The Complete Call of Duty Timeline Explained

Edraw Content Team

The Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise. Since its inception in 2003, Call of Duty has been published by Activision, and it primarily focused its video games on World War II.

Since then, the Call of Duty franchise has been set in different settings like space, future, or Cold War.

However, the franchise has been developed by several companies. The first two games were made by Infinity Ward and the third by Treyarch. Over the years, other Call of Duty games were developed by other developers, but most were based on spin-offs and for handheld devices. The franchise has made a total of 17 main games so far and a few other spin-offs and ports.

Over the years, there have been significant changes that kept the players hooked on the franchise. But the most important characteristics of Call of Duty, especially when it first came out was:

  • Allowed players to play through World War II campaigns.
  • Let players play online against other players around the world.
  • Realistic warfare game with plenty of action.

This article has spoilers, so be aware when you read it.

Call of Duty Games in Release Order

Here's the released date order of the Call of Duty franchise.

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The Call of Duty Games in Chronological Playing Order

Call of Duty: WWII (1940-1945)

This game is one of the most recent games in the franchise, but it is the earliest to be set despite that. The franchise dropped the technological weapons and went back to their haven in the WWII setting. Most of the story during the game is between 1944 - 1945, and it follows the story of Private "Red" Daniels and a squad of infantry defeating the Nazis as World War II is coming to an end.

Call of Duty 2 (1941-1945)

The Call of Duty game franchise starts around 1942. To be more precise, this second game is slightly different from the others as it begins in 1941 at the end of that year. During the game and the campaign, the player commands several soldiers from the three allies' front. The British, the American, and Russia. The campaigns for different soldiers happen independently in other locations of the globe. This game became very popular among the players because it introduced several innovations, including automatic health regeneration.

Call of Duty: World at War (1942-1945)

This game goes back to the beginning of World War II, and it transfers the player to Makin Island, occurring in 1942. The game is developed in a similar model with the player fighting very famous battles throughout WW2 in which he can choose to be an American troop or to be in a Russian squad. It was developed with the other WW2 franchise games, so there was not much innovation there, and it was the second game developed by Treyarch.

Call of Duty (1942-1945)

The franchise's first game started in World War II, in 1942, to be more precise. However, the majority of the game occurred between 1944 and 1945. That is the part of the war where the Allied tried to push back the Nazi troops. As it became recurrent, the game allowed you to choose three different sides of the war, and even though the characters are on different sides, they remain with the same objective. This game introduced realistic mechanics and more realistic gameplay, and the support of only two weapons.

Call of Duty 3 (1994)

This game in the franchise, unlike others, tried only to cover one year of World War 2 and focused solely on the Battle of Normandy. Also, unlike the previous games of the franchise at the time, the player could choose to play with French, Canadian and Polish armies, as well as British and American soldiers. One of the things that stood out with this game was that it featured single campaigns as viewed by different main characters and the inclusion of vehicles in multiplayer mode.

Call of Duty: Black Ops (1961-1968)

Most of the time, the Black Ops side of the franchise emphasizes the narrative and single aspects of the game. One of the main characters is called Alex Mason, who gets interrogated around 1968. As he recalls those years, the player goes back to those moments where he can play them. It started in 1961 with the Bay of Pigs invasion. It encompasses most fictional events during the Cold War era. One of the many innovations this game includes a talking protagonist and the first not to be solely focused on wars.

Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War (1981)

The events of this game are set during the Cold War years, to be more specific, during 1981, and some of the characters in the previous Black Ops come back for this game. All of the playable characters are part of the CIA and are led by a man named Russel Adler, whose purpose is to capture Perseus, a Soviet agent. The game is focused on single-player campaigns and inspired by real-life events. One of the innovations in this game is its multiple endings, depending on how the player develops the story.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II (1986-1989)

In this game of the Call of Duty franchise, the player is able to play with Alex Mason and David Mason, his son, at different stages of the campaign. As the player switches characters, it also swaps time periods. While Ale Mason missions happened in the 1980s, David's occurred in the future. During Alex Mason missions, the player forms a team with Woods and Hudson to try and capture a man called Raul Menendez. In the multiplayer mode, the biggest innovations come with the weapon progression system that allows modifications and attachments to the weapon used.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (1996-2011)

This game was the first to be set apart from World War 2. The game is set during 2011 for as long as a week. The player plays Jackson from the USMC and Soap from the SAS, who try to stop a terrorist threat in different and separate paths. However, there are two missions where the players go back to 1996. The game was very successful upon its release, introducing technology like leveling mechanics and a certain degree of player customization

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (1999-2019)

Although this last entry is also a kind of spin-off following the same line as the other games, it still exists. Many characters come back from other modern warfare games, including Price. Throughout the game, he will join forces with the CIA and fight with the Freedom Fighters and the Arab soldiers. In any case, they all come together to fight the Russian army that took over Urzikstan, and some other bits of the game will take the player back to 1999.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2016)

Soap MacTavish became a captain five years after the first game's events. As a leader of Task Force 141, he's in charge of capturing Vladimir Makarov, the head of the Russian Ultranationalist party. A great innovation in this game was the addition of Spec Ops mode, which consisted of a series of different missions where the character could be taken solo by the player.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2016-2017)

This game follows where its predecessor left, and the player can control Nikolai and Prince as they help Soap, who is injured, and try to bring him to safety. The game's objective is to continue to track down Vladimir Makarov with Delta Force, SAS, and Task Force 141 as they try to eliminate the Ultranationalist party. This game is the best-selling game of the franchise, with more than 30 million copies sold and introduced a new survival mode. However, most of the mechanics remained untouched.

Call of Duty: Ghosts (2015-2027)

In this game of the franchise, the player is sent ten years into the future and controls a team called Ghosts that fight against the Federation. Although most of the game passes in 2027, there are some flashbacks to 2015. This game is highly technological in terms of weapons and resources and is also trying to identify where the franchise might go. Ghosts brought a completely new cast of characters, and a notable addition is a possibility of controlling animals, like a german shepherd.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2043)

This franchise game is sole to be played online, and as such, there is no official campaign. There are some cutscenes where the player can follow some of the story campaigns, as the characters tell a bit of their own story. However, many of the missions where you have to train happen around 2043. This game received many negative reviews for erasing the single-mode campaign and replacing it with a battle royal mode. There is also a zombie mode, where the player can kill zombies in several settings.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2054-2061)

In this game of the franchise, the player controls Jack Mitchell as he fights many enemies. From Marines to members of Atlas and the real villain is hidden almost until the end of the game. The entire game occurs during the 2050s and early 2060s. There are a lot of technological advances on the battlefield that the player can use. It introduces exoskeleton suits and cloaking, portable shields, and an improved health boost system. The multiplayer did not change much compared to other games in the franchise, but the player's mobility increased considerably.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III (2065-2070)

In this game of the franchise, the player explores once more the fight with futuristic weapons as it participates in the third cold war fought between two factions, named Common Defense Pact and Winslow Accord. The game was primarily designed to have four vs. four multiplayer modes, more customization for the characters, and even an open-level design. The game did not change much compared to previous games in the franchise and used the same mechanics as Advanced Warfare, both in single and multiplayer.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Unknown)

This game in the franchise is the only one that does not give away the year or the decade that is set on. However, it is known that it will be developed at some point in the future, as space travel is a prominent method of transportation.

The game setting is the Settlement Defense Front (SDF) fighting against the United Nations Space Alliance. The player controls Nick Reyes, who fights against the Settlement Defense Front throughout the game. It is the most sci-fi the franchise has been and introduces the player to zero-gravity environments and piloting a fighter craft.

What Next?

There is a COD game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, and it has been released in 0ct 28th, 2022. It is a sequel to the 2019 reboot, and serves as the nineteenth installment in the overall Call of Duty series. There will be no new Call of Duty in 2023, with a MW2 expansion instead.

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