That is why we believe COD World War II belongs to our B-rank Call of Duty tier list.
The Call of Duty games we have included in our C-tier has an underwhelming story. Their campaign is definitely not the worst through all COD games, but it certainly is not the most enjoyable. We think the main reason for a least impressive campaign was because their predecessor had a complex campaign, which developers wanted to correct, and they made easy to understand, short, but impactful campaigns.
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare has an average campaign. However, the story had some memorable characters, making COD Infinite Warfare a decent video game to play. The game’s storytelling reflects that Infinity Ward made an effort to bring life to the game’s character. However, for a next-generation Call of Duty video game, there was not much COD Infinite Warfare offered as it should have.
For starters, most FPS games in the next generation consoles featured destructible environments, walls, and buildings. COD Infinite Warfare being a next-generation COD game, lacked this concept. Arguably, even though the game’s story left an impact while playing it for the first time. The problem that many realize later is that it is very much forgettable compared to other COD games’ campaigns, stories, and in-game epic moments.
One of the good things about Call of Duty Infinite Warfare was its art style, visuals, and story. The characters during the missions had a sense of realism and purpose. They were not placed in the game’s story without a purpose, and they had a role to fill. This was one of the great returning features in Call of Duty games players were expecting since COD Black Ops 3.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare featured a fast-paced combat system, which was a tad new addition from its predecessors. The introduction of new tech-based equipment was also a welcome addition in Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. However, there were a few problems with the game’s campaign mode that, if it had been handled in a better way, the game could have left an impactful story mode.
For starters, the primary problem that we think with Call of Duty Advanced Warfare had was the predictable campaign mode. It completely sets off players who played the campaign. Even if you play the story mode now, the clichés and predictable story will push you to stop playing the campaign mode anymore.
We have ranked only one Call of Duty video game in D-tier because, to us, this is the only COD game that failed to tick all boxes when it comes to delivering a compelling or engaging campaign.
Call of Duty Ghosts
We think the campaign length of Call of Duty Ghosts was very short, or it looked short when we compared to the games that were released before Ghosts. Secondly, the veteran mode of COD Ghost’s campaign also did not offer the level of challenge previous COD games threw players in. It felt more like a breeze than a challenge to complete the game’s campaign mode in veteran difficulty.
Even the introduction of Riley as a new feature in Call of Duty Ghosts was not used enough. The whole purpose of using Riley turned to dust when you found out he would get shot and die, making you afraid to use him frequently.
The movement from cover to cover also made combatting the federation a piece of cake. Basically, you can melee most opponents, making the overall campaign experience very un-challenging to its core.
Overall, the campaign felt dry, and the overall story narrative had a lifeless experience. Even if you played and finished the story mode, you’d feel the missions in it are very forgettable. We think Call of Duty Ghosts’s story leaned a tad bit more towards the generic side while keeping the expectations of following the modern warfare trilogy.
The developers touted the game to be around a character who was not even in the game. Sadly, it was hard to see the campaign of Call of Duty Ghosts fail at the very domain most COD games are remembered for.
Call of Duty Tier List Criteria
The ranking of all the COD video games that we have done is entirely based on the single-player campaign only. Our tier list does not take into account the multiplayer, zombies, or other co-op modes into consideration. It is because not all COD games have zombies, co-op, or multiplayer modes; hence if we were to rank them in our tier list, these installments would have a downside.
Plus, Call of Duty games has been known for interesting storytelling, portraying various fictional characters, and presenting a unique perspective to different timelines with an FPS warfare twist.
Ranking Based on Experience and Research
Besides the basic criteria we have mentioned above, our Call of Duty tier list also takes into account the experience with the games and the research from the web. We have tailored our tier list ranking based on how we see each video game of the installment falling in respective tiers. Plus, the general opinion of Call of Duty video gamers from the web since the first game.
Why Trust Us
We have been playing Call of Duty video games since the first game in the installment released in 2003. Creating tier lists is never easy because it is always a subjective matter. We understand that the COD tier list ranking hierarchy we have created here may or may not reflect what you think about each video game in the series. That being said, the overall ranking of Call of Duty video games in our tier list is open for discussion but closed for criticism.
That is pretty much everything you need to know about the Call of Duty tier list. Did you find our ranking of each game in the series helpful? Which COD game has been your favorite so far? Let us know more of your thoughts in the comments section below.
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