Activision's enormously popular shooter series pushed farther and farther into the future with the last few entries, but lo and behold, we're back to its roots with Call of Duty: WWII.
Good thing, too – while those futuristic entries had some neat ideas and exciting moments, they didn't hit with the same kind of impact as the Modern Warfare entries, let alone the classic historical shooters that kicked the whole series off. It's a reboot in tone, storytelling, and setting, even if it's still Call of Duty through and through.
But where does it land in the series' vast lineage? With 14 mainline entries now (ignoring spinoffs and the like), Call of Duty has seen its share of high highs and competent-enough lows. Now that we've given WWII a full review, we've updated our list of the franchise's best (or least-essential) core experiences.
Did your favourite Call of Duty top our list? Find out below.
14) Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013)
What do you remember of Call of Duty: Ghosts? Is it anything at all?
We wouldn't be surprised if the answer is "no." Infinity Ward's first post-Modern Warfare entry was about as generic as could be within the franchise, treading familiar ground with its setting and lacking big, memorable moments and missions in the single-player campaign.
It was absolutely competent, of course, and still had rip-roaring multiplayer fun and sharp production values, but it felt like Call of Duty was treading water here. Ghosts is completely forgettable.
13) Call of Duty 3 (2006)
Call of Duty's first notable misstep came early on, and it seemed to be a result of the sudden demand for annual entries: Activision needed something while Infinity Ward was off doing Modern Warfare, and so Treyarch whipped up this Call of Duty 2 successor.
That studio would go on to do special things in the franchise, but Call of Duty 3 wasn't really one of them. It was buggy upon release, with big network issues in play, and the solid campaign lacked the finesse or standout scenarios of its predecessor. Again, it was fine back when, but there's no reason to revisit it now.
12) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014)
Advanced Warfare was a step up from Ghosts, for sure, pushing the series farther ahead in the future with crazy exoskeleton suits that enabled special powers. Oh, and it had Kevin Spacey as a power-hungry private military corporation leader.
Still, on a list like this, it's overshadowed by more compelling campaigns, and games that helped set the template that Advanced Warfare mostly just follows.
The jetpack-assisted multiplayer was the first step in a gradual departure that's taken COD away from boots-on-the-ground action, while the Exo-Survival co-op mode is totally unremarkable. Advanced Warfare is very good overall, but not essential.
11) Call of Duty: Black Ops III (2015)
Treyarch's last Black Ops entry ranks below its predecessors (keep reading), as this trilogy-capper delivers another solid, but somewhat uninspiring extension of the far-future formula.
The campaign plays some neat tricks with its sci-fi powers and weird mind-jacking abilities, but doesn't really feel fresh overall. Multiplayer fares better here with some terrific maps and a move to a class-based system, but ultimately it feels a bit like a Titanfall knockoff. It's a great, long-lasting package, but also sees the Call of Duty essence somewhat muddled as a result.
10) Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016)
It sort of feels like we're just ticking off the most recent entries now, aren't we? Infinite Warfare sheds any illusions about the series dipping its toes into sci-fi and dives right into the pool, sending you off to space and onto other planets.
Weird, right? And yet Infinite Warfare soars in spots: the universe feels really built-out, the presentation impresses top to bottom, and the campaign makes the most of the new setting, allowing single-player to feel fresher than it has in a while.
Many series fans loudly voiced their displeasure with the setting shift, however, and so the move back to World War II has been pretty warmly received. But there's actually a lot to like in this one.
9) Call of Duty: World at War (2008)
World at War was the series' last main attempt at exploring a World War II setting before the new Call of Duty: WWII, and it has since been framed as prequel of sorts to Treyarch's later Black Ops entries.
World at War had a solid and expectedly glossy campaign, but suffered from the comparison to the previous year's classic Modern Warfare and its own memorable moments. Furthermore, the game tried a bit too hard to come across and gritty and horrific, with the end result feeling crass and uneven.
Still, World at War gave us Nazi Zombies, the weird-yet-delightful co-op side mode that has become a mainstay of the series, and the multiplayer was rather strong, too.
8) Call of Duty: WWII (2017)
Here it is: Activision's long-awaited return to form after a few years of diminishing returns with futuristic and even sci-fi tinged affairs. Did it live up to the hype? Yeah, pretty much.
Look, it's hard to believe that Call of Duty: WWII could've ever landed with the impact of the series' influential earlier entries, but it does a damn fine job of essentially reviving the Call of Duty 2 formula with a bit more modern flash. The campaign is mostly thrilling, even as it treads very familiar ground, while the return to boots-on-the-ground action makes the online play more appealing than it's been in years.