Call of Duty has been the meat and potatoes of the first-person shooter genre since the series released back in 2004. Compiling a list of the best CoD maps seems like a breezy way to talk about a series that’s been formative for so many gamers. But with so many iconic maps brimming with nostalgia, it’s hard to narrow down the list!
Today, we’re taking a look at the 15 best Call of Duty maps of all time, ranked from good to our favorite overall.
15 Best CoD Maps of All Time, Ranked
The Call of Duty series spans nearly two decades of gaming history. Some folks reading this will likely have strong opinions as to how this list “should be” ordered, as well as which maps even belong on the list. But that’s the beauty of these shared experiences that have created the community.
Every player has experienced heroic triumphs and crushing, rage-inducing defeats on the many dozens of maps available across the series. Do you really want to find truly the best Call of Duty map? The only way to find out is to grab a few buddies, load up your favorite entry to the series, and queue up for a match.
With that being said, let’s get into some of the most common favorites.
15. Shi No Numa (World at War)
Japanese for “Swamp of Death,” Shi no Numa is a zombies map that’s been ported to more recent iterations of the franchise no less than four times. Shi No Numa was the first zombies map to introduce distinct characters that would appear in subsequent levels as they were unlocked (though none as memorable as old Tricky Dick).
This was also the debut of the Hellhounds enemy, which are infamous for ruining hundreds of solid zombie runs by absolutely mauling anyone who is out of position, reloading, or generally not leaning close to their screens, cursing and praying.
Shi no Numa was the first Zombies level to really develop a sense of place. Unlocking a new area for the first time truly felt like you were exploring a run down top secret research site.
With Call of Duty: Vanguard’s return to the World War II setting, Shi No Numa has recently received an HD makeover. It will allow players newer to the series to experience the horror of hellhounds all over again.
14. Favela (Modern Warfare 2)
Tired of being sniped from across the map on your way to the action? Would you instead like to be blasted in the back by a man with a shotgun scrunched into an alleyway barely wide enough for him to stand sideways?
Well, Favela is the map for you. The dense maze of shanties winding up a steep hill that make up Favela are ideal for anyone looking to test their reflexes, as enemies can come from any direction with no warning.
13. Eagle’s Nest (Vanguard)
Taking place in a secret Nazi intelligence base, Eagle’s Nest is the perfect kind of place to test out those new destruction mechanics. Eagle’s Nest’s layout is a classic three-lane setup you can find in any competent multiplayer shooter, but with a little bit of that next-gen razzle-dazzle sprinkled in.
12. Firing Range (Black Ops)
Firing Range takes place in…well, a firing range. More specifically, a weapons training course. Which means that the designers at Treyarch weren’t burdened with making the area look and feel like some place that had a firefight break out.
Instead, they were able to focus their efforts on making this map the perfect place for a shootout. With tons of cover between little rusted out shacks that provide perfect ambush points, Firing Range is a great place for a player to test their skills.
11. Five (Black Ops)
You read that right, number eleven on this list is Five. Five is a zombies-exclusive map that takes place in the Pentagon. I could talk about how the layout of the map lets players to take pot shots at zombies from raised platforms in the main foyer, allowing them to give their allies overwatch and pick off zombies that are swarming their comrades, creating some pretty harrowing last-second saves.
But the real reason it made the list is the roster of playable characters for this mission. Instead of picking from an assortment of plucky soldiers from various countries, this scenario lets you play as John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, Fidel Castro, or everyone’s favorite jowly grandpa-in-chief, Richard Nixon.
10. Leningrad (Call of Duty 2)
Leningrad is a bit of a sleeper hit, considering CoD 2 came out in 2005. That’s likely before a significant portion of current players could hold a controller, let alone pronounce Leningrad. Some of the older (we prefer the term “seasoned”) players no doubt have fond memories of sitting in a living room with friends, playing on a TV that was much too small for split screen.
Despite the nostalgia for times that have come and gone, Leningrad still knocks it out of the park in terms of atmosphere and pacing. Dark, bombed out buildings give cover for snipers, and tight alleyways become hectic free-for-all’s.
9. Crash (Modern Warfare)
Crash is one of the more memetic entries of Modern Warfare, so much so that it eventually made its way into Modern Warfare 2’s roster. For a relatively smaller map, Crash offers quite a bit of verticality. The density and height of the buildings give players ample cover from most kill streak air strikes that may come from above.
But that also gives enemies dozens of sightlines from windows, rooftops, and blind alleys to attack from, ensuring nowhere is truly safe.
8. Terminal (Modern Warfare 2)
Home to the series’s most controversial mission, “No Russian,” Termina offers some of the best teamplay opportunities in the franchise’s history. This is due to an abundance of waist-high cover and one main concourse being the crux of every firefight.
There are only two ways to flank the concourse. One of them is a skybridge that gives pretty much every player in the server a clear shot at you. Because of this, Terminal always becomes a vicious tug-of-war match. The balance of power can be tipped only through sheer force of will and determination, or a heroic flanking maneuver through the jetway that connects the two team’s spawn points.
Despite the tumultuous beginnings around the single-player mission taking place in this level, the multiplayer map is by contrast much less controversial. It has become a wide-spread fan favorite of the series.
7. Estate (Modern Warfare 2)
I’m sure some of you reading this are surprised to see Estate on this list. Everyone I’ve spoken to that has played on this map either loves it or hates it. It ranks directly in the middle in order to equally upset both camps.
Estate is the ghillie sniper’s favorite map. With tons of open forest to hunker down in, whether you’re counter-sniping other players with the same idea or trying to tag somebody running through the mansion in the center of the map, everyone has strong memories on this map. It could be your first good kill streak or your first ragequit.
6. Redwood (Black ops 3)
Redwood is a visually stunning recreation of the Klamath mountains in Northern California, only with significantly more wall running and gravity spikes. Try not to get axed while you’re enjoying the view of the distant mountains and rough seas.
5. Banzai (World at War)
Banzai was a staple of the World at War map rotation. The large wooden bridge that dominates the map encourages medium to long range combat. Anyone looking for more cover is going to have to fight their way through the maze-like cave systems below. The caves always host frenetic games of trench gun cat-and-mouse.
4. Killhouse (Modern Warfare)
This is probably the most appropriately named entry on this list. Killhouse is essentially a tiny paintball arena that becomes an absolute chaotic mess within seconds of the round starting. This level is a go-to for anyone looking for a quick match with plenty of action.
Despite the chaotic look and feel of Killhouse, the map offers some pretty compelling team play opportunities in both team deathmatch and domination mode.
3. Hotel Royal (Vanguard)
This one quickly became the crowd favorite of Call of Duty’s latest return to the western theater of WW2, Vanguard. Taking place in a luxurious hotel in occupied Paris, Hotel Royal makes full use of Vanguard’s destructible environment mechanics. This not only adds a new dimension to gunfights, but also a cinematic quality as a hail of gunfire knocks out the individual panes of the ornate window dividers separating sections of the bar on the hotels upper level.
Seeing the environment torn to shreds after an especially intense firefight is a small detail that adds a lot of depth to the overall feel of the game. Hotel Royal seems specifically designed to exemplify this effect.
2. Nuketown (Black Ops)
Everybody knows Nuketown. Some of you may have clicked on this article specifically to make sure Nuketown was on this list. Nuketown is another cramped map that forces players to always be just a stone’s throw away from one another. The reason it ranks higher on the list than something like Killhouse is…well, just look at it!
Unlike the other maps in the franchise, it isn’t based on a particular level or part of the narrative. It’s a recreation of one of the “Doom Towns” used to test nuclear bombs in the 1950’s. These towns would be stocked with food and mannequins dressed in contemporary clothing in order to see what survived the blast, and how well.
Nuketown looks entirely different to any other map that had been released in the franchise to that point. The gritty, grayish tones of the color palette are replaced by late 50’s technicolor. The two houses and gardens that make up this map have an almost plastic-like look that feels almost unnerving.
Walking through it would make you feel like you were playing a horror game. That is, if it weren’t for the half dozen or so other players running around like mad, trying to rack up a kill streak or survive more than just a few precious seconds.
1. Rust (Modern Warfare 2)
I’m a sucker for the classics, and also I didn’t have a stable internet connection in 2009 when Modern Warfare 2 was released, so I became very well acquainted with CoD’s quintessential 1vs1 map, Rust.
Rust has an unusual layout compared to most other entries in the series. It lacks the symmetry or flow present in other maps that keeps battle lines more or less stable throughout the match. Matches here usually devolve into a knock-down, drag-out king of the hill game. Players fight for control of the central tower, but not because it provides much of a tactical advantage. In fact, being up there creates sightlines that allow you to be shot from pretty much anywhere on the map.
Instead, it plays into that age old compulsion shared by both humans and housecats alike — the urge to climb a big thing simply to say to everyone, “I climbed the big thing, and you didn’t.” This strange intersection between a war game and playground hijinks is what cements Rust as the number one best Call of Duty map in the series.
Join the High Ground
Did you enjoy our article highlighting the best Call of Duty maps of all time? Leave a comment below with your personal favorite map ever, or feel free to drop a question for our writing team. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest in the gaming world.