Ask Paul: Which Call of Duty Games are the Best?

Posted on February 22, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox 360 with 1 Comment


Finally, someone has asked me the most important question in personal technology. Here’s something I’m actually quite passionate about.

James A. asks:

I was wondering what your favorite release of the Call of Duty series is. Also, do you prefer the futuristic style of Call of Duty or do you prefer a modern day setting or something in the WW2 era?


I’ve spent more time pondering this topic than I am comfortable admitting. A couple of things go into this…

Obviously, Call of Duty (COD) has its roots in WWII story lines, which I enjoyed quite a bit. But the way the games have evolved has more to do with multiplayer than single player (and multiplayer variants like “Zombies,” which actually dates back to the last WWII game, World at War). I suspect most people spend the most time in multiplayer, not single player. So in that sense, the more modern (or futuristic) games are probably “better” since the online play can be more involved.

Separately, I’ve been playing COD (and before that Halo and other games) once a month up the street with some guys for 12 years or so. With COD, there’s a new game every year, so a new $60 to spend, and with the past 3-4 games there are also season passes (another $60) where you get all the map packs over the course of a year. As we’ve progressed, a lot of these guys have griped—reasonably—about this cost, and of course with the Xbox One coming out, they’re freaking out because the 360 is still fine, etc. and is in fact better for carrying around to someone’s house. So late last year, someone came up with the idea of getting off the gerbil wheel and just playing older COD games each month instead. After all, everyone already owns them.

This has actually been quite fun, and quite liberating, and I’ve discovered that I enjoy these games quite a bit more than the most recent one. Not that there’s anything “wrong” with Advanced Warfare, but … it’s just not as endearing to me for whatever reason. Tied to this is that all of those multiplayer levels–from COD4 on up–are like real places in our memories. Since we played each of these games for at least a year, we remember all of the maps very well. And many of those maps are just fantastic. (Added to this, none of the older pre-Ghosts COD games are available on the Xbox One.)

What this leads to is that in late 2014 I started just playing the old games, on the Xbox 360. My Xbox One is barely used, and looking at these games with fresh eyes I can say now that Modern Warfare 3 and Modern Warfare 2 (in that order) are absolutely the best of the COD games … from a multiplayer perspective. COD4 (which was the first Modern Warfare) is also very good but the graphics are dated. Ghosts is actually fantastic as well. And then I’d put the two Black Ops games after that, just because they look and “feel” different for whatever reason. (Though, again, the maps are generally pretty great.)

To be clear, this is from the perspective of multiplayer only. I’d say that the old WWII games are still probably pretty fun from a single player perspective (though they are graphically dated for the most part), and World at War in particular has a great single player experience (and with that game they tried to mix WWII maps and weapons with modern weapon attachments and upgrades, which is actually pretty good). But long story short … the Modern Warfare games were the high point. For me. 🙂

Probably more than you need to know. 🙂

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