Call of Duty is a force to be reckoned with in the video game industry. It has, for the past 14 years, been the dominant first-person shooter in a market with some serious contenders. The series has had to evolve to maintain its edge, and despite being developed by multiple different studios, the entirety of the Call of Duty series has almost consistently garnered widespread acclaim from critics and players alike. People will always debate the merits of an annualized series, especially one that seems to thrive on iteration, but Call of Duty shows no signs of slowing down.
It all began back in 2003, with the original Call of Duty appearing alongside the likes of Medal of Honor and Battlefield, two series that had already established a glowing reputation among military FPS fans. All three were set during World War II, and Call of Duty would continue down that path for both Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 3.
After four years and three games set in a decades-old conflict, the decision to ground the next Call of Duty game in a more contemporary setting resulted in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The departure was welcomed with open arms by an audience hungry for something new, and the positive reception ensured a steady stream of modern- or future-set sequels, including multiple Call of Duty: Black-Ops and two more Modern Warfare (Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3) games in the years to come.
Like so many things, Call of Duty moves in cycles, and it was just last year that Activision took the series back to World War II, for, you guessed it, Call of Duty: WWII. It was a return to form that felt, to many, like the right move at the right time–a good way to shake up the flow of the previous 10 years. We are now looking ahead to the impending release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 this fall, and it’s anyone’s guess as to when the series will return to a more traditional style of military mayhem.
Call of Duty’s reach is so vast that it has no doubt resonated with people for a wide variety of reasons. We’ve collected GameSpot’s Call of Duty reviews from over the years and compiled them to illustrate the series rise to prominence, and to provide a historical snapshot of each individual games’ place in the process. But if there’s a particular game that made you fall in (or out) of love with the Call of Duty, shout it out in the comments below!