Call of Duty List of Games: History of COD Releases

Call of Duty Academy: 102

In this article, I will take an in-depth look at each Call of Duty game that has ever been released, and give information about the many aspects of each game. Call of Duty has taken a crazy journey in its 17-year history, and I document the changes made in each game and how that led us to the game we have today, Modern Warfare

Call of Duty

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Image Credit: Infinity Ward

The original Call of Duty game was released in 2003 and made by Infinity Ward. This game was a new type of single-player shooter, where the person playing controls a soldier within a unit, completing various missions in the setting of World War 2. The game varied from other shooter games such as Medal of Honor because the character in-game worked with others to complete the missions, rather than acting as a lone wolf.

Call of Duty has three parts to its campaign, where you can play as an American soldier, British soldier, and a Soviet soldier, trying to defeat the Axis powers. Each mission has a series of objectives that must be completed before moving on to the next mission.
There are two key features to Call of Duty that are not in the other Call of Duty games. One of them is that you do not regenerate health, and have to manually heal with a first-aid kit found on the map. The other unique feature is that players could save at any point throughout the campaign, regardless of where they were. In the following Call of Duty games, players have to reach a checkpoint to save their progress.

Call of Duty 2

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty 2 was released in 2005 and developed by Infinity Ward, and published by Activision. The setting for the game was once again WWII and offered a series of new missions from many different Allied soldiers.

Call of Duty 2 introduced a lot of features that are still key components to this day to the game series. One of those being regenerating health, and grenade icons that flash on your screen when there is an explosive near you, warning you to move.

Call of Duty 2 also introduced multiplayer to the series, where people could play online with other players. features several game types Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Capture the Flag and Headquarters. The maps include Normandy, Africa, and Russia. Each team can choose a variety of weapons, depending on the map. Players can choose between American soldiers, Soviet soldiers, and British soldiers for the Allied forces, while the Axis forces must play as German soldiers.

Call of Duty 3

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty 3 was released in 2006, and developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. In the campaign, the player chooses from an American, British, Canadian, or Polish soldier during the single-player campaign, for a total of 14 missions. Set in the Western Front of World War II, Call of Duty 3 takes place in the year 1944 and contains missions specific to four major Allied campaigns in the Battle of Normandy. The campaign was open-ended, meaning that the player could complete any mission they want at any given moment.

The game features a wide range of multiplayer modes for players to participate in. In the online matches, each lobby allows up to 24 on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, and 16 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in a single match. All team game modes feature the soldiers of the Allied nations versus those of the Axis.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was released in 2007 and developed by Infinity Ward. This is the first Call of Duty game to not be set in the WWII era, and rather have a modern-day setting. The game won the game of the year award in 2007 and was the highest-selling game that year.

For the campaign, the story takes place in 2011, where a radical leader has executed the president of an unnamed country in the Middle East, and a nationalist movement ignites a civil war in Russia. The conflicts are seen from the perspectives of a U.S. Force Reconnaissance Marine and a British SAS commando and are set in various locations, such as the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine.

The multiplayer portion of the game features various game modes and contains a leveling system that allows the player to unlock additional weapons, weapon attachments, and camouflages for their weapons as they advance. COD 4 features modern equipment and new features, many exclusive to multiplayer, such as “killstreaks”; killing several enemies without the player dying in between kills allows access to various assets including airstrikes and helicopter support to help your team.

As the player gains experience in multiplayer, they advance in level, unlocking new weapons, perks, challenges, and game modes. The highest obtainable level is 55, but the player has the option to enter Prestige mode, which returns their level to one and removes all accumulated unlockables. This process can be repeated up to 10 times with a different insignia being given each time.

Call of Duty: World At War

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: World At War was developed by Treyarch and released in 2008. The game returned the series to the WWII era and is the first installment of the Black Ops series. It is also the first game in the series to feature the popular game mode, Zombies.

Zombies is a survival game mode where a group of four players must battle against waves of zombies that only increase after each round. The game mode has no level cap, so a player plays until he succumbs to the Zombies eventually.

The narrative for the campaign focuses on the Pacific and Eastern Front theaters of World War II, involving the United States, Japan, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany. It is told from the perspectives of Marine Raider Private C. Miller, US Navy Petty Officer Locke, and Red Army soldier Private Dimitri Petrenko, and is based on several historical battles in WWII.

World at War’s multiplayer experience is similar to the one established in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. All versions of the game use a similar perk and ranking system and feature six multiplayer modes, including team deathmatch and capture the flag. Three killstreak rewards can be used to turn the tide of battle: a recon plane, showing opposing players on the mini-map; an artillery strike upon an area, and attack dogs, which spawn and attack opposing players. These are gained with 3, 5, and 7 kills, respectively. They are available in all game modes, apart from team survival, and cannot be edited.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released in 2009 and developed by Infinity Ward. The game is a continuation of the original Modern Warfare game and features the same characters in the campaign.

The campaign focuses on the hunt of Victor Makarov, the head of the Russian Nationalist Party. The game’s main playable characters are Sergeant Gary “Roach” Sanderson, of the 141, and Private James Ramirez, of the Army Rangers, with Captain Soap MacTavish becoming playable later in the campaign.

The Multiplayer side of MW2 is considered to be revolutionary for the Call of Duty series. It implemented a lot of new features to the series that remains to this point today. Each game type has an objective that requires different strategies to complete. If the player kills three or more players in a row without dying, they achieve a killstreak, which gives the player a tactical advantage during a match. These include a Predator missile, a sentry gun, and a tactical nuke. Alternatively, if the player dies several times without a kill, they will be rewarded with a death streak bonus, which evens the match for the player. A match ends when either a team or player has reached a predefined number of points, or the allotted time expires in which case the team or player with the most points wins.
The player’s performance in multiplayer is tracked with experience points, which can be earned by killing opposing players, completing objectives, or completing a match. As the player gains experience, they advance in level, unlocking new weapons. The player will also unlock perks, such as unlimited sprint and increased bullet damage.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops was developed by Treyarch and released in 2010. The game is a sequel to World At War and continues its storyline. The game also includes many of the improved multiplayer features from MW2 and brought back the popular Nazi Zombies mode from World at War.

Set in the 1960s during the Cold War, the game’s campaign follows CIA operative Alex Mason as he attempts to recall certain memories in combat to locate a numbers station. This station is due to transmit broadcasts to sleeper agents who are bound to use chemical weapons across the United States. Mason and CIA operative Jason Hudson are the game’s main characters, as well as Red Army soldier Viktor Reznov in the second mission. Locations featured in the game include Cuba, the Soviet Union, the United States, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam, and even the Arctic Circle.

Multiplayer in Black Ops continued to build on the success of the previous Call of Duty games. Black Ops retains the experience points and unlockable reward system that has been kept since Call of Duty 4. The games multiplayer focuses on socialization and customization. Create-a-Class allows enhanced personalization with appearance items as well as upgradable perks. Weapons are extensively customizable with writing, emblems, attachments, and camouflage painting. Even reticles can be modified.
There is more than one style for an attachment, which allows for a lot more personalized weaponry. For example, the player can choose between a red dot sight or a reflex sight, both of which share many of the same traits, although the red dot fills up less of the screen. Furthermore, face paints can be unlocked. New custom killstreak rewards include explosive R/C cars, guided missiles, and a controllable attack helicopter.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the only Call of Duty to be made by two developers, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games. The two companies worked side by side to release the 3rd installment of the Modern Warfare series in 2011. They built off the success of MW2 and did not change the game too much.

The game’s campaign follows Modern Warfare 2 and begins right after the events of its final mission. Similar to Modern Warfare 2, it is centered around the Task Force 141, which contains Captain Price, Soap MacTavish, and Yuri, one of the playable characters. Alongside the Delta Force and Special Air Service, they hunt Vladimir Makarov, a Russian terrorist who leads the Russian Nationalist party. He leads several terror attacks across Europe, triggering a large-scale war between the Nationalists and friendly forces.

In multiplayer, MW3 switched from killstreak rewards to pointstreak rewards. To get your streaks, you must obtain a certain amount of points in one life, which can be obtained by killing the enemy or completing a part of the objective. Pointstreak rewards are organized into three different strike packages called Assault, Support, and Specialist. The Assault strike package works the same as the Killstreak reward system in Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, the player must earn more and more points without dying. Once the player is killed, his or her points are reset to zero. Likewise, the Specialist strike package rewards players with perks after every second consecutive kill. Upon death, however, the player loses all the perks and the points are reset to zero. In contrast, the Support strike package is awarded based on the total points that the player has earned over the entire match, regardless of how often the player dies. It is important to note that if a player switches to a custom class with a different reward system during gameplay, all points are automatically reset to 0.

Other than that major switch, the multiplayer gameplay in MW3 largely mirrored MW2, with only a few minor changes. The game featured its own maps, as well as the map Terminal from MW2.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was released in 2012 as the third installment in the Black Ops series, and is a continuation of Black Ops.
The game’s campaign follows up the story of Black Ops and is set in the late 1980s and 2025. In the 1980s, the player switches control between Alex Mason and Frank Woods, the main characters from Black Ops, while in 2025, the player assumes control of Mason’s son, David. Both periods involve the characters pursuing Raul Menendez, a Nicaraguan cartel leader, who is responsible for kidnapping Woods in the 80s and later sparking a second Cold War in 2025. The campaign features nonlinear gameplay and has multiple endings.

One of the biggest changes added to multiplayer in Black Ops 2 is the introduction of Pick 10, a new system within the Create-a-Class menu. Pick 10 gives the player a total of 10 allocation slots in a class, which are used for guns, perks, grenades, etc. The player can choose to allocate the slots however they like, to either have more attachments for a gun, or more perks.

Killstreaks from the previous Call of Duty games are now Scorestreaks, which are now earned by gaining points, rather than kills. This allows the player to focus on objective modes and kills, which both earn points towards Scorestreaks.

Unlike past games, weapons in Black Ops 2 have a progression system, which is used to unlock weapon attachments. After maxing out a weapon’s level, the player can choose to prestige the gun, similar to how they can prestige the player level, and reset their attachment progress. In exchange, the player can customize their weapons with custom clan tags and emblems.

Black Ops 2 is also the first Call of Duty game to include a competitive mode. Known as League Play, the mode allows players of similar skill level to be matched together, and play according to the rules of Major League Gaming.

Black Ops 2 also continued the Zombies series for the 3rd consecutive Treyarch game. They introduced many new maps and modes while continuing the story of the main characters within the zombies game mode.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Ghosts was released in 2013 and is the 6th Call of Duty game made by Infinity Ward. The game begins its own story in the campaign mode while continuing the success of multiplayer from previous games.

In the Ghosts campaign, the story is mostly told through the eyes of a single character, Logan Walker. Players assume the role of Logan for most of the game, with several other playable characters, including an astronaut specialist named Baker, Sergeant Thompson, member of Icarus and Logan’s father, Elias Walker, with an all-new option to play as Riley, the first non-human playable character in the franchise.
Multiplayer was the main draw for Ghosts and received much better reviews than the campaign mode.

The multiplayer mode in Ghosts features changes from that of the previous Call of Duty games as some new mechanics have been added to it. Maps in the game have areas that can be altered or destroyed. There is a nuke-like kill streak from previous games, the KEM Strike. The sniper rifle scopes also have new “dual render technology” allowing the player to see around the outside of the scope (although blurred) when zoomed in. On October 3rd, 2013, a new multiplayer type was revealed, called Squads. This features a squad that the player can build and the player can face other squads around the world.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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Image Credit: Activision

The 11th Call of Duty took the Call of Duty franchise in a direction that was not traditional. In Advanced Warfare the game moved to new mechanics for player movement and a campaign set in the future. Advanced Warfare’s campaign was set in the 2050s and follows Jack Mitchell of the United States Marine Corps and his involvement with Atlas, a private military corporation that sells its services to the highest bidder.

The gunplay remains unchanged from the previous Call of Duty games, apart from new mechanics, such as ‘Exo’ movements. These Exo movements are performed from the Exoskeleton, which allows the player to boost, dash, and sky jump. The game is the first in the Call of Duty series that allows the player to choose different types of conventional weaponry. For example, the game features regular conventional firearms, but the player can choose to use a laser or directed energy weaponry, both of which have differing attributes. In addition to Exo movements, the game features different Exo abilities, such as Exo Cloak, which allows players to turn transparent for stealth for some time.

The Pick 10 system in Black Ops 2 returns as Pick 13, allowing players to pick weapons, attachments, perks, and score-streaks within a total of 13 allocation points. Advanced Warfare introduces weapon variants, which contain different stats compared to the base weapons. This allows the game to contain over 350 weapons, both variants, and the base versions. Supply drops allow players to earn new gears through playing the game. The content of each supply drop is randomized and can range from weapon variants to player customization items. Players can complete daily challenges to earn supply drops.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 was the 4th installment in the Black Ops series made by Treyarch. Black Ops 3 was also set in the future just like Advanced Warfare and featured advanced movement mechanics including sliding and boost jumping through the air for a limited time.
Black Ops 3 takes place in 2065, 40 years after the story in Black Ops 2, in a world facing upheaval from climate change and new technologies. Similar to its predecessors, the story follows a group of black ops soldiers. The game’s campaign is designed to support 4-player cooperative gameplay, allowing for bigger, more open level design and cooperative teamwork.

The multiplayer introduces a new momentum-based movement system, which utilizes thruster packs to allow players to perform boosts into the air, as well as perform wall running and sliding, all the while giving players complete gun control. In addition to the Pick 10 class system from Black Ops 2, Treyarch implemented a character system called Specialists, where players can pick from 9 different soldiers, each with either a special weapon or ability unique to them. A new Gunsmith feature offers aesthetic variations in weapon attachments, allowing various weapon customization combinations. The Paintshop feature allows players to create their custom prints onto specific portions of a gun, further emphasizing the depth of customization in the game.

Black Ops 3 also continued the popular Zombies series from the previous Black Ops games. They introduced a new campaign in Zombies while remastering old maps from Zombies in the previous Black Ops games.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

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Image Credit: Activision

Infinite Warfare is the 13th Call of Duty game in the series, and the 3rd game set in the future with advanced movement. This game is not popular among Call of Duty fans, who wanted a return to traditional Call of Duty with “boots on the ground” without advanced movement. The announcement trailer was noted for its strong negative reaction as it was the second-most disliked video on YouTube at the time.

The campaign is set in outer space and features zero-gravity environments. Players are equipped with a boost pack, and a grappling hook, which allows players to move in these zero-gravity environments easily. As the game is set in space, players can visit different planets, satellites, and asteroids in the solar system. The player controls Captain Nick Reyes, a Tier 1 Special Operations pilot, players engage in aerial combat with enemies using his transforming fighter, the Jackal.

Infinite Warfare introduced an overhaul to the class system called Combat Rigs. Similar to the Specialist system in Black Ops 3, there are six rigs in total, including Warfighter, Merc, FTL, Stryker, Phantom, and Synaptic. All of which have different payloads, weapons, abilities, and playstyles. For example, Synaptic is designed for players who prefer to run and gun, while Phantom is suited for players who want to play stealthily. Players can also gain access to several perks, known as Traits, which give players advantages in certain combat situations. Additionally, the game retains the chain-based momentum movement system of Black Ops 3, allowing players to perform thrust jumps, sliding, and wall-running.

Call of Duty: World War 2

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: World War 2 was released in 2017 and was developed by Sledgehammer Games. The game obviously returned the Call of Duty series to the World War 2 era, similar to some of the original Call of Duty games in the series. The game removed the advanced movement that was in the last three Call of Duty games and returned to back to a “boots on the ground” playstyle.

The campaign features missions set in the Western Front, Eastern Front, as well as Africa during WW2. It is the first title since the original game to not feature health regeneration in the campaign. Instead, players must find health packs scattered throughout levels, or rely on their medic squadmate to provide health packs.

In online multiplayer matches, players are randomly assigned either to Allies or Axis side. On the Allies side, players can play as soldiers in American, British, Soviet, or French Resistance armies. On the Axis side, players play exclusively as the Wehrmacht and not Waffen-SS to avoid glorifying Nazis. The game features weapons that were used in WW2 and has maps from iconic locations throughout the battlefields of the war. Instead of the usual create-a-class system, WW2 features Divisions. Players can choose one out of eight divisions, each with their own different basic combat training, division training, and weapon skills. Players need to progress through ranks in divisions to use additional perks, in addition to a global perk system called Basic Training.

WW2 also features Headquarters mode, which acts as a social space in the game. The hub is set on Omaha Beach in Normandy. 48 players can be in the Headquarters at a time and take part in various activities. Players can watch other players open loot boxes while in the Headquarters. There is a firing range in the hub, where all players can practice their shooting skills with all weapons, as well as a field where they can test scorestreaks.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was released in 2018 and was the 6th game released by Treyarch. Black Ops 4 is the first game in the entire series to not feature a single-player mode, and only had Multiplayer, Zombies, and a Battle Royale mode, which was brand new to Call of Duty.

Black Ops 4’s multiplayer features the return of Specialists, with special abilities and traits. At launch, the game features a total of ten Specialists, six of which (Ruin, Prophet, Battery, Seraph, Nomad, Firebreak) are returning characters from Black Ops 3, while the other four (Recon, Ajax, Torque, Crash) are new additions. Unlike Black Ops 3, the game allows only two unique Specialist per team, to emphasize the role of each character.

Automatic health regeneration is removed in favor of a manual healing system with each player having a health bar, weapons are now given predictive recoil patterns, and a mixed ballistic system, using both hitscan and projectile damage. Weapon customization is also emphasized, allowing for personalization of players’ loadout. Attachments are also given tiers, with tier-2 upgrades providing even bigger improvements to the weapons. Certain weapons also offer Operator Mods, which significantly change how a weapon works, while costing a significant portion of the 10 customization slots per class.

The Zombies game mode took the series in a new direction, featuring a new story full of Easter Eggs. It featured new characters with special abilities and weapons. They have new maps and bosses on these maps, meaning the map could be beaten.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

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Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is the latest installment in the Call of Duty series and is the 19th game of the series. The game takes place in a modern setting with modern military equipment. They introduced an entirely new engine for the game, which allows for new performance upgrades such as more detailed environments and ray-tracing technology.

The campaign follows a CIA officer and British SAS forces as they team up with rebels from the fictional country of Urzikstan, combating together against Russian forces who have invaded the country. The game’s Special Ops mode features cooperative play missions that follow up the campaign’s story. There has been a backlash against the campaign because of its negative portrayal of Russia and the Russian army.
The games multiplayer has been revised to allow for a more tactical gameplay style, including a focus on door breaching, and a “Realism” mode that removes the HUD. The mini-map was originally removed in favor of a compass-style marker, with visual cues to detect both friendlies and opponents. Following feedback from the multiplayer beta, Infinity Ward re-implemented the mini-map but removed the appearance of red dots representing enemy players, which has been a staple of Call of Duty.

Modern Warfare also has a battle royale game mode, called Warzone. The mode features 150 players, battling either in teams of four, three, or solo. Warzone is r a free standalone game that can be downloaded independently. The map combines several locations featured prominently in Multiplayer and Special Ops modes. Weapon balancing is maintained with parity to Multiplayer modes, except for higher headshot damage to reward aiming. Similar to other battle royale games, Warzone also features looting as a core aspect, but weapon customization is limited as players can only pick up weapon variants with preset, unchangeable attachments. Upon dying, players have a second chance at life by battling another in an arena called the Gulag. If you win the Gulag, you return to the map, and if you lose you are out of the game. You get one Gulag appearance per Warzone game.

GameYear ReleasedLead DeveloperGames sold
Call of Duty2003Infinity Ward4,500,000
Call of Duty 22005Infinity Ward6,000,000
Call of Duty 32006Treyarch7,200,000
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare2007Infinity Ward15,700,000
Call of Duty: World At War2008Treyarch15,600,000
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 22009Infinity Ward25,020,000
Call of Duty: Black Ops2010Treyarch31,000,000
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 32011Infinity Ward/ Sledgehammer Games30,970,000
Call of Duty: Black Ops 22012Treyarch29,600,000
Call of Duty: Ghosts2013Infinity Ward28,800,000
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare2014Sledgehammer Games21,780,000
Call of Duty: Black Ops 32015Treyarch26,720,000
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare2016Infinity Ward13,360,000
Call of Duty: World War 22017Sledgehammer Games19,820,000
Call of Duty: Black Ops 42018Treyarch25,660,000
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare2019Infinity WardN/A

Which Call of Duty game in the illustrious series is your favorite? Do you prefer modern boots on the ground games, like the last three Call of Duty games released, or the futuristic era that preceded it? Or are you a fan of the classics, and have nostalgia and memories on the old games growing up? Let me know!

I am a journalism major at Michigan State entering my 3rd year. I aspire to be a sports writer covering college basketball or the NBA. In my free time, I watch as many sports as I can, play video games, and watch eSports.

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