For a great Campaign, unforgettable Multiplayer, or a thrilling base of Zombies gameplay, jumping back into older Call of Duty titles can be a real treat. Now that Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is behind us, the age of CoD on Game Pass is sure to follow. We may wait to see the new games land there, but the franchise has a robust history of beloved titles that would make perfect additions to the green brand’s signature service.
While every old Call of Duty title may make it on Game Pass at some point, I’ve got 10 CoD games that fit the bill perfectly to give new fans a well-rounded tour of the franchise while indulging those of us who’ve been here for the long haul.
Black Ops 4
Black Ops 4 may not have seen the soaring heights of popularity that its successor did, but this game is an absolute gem. Treyarch is the king of balance in the Call of Duty world, and even though this game is missing the signature campaign that we typically expect from a CoD release, it delivers in spades everywhere else.
The rush of connecting on a Grappling Hook and converting into a perfectly-timed Gravity Slam is still one of the biggest thrills in the entire franchise. Add in a good (arguably great) Zombies mode that livened up a familiar routine, and new players could give this game a second wind.
That’s not to mention Blackout, Call of Duty’s first Battle Royale. There’s a strong contingent of fans who have been hoping to see it return, and while Warzone’s success may have nixed those chances, there’s no reason the two can’t live in harmony.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare revolutionized the modern FPS experience and ushered in an age of incomparable success for the franchise. Perks, Killstreaks, and an addictive gameplay loop made it all the rage in 2007. While I love the original Call of Duty 4, the remaster launched alongside Infinite Warfare is far and far superior to experience that game.
Infinite Warfare was released when fans were growing tired of the jetpack experience and were craving a return to the familiar, and MWR hit the nail on the head in a significant way. I have spent hundreds of hours in both versions of the game, and I can confidently say that Raven Software produced a gem of a remaster.
Black Ops 3
This one may be the easiest choice on the list — Black Ops 3 is Call of Duty’s best to me. Not only did it carry on the legacy of the already excellent Black Ops series, but it also retained the spirit of what Advanced Warfare had attempted the year prior and elevated the age of jetpacks to new heights.
Treyarch was already pulling ahead of the other developers in my eyes, but this game cemented it in a special way. Fans were treated to a gripping campaign, expertly designed multiplayer maps, and a Zombies mode that I’m not sure can ever be topped.
I’ve written about my love for Shadows of Evil before, and BO3 only got better from there. It was also responsible for one of the best professional Call of Duty seasons ever. This game is the whole package in a special, special way.
Modern Warfare (2019) & Modern Warfare II
Okay, I know this will ruffle some feathers, but it would be healthy for the franchise to get these up on Game Pass following the conclusion of the Modern Warfare III season. Much of Modern Warfare 3’s content is shared with MW2, giving players who missed out on it a chance to jump in and level up those old guns in their original title is only a good thing in my mind.
This was the kind of thing that the fanbase was clamoring for back in the days of Verdansk, as leveling up a weapon in Warzone felt like inchworming your way to the finish line. Doing the same thing in Modern Warfare’s multiplayer feels like an athlete speeding towards Olympic gold.
Warzone and DMZ are already free to play, and while Game Pass isn’t exactly free, it would be far and away the most convenient option for new players.
Black Ops 2
So many elements of Black Ops 2 have been adapted in other titles, but I just don’t think you can outdo the original game’s completed experience. Other Call of Duty writers and content creators have said everything there is to say about BO2’s quality, but looking at it through the Game Pass lens elevates its importance.
Widely regarded as Call of Duty’s most balanced Multiplayer experience, there’s no shortage of people who would flock back to the game if it was a little easier to access. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the campaign, but it also has a cult fanbase, and while Transit may not have been the most popular addition in Zombies history, it was an original design concept that is unique to Black Ops 2.
As I said, there’s just no replicating the full experience. I’m very prone to viewing Call of Duty through a nostalgic, sweeter-than-honey filter that erases the franchise’s blemishes, but that’s truly not necessary here. From Spider-Man (2002) all the way up to Black Ops Cold War, Treyarch is responsible for some of my all-time favorite games, and Black Ops 2 stands very near the top of that list.
Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
Call of Duty entries don’t get more iconic than Modern Warfare 2. Call of Duty 4 may have done the heavy lifting of redefining the FPS genre, but MW2 followed the formula, added a fistful of spice, and cranked the heat up to high.
The ACR, Intervention, UMP-45, and Spas-12 Shotgun are some of the most memorable weapons in shooter history, and there’s a reason that Modern Warfare III (2023) is recycling all 16 launch maps from this game. Also, the campaign’s final act is rightly remembered for being peak CoD storytelling.
Black Ops 1
Kino der Toten alone makes Black Ops 1 worthy of inclusion on this list, and truthfully, Zombies is the major highlight here. This was the first huge evolution for the mode and it’s such a delight to revisit that leaving it off would feel criminal.
Another solid Campaign and a fundamentally sound multiplayer experience make Black Ops 1 a delicious choice, especially for anyone who missed out on the experience back in 2010. I may not be a high school freshman anymore, but dolphin diving those big stairs in the opening room still makes me as happy as ever.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is flashy, explosive, and all about finesse. Sure, the jetpacks have become a bit of a meme at this point, but there’s a reason we made the jump into futuristic combat in the first place. Call of Duty needed an injection of life, and love it or hate it, AW brought a whole new flavor to the series.
The loot crate reward system that was so popular in this game’s era is definitely still a knock, but I think there’s still some magic in the maximalist design approach. Comparing Advanced Warfare to the games before is like comparing Rocky Road to frozen yogurt. It’s overly rich and in-your-face, but it hits the spot for all the Speed Demon players out there.
Modern Warfare 3
If we add the entire Black Ops lineup to Xbox Game Pass, then we might as well complete the sweep of the original Modern Warfare Trilogy as well. While MW3 was an unbelievable financial success, it’s not often remembered online with the same fondness as its two counterparts.
In my eyes, the sleek gunplay in this game elevates it over options that didn’t make the list. I’ll never forget how good it feels to shoot the ACR 6.8 or the PP90M1, and with the inclusion of playlists like Strikezone and Infected, it also scores points for sheer creativity.