Worst Call of Duty Games of All Time, Ranked

While the series has had many hits, which were the flops of the bunch?

by Elliott Gatica

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With a series as long and ongoing as Call of Duty, not every game will be a banger. Some have dropped the ball and some have been considered the pinnacles of FPS games. In any case, while focusing on the mainline titles of the franchise, which are the worst Call of Duty games of all time?

Worst Call of Duty Games of All Time, Ranked

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5. Call of Duty: Vanguard

While this is the franchise’s latest installment, it’s a mixed bag. Vanguard does a lot right in terms of being a complete game. It has a campaign, Zombies mode, and multiplayer. The only problem is that, with each mode, there was a fatal flaw that was hard to look over.

The campaign was very uninspiring and felt like a ripoff of Battlefield 1’s War Stories. Telling the stories of individual characters during the time of World War 2 should have been cool, but every character’s background wasn’t really grasping nor did it really have an impact on how we felt.

Next, at launch, the Zombies mode was a generic wave survival mode that tapered off in difficulty after a while. Yes, the argument can be made that with time, the mode became more worthwhile, but it felt as if it was too little too late at this point.

Finally, the meat and potatoes of all Call of Duty games were in the multiplayer. Vanguard’s was serviceable, sporting a ton of maps and weapons at launch. However, the multiplayer just felt like a leveling ground for weapons in Warzone, especially with modes like Shiphaus 24/7.

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4. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

There’s a bit of a trend when it comes to bad CoD games in the mid-2010s when predatory business practices were at an all-time high and games were being shipped out heavily unoptimized. Black Ops Cold War had a lot going for it, riding off of the success of Warzone and the Modern Warfare reboot in 2019.

The biggest problems in the game were that it crashed a lot, had non-existent skill-based matchmaking, and was sparse in content at launch. It only got better in time being yet another live-service title, but it drew a lot of people away and preferred Warzone and Modern Warfare over this. So much for taking a step forward.

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3. Call of Duty: WWII

We already played this game before. After the whole “boots on the ground” mentality didn’t really work out, Sledgehammer decided to take it back a notch and return to the tried and true formula. It worked, but then it had a lot of things impeding the experience of a CoD game. That social hub called the Headquarters was such a drag, the Supply Drops were this game’s form of loot boxes, and the multiplayer felt so watered down in terms of arsenal choices and customization. This felt like it had half the content that World at War did in a nicer package.

Incomplete Call of Duty games really started to bring the franchise downhill, yet they would try to nickel and dime you at every moment possible. It felt sickening knowing that people threw money at a game that offered crumbs but wanted large sums of cash from its player base.

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2. Call of Duty: Ghosts

This game was supposed to be a strong start for the eighth console generation, especially after riding off the golden age of Call of Duty in ‘06 and Black Ops II in 2012. Ghosts, however, felt really off. It had an interesting and darker premise, which it did fairly decent in. The campaign just felt a bit generic and misleading in the end, and the multiplayer was probably at its worst for the first game on new hardware.

The multiplayer was serviceable, but map sizes and the meta were extremely off. Camping was also at its worst here. Yes, the argument can be made here that every CoD has camping problems, but Ghosts, specifically with its large map sizes, almost required people to use thermal scopes and guard dogs to do decent. Not to mention, the microtransactions in this game made working towards rewards very underwhelming. It felt like you had to have a loaded wallet ready to fork over cash rather than complete milestones to unlock all these cosmetics.

Then, its Zombies mode, Extinction, was a mode that got stale very quickly. It was ambitious to change the formula to turn this into an alien survival kind of mode, but after a few hours in it, you’ve basically done it all. Lots of ambition made a bad impression for newer installments to come.

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1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

This is perhaps the worst game of all the mainline CoD titles. The only reason why people bought this game at launch was that they could also get the Remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Infinite Warfare came at a time when the CoD franchise was having an identity crisis. The creators of the games were wanting to get away from the whole “boots on the ground” design philosophy mentioned earlier.

By telling these more futuristic stories and borrowing heavily from games like Titanfall and Halo, the Call of Duty name started to feel more just like a generic sci-fi shooter at this point. Plus, the reveal trailer for this game was up there with one of the most disliked videos ever on YouTube, already setting a bad precedent before its release.

There is hope for the CoD franchise. While we had yearly installments of the game and it felt rehashed year to year, things need to shapen up for it to last. Now with Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, there could be major shakeups like we’re seeing so far from previews of upcoming titles like Modern Warfare II.

- This article was updated on August 16th, 2022

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