Artwork for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Image Source: Activision

All 19 Call of Duty Campaigns, Ranked from Zero to War Hero

Where next will a Call of Duty campaign take us?

Call of Duty is a franchise that is older than a portion of its current player base and over its 20-year tenure it has spawned several banger games, has redefined the FPS genre, and innovated with each installment. The franchise has spent time in the sixties, among the trenches of World War 2, the streets of Paris, and the Skies of Jupiter, there are very few places these campaigns have yet to bring us.

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However, all Call of Duty campaigns are not created equally so here we ranked each one of them for your viewing pleasure.

19. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Black Ops 4 Titlecard
Image Credit: Activision

Black Ops 4 finds itself at our dead last spot for one simple reason: it had no campaign.

There was no true narrative flowing through Black Ops 4. Instead, it had solo missions for the player to complete as a substitute. These specialist missions had some semblance of a ‘story’, but were completely absent of a narrative and any world or character building that makes it a complete joke compared to the rest of the series.

At the time of its release, Black Ops 4 saw a heavy amount of backlash from the player base due to its cancellation of the campaign. This was Treyarch’s first move to a live-service theme with the addition of Blackout, a Battle Royale mode, and constant updates to Zombies.

Thankfully, the absence of a campaign did not plague any of the future Call of Duty installments.

18. Call of Duty: Vanguard

CoD Vanguard female soldier
Image Credit: Activision

So forgettable, Activision threw the attempt into the bin and moved to the remaster trilogy.

Vanguard was the first Call of Duty game in a long while to introduce brand new characters and plot, with the Advanced Warfare duology being the last notable example. It introduced the worlds first Special Forces unit with a member hailing from one of the four major Allied countries. Britain, Australia, USA and Russia. The comradery is nice in the moment, but seems forced and exhausting soon after.

But where an effort was made, it is evident in the campaign’s short length, forgettable moments, and characters that this story was nothing special. There are decidedly too few exciting moments in this title. The fun that could be had from the story was thanks more to Vanguard’s gunplay, which was at an all-time high and translated into a more enjoyable experience in the campaign.

Even the developer, Activision, saw no future in the characters or world of Vanguard so is there any wonder why players ignore this entry too?

17. Call of Duty 3

Call of Duty 3 Allied Tank
Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty 3 is a strange game to rank, it had all the bells and whistles of its predecessor but still fell short in the campaign department.

Nothing of true excitement occurred during Call of Duty 3, causing this title to feel less important as a consequence. Sure, we were able to drive a car on a very specific track, but there was a real absence of the magic that Call of Duty 2 had. There was no epic conflict that will stick with us for years to come.

The characters in 3 were all forgettable except Doyle too, and while the fury of its combat elevated the experience overall, there was nothing else that kept you around. I find it hard to rank higher due to the better stories on offer in the franchise.

Due to its lack of polish, forgettable characters, and locales, it finds itself among the worst campaigns on our list.

16. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

Call of Duty Black Ops 3
Image Credit: Activision

Black Ops 3 was a strange addition to the series, at least when it came to its campaign.

It arrived with plenty of hype behind it, as both BO1 and BO2 were massive hits with the players who were excited to see Treyarch’s next story. Strangely enough though, BO3 was not a continuation of the previous story and has no outward ties to those narratives. The psychotropic adventure through what is real and what is not holds some interest as a general narrative. Maybe if this title wasn’t headered with Call of Duty, it could have found its place as its own story. But this was a Call of Duty game and more importantly, Black Ops.

Treyarch decided to launch Black Ops 3 with repetitive gameplay except for a few scenes and no ties to the previous story. This left a bad taste for the players who were eager to witness the culmination of their favorite characters’ stories.

Going in with no expectations, and forgetting the world-building and characters of BO1 and 2, you may find an interesting story. But for those who have experienced the sequels, it will undoubtedly leave you disappointed with this title.

15. Call of Duty: WW2

Call of Duty World War 2
Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty WW2 is the first call-back to traditional games of the franchise, moving away from the future and the Cold War to good old-fashioned World War 2.

Sadly, despite the tenure of exploring this time frame, WW2 was a short and uninspired story. The action was there, and with a slight boost of nostalgia, it holds up better than some Call of Duty games. The graphics are incredible, that’s for sure, but a story that only banks on the movie-like visuals is not enough to rank it higher.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a game that rivals WaW or Call of Duty 2, it won’t scratch that itch. The series’ return to the timeless classic of WW2 is strangely fast-paced and causes it to feel less tense and negatively impacts the atmosphere. The campaign is very much movie-like and while that isn’t the worst thing in the world, it can be labeled as too Hollywood. Fans of WaW or Call of Duty 2 will find the campaign lacking the grit and raw emotion that propelled the former titles to such heights. This more movie-like direction does allow for a more detailed look at a squad trying to survive the horrors of war, one of the major plusses of the WW2 story.

The many aspects of war do shine in the right places, and those that love the World War 2 setting will find an enjoyable experience. But so many others will play through the story only to forget its characters and plot soon after.

14. Call of Duty: Ghosts

Call of Duty Ghosts soldier with Riley
Image Credit: Activision

Alright, stay with me here for a second. Call of Duty Ghosts wasn’t that bad; in fact, it was rather good.

It is appropriately named the Black Sheep of the franchise and I believe that its initial reception clouded the judgment of the player base. Ghosts takes the conflict of war but instead of setting it in the overused East, sets the goalposts squarely in the south. A federation of South American nations rises to overthrow the northern hemisphere. A breath of fresh air.

Ghosts character based storyline is completely thrown out of the window by the second half in favor of gun-toting violence and back-to-back gunfight missions, which is a real shame. Before the half-way point we are invested in the two brothers’ story, but Infinity Ward drops the ball. To top it all off, Activision has no desire to rehash the story in Ghosts 2, so for those that played the campaign will forever be stuck on that cliffhanger.

All in all, Ghosts was released with community backlash which overshadowed this hidden gem of a story and while it has its issues, it is much more than the hate it received. There are whispers around Call of Duty Ghosts at all times with people, like me, imploring players to realize that it wasn’t as bad as the common rhetoric proposed.

13. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)

Modern Warfare 2 2022
Image Credit: Activision

Modern Warfare 2 (2022) attempts to do the unthinkable… remaking one of the best Call of Duty games in the last 20 years.

Continuing the story from the previous Modern Warfare (2019) and the general inclusion of such fan-favorite characters already pushes this game above many in the series, especially considering the overall polish. The story also emphasizes tactics and strategy, putting you in the shoes of a soldier who approached combat in an incredibly realistic way. The series has found its apex as a cinematic artistic style too, featuring many cutscenes with wonderfully rendered visuals.

And yet Modern Warfare 2’s campaign does little to pave new ground, it lacks innovations that even Black Ops 3 attempted and is far too comfortable rehashing old Call of Duty triumphs. There were no real standouts to its missions or any moment that would ever rival the game’s original namesake. It generally beats the previous entries on this list due to Captain Price and Soap being incredibly deep characters. Remastering one of the most beloved games of all time is risky enough, but doing it while forgetting many of the core guns and maps of the namesake is bizarre and without an answer.

The campaign is the second step in the trilogy and with Modern Warfare 3 on the horizon, it is worth the experience even if it’s just once.

12. Call of Duty

Call of Duty 2003
Image Credit: Activision

This is the game that started it all. It’s the domino that set in motion a series with 19 installments and a 20th fast approaching.

Call of Duty will not surprise players as it is the foundation of the formula that has since been stretched and molded across many games. It’s difficult to make a good judgment on Call of Duty since by our standards the game is so heavily outdated that low graphics, clunky, difficult, and even unfair are common phrases. It has all the Call of Duty zest and the building blocks that will eventually form the rest of the franchise, but little else.

That absence is in and of itself a charm, as we can see the budding work of a developer still finding its way, showing off some rough edges that have been lost in more recent entries. There are no loadouts here, no fancy guns or action-packed Hollywood movie sequences, instead, we have a grounded down-to-earth narrative.

Call of Duty’s story is still worth a playthrough despite its age. The story has a raw intensity that is only matched by a few Call of Duty games, and for that reason alone should be given respect.

11. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Modern Warfare 3 streets of Paris
Image Credit: Activision

The final culmination of the Modern Warfare storyline and the last time we see Captain Price, Soap, and Task Force 141, there’s definitely some merit to what the original Modern Warfare 3 offered.

Infinity Ward had a real burden when faced with the closing game to their best trilogy, and they handled it relatively well. The narrative in MW3 holds up today and is generally good throughout. Many moments in the story will stick with you for years to come, which is bolstered by the fact that it incorporates characters from the previous two games. To give credit where credit is due, MW3 had large boots to fill, and it did deliver on emotional gut punches after emotional gut punches with quite a badass race to the finish.

With that said though, the game’s campaign still falters in key areas. There are twists and turns and some tragic scenes, but somehow it felt a little too impersonal. Not to mention that, after all is said and done, the ending and general journey through MW3 is lackluster. The characters do not feel like they have a conclusive and satisfying ending to everything they’ve gone through.

Infinity Ward does a decent job tying off the trilogy, but critical players will feel a little letdown. We just wish that they put as much effort into the campaign as they did with the multiplayer.

10. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare SHG
Image Credit: Activision

Advanced Warfare at the 10th spot?! Yes. And I will stick to my guns on this, as the campaign of AW is surprisingly competent.

The story explores the potential dangers of private military contractors and general mercenary companies that can affect the political landscape. The main villain Jonathan Irons is one of the more memorable main antagonists too. He’s initially presented to the player as a good man at first, and the grey line he walks is an interesting narrative tool that adds to his multidimensional character. By the time you figure out that Irons and his PMC Atlas are the main antagonistic forces in Advanced Warfare, it’s too late. But fear not, as the good guys are always right around the corner.

But while the characters are well made, many of the game’s missions turn into a lot of dumb fun when not anchored by Irons or narrative beats. This is due to overall setting of Advanced Warfare, the sudden surge in tech doesn’t feel earned, you’re just given crazy futuristic gadgets without explanation, so you’re free to bounce through each level without a care in the world.

Still, Advanced Warfare is a cool dive through Infinity Ward’s first adventure into a fully future tech story that takes many risks that either flounder or have a heavy payoff.

9. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Black Ops Cold War Frank Woods
Image Credit: Activision

Cold War was the first campaign in a while that hit the player with enough uniqueness that it could be recommended without mention of its multiplayer or other features.

The story is, as you can imagine, set at the tail end of the Cold War between America and Russia. The characters introduced in this gem are largely new except for a few familiar faces like Mason and Woods, and players follow the actions of Bell and Adler.

The game also offers unique twists on the formula, ranging from the introduction of puzzles to the addition of branching pathways. There is even a segment where we holster our weapons and dress up as the best spies in the business. As for the writing and core story, it was filled with espionage and intrigue with a healthy amount of unclear end goals. Players can expect their time spent playing the campaign to include plenty of second guessing themselves, wondering who the real antagonist is and what their end goal may be.

Still, we are given another Hollywood drama that while good on its delivery, isn’t impactful enough for it to land higher on our list. Other titles simple deliver a narrative in a more digestible way or have the player hooked from the start, where as Cold War stops and starts its tension far too often.

Cold War has a good campaign and while it may only score middling on this list, that just shows the strengths of the upcoming entries rather than the weakness of this title.

8. Call of Duty: World at War

World at War Campaign
Image Credit: Activision

The very last foray into World War 2 for the early franchise, Call of Duty’s send-off to World War 2 is almost perfect.

Memorable characters ooze from this story. From the beginning, we are faced with a Japanese Officer putting us through some rough torture, but before the knife hits your neck Sargent Roebuck saves your life. Voiced by Kiefer Sutherland and a mainstay as your adventure as Private Miller. On the opposite side of the front, we are with a familiar Vicktor Reznov and Dimitri Petrenko as the pair are the only ones to survive the massacre at a fountain in Stalingrad and must stealthily avoid German soldiers amidst the bodies of fallen allies.

We bounce around from France to Germany, from the perspectives of different soldiers of America and Russia. The true meaning of war, its atmosphere, and the unsureness around every corner is palpable. Moving around in the trenches as flames fly across your head, or treading through a misty forest as the Japanese kamikaze into your face; World at War has it all.

We will all remember hoisting the Red Army flag above Reichstag while Reznov encourages us and the Russian soldiers cheer for victory. Truly an experience that deserved a playthrough.

7. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019)

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019
Image Credit: Activision

After the disaster that was Vanguard, Infinity Ward set its sights on remastering the Modern Warfare trilogy, starting with Call of Duty 4.

It was a bold move to reignite these beloved games, but thankfully they did the game justice. Modern Warfare (2019) injected its flavor into the campaign despite the overused setting of the Middle East. We follow Soap MacTavish, Captain Price, Simon ‘Ghost’ Riley, and the creation of Task Force 141.

Modern Warfare has one of the most detailed and perceptive segments of stealth and infiltration in any first-person shooter. And that is the general vibe to the remaster: It is an incredibly detailed experience with a graphical fidelity that will stun some players.

This game is a reboot, that I understand, but when I played through the campaign, I felt that the characters I grew up loving were taking a backseat to the conflict. They were rarely instigators like in the original games, Price was always the driving force and to see him take a hands-off approach to some scenes and even in-mission dialogue hurts this narrative for me.

In the end, the reboot is a good campaign, but fans of the original characters may find themselves irked by that lack of agency. Those coming into the game with no preconceptions will find a realism-focused gem that plays out like a movie.

6. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Infinite Warfare Ship to Ship Combat
Image Credit: Activision

Infinite Warfare at number 6 may anger or relieve players, as many will remember this game’s reveal trailer was one of the most hated YouTube videos at the time. But despite the player’s reaction to the reveal trailer, Infinite Warfare has the single best campaign to come out of a new setting since Black Ops.

Game of Thrones’ own Kit Harrington was the star of Infinite Warfare, playing Admiral Salen Kotch as he led the Settlement Defense Force against the UNSA in the war for the solar system. Unlike many campaigns, IW had memorable characters, great dialogue, and a real sense of comradery that many installments didn’t quite match. It is no understatement to say that if this game released without the Call of Duty header and some extra mechanics, it would have been a hit all on its own. You will remember these characters, you will think fondly of their journey across the solar system and their tense fights together.

The gunplay is potentially the worst part of this entry, none of the weapons stood out and felt very basic when compared to the setting of outer space. Infinity Ward may have been held back by the reception of Advanced Warfare’s tech and never truly leaped into Star Wars-like fiction.

Infinite Warfare suffers generally from the community sentiment that held the game back, and whether or not they were correct, the story and characters will stay in your mind. We will never forget you, Ethan.

5. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Black Ops 2 Frank Woods
Image Credit: Activision

Black Ops 2 was the first entry into the series that changed the formula. For the first time, we had branching plotlines, optional objectives to complete, and different endings to experience.

This breath of fresh air was needed if it had any hope of matching Black Ops 1 for its innovations. BO2 was the first in the franchise to introduce futuristic tech and weapons, and with hindsight, regarding the community’s opinion on the sci-fi theme, it’s a surprise this installment performed so well. Whether you regard this title as the one that began the downfall of later science fiction games, do not pass this game up as you’ll be missing a core step in the Black Ops storyline.

In Black Ops fashion the campaign was told with exceptional pacing and intense plot points. We start in 2025 with Mason’s son and his fight against Raul Menendez, but amidst that plotline, we are greeted with fan-favorite Frank Woods and his recollection of why Raul became a terrorist.

The depth of the narrative in Call of Duty Black Ops 2 fills the boots of its predecessor and anyone who enjoyed the first Black Ops storyline will find another marvelous story to experience right here.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

MW2 2009
Image Credit: Activision

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 will forever live on in our minds. There has yet to be a more complete experience in a CoD game.

Modern Warfare 2’s magic is contained in the continuation of Price, Ghost, Soap, and the 141 Task Force gang. As T141 hunts Makarov across the world the story deepens with betrayals that to this day, still hold a place in our memory.

This is the peak of Infinity Ward’s design, pacing, plot, and characters. The campaign was masterfully done with missions that offered variety, locales across the world and a surprising villain that shocked the fanbase. There was very little this game did wrong in the campaign department, small nitpicks can be found if someone looked hard enough but even to this day the narrative holds up to modern expectations.

Do not be the person who has to admit they have never played this masterpiece.

3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2007)

MW 2007
Image Credit: Activision

The game that modernized the Call of Duty formula and arguably propelled the franchise to the highest heights. Is there any wonder its so high on this list?

Before this point, the franchise was decidedly stuck in the past recreating historical events and generally fighting nothing but Nazis or the Japanese. As the name suggests, Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes the series to the current age with a fictional political war between the West and Russia.

This is the first time we hear the phrase, ‘What kind of name is Soap?’ and it hits hard every time. Captain Price, Soap MacTavish, Simon ‘Ghost’ Riley, and the Task Force 141 gang have been household names since their introduction in CoD 4. We were first in line for some of the most memorable scenes in gaming history thanks to Call of Duty 4. Modern Warfare was the first time anyone was able to view the destruction of a nuke from such a personal PoV. Everyone will remember crawling in the grass in a full guile suit or running the time trial of the cargo ship.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare laid the groundwork for every future entry into the franchise so it scrapes out a win against its successor.

2. Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2 Halftrack
Image Credit: Activision

The day-one launch title for the Xbox 360 had to deliver and boy did it deliver. Call of Duty 2 is the quintessential World War 2 experience. It blasted its predecessor out of the water.

Call of Duty 2 took the series’ world-building and unique approach to level design to a new level. The different theaters of war we experience were ahead of its time. Play as a Brit, an American, and a Russian to see the three major sides of the war from their perspectives. This may not sound like much for this day and age, but back in 2005, there were scarcely more in-depth narratives. Despite being an older title to World at War, its campaign and story feel like a more real and grounded version. That isn’t to take away from WaW’s unique take but to bolster the gritty atmosphere of CoD 2.

While it’s expected that the graphics aren’t anywhere near today’s standards, Call of Duty 2 still holds up as a 360-era game, so don’t overlook this gem.

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty Black Ops Apache gunship
Image Credit: Activision

The numbers Mason! What do they mean?! The nostalgia hits hard with this one. Call of Duty Black Ops steals our first spot for having the most intriguing, compelling, and innovative campaign experience to date.

With its Cold War setting, we see a side of the world no other CoD had explored at the time, but more importantly, we see the story unfold through the memory of Alex Mason. Back and forward through time, we slowly stitch together the plot in an interesting way.

The story takes us on a dizzying ride through the twists and turns of the narrative that culminates in the biggest shock of a Call of Duty story to date. The story and action are well-balanced, with important plots easily digestible between the action-packed sequences. Black Ops was ahead of its time in all aspects.

It is hard to believe we will ever find a better campaign experience in a Call of Duty game. The community holds this title as the Gold Standard, and it more than deserves the accolade.

There you have it. That’s all of the Call of Duty campaigns ranked. For more Call of Duty content, be sure to stick with us at Twinfinite.


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Author
Tyler Towers
Tyler is a skilled Freelance Writer for Twinfinite, specializing in the most popular FPS games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and Valorant. He is also keenly interested in MOBAs and JRPGs, no matter how obscure they may be. With his Game Design degree from Sheffield Hallam University, Tyler has the expertise and knowledge to provide in-depth gaming industry coverage. When he is not knee-deep in ELO hell, he devotes his time to taking care of his beloved ragdoll cat, Ace.