There have been so many Call of Duty games at this point that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of the order. In fact, since 2005’s Call of Duty 2 there’s been at least one major Call of Duty release per year until this year’s Modern Warfare – itself a confusing release given that it shares the same name as 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
To help you all make sense of the actual order of the mainline entries in the series, we thought we’d run them down in order, from the very first Call of Duty until this year’s Modern Warfare reboot.
Here are the Call of Duty Games in Order:
1. Call of Duty - 2003 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Infinity Ward gave birth to Call of Duty all the way back in 2003 on PC, where it entered the multiplayer shooter arena against stiff competition from Battlefield and Medal of Honor. It takes place during World war II and was famous for providing multiple different viewpoints of the war, including British, American, and the Soviet Union, during its single player campaign. It also had a greater focus on co-ordination with AI-controlled allies, which was in stark contrast to Medal of Honor, which typically cast you as a lone wolf combatant.
2. Call of Duty 2 - 2005 (PC, Xbox 360)
Call of Duty 2 arrived two years later and introduced many mechanics that remain in CoD titles even today, most notably with health regeneration and a grenade warning indicator. The campaign once again told a story from the perspective of four different soldiers, two of which are in the British Army, one in the US Army, and one in the Red Army. In fact, the campaign was split into four different campaigns. In terms of multiplayer, CoD 2 featured signature modes like Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch (Free-For-All), Search and Destroy, Capture the Flag, and Headquarters.
3. Call of Duty 3 - 2006 (PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3)
Call of Duty 3 is a very curious entry for two different reasons: it never launched on PC (despite the franchise making its name on that platform) and it was developed by Treyarch, rather than Infinity Ward. This was likely due to Infinity Ward working on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The campaign takes place right at the end of World War II on the Western Front, with you taking the perspective of American, British, Canadian, and Polish soldiers during the 14 missions. Meanwhile, the multiplayer switched things up a bit by introducing Ranked matches, which rewarded you player points and Achievements.
4. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - 2007 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is arguably CoD’s finest hour, reinventing the series with a modern makeover, a controversial single player campaign, and the tightest multiplayer that the franchise had seen yet. The campaign once again had you take on various different roles but took place during a fictional middle-eastern conflict. It aimed to showcase the horrors of real-world war, with a particularly affecting mission ending with the detonation of a nuclear bomb. Multiplayer, meanwhile, introduced killstreaks, perks, a leveling system to unlock new guns, weapon attachments, the prestige system, and more. Really, CoD hasn’t changed all that much since 2007’s Modern Warfare.
5. Call of Duty: World at War - 2008 (PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360)
Call of Duty: World at War was Treyarch’s second stab at CoD, and the last entry developed by them that wasn’t a Black Ops. It returned to the World War II setting and focused on the Pacific and Eastern Fronts, telling a story from the perspective of the US Navy, Marines, and the Red Army. It followed Modern Warfare’s multiplayer format though introduced tanks that you could control on certain maps. What it’s perhaps most famous for though is introducing Nazi Zombies, which has subsequently made it into many Call of Duty titles, albeit without the Nazis.
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - 2009 (DS, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Modern Warfare 2 expanded on the brand new formula laid down by Modern Warfare, doubling-down on telling a story of the horrors of war in its controversial single player campaign. You might have heard of the No Russian level, which had you shooting civilians in an airport. It’s often regarded as the best Call of Duty in terms of multiplayer, despite not really changing much from the original aside from introducing a ton more killstreaks.
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops - 2010 (DS, PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360)
Black Ops is the entry in which Treyarch really found its feet with Call of Duty, and is well-regarded even today. It takes place during the Cold War, between 1961 and 1968, and tells a fictional story about secret operations taking place behind enemy lines. You travel across the world, including Kazakhstan, Cuba, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam, Siberia, the Arctic Circle, and the Ural Mountains. Multiplayer introduced Create-a-Class 2.0, which allowed you greater customization of your character’s cosmetic appearance and the appearance of their equipment. It also expanded greatly on the Zombies format, telling a story that takes place over several missions.
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 - 2011 (PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360)
Modern Warfare 3 was blighted by development issues, most notably thanks to high profile departures of Jason West and Vince Zampella, who left to found Respawn Entertainment in partnership with EA to create the Titanfall franchise. Infinity Ward reacted by bringing Sledgehammer Games in to help complete the final Modern Warfare sequel, which completed the plot arc of the trilogy, introduced a new cooperative mode called Survival, which was basically CoD’s take on Gears of War’s popular Horde mode. Killstreaks were also split into different packages in multiplayer, to support different play styles.
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops II - 2012 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U)
Black Ops 2 brought the franchise to the near future for the first time, with a franchise that spanned the late 80s to 2025. We got a taste of how war might look moving forward in the single player campaign, which introduced new characters alongside those from the original Black Ops, as well as a branching storyline, in which your choices actually had an affect. Treyarch also continued to change up character customization with its Pick 10 system, which allowed you much greater control over how you play. Killstreaks also became Scorestreaks, encouraging players to work together to complete objectives in exchange for advantages.
10. Call of Duty: Ghosts - 2013 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U)
Call of Duty: Ghosts was Infinity Ward’s first attempt to breathe new life into the franchise after the close of the Modern Warfare trilogy. It maintained the modern setting for its campaign but focused more on teamplay and providing a Michael Bay-esque over the top plot full of set-pieces. Multiplayer introduced maps that can be altered or destroyed depending on how people perform, and there was a brand new mode called Squads, which provided co-op challenges. Ghosts also introduced its own version of Zombies to the mix called Extinction, which sees you battle off aliens.
11. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - 2014 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
After jumping in to save development of Modern Warfare 3, Sledgehammer Games was given the opportunity to create an all new CoD experience, and it grasped it with both arms. Advanced Warfare took us even further forward into the future, in which soldiers wear Exoskeletons to enhance their combat abilities. The campaign focused on a single playable character, which was a departure from other CoDs, and allowed you to upgrade your equipment over the course of the game. The new movement abilities introduced alongside the Exoskeleton also changed multiplayer remarkably, allowing you to run across walls, use a short jetpack, and generally get around faster.
12. Call of Duty: Black Ops III - 2015 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
Black Ops III took us even further into the future to 2065, where the world and war itself look almost unrecognizable. The campaign featured more open level design than previous entries and allowed you to customize your character’s appearance and loadout. Multiplayer was arguably the fastest the series had been yet, thanks to new movement mechanics liberally borrowed from Advanced Warfare. It also introduced Specialists into multiplayer, likely in reaction to the, at the time, upcoming Overwatch.
13. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare - 2016 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Infinity Ward clearly considered Ghosts to be somewhat of a failure, so decided once again to try and distance itself from the Modern Warfare trilogy. The result was not entirely dissimilar to Black Ops 3, with a futuristic setting and technologically enhanced soldiers. However, it took place across numerous different planets, exploring what warfare might look like in a futuristic space era. The campaign introduced spaceship combat, zero-gravity environments, and a grappling hook while multiplayer didn’t totally change from Black Ops III. The Specialist system was redesigned as Combat Rigs, allowing you to pick the rig that suited your playstyle.
14. Call of Duty: WWII - 2017 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
WWII was Sledgehammer’s second stab at CoD, with an entry that looked back rather than forward. This is most notable in the setting, the return of health and health packs, and a controversial plot that aimed to reveal more of WWII’s horrors than previous Call of Dutys. Multiplayer returned to the “boots-on-the-ground” experience last seen in Black Ops II, as the last three Call of Duty titles had featured a faster-paced combat. It also introduced War Mode, a narrative-driven experience that focuses on completing numerous different objectives, and loads of different classes to play as, each of which has a series of perks.
15. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII - 2018 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Last year’s Call of Duty was notable for being the first entry in the franchise not to include a single player campaign. This was to make way for the introduction of a battle royale mode, Blackout, in reaction to fierce competition from the likes of PUBG and Fortnite. Black Ops IIII consisted of three modes: Zombies, Multiplayer, and Blackout, and brought back Specialists, which feature various different play styles. Like WWII, automatic health regeneration was removed in favor of manual health regen, which helped make things more strategic. Weapons also used projectile damage rather than just hitscan, making combat more realistic, and could be attached with Operator Mods, which changed how the weapon performed.
16. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - 2019 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Which brings us right up to date with Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward’s reboot of the Modern Warfare franchise. It takes place in the modern day, with a greater focus on realism than ever before, with a campaign that doubles, if not triples, down on controversial themes of warfare today. Multiplayer aims to focus on realism, with larger maps and a HUD-removing Realism mode. Killstreaks also made a return instead of Scorestreaks, and two new modes were introduced: Ground War, which is a Battlefield-like large-scale multiplayer experience, and Gunfight, which is the direct opposite featuring just two teams of two.