To say that Call of Duty is an important piece of video game history would be an understatement. It’s hard to think of first-person shooters (or even action games in general) without mentioning this series, which became one of the most successful works in media after revolutionizing single-player campaigns and online battles.
For decades, the multiplayer scene has been partially dominated by this franchise, with entries that have explored several war conflicts both from our past and possible future. Apart from creating iconic characters in the genre, like Captain Price and Alex Mason, the series has also introduced unexpected figures to their lines, like Spawn, Snoop Dogg, Lionel Messi, and more.
- How to play in chronological order
- How to play by release date
How Many Call of Duty Games Are There?
Due to quite a few subseries, a reboot, and many studios that have worked or are working in the series, it can be a bit troublesome to determine how many Call of Duty games have been released.
If we consider only the main entries, including all the World War II titles, the Modern Warfare series and its reboot, and the Black Ops series, there are 19 video games in the franchise. 20 if you add the upcoming Modern Warfare III.
However, things get complicated when you add all the expansions, online experiences, mobile games, and spin-offs. For example, Call of Duty: United Offensive is an expansion of the first title, while Call of Duty: Finest Hour and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One are side stories of the first two entries.
Some spin-offs include the strategy games Call of Duty: Siege launched in 2016, based on Infinite Warfare’s universe, Call of Duty: Heroes, released in 2014, or the mobile version of Call of Duty: Black Ops. In fact, many main entries have significantly different editions for their mobile and portable titles when compared to the major console releases. Examples of this are PS Vita’s Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified and DS’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Defiance.
Then there’s the Chinese free-to-play Call of Duty Online, released in 2015 and shut down in 2021. 2019’s Call of Duty Mobile took its place, becoming an entry that it’s still running today.
The unique Zombies modes have become a staple of the series since their first inclusion in 2008’s World at War, and they have appeared in multiple entries since then.
Finally, the franchise entered the Battle Royale and Live Service genres with Warzone, launched in 2020, which became a huge success from the very beginning. Two years later, it was replaced by Warzone 2.0, a complete overhaul of the game’s map and experience.
As a side note, Call of Duty also joined the comic business with some issues based on Zombies, the Black Ops subseries, and Vanguard.
To avoid confusion, it’s worth mentioning that the reboot of the Modern Warfare series will be numbered with Roman numbers. Also, Black Ops 4 is not added to the list below for its lack of campaign (it’s a multiplayer-only experience).
Call of Duty Games in Chronological Order
Beware of minor spoilers for the stories, characters, and relevant events of each game in the list below.
1. Call of Duty (2003)
The franchise’s birth was developed by Infinity Ward and published in 2003. Set in World War II, this would be the first of many entries in the series to focus on this historical event, following the steps of other household names like Medal of Honor.
In the first Call of Duty, you get to play three different campaigns as different soldiers from three countries: the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
The North American soldier, Private Martin, starts his training in 1942 and participates in the invasion of Normandy in 1944, while the British Sergeant Evans fights in Operation Tonga in the same year. Evans will later be helped by Captain Price, a recurrent name in the franchise. On the other hand, the Soviet Alexei Ivanovich Voronin’s campaign takes place in the Battle of Stalingrad.
2. Call of Duty 2 (2005)
The sequel of the original title repeats the settings and nations but with some different perspectives. For example, instead of three campaigns now you get to experience four with one North American soldier, one from the Soviet Union, and two from Britain.
As Private Vasili Koslov, you’ll have to defend Moscow from Nazi German soldiers, while North American Bill Taylor joins the army that assaults La Pointe du Hoc, in the famous D-Day. The British soldiers, Sergeant John Davis and David Welsh participated in the conflict in North Africa. Davis is led by Captain Price.
3. Call of Duty: World at War (2008)
A few years after Call of Duty 3, the team at Treyarch came back and delivered their last entry based on the conflict that the series has been breathing off since its beginnings. This time, however, the campaign was only divided into two fronts: North American and Soviet forces.
You follow American Marine Private C. Miller in the Makin Island raid in 1942, and later in the Battle of Peleliu, which confronted American forces with the Japanese army. The Soviet battle takes place in the Battle of Stalingrad, but this time on the Eastern Front and fill the boots of Private Dimitri Petrenko.
4. Call of Duty 3 (2005)
The first main game in the series not to be developed by Infinity Ward, Call of Duty 3 was Treyarch’s first attempt at recreating World War II events.
Taking place specifically in 1944, armies from Britain, Poland, the United States, Canada, and France fight against the Nazi German forces in the village of Chambois, France during the Battle of Normandy.
This is the only main entry that you cannot play on a PC.
5. Call of Duty: WWII (2017)
After almost a decade and a half of the first game, studio Sledgehammer Games would return the franchise to World War II. However, this will be the first time in the main series that there’s only one protagonist in the whole campaign: Ronald “Red” Daniels, accompanied by his loyal squad. As Red, you’ll fight Nazi German forces across the European theater of War, from Normandy to Germany.
While this game has some brief flashback sequences in 1940, which would set it as the first game in the series chronologically, the core of the title takes place in 1944.
6. Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021)
In the last entry set in World War II, developer Sledgehammer Games tried one more time to bring Call of Duty to its roots and explore this historical event from a different glass.
Contrary to 2017’s WWII, you are presented with multiple characters on different fronts, such as the Eastern and Western Front. The main objective is to know more about Phoenix, a secret Nazi project that could change the tide of war in favor of Nazi Germany.
Vanguard also has flashback sequences for the different protagonists starting in 1941, but the majority of the campaign is set in 1945, near the end of the war.
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
After two big entries, developer Treyarch changed eras and tried something new with Black Ops. Going through 1961 to 1968, you’ll experience the events of the Cold War and part of the Vietnam War for the first time in the series.
Your main protagonist, Alex Mason, works with the CIA and is tasked to remember events that would help find Soviet sleeper agents. These agents are around the United States, and they plan to release a dangerous chemical weapon called Nova 6.
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (2020)
Developed both by Treyarch and Raven Software, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War helps to connect the original Black Ops and Black Ops 2. While the main protagonist this time is nicknamed “Bell”, you actually get to choose your own name, gender, and other details like dialogue lines.
Set in 1981, you’ll also see the faces of previous games, as Alex Mason, Frank Woods, and Jason Hudson will group up with you. Under CIA’s Russell Adler, your elite team is supposed to catch a Soviet figure that goes by “Perseus” who is planning an attack to the United States.
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)
The sequel to the original Black Ops presents two timelines: on the first one, you follow Alex Mason’s footsteps several years after he and his team successfully stopped Nova 6. It’s 1986, and Jason Hudson asks Mason to aid with the search for Frank Woods, who disappeared in Cuando Cubango, Angola.
The second timeline is centered around David Mason, Alex’s son, who’s looking for Raul Menendez in 2025. Menendez is the leader of Cordis Die, a terrorist organization that provoked the Second Cold War.
10. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
The last entry to have a number after “Call of Duty”, Modern Warfare is the first time the series abandoned its classic Allies vs Axis conflict for something more recent.
In 2011, Yasir Al-Fulani, the president of some fictional country from the Middle Eastern, was executed by Khaled Al-Asad, the leader of a revolutionary party. Meanwhile, around the globe, Russia is going through a civil war provoked by Imran Zakhaev, an arms dealer.
A squad commanded by Captain Price and formed by protagonist John “Soap” MacTavish and other characters will have to work to stop an international crisis.
11. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Five years after the events of the previous game, Modern Warfare 2 tells the story of Vladimir Makarov, an Ultranationalist who continues the work of Imran Zakhaev. It turns out that this extremist party gained control of Russia, so Makarov gained the power to start committing terrorist acts against the United States.
Well-known faces like the recently named Captain Soap and Captain Price will join forces with Sergeant Gary “Roach” Sanderson, Lieutenant Simon “Ghost” Riley, “Nikolai”, and other agents to stop Makarov’s secret plan.
12. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)
The end of the first trilogy, the pursuit of terrorist Vladimir Makarov comes to its climax with Modern Warfare 3. Captain Price’s team re-arranges itself with Yuri, an ex-Spetsnaz known by Nikolai. Captain John “Soap” MacTavish is also present for the final mission.
Makarov captures Boris Vorshevsky, the president of Russia, who was going to establish peace with the United States. After threatening the president’s daughter, Makarov acquired nuclear launch codes, becoming an international danger once again.
13. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare I (2019)
In 2019, Infinity Ward decided to reboot the successful Modern Warfare series by re-using some classic characters in a new timeline. Well-known faces like Captain Price are present in a new conflict with Russia.
Set in the same year it was released, a fictional republic that goes by the name of Urzikstan is invaded by a Russian army. While this attack is going on, a terrorist organization called Al-Qatala, also from Urzikstan, begins with operations against different countries in the world. Captain Price, alongside his classic Task Force 141 and the Urzikstan Liberation Force, will try to de-escalate the conflict.
14. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022)
Also taking place in 2022, Modern Warfare II follows the story of the reboot, featuring returning characters from Task Force 141 and the Urzikstan Liberation Force leader Farah Karim.
Al-Qatala is still a threat, but all eyes are on Quds Force, an Iranian revolutionary group commanded by Hassan Zyani. Zyani works supported by Al-Qatala and the cartel of a Mexican fictional city called Las Almas, and plans terrorist acts against the United States after the assassination of General Ghorbrani, an Iranian forces leader.
15. Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013)
A standalone entry with little to no connections to previous titles, Call of Duty Ghosts was developed by Infinity Ward in 2013. As its name indicates, it was focused on the special operation group called Ghosts, a US team tasked with secret missions.
It’s 2027, and after a decade of conflicts in the Middle East and an oil crisis, a South American force called the Federation of the Americas initiated a war against the United States. Working with your new team, you’ll have to stop Gabriel T. Rorke, the former leader of Ghosts.
16. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014)
Advanced Warfare was the first entry to take place several decades from its release date. Also, it was the first game developed by Sledgehammer Games, a studio that would later take back Call of Duty to older times.
Set in 2054, you control Jack Mitchell, a member of the United States Marine Corps who will later fight in the private military corporation known as Atlas after suffering an accident. On this occasion, the enemy forces are Chechenian, a separatist group called KVA led by Joseph “Hades” Chkheidze.
It was one of the first entries to feature strong changes in the gameplay due to its futuristic setting, like the fact that soldiers now wear Exoskeletons, which bring them unique abilities.
17. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015)
The end of the initial Black Ops trilogy made by the studio Treyarch got a final part set in the future. More specifically, in the year 2065, when a Third Cold War between the Common Defense Pact and the Winslow Accord is happening. Robotic drones, cyborg supersoldiers, unpiloted air forces, and other technological advancements take the center stage in this war.
One more time, a black ops team composed of you (simply referred to as “The Player”), Jacob Hendricks, and your cybernetics division will be tasked to prevent the conflict from reaching a more dangerous state. You’ll have to investigate a strange event in Singapore, and look out for the 54 Immortals, a crime organization.
18. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016)
No Call of Duty game went further in time than Infinite Warfare. While the latest Black Ops took place in not-so-distant futures and reinforced this with special vehicles and equipment, Infinite Warfare raised the bar by taking the conflict to outer space.
Around the 2080’s, the United Nations Space Alliance was created after humans had spent all the natural resources available on Earth. Beginning the colonization and exploitation of resources on other planets, this alliance is defended by the Solar Associated Treaty Organization, a military force that battles the totalitarian regime Settlement Defense Front from Mars.
How to Play the Call of Duty Games By Release Date
- Call of Duty (2003)
- Call of Duty 2 (2005)
- Call of Duty 3 (2006)
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
- Call of Duty: World at War (2008)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015)
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016)
- Call of Duty: WWII (2017)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare I (2019)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (2020)
- Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023)
What’s Next for Call of Duty?
At the time of writing these lines, fans of the series are still waiting for the release of the next entry, Modern Warfare III, which will launch on November 10 and close the reboot trilogy.
Meanwhile, Warzone 2.0 keeps getting frequent updates for its user base of millions of players, and Warzone Mobile is expected to be launched soon. It is yet to be seen if the series will jump into other media like TV series or movies, since Stefano Sollima’s film was announced a couple of years ago but never produced.
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Author: Jacob Kienlen