A History Lesson
Call of Duty and Halo have been around for a long time, with Halo: Combat Evolved revolutionizing console first-person shooters in 2001 and kicking off what is now one of the most legendary series in gaming history. By the time wildly popular Halo 2 arrived in 2004, Xbox Live arguably put online console FPSs on the map and the franchise continued to dominate for several years thereafter. Perhaps in response to the monumental success of the Halo series, The Call of Duty series saw their first release in 2003. Early versions saw the game set during World War II, but COD never managed to unseat Halo from it’s dominance until its Modern Warfare and Black Ops titles which shifted the focus to 21st-century battlefields. Call of Duty is arguably the FPS king today, although Halo still remains popular. Halo 5 even broke several sales records and has gone down as the most successful launch in Xbox history.
Although both Call of Duty and Halo are first-person shooters (and titles that have largely defined the genre), there are major differences in how they play. Halo's multi-player has always been more focused on arena-style combat, with slower kill times that reward personal skill and concepts like map and power weapon control that reward teamwork over “lone wolf” tactics. On the other hand, recent Call of Duty titles such as Modern Warfare and Black Ops typically feature more high-speed "run-and-gun" style game play that many gamers find more accessible, although both franchises have always been friendly to casual and competitive players alike.
Most gamers will likely spend the bulk of their Call of Duty or Halo play-time in the multi-player suite, but many enjoy the single-player campaigns as well. Here, Halo clearly pulls ahead of the competition with its excellent long-running story and rich lore. The Halo franchise even boasts a series of spin-off novels, the content of which 343 Industries has been weaving into the games more and more. This is not to say that the Call of Duty games don't have good stories, and the developers have certainly stepped up their writing with recent titles – but overall, Halo has more to offer for gamers who want a really good story to sink their teeth into.
Can You Choose A Side?
Choosing between Halo and Call of Duty mostly boils down to your own preferences and play-style, as well as what gaming platforms you own, as Halo 5 is an Xbox One exclusive (although Frank O'Connor has stated that Halo 5 on PC is not out of the question). Those who prefer fast-paced, run-and-gun style game play should check out Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Gamers who love the old-school, team-based arena game play might find themselves more drawn to Halo 5.
But of course, at the end of the day, there's no reason you can’t just go ahead and stock up on snacks, fire up postmates, and kill and entire weekend playing both. We probably will too.