A Quick History of the Call of Duty Franchise
The Call of Duty franchise forges a path year after year with the release of a new game title to its ever growing selection of FPS games.
Call of Duty now sits at 19 console releases (wow!) with the release of Black Ops 4. In addition, Activision has released 7 handheld Call of Duty titles and the infamous Call of Duty Online on top of the console releases.
Today, let’s take a little trip through the years and harken back to Call of Duty titles past.
Call of Duty – October 23rd, 2003
The true beginning of the legendary franchise, Call of Duty, was set in World War 2. The game did contain a multiplayer mode alongside its campaign experience, but the primary focus began with the single-player mode. The game took heavy inspiration from the popular Medal of Honor series, which also followed stories of the second World War. The game was released on PC & Mac and was developed by Infinity Ward.
Call of Duty: Finest Hour – November 16th, 2004
Finest Hour, Call of Duty’s first showing on consoles. The spin-off was developed by Spark Unlimited. Multiplayer began to appear as a more prominent feature and had 32 player LAN capability along with 16 player online lobbies. The release came exclusively to the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube console system and never got a PC release.
Call of Duty 2 – October 25, 2005
Infinity Ward’s first model for new kind of first-person shooter came in 2005 with Call of Duty 2. The game employed the regenerative health system for the first time, which then became industry and franchise standard. The multiplayer was widely praised for its snappy, twitch shooter mechanics and also began Call of Duty’s long standing tradition of map pack releases. The game has sold over 2 million copies.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One – November 1, 2005
Similar to Finest Hour, Big Red One was an console exclusive spin-off. The game primarily focused on a single WW2 Infantry Division and their struggles during the war. The game received generally good ratings, but was largely overshadowed by the success of Call of Duty 2.
Call of Duty 3 – Nov. 7th, 2006
In 2006, Treyarch entered the Call of Duty Scene as Activision began the two-year alternating development cycle between Treyarch and Infinity Ward. The game’s mechanics differed from Call of Duty 2’s and had larger multiplayer maps than the previous releases. Many maps also included vehicles such as jeeps and tanks. The also featured the popular tug-of-war “War” mode and has sold over 6.4 million copies.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Nov. 7th, 2007
For many, Modern Warfare was the beginning of a journey that still continues. IW’s first release of modern shooter shocked the industry and revamped its own franchise in the process. The game introduce bullet penetration and perk systems as well attachments. The classic class system we all know came from COD4. The game lit a fire that burns hot to this day with over 17 million copies sold.
Call of Duty: World at War – Nov. 11, 2008
Using the same engine developed for COD4, Treyarch adapted the class systems and other popular features of COD4 into a WW2 setting. The game notably included a much darker story and bloodier gore than the previous games. Treyarch also began its production the co-op Zombie modes. The game was not the same blockbuster hit of COD4, but still has sold a hefty 15 million copies.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Nov 10th, 2009
Continuing on the success of COD4, Infinity Ward decided to remain in the modern arena of battle. MW2’s campaign was a direct sequel to the first game and the multiplayer brought a new tier of perks called Pro Perks. The game also was the first time the “Nuke” was introduced. Back then, the Nuke killstreak was simple 25 killstreak and all other killstreak counted towards getting the Nuke. The game roared into stores with 25 million copies sold so far.
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Nov. 9th, 2010
Treyarch saw the success of modern shooters and decided to create its own world within the Cold War. The game began the Black Ops story arc in earnest with major characters like Woods and Mason. Treyarch’s Create-a-Class 2.0 brought the addition of character customization for reticles, emblems, and more. The game broke the bank with an insane 30 million copies sold so far.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Nov. 8th, 2011
The franchise’s biggest release, MW3, carried much the same gameplay as the previous titles. The Nuke streak was changed to only allow for gun kills to count towards it and other minor changes were made. The game’s development was little haphazard due to a legal dispute that led to big layoffs at Infinity Ward. Sledgehammer Games was brought in to help with the game and the game sold over 30.5 million copies.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Nov. 12th, 2012
Black Ops 2 brought with it the first usage of the Pick-10 system for Create-a-Class, an in-game ranked system called League Play, and introduced the weapon progression systems to level up guns individually. The game produced high critical and fan acclaim, with many community member heralding it as the pinnacle of Call of Duty. The game sold over 29 million copies.
Call of Duty: Ghosts – Nov. 5th, 2013
Ghosts takes place in a dystopian future where the best of the best warriors fight to maintain some control of the US. They are the Ghosts. While the game lacked some Black Ops 2 feature set, it still sold 28 million copies and received decent reviews. The gameplay remained similar to that of MW2 and MW3 with the addition of map-altering dynamic elements. The game also notably was the first to have playable female soldiers.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Nov. 4th, 2014
Sledgehammer Games’ first standalone outing to the Call of Duty franchise brought with it a ground-shaking change. The typical boots on the ground gameplay of previous titles was set aside in favor of jump-packs/booster-packs.
The new mechanic allowed players to fly upwards and boost to either side in quick bursts. The change was seen as a way to spice up the gameplay of Call of Duty as fans were growing tired of the same old thing. Additionally, Titanfall’s (game with similar mechanics) release and success might have also played a role. The game sold over 21 million copies, a significant decrease from previous years.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 – Nov. 6th, 2015
Treyarch’s now classic gameplay mechanics and gunplay also took to the skies in Black Ops 3. The gameplay systems such as League Play (now Arena) remained largely intact, but the core gameplay mechanics were changed to booster-packs as in AW. Treyarch own twist on the idea limited the amount of jumping/flying with a boost meter that refilled periodically.
Black Ops 3 also introduced wall-running into the franchise and created Specialists, characters with unique game-changing abilities. The game sold around 26 millions copies.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Nov. 4th, 2016
Infinity Ward’s latest addition to the series carried over the ideas of Specialists (Combat Rigs) from Treyarch’s Black Ops 3 and gave each of them unique “Traits” to choose from. The gameplay predominately resembled Black Ops 3, but with the gunplay of the IW games. The setting has futuristic and the campaign was mostly featured in space or other planets/moons. The game sold around 12.6 million copies.
Call of Duty: WWII – Nov. 3rd, 2017
After three years, Call of Duty returned to the boots on the ground gameplay after fans reception for the previous games proved lackluster. WWII featured a gritty story campaign and naturally primarily focused on the multiplayer of the game. Create-a-Class was changed with the removal of perks and the addition of overarching Divisions which contain the aforementioned perk abilities.
The gameplay was generally faster than previous CoD games set on the ground due to high sprint speeds and kill speeds. The game sold around 12 million copies.
So, there’s all the console releases of Call of Duty. What’s your favorite? Tell us at @CharlieIntel . If you haven’t played one, go out and buy it when its on sale. In addition to the above, below is a short list of the other CoD releases not listed/explained above.
- Call of Duty: Roads of Victory (PSP)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized (Nintendo DS)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops DS (Nintendo DS)
- Call of Duty: Zombies & Zombies 2 (iOS)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified (PS Vita)
- Call of Duty: Strike Team (iOS)
- Call of Duty: Heroes (iOS & Android)
- Call of Duty: Online (China Only)