Since its debut in 2003, Call of Duty has become the best-selling first-person shooter series in history. Not bad for a World War II FPS that emerged as Activision’s ambitious response to Medal of Honor, a franchise that has faded in relevance, but was once a monster of the genre for EA.
Of course, Call of Duty has two pillars: multiplayer and single player campaigns. And, hey, for those of us who aren’t willing to go to hell online and compete in the Call of Duty cauldron of combat, the quality of those campaigns is very important.
Which Call of Duty games have the best campaigns? Among IGN’s die-hard Call of Duty fans, we’ve put together a list of our favorite single-player stories, drawn from the franchise’s two-decade history.
These are top 10 call of duty campaigns for us.
10. Call of Duty: WWII
After nearly a decade off from the setting that kicked off the saga, Call of Duty’s return in 2017 was a homecoming party for the franchise, which directly named the game WWII. But this return to the roots, from the hand of Sledgehammer Games, is not exactly the experience of the Second World War that one would imagine. Instead, you’re greeted with a much more intimate story about Private “Red” Daniels and his squad, living through some of the most pivotal moments in the US 1st Infantry Division’s fighting since the invasion of Normandy to the Rhine. But while it strives to be a personal story, it never lets you forget that this is supposed to be a loud and bombastic Call of Duty game.
To this day, World War II boasts some of the most over-the-top sequences ever seen in the saga, from the collapse of the bell tower to the train crash – if you’re looking for thrills, you’re sure to find them. And while those moments of madness often make you forget about the war going on around you, WWII still has a lot of heart to give, especially when it ends with one of the most harrowing walks you’ll ever take in a video game.
9. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare marked a bold new direction for a series that needed to step out of its comfort zone. Gone were the slow-paced tactical missions, references to historical battles, and realistic weapons in favor of Exo suits, lasers, and a plethora of futuristic weaponry. The Advanced Warfare campaign was much more than a Call of Duty with lasers, thanks in part to its multidimensional villain Jonathan Irons and his exploration of the world of private military contractors, US interventionism and, as the name suggests, advanced warfare.
Beneath its flashy summer blockbuster action is a terrifying story about the dangers of private militarization that makes it a must-play for fans of the series or those looking for something different in action shooters.
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
The Black Ops saga has distinguished itself from Call of Duty by always trying something different with its campaigns. Although Black Ops Cold War resurrects some familiar faces with Mason and Woods, the story primarily focuses on newcomers Bell and Russell Adler and their stints at the CIA during one of the most critical moments of the Cold War.
The story explores some of the darkest moments in American intelligence history and mixes up the standard franchise formula by offering puzzles, branching paths, and even a weapons-trading mission for a bit of old-fashioned retro-espionage. . It’s a short walk through the end of the Cold War, but this entry in the Black Ops saga offers plenty of memorable moments that will keep you intrigued until the credits roll.
7. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare arrived at a time when gamers no longer wanted Call of Duty to be a fast-paced, epic space adventure, which is a shame, because under the hood is a well-written campaign shooter with some of the best interpretations of the saga. The plot itself is a bit stark: you play the newly promoted Reyes (played by Wolfenstein’s Brian Bloom), who has to lead the US Marines against the painfully evil SDF, led by Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington. But beyond that general story, he lives a personal story of friends who really love each other.
We’ve always said that Infinite Warfare is the Halo Reach of Call of Duty campaigns (if you know that, you know that), and it’s clear that this is the first character story above all else. But beyond that, the gameplay of the space adventure is still incredibly fun. From hacking robots to piloting Jackals in dog-faced space combat, Infinite Warfare is certainly one of the campaigns you should take a second look at if the almost-too-familiar setting turned you off the first time around.
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)
Rebooting one of the most beloved and essential games in a franchise as popular as Call of Duty is a risky move, but 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare pulls it off like few reboots have before. The gameplay feels fresh, and while its time-worn setting during a conflict in the Middle East wasn’t groundbreaking, the game boasts exceptional attention to detail with its presentation and one of the most memorable and realistic portrayals of a fast-paced infiltration. slow in an enemy base that we have seen in the saga so far.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019 is not only one of the best examples of how to reboot a saga right, but also an excellent installment in a franchise full of memorable campaigns.
5. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
At the time, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 was a much-needed breath of fresh air for the series as a whole and marked a fundamental change to Call of Duty. Black Ops 2 gives the player a bit more control over how they want the story to play out in the form of branching paths, optional objectives, and multiple endings. These elements combine to make this installment one of the most replayable and intriguing in the franchise.
Set partly in the late 1980s, when the Cold War was ending, and partly in 2025, during Cold War II, Black Ops 2 sees the return of Alex Mason and the introduction of his son, who appears in the segments from 2025. However, Black Ops 2 especially shines thanks to its main antagonist, Raúl Menéndez. He is much more than just another Call of Duty villain, but rather the tragic product of the Cold War. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a must-play for longtime fans or anyone looking for a shooter that relies a little more on creative storytelling than on shooting galleries and over-the-top action.
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Infinity Ward’s follow-up to their powerful leap into the modern era did not disappoint. It delivered exactly what gamers wanted: more, more, and more Modern Warfare. The fictional political theater just got more intriguing, we got to know Soap and Captain Price even better, and who DOESN’T remember that insane ending, where Shepherd stabbed you in the chest with a knife, only for you to push a button to remove it? from the chest and throw it into the eye in a final act of revenge. This Call of Duty campaign could not be missing.
3. Call of Duty 2
The original Call of Duty was an excellent first-person shooter created by Infinity Ward. Its founders had previously worked on Medal of Honor for EA. But Activision signed a contract with the new studio, and after the team’s first World War II campaign was a success, they set out to outdo themselves with the sequel, which was the first launch title for Xbox 360. The campaign, set back in WWII, was incredible, and the 360 was capable of rendering volumetric smoke effects so magnificent that the smoke grenades became as much a gameplay mechanic as a new next-gen tech toy. with which to play
The success of Call of Duty 2 helped Microsoft kick off the incredibly successful Xbox 360 era and ushered in a glorious new era of gaming in high definition, and at 60fps, no less.
2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
Call of Duty was already a hit before the arrival of Modern Warfare in 2007, but when the franchise’s fourth mainline game jumped from World War II to the modern era, it too went from blockbuster to blockbuster franchise. THE blockbuster saga. With this installment, Call of Duty became the number one first-person shooter, and with good reason. This campaign featured memorable heroes like Soap and Captain Price, and allowed us to experience incredible moments like the AC-130 gunship mission, escaping from a storm-ravaged freighter, being killed in a nuclear explosion, and that unforgettable finale in the one where you fire one last bullet.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
Call of Duty: Black Ops took the powerful first-person shooter franchise to the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam and beyond on an espionage-filled journey through the 1960s, bringing with it the franchise’s best campaign and its best soundtrack. Black Ops took you on a whirlwind journey that culminated in one of the coolest twists in any major game at the time, and certainly the biggest Call of Duty plot surprise we’ve seen before or since.
Treyarch, the “other” Call of Duty developer aside from series creators Infinity Ward, absolutely outdid themselves on this one, turning their work on the impressive World at War into a stealthy prologue to Black Ops and proving it deserved to be held in the same high esteem that Infinity Ward had always held. Black Ops has been a huge sub-franchise within the brand, and it all started here.
These are IGN’s most beloved Call of Duty campaigns, but what are yours? Do you still love United Offensive even though there’s very little chance that anyone under 30 knows what you’re talking about? Do you love Ghosts and are you willing to admit it in front of your friends and colleagues? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, check out IGN’s favorite Assassin’s Creed games and our top 10 open-world games of all time.