Modern Warfares Ranked CoD
Image Credit: Activision via Twinfinite

Ranking Every Modern Warfare Call of Duty Game from Worst to Best

The MW series, ranked.

With more potential installments in the rebooted Modern Warfare series to come in the future, we’re taking a trip down memory lane and ranking every Modern Warfare Call of Duty title so far. 

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The next game, assuming leaks, rumors and speculation all come true, is set to be developed by Sledgehammer Games and continue the story and setting established in Modern Warfare 2 (2022). It’ll be the sixth MW game Call of Duty has produced, but which are remembered as the pinnacle? Here’s all of them, ranked from worst to best. 

5) Modern Warfare (2019) 

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019
Image Credit: Activision via Twinfinite

The first of the (soon to be) rebooted trilogy, Modern Warfare 2019 was a mixed bag. Innovations like the Gunsmith attachment system, Gunfight and cross-platform multiplayer were welcome and meant players were free to play how they wanted to an unprecedented extent. Paired with Infinity Ward’s admittedly silky smooth gunplay, it could have been a standout CoD. 

Unfortunately, it was held back by some frustrating elements. Multiplayer maps were far too open, leading to imbalanced matches and an abundance of camping, meaning you’d be eliminated by unseen enemies countless times. Who can forget Piccadilly? We can’t, and we’ve been trying. There was also an inability to balance spawns throughout the whole year and the return of Spec Ops was as bland as it could have been. It was a case of a diamond so rough it never really shone. 

4) Modern Warfare 2 (2022)

Modern Warfare 2 2022
Image Credit: Activision via Twinfinite

Putting the sequel above the rebooted original might be controversial to some but, for us, it’s a very simple decision to have MW2 in fourth place. It smoothed out some of its predecessor’s rough edges (the multiplayer maps are a noticeable improvement, for example) and it features even more refined gunplay and movement. 

Even so, its campaign was fairly cookie cutter and some frustrating multiplayer decisions — like refusing to add traditional minimaps despite community feedback — led to a feeling throughout that it was more interested in protecting poor players than providing a competitive FPS for its player base. Other MP calls, like introducing a timed Perk system and weapon platforms, did little but confuse matters unnecessarily. 

3) Modern Warfare 3 (2011) 

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 SHG
Image Credit: Activision via Twinfinite

The first game from the original MW trilogy to feature is 2011’s Modern Warfare 3. A joint venture between SHG and Infinity Ward, it looked to replicate the magic of the first two games in the series but couldn’t quite reach the same lofty heights. There were standout maps (Dome, Resistance) and standout moments (Turbulence, Dust to Dust). 

It just struggled to match the downright fluidity and replayability of CoD 4 or MW2 2009. It also didn’t really manage to forge out a distinct identity, with its co-op Survival mode a watered down and less terrifying version of Treyarch’s Zombies and its campaign more of an attempt to replicate the success of earlier games than a thrilling standalone narrative. 

2) Modern Warfare 2 (2009) 

MW2 2009
Image Credit: Activision via Twinfinite

Remembered by many as the best Call of Duty there’s ever been, we’re handing the silver medal to the original MW2. It was infinitely enjoyable and replayable, demonstrated by the thousands of players it continues to attract fourteen years later.

The maps — Terminal, Favela, Highrise — were fast-paced and colorful and the weapons — Intervention, UMP 45, FAMAS — were powerful and diverse. There’s no better recipe for a quality CoD multiplayer experience.

The reason we’ve got it second when a lot of people would have it first is its unquestionable lack of balance. We look back and laugh now at the overpowered weapons, One Man Army Pro and Stopping Power, but if they were in a current CoD there’d be community uproar. Thank goodness for hotfixes. 

1) Modern Warfare (2007)

MW 2007
Image Credit: Activision via Twinfinite

A process of elimination means you’ll already have pieced together that we’re giving top spot to the original Modern Warfare. Call of Duty 4 was innovative in so many ways, introducing the foundations on which almost every subsequent game would use. From the create-a-class system to the immersive story and standout multiplayer maps, it’s one of the best FPS games there’s ever been. 

We shouldn’t forget that it was the first Call of Duty title to feature contemporary military equipment, a setting taken for granted nowadays. The departure from historical conflict was brave and the result was a scintillating home run that has stood the test of time and remains fondly remembered for a plethora of reasons. 

If 2023’s Modern Warfare 3 channels the original MW in any way, it’ll be welcomed. 

Those are all the Modern Warfare CoDs ranked. Be sure to check out the related content below for much more on Activision’s FPS. 

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Joe Craven
Joe is a writer and publisher based in England. He loves history, video games and football. As you read this, he's probably reading about an obscure war, playing a video game or moaning about Leeds United.