- "An intense, challenging experience.
Enemies are deadly. You will not survive."
- — In-game description in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (other games just say the last sentence).
Veteran is the hardest difficulty level in Call of Duty series, with the exception of Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare where the Realistic, Specialist and #YOLO difficulties are introduced. The most prominent feature is enemies dealing substantially more damage, as well as having more health, higher accuracy and decreased reaction time. In many situations, the player will also get less assistance in the mission, such as timed objectives having less time available. Additionally, there are fewer checkpoints throughout missions. A combination of extreme caution, knowledge of the level, heavy use of cover and patience is key to completing levels on this difficulty.
Call of Duty and Call of Duty: United Offensive
Call of Duty is possibly the hardest game in the series to complete on Veteran difficulty, due to the lack of health regeneration (or health packs, for that matter) and large number of enemies that can kill the player with two shots (one if it's a tank or armed vehicle). The player needs to take some cover or victory is lost. United Offensive is just as difficult, if not harder due to the greater number of large-scale battles. On Call of Duty: Classic, there is no manual save, and the checkpoints are relatively spread out and won't activate if the player has less than 33% health. It is also a good idea to check each area thoroughly since the compass deliberately does not indicate red dots, and to avoid being surprised by a hidden enemy.
Call of Duty 2
In Call of Duty 2, the campaign is slightly easier than the original Call of Duty since the player's health can regenerate and the compass indicates red dots for enemies, yet it is still a very hard game to beat. Although there are 27 missions in all, some of them are extremely short, but nonetheless extremely combat-intensive. Checkpoints are more frequent in throughout each mission and, unlike the original game, the player doesn't need to have at least 33% health to activate it since the health meter is taken out. Because the player still cannot throw grenades back at the enemies in this game for unknown reasons (despite the new grenade danger indicator feature, as well as the AI now being able to do so), dying from grenades will be common, and it further causes the player to be flushed out of cover, exposing them to chaotic firefights.
Missions commonly thought to be the most difficult include "The Silo", "The Tiger", and "The Brigade Box," mostly because of their open-ended nature which usually causes the player to get ambushed and the enemies having the high ground. Like the other Call of Duty games in the series, there are infinitely spawning enemies which will continue to attack the player until a certain point has been reached or an objective has been completed. "The Tiger" is particularly difficult because of this system, especially when attempting to capture the HQ, because the game will not save until the player successfully clears out all of the Germans inside of it.
However, because there are a limited variety of automatic weapons in the game, the player will not take damage nearly as often and swiftly like in the Modern Warfare series. Therefore irritating, split-second deaths are much more rare. Still, caution is strongly advised as the enemies tend to be extremely aggressive, especially in close quarters combat, and will strafe to avoid being hit. The cross-hairs disappear completely when the player is in motion, so hip-firing on the move while playing on Veteran is not recommended unless the player is caught in a desperate situation. There aren't as many explosives and destructible objects in this game that will kill the player instantly, such as explosives and exploding vehicles. Bullet penetration is non-existent, so shots must be carefully placed in order to kill a partially exposed enemy. Also, enemies cannot kill the player in one melee hit (provided that the player is at full health)- it will actually require around three to four hits. Pistols can be very effective, as they kill enemies in one hit and make the player move much faster despite the lack of a sprint feature.
Call of Duty 3
Although it is slightly easier and shorter than its predecessors (14 levels instead of the 27 in 1 and 2), the challenge is still not to be taken lightly. Like Call of Duty 2, health regenerates when in cover and the compass still recognizes enemy movements. Unlike Call of Duty 2, the player is now able to throw back enemy grenades, even though the button sequence is a little complicated vis-a-vis the subsequent games.
The most challenging levels in the game are arguably "Saint-Lô", "Laison River", "The Mace" and "Chambois", as enemies respawn relatively quickly. While the player has more smoke grenades and fragmentation grenades than Call of Duty 2, the player should expect many of the same challenges found in that game (i.e. no sprinting).
Checkpoints are relatively more spread out in comparison to Call of Duty 2; for instance, in "Night Drop" and "Laison River", a checkpoint does not activate until the player disables all three flack cannons. As in previous games there's no time limit unless it consists of destroying a tank or other armored vehicles, but nonetheless the fast respawning in many areas encourages the player to hurry up.
The Veteran difficulty in Call of Duty 3 is locked until the player completes the campaign on a lower difficulty first.
Veteran difficulty does not appear in the PS2, Xbox and Wii versions of Call of Duty 3.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
The Veteran difficulty in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is much easier to beat than its World War II predecessors, possibly due to the fact that many levels are not all-out battles like the ones seen in the World War II Call of Duty games. However, it is still moderately difficult as enemies are prone to throwing several grenades at a time, and the chance of them running up in front of the player's team to shoot the player point blank is still quite high. Some specific levels are very difficult to beat in their own ways, "Mile High Club" for example is a very short mission but with a timer of only 60 seconds, tight spaces and deadly enemies can make this mission to be considered one of the hardest if not the hardest in all Call of Duty games. Another example is "Safehouse" which has numerous points in which the hostiles will fire at the player from numerous locations at a time. As in Call of Duty 2 and 3, enemies will keep infinitely respawning until the player moves forward, albeit at a slower rate, giving the player more time to maneuver before moving on. The game -- whilst only being moderately difficult at points -- has many levels that are incredibly challenging and can be seen as some of the most difficult in the series. This includes "One Shot, One Kill", "Heat", and "No Fighting in the War Room" which will often see the player die many times before successfully progressing further into the mission. The new sprint ability makes this game easier and faster to complete in comparison to the previous three games, but the player should not abuse it as they cannot shoot, reload nor throw grenades while running. Stealth missions are also rather easy for the most part, as long as the player doesn't blow their cover. Completing a block of between one to three missions on Veteran awards the player an achievement worth 40 gamerscore and completing the entire game in Veteran difficulty will award 90 gamerscore.
Call of Duty: World at War
The Veteran difficulty in Call of Duty: World at War is arguably the most difficult in the more recent releases due to the enemy AI's tendency to throw several grenades at the player at one time and the respawning happens at a frighteningly fast pace, giving the player a smaller window of opportunity to move forward than other games. This will force the player to run away from the grenades, causing them to run away from cover and most likely run backward or into the firefight. Grenades with the indicator barely showing will not instantly kill them but it will stun and weaken them. The campaign itself will often see the player switching between the fight in both the Pacific and Europe, with the player taking control as troops from both the United States and the Soviet Union. Like its predecessor Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the game features missions which can leave the player in hours of frustration such as "The Heart of the Reich" and "Downfall" -- which can be seen as two of the hardest missions in the series to date. However, players will often see that the AI's have a tendency to not be too difficult when taken one-on-one, and can often be picked apart with patience and continuously moving forward. After each mission completed on veteran, 30 gamerscore will be awarded and 100 gamerscore if the game is completed on Hardened or Veteran difficulty.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's Veteran difficulty, the AI enemies have increased accuracy and they will rush the player. In addition to that, the player will have about a quarter of their normal health, and gain about a quarter of all the checkpoints available on the other difficulties. Completing a block of between one to three missions on Veteran award the player an achievement worth 25 gamerscore on the Xbox 360, or a silver trophy on the PS3. Completing all missions on Veteran or Hardened will give the player the "The Price of War" achievement/trophy for 90 Gamerscore on Xbox 360 and a gold trophy on the PS3.
In addition to Veteran being available to players in campaign, it is also available to players in Special Ops. This is the hardest of all three available difficulties, but will award the player with three stars, if the mission is finished (and the other player is also on Veteran, if there is another player). There are a total of four achievements that require the player to beat a certain number of missions on Veteran difficulty worth 160 gamerscore total on the Xbox 360, or one bronze trophy, two silver trophies, and one gold trophy on the PS3.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops follows in the footsteps of Call of Duty: World at War by creating a challenging single player experience on Veteran. Once again it incorporates infinitely spawning enemies at some locations in the levels -- although grenades are not as rampant. Some examples of infinite respawn of enemies that will only stop if one advances further into the mission are the missions Executive Order and S.O.G. However, it is a considerable challenge to complete even the first set of missions on Veteran, and there are even a couple of achievements not related to mission completion that require Veteran difficulty to be selected, such as Light Foot, which requires the player to escape the ship in "Project Nova" within 45 seconds. It is arguably harder than the Modern Warfare series due to the fact that checkpoints are more spread out than those games, yet not as much as in Call of Duty 3. Checkpoints quite often will spawn the player into an open firefight which will require quick reactions to evade the incoming fire. Enemies tend to be much more accurate and more agile in this instalment than in its predecessors. The player will only have a quarter of their health and can be killed by a mere burst of bullets by a single enemy if they are not careful. Although not thrown as much as in the previous games (excluding Modern Warfare 2), grenades are still thrown casually by enemies, which will often heavily stun the player or kill. Whilst maybe not being quite as difficult as Treyarch's previous title Call of Duty: World at War, the game on Veteran is not for the feint of heart. Every 1 to 3 missions will award 25 gamerscore and 100 gamerscore for completing the game on hardened or veteran difficulty.
Veteran difficulty does not appear in the DS version of Black Ops.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, unlike games in the past, is relatively easy to beat. Through Infinity Ward transferring the exact game engine and mechanics over to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the game feels exactly like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. AI, weapons, checkpoints, and map layout stay true to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, therefore making the game extremely familiar to returning players, and just as simple as the previous Veteran campaign. There are very few instances in where infinite enemy spawns exist in the campaign, and even when these are in place, they will be limited in output, or there will be a strong AI presence to assist (such as most of "Goalpost" or the last part of "Iron Lady"). Even in these situations where the player is faced with overwhelming odds, they are nearly always placed a distance away from enemy forces, giving them room to pick off hostiles before they can get too close. Grenades, are more common in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 opposed to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 but they are not nearly as much as previous Call of Duties. Checkpoints are spread relatively close to each other, however some can be slightly more challenging to achieve. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 can most likely be played through one sit-down session on Veteran. Like most of its predecessors, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and further, blocks of two or three missions completed on Veteran will reward players with a trophy/achievement with gamerscore, and finishing the campaign on either Hardened or Veteran will again result in another trophy/achievement.
Like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has a Special Ops mode. Being a choosable difficulty, different levels will result in different amounts of stars being rewarded (in relation to how hard the level is performed on). There are three achievements for achieving a certain number of stars in Special Ops, with one being based on obtaining a single star, another obtaining one star in every mission, and the final achieving all stars (three for each mission). To the contrary, Veteran is not available in Survival Mode, along with the other three main difficulties, being replaced with Easy, Medium, Hard and Insane.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, there is a slightly higher difficulty curve as the past missions are easier than the future missions. Grenades are not thrown as often, checkpoints are used a lot and Strike Force missions don't have to be completed on Veteran to unlock trophies/achievements. Contrary to popular belief, the player may complete the missions on Veteran via "Replay Mission" without the need to rewind or start a new story. However, in "Replay Mission", the player cannot set a save point and quit the game; a mission has to be done in one consecutive playthrough. Unlike in previous installments, the player may customize their loadout, which makes Veteran arguably easy to complete in this game compared to others. Special weapons such as Storm PSR, Death Machine, MM1 Grenade Launcher, War Machine or Assault Shield can greatly aid the player, as well as attachments/perks like Millimeter Scanner, Grenade Launcher, Extended Clip, Hardness, Longer Sprint, Access Kit or Fast Mag.
However, Strike Force missions are much harder to beat on Veteran, due to the player's movements and tactics on each of the soldiers, as well as the absence of checkpoints and customizable loadout. Fortunately, there are no related achievements/trophies to finish the Strike Force missions on Veteran.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Call of Duty: Ghosts is extremely easier than earlier installments of the series due to having the abilities to lean and slide, however it is still a slight challenge to complete. The game now has increased the difficulty of situations where the player has to repeatedly press the action button during a scripted scene. In previous games pressing the action button would be no different on Veteran than it was on recruit, this time around the player has to press the action button much faster or else the mission will fail. Completing this game on Veteran will reward the player a gold trophy on PlayStation consoles or an achievement for 40 Gamerscore on Xbox consoles.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
In Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Veteran is noticeably easier than its predecessors, likely due to the assistance of the game's mechanics and technology. For example, using Threat Grenades before heading into a room full of enemies might be the difference between clearing a mission and not noticing an enemy hiding behind cover. Coupled with the use of Exoskeleton abilities such as Stim, Veteran in this game is one of the easiest in the series. Completing the campaign for the first time on Veteran will award the player a maximum of 155 Gamerscore (30 for completing the campaign once, 50 for completing the campaign on Hardened, and 75 for completing it on Veteran).
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Veteran returns in Call of Duty: Black Ops III. With the introduction of the Realistic difficulty, it is no longer the highest difficulty level. It is also noticeably easier than in other games due to the DNI and its tactical mode which allows the player to see enemies behind cover, and Cyber Cores which grants abilities like turning invisible, hijacking enemy robots, or flying deadly nanodrones. In order to get the Personal Decorator achievement or trophy, the player must complete every level in Veteran without dying or failing an objective.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Veteran in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare can be considered a little more difficult than recent installments of the series. The presence of several abilities such as leaning, using special equipment and Suit Upgrades evens it out a bit, but nevertheless it is still quite a challenge to complete. Like in Black Ops III, it is not the highest difficulty level, this time with the introduction of the Specialist and #YOLO difficulties. Completing the game on Veteran will reward the player a gold trophy on PlayStation consoles or an achievement for 100 Gamerscore on Xbox consoles, titled The Longest Day.
Call of Duty: WWII
Call of Duty: WWII is perhaps the hardest game to complete on Veteran difficulty alongside with the original Call of Duty and Call of Duty: United Offensive, due to the lack of health regeneration and medical kits around the map. When Robert Zussman, the character who can give the player health packs to restore health is not present in a mission or a section, it will be even harder. Also, there is no manual save and checkpoints are spread out. The campaign does not feature any Minimap or Compass equivalents. NPCs have more advanced AI than previous titles and can charge when the player is reloading. Completing the game on Veteran will reward the player a gold trophy on PlayStation consoles or an achievement for 100 Gamerscore on Xbox consoles, titled Distinguished Service.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
- In the developer console in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Veteran is named "Fu" (short for "fuck you") as opposed to other difficulties' "Easy", "Medium" and "Hard". This most likely is a developer joke to the fact that Veteran is the most irritating and difficult game difficulty to play.