Since the first instalment of Call of Duty: Black Ops released in 2010, the series has arguably become the best of the entire franchise. With an addictive and revolutionary multiplayer, this series has constantly pushed the bar on what to expect from a Call of Duty game.
As Black Ops protagonist Alex Mason would say “The numbers are real” and that would hold true for game sales. The first three Black Ops titles sit in the top five for units sold worldwide of all CoD games. The original Black Ops title remains the highest-selling CoD title, with a staggering 30.9 million units sold.
To celebrate its success, we will rank all multiplayer experiences from the original game to the current Cold War title. For purposes, we will solely include original multiplayer, like Zombies, and Battle Royale deserve to be celebrated in a specialised list.
5) Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (2015)
(Picture: Activision Blizzard)
November 2015 witnessed the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Avid players, in general, had been introduced to exo-movement before with Advanced Warfare, and it was to appear once again in this title. The community, in general, had mixed emotions about this feature, but overall it did not feel too overpowered or unnecessary to use.
This happened to be the first game that included specialists, and this, in turn, gave more players a way to get involved in combat. This would shine in competitive play, as teams would have to designate roles specifically in order to win. A downside to this multiplayer had been the introduction of supply drops. In what is now common practice for most games, this had been the first real introduction to players paying for content.
Additionally, with more old maps being reintroduced, it felt Treyarch played safe. Overall, with game mechanics changing, rank progression being increased to retain players, and Treyarch wanting to introduce a new way to play, this instalment was fun but not the greatest.
4) Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War (2020)
(Picture: Activision Blizzard)
When released in 2020, this game, unfortunately, did not sell as many units as its predecessors. Back in December, Cold War had only managed to hit 5.7 million units sold, which made it one of the less successful launches of the franchise. With big competition from other titles across multiple platforms, this could be the result of sales plummeting, as FPS shooters have lessened in popularity in recent years.
Despite this, multiplayer is enjoyable and you can engross yourself in-game for many hours. With weapons such as XM4 and AK-74u being the meta choice for months on end, it does make other weapons feel slightly insignificant. However, weapon fire audio, gameplay mechanics, killstreaks and the map pool are all strong features. Additionally, league play is enjoyable with friends, and with the introduction of Fireteam and other larger player based game modes, you can enjoy many different experiences.
Overall, this instalment's multiplayer warrants greater appreciation than what had been given. Additionally, with Season 2 Reloaded being introduced, more content will improve the overall multiplayer landscape. Impressive features synonymous with the franchise such as gameplay mechanics, strong audio, visual effects, and a well-rounded choice of maps and modes all provide good quality but not too much replayability value for the player at the moment.
3) Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018)
(Picture: Activision Blizzard)
In 2018, Black Ops 4 took the positives from the previous instalment and improved upon it. With Specialists, whether you explode onto a site as Prophet or Seraph, or enable your team to get a health advantage with Crash, there is something for every player. Additionally, all weapons feel balanced to some degree, which ultimately leads to a variety of gunfights and not just a singular approach to battle.
With the new HP system introduced, you can also gauge how close you came to eliminating an opponent, which gives you the means to adjust. Other gameplay features such as audio and graphic design were on point. League play, similar to Black Ops 3 was strong, and with the professional Call of Duty League being well broadcasted, this enhanced the competitive aspect of mp further.
On the other hand, most maps had a three-lane structure which simplified matches. If a team was to dominate, it gave fewer options for the losing team in terms of a turnaround. This would result in disconnects and rage quits, which did take away from the overall positive experience.
2) Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
Yes, it was difficult to decide on which of the first two Black Ops instalments came second, but it was the original that takes this place. This game brought us the now ever-present Nuketown, along with many more gritty and enjoyable maps. On top of that, weapon choice was diverse, and whether you wanted to quick scope with efficient Sniper Rifles, hold down areas with Assault Rifles, or cause havoc with SMGs, the choice was yours.
Killstreaks were also very rewarding as nothing could beat calling in a Chopper gunner, Gunship or Attack dogs, and watching that kill feed light up. You could unlock many features for the first time through CoD points, and no, not the paid-for kind. You would earn CoD points through completing contracts, mp progression and wager matches. This ensured you unlocked any features you wanted by dedicating to the game and playing through.
Additionally, great maps, sound design, great choice and a large variety of features ensured this game became the FPS genre-defining instalment. With this edition selling over 30 million copies, it would be hard to imagine another Call of Duty title surpassing those numbers.
1) Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)
Between Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and the first instalment, it was near impossible to choose who came first. To start off, the vast variety of maps ensured each match felt different. Weapon design, game audio, and visuals had you invested into the in-game environment. Time to kill and pacing throughout matches was as near to perfection as you could get.
The newly introduced pick 10 system ensured you set up multiple classes for different in-game situations and customized your playstyle frequently. Changing from Killstreaks to Scorestreaks ensured every player that would earn enough points, could influence the game in their own way. From an EMP system attack to a Swarm of drones, scorestreaks would affect you in many ways other than just racking up kills.
All five weapon classes ensured players had a variety of choice before battle. When you initiate a gunfight first, you are rewarded greatly regardless of weapon, that is unless you choose that awful Riot Shield. League play really kicked off in this instalment, and an unimaginable amount of hours had been committed to this game mode.
With the only negative being lag compensation, this instalment comes out on top. Overall, this gritty, challenging and content-heavy game sits above the others. After adjusting to the mechanics and learning map structure, this game still provides countless hours of fun for every type of player.