Call of Duty is one of the most historic franchises in all of gaming history. With the latest installment, Call of Duty: WWII, many may be left wondering what the best Call of Duty campaign is. While the series is mostly known for its multiplayer exploits, its campaigns are truly what make the series so great. It has some of the most memorable campaigns in first-person shooter history. While Battlefield temporarily took the crown of the best first-person shooter series briefly, Call of Duty has roared back in prolific fashion. Here are the best Call of Duty campaigns, a tribute to the greatest first-person shooter series of all time.
5. World at War
Call of Duty: World at War was the second Call of Duty game developed by Treyarch, and in my opinion, their best. It was the first Call of Duty game that took place in the Pacific Theater of World War II, which we still haven’t seen since. It also featured the Eastern Front of the where, where the Nazis were driven off by the Russians. It introduced a gripping story that was much more mature than previous installments in the series and introduced super cool weapons such as flamethrowers, among other things. What this really did was show the brutality of the war though. Let’s be clear: these were machines designed to kill. The Japanese were relentless in the game and while some may think it was a bit stereotypical, the campaign was Treyarch’s finest moment, better than Call of Duty 3 and the Black Ops games, believe it or not.
4. Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 2 was masterful, split into three different stories depicting the Americans, Soviets, and the Brits. Call of Duty 2 was also many gamers first exposure to the Call of Duty franchise. I remember the very first time I played Call of Duty as actually in an EB Games, playing Call of Duty 2 on an Xbox 360 before the console’s launch; CoD 2 was actually a launch title for the system and was what sold my younger brother on the system. Eventually, it probably in part sold me on the Xbox 360 three years later, although on an unconscious level (I played MW and Mass Effect almost exclusively). The campaign was epic, gripping, and is what caused so many millions of console fans to fall in love with the series.
3. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Quite a while ago we told Activision that they needed to sell Modern Warfare Remastered as a stand-alone title. It took a while, but eventually, they did listen to us. Modern Warfare redefined the Call of Duty franchise. The campaign was like nothing we had ever seen in a first-person shooter game before. Before Call of Duty 4, FPS games were almost exclusively set during World War II. The series even briefly returned to its roots in World at War, although with a twist in the Pacific Theater and Eastern Front. Modern Warfare was full of action, terrorism, and the world at the brink of disaster. It also sets off the events of its sequel. It catapulted the genre into a new era and the campaign cannot be forgotten for that. Not to mention, playing with modern weaponry so so damn fun! It’s really cool to play as Soap MacTavish, develop him as a character, and then see him in action in the sequel. It was a brilliant move on the developer’s part.
2. Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2’s campaign was simply epic. It was also fairly dark, especially given the controversial “elevator scene.” Did you shoot up the terminal? Such a scene in today’s day and age may not have gotten passed the ESRB to be quite honest. Soap and Price are two of the most memorable characters in all of Call of Duty history and their relationship really shined in this game. There was also a separate story going on concurrently with Price’s rescue, with the invasion of the United States by Russia (does this sound eerily scary and relevant?). It can be a little over the top, but that’s what makes it so much fun.
The highlight of the campaign for me was fighting through Washington, using ordinary buildings as command locations. The campaign deals with international instability, personal betrayal, brotherhood, and the first time the invasion of America was put on screen. It was horrifying. I can only pray that we and future generations never have to witness this. But, because of it, along with Price and Soap’s story, Modern Warfare 2 is the second best Call of Duty campaign and FPS campaign of all time. Not to mention, it has one of the most shocking betrayals in video game history.
1. Call of Duty: WWII
This will be so controversial but simply put it doesn’t matter. As stated in our review, Call of Duty: WWII was Band of Brothers transformed into a form of interactive entertainment. The battles weren’t over the top like in Modern Warfare 2, but they were grounded in realism and were beyond epic in their own right. The Battle of Normandy and The Battle of the Bulge stand out as two of the absolute best. There’s also a level of realism in the game that is very touching; servicemembers leaving hospitals earlier in order to serve, given the option of actually shooting prisoners of war. This did happen during World War II, no matter how much we want to forget about it; the view was a Krout was a Krout, much like how people today view Nazis, even though some who fought for the Nazis were forced to (not all) and some were simply kids fighting for their country. This is brought up in Band of Brothers and it is even brought up in Call of Duty: WWII.
Activision did something very different with Call of Duty: WWII, going away from the horrible futuristic direction that was plaguing the series. My friends and I literally laughed at the PlayStation E3 2016 press conference (we were there) when Infinite Warfare was announced and were more excited for the Modern Warfare remake. It all worked out though. We needed a game like Infinite Warfare in order to get a masterpiece like WWII.
Activision has rectified the series, finally. Call of Duty: WWII has brought the series back to being the king of first-person shooters, even better than Battlefront 1.
It has no equal.