The tenth game in the popular FPS series Call of Duty, developed by Infinity Ward, Ghosts was intended to be the start of an entirely new subseries for the franchise by acclaimed writer/director Stephen Gaghan. However, his talent and Hollywood success did not extend to the first-person shooter realm, and the Ghosts brand and storyline was retired after this one installment due to lackluster sales and criticism of its plot and villains.
Ten years in the aftermath of an attack caused by turning a United States satellite weapon against the nation, much of the country lays in ruins. The severe loss of industry, infrastructure, and capital to rebuild has taken the government from one of the most elite nations in the world to third-world status. This results in a weakened military and exposure to invasion, which comes in the form of a collective of South American governments called "The Federation" (the ones who were also responsible for bringing this on the U.S. in the first place). After ten years of occupation by The Federation, what remains of the U.S. special forces are brought together to become the "Ghosts", whose mission is to use whatever means necessary to defend the tattered remains of the U.S.
This game provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: This game was meant to kickstart the spiritual successor series of the Modern Warfare trilogy in tone and gameplay. However, the game ended up selling way less than Call of Duty: Black Ops II and its reception was mixed at best, with its online player population being only the half that of Black Ops II, prompting Infinity Ward's next game, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, to lean more heavily on science fiction. Consequently, players of this game were left with with an incomplete story and Sudden Downer Ending with no follow up.
- Action Girl: Female soldiers are playable for the first time in multiplayer, not counting Call of Duty: Zombies. A female astronaut named Kyra Mosley also briefly serves as your combat partner in the prologue mission. After the prologue, though, there are no notable female characters in the story.
- After the End: The game takes place in an America with its power shattered by ROG strikes.
- Alien Invasion: Due to the popularity of the "Zombies" gameplay mode in the Treyarch-made Call of Duty games, Infinity Ward has included a new multiplayer mode in Ghosts titled "Extinction" where teams of players must defend an area against waves of attacking aliens.
- Alternate History: The game takes place in an alternate 21st century where a devastating conflict in the Middle East greatly depleted the world's oil supply and resulted in a global energy crisis. This event gave the oil-rich nations of South America a virtual monopoly on oil, allowing them to form the Federation of the Americas. The Federation would quickly expand until it controlled all of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. At the start of the game the United States and the Federation are in an uneasy peace, until the Federation decides it wants to add America to its empire.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Yes, guns can shoot in space, though obviously not as well as they do in atmosphere.note And yes, there do exist guns that were specifically designed to fire bullets while underwater.
- Artistic License Geography:
- Toward the end of the prologue, there's an amazing Scenery Gorn shot of San Diego being destroyed by ODIN's projectiles while Elias, Logan, and Hesh are driving away in the truck. However, they're looking down on Downtown from a road on a hillside — a vantage point that doesn't actually exist in that part of San Diego (at least, not with an unobstructed view of the waterfront). Their neighborhood also seems more in line with neighborhoods like Carmel Mountain and Rancho Bernardo in northern San Diego, many miles away from downtown.
- The downtown district looks nothing like its real-world counterpart, either, up to and including the ersatz "Greenway Park", home of the "San Diego Tsunamis". The stadium also looks more like Wrigley Field than the ultra-modern Petco Park.
- The stadium also has a view of Coronado Bridge that isn't possible where Petco park is really at.
- The Americans somehow managed to sail a submarine into and out of Lake Titicaca (or some other lake deep in the Andean Mountains), a feat which would require the submarine to be able to fly.
- The soldiers in the Brazil level speak Spanish, rather than the native Portuguese. The signs at the Brazilian Federation base are also in Spanish. Although, this may be because they are Federation soldiers from other South American countries, and not Brazil.
- Artistic License Military: The Federation manages to land helicopters on a U.S. aircraft carrier that is surrounded by escort ships. In real life, any non-friendly helicopter that attempted to land on a hostile aircraft carrier would be shot down by the carrier group's air defenses.
- Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Early in "Sin City" Hesh is about to be executed, the screen fades to white and a shot is heard... fade back in to reveal the would-be executioner has been hit by sniper fire.
- Bash Brothers: Literally. The two main protagonists are a pair of brothers who join the U.S. military and eventually the Ghosts following the devastation and occupation of America.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: During the invasion of Venezuela 12 years before the main campaign, General Almagro orders a rocket strike against a nearby dam, flooding the city and dealing heavy casualties to both his own forces and the invading American army.
- Big Bad: Rorke
- Bittersweet Ending: The Federation forces are in full retreat and their LOKI kinetic weapons platform has been taken over by American forces, but Rorke is still alive and he has captured Logan (who he intends to torture and turn into a fellow Ghost-killer).
- Black Dude Dies First: The first Ghost to die happens to be the one black Ghost (Ajax).
- Bland-Name Product: The level set in a baseball stadium in San Diego reveals it to be "Greenway Park", home of the "Tsunamis".
- Bolivarians with BMPs: Venezuela is the leader of the Federation alliance, and several missions involve fighting through the streets of Caracas.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: At the beginning of "The Hunted", Rorke and a squad of Federation Elites has the Ghosts dead to rights after fast-roping into their plane. Instead of simply shooting them all right there, Rorke and his soldiers rope out after a few taunting words; giving the Ghosts a chance to abandon their crashing plane via parachute.
- Breakout Character: While he's not personally in this game, Ghost from Modern Warfare 2 was popular enough that the creators saw fit to model an entire unit after him.
- Butt-Monkey / Trauma Conga Line: Ghosts is pretty much just one entire middle finger to Logan. The game starts off with him getting viciously thrown around by Kill Sat blasts that completely demolish his entire hometown and probably kills all of his friends, all at age 16. Then, a decade later after becoming a Ghost, he falls out of a plane and plummets into an enemy-swarmed jungle all alone, and escapes by flinging himself off a waterfall, then he's shot in the stomach at point blank range (never gets any medical treatment for that, by the way) and is then is forced to shoot his father several times in the chest by Rorke before watching him get his brains blown out right before his eyes. Then Hesh and Logan go on a revenge mission where Logan gets his ass brutally handed to him by Rorke, then the train they're on gets bombed and they're sent to the bottom of the ocean, where Logan is further beaten by Rorke and the two brothers just barely save themselves from drowning. So after finally killing the man who killed their dad, it turns out that Rorke is still alive, who promptly boots the recovering-from-nearly-drowning-after-a-train-crash Logan in the face, completely shatters his arm, and drags him away from Hesh where he's then taken to the Amazon to be tortured in a hole for months until his mind is completely shattered and he's brainwashed into callously killing the Ghosts, his only friends and his own brother. Jesus Christ.
- But Thou Must!: During the flashback mission in Caracas, you have no choice but to let Rorke fall to his apparent death. The game even goes as far as to give you a QTE prompt to let him die!
- Call-Back: The masks of the Ghosts are a modified version of the mask worn by Modern Warfare 2's Ghost. In addition, the dog's name is Riley, named after Ghost's real name (Simon Riley).
- A Black Ops leader being brainwashed into going rogue hearkens back to Call of Duty: Black Ops.
- The player also had to defend an aircraft carrier against being boarded in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
- The level "The Hunted" is a call back to the mission "Hunted" from Modern Warfare. Both levels are stealth-focused, with the player and his team trying to evade enemy patrols after being shot down over hostile territory.
- Canine Companion: The Ghosts are aided by a military working dog named Riley. In some parts of the game you will even take control of Riley. Riley is also available as a killstreak reward in multiplayer.
- Cliffhanger Copout: At one point Hesh, Keegan and Logan are left parachuting down over Caracas, with no escape in sight... then the game abruptly cuts onto the next mission.
- Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: In "Sin City" Hesh will constantly remind the player to "Pick up Riley!" if the player is not actively carrying him, regardless of the number of enemies present. Note that the player is defenseless while carrying Riley.
- Crapsack World: Oooh, boy. When your game starts off with a government Kill Sat being used to destroy the entire southern United States, killing millions and destroying all infrastructure in a matter of seconds, you can guess that you're probably in for this. What's more, it's implied that the world is even more crapsack then we see, what with the entire Middle East being wiped off the map by some war and the ensuing collapse of major superpowers caused by the immense loss of oil.
- Day of the Jackboot: Unlike most examples of Invaded States of America, an alliance of South American states establishing themselves as a global superpower and invading the United States is a more realistic scenario than, say, China or North Korea.note This is because, according to Word of God, South America is known to have a rich variety of natural resources, and this isn't far from Truth in Television in countries such as Brazil.note
- Death by Newbery Medal: Averted in the case of Riley the dog. He is injured by enemy gunfire and evacuated by helicopter.
- Denser and Wackier: The DLC packs for Ghosts have added a number of rather whimsical special characters to the multiplayer modes, including Michael Myers, The Predator, ghost pirates, and a revolver dual-wielding Mexican mariachi with the ability to turn killed enemies into clones of himself. As Infinity Ward's previous entries in the series have generally stuck to a "hard realism" edge, this seems to be them trying to show that, yes, they actually do have a sense of humor too.
- Diabolus ex Machina: The game ends with Hesh and Logan, badly injured, finally able to kill Rorke, and savoring the US's victory over the Federation, namely turning their own LOKI satellite on them. Logan turns for a breath, only to see Rorke himself, brutally beating them up and taking away Logan to turn him into a loyal Federation Agent. Hesh's pleading screams don't help the matter.
- Doomed Hometown: The beginning of the game, where the Walker's home town (San Diego) gets bombarded by the Federations attack.
- Dressing as the Enemy: During Operation Clockwork, Logan and the other Ghosts disguise themselves as Federation soldiers in order to infiltrate a base and steal data. As a result, the player needs to fire only a couple shots in the entire first half of the mission.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: At the beginning of the final mission, you can get a Chain SAW off the body of a dead Fed soldier (it's really easy to miss). It's the only time in the single-player campaign that you can obtain that weapon, which is the closest the campaign has to a portable minigun.
- The Empire: The Federation is a ruthless, militaristic superpower based in South America whose goals seem to be nothing short of controlling the entire western hemisphere. To accomplish this they are quite willing to use torture, brainwashing, attacks against civilians, and weapons of mass destruction.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: The Ghosts are made up of former Tier One (i.e. the most elite of the elite, like Delta Force and SEAL Team Six) United States Special Operations soldiers.
- Excuse Plot: All of Latin America has banded together to fight the United States. Go forth and kill them for America!
- Fallen States of America: The United States is no longer a superpower, just another country in the world. Its economy is in tatters, its towns and cities in ruins, and its military has deteriorated to the point where any remaining special forces are insurgents.
- Invaded States of America: The actual scenario of this game is not China Takes Over the World nor North Korea occupying America, but rather an alliance of South American states where Venezuela is the leader.
- Interestingly, the US's military strength is quite remarkable for a devastated country, as late in the game they still have the ability to launch a full-out assault on Federation facilities in the Atacama Desert while also sending astronaut commandos into space to take over the Fed's own Kill Sat. Although the generals do tell you unhelpfully that they are putting in most of their remaining hardware (and their last aircraft carrier) into this attack, so don't muck it up.
- It seems like most of the United States is still intact, while the Federation occupies California, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas. It can probably be assumed that the remainder of the United States has gone into "Total War" mode like they did in World War II: where the entire nation's resources have been mobilized for the war effort and all non-essential activities have been curtailed.
- The game explains that the Odin crew managed to scuttle the satellite before it could target additional US cities. However, they were too late to save the American Southwest. The United States as a whole is still intact, but its power has been vastly reduced.
- Final Solution: 12 years before the main campaign, the leader of the Federation, General Almagro, ordered the execution or imprisonment of all U.S.-born individuals in Federation territory. Naturally, this action drew the wrath of the United States, who sent an invasion force to Venezuela for the purpose of eliminating Almagro. Although the U.S. succeeded in killing Almagro, it did not stop the Federation's aggressive expansionism.
- Forced Friendly Fire: While Rorke has his back turned during an "interrogation", Logan musters up enough strength to reach for his holstered weapon, only for the attempt to backfire when Rorke grabs his arm and manipulates him into shooting Elias multiple times.
- Forced to Watch: Logan & Hesh are bound and helpless as Rorke murders their father right in front of them.
- For Want of a Nail: If the U.S. astronauts managed to successfully fend off against the South American Federation Space Marines from using the kinetic weapons satellite against the United States, then United States's economy wouldn't be in shambles. Unfortunately, the Federation forces did succeed their objectives, and Hugo Chavez's dream of destroying America came true.
- Foreshadowing: Throughout your confrontations with Rorke, he wants Logan alive for his own purposes. He gets him and begins subjecting him to the same torture methods Rorke was brainwashed with
- The Generalissimo: The previous leader of the Federation was General Almagro, implying that the Federation is a military dictatorship.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: The Federation appear to have no real motive other than "blow up America", which they seem to want solely because they're the antagonists in a Call of Duty game. The entire faction has only four characters from it: Victor Ramos, The Dragon who appears for all of five minutes; General Almargo, who is there solely to be an assassination target and doesn't even have any lines; the leader of the Federation, who is The Ghost, and again has no lines; and Rorke, who was brainwashed into supporting the Federation (rather than performing a genuine FaceHeel Turn, so we have none of that pesky "character depth" getting in the way; his entire character consists of wanting to kill the Ghosts for abandoning him) and thus can't show us any insight into their motives. We get no insight into their history, culture, or even their ideology. They seem to exist solely so that the Ghosts can commit all the war crimes they want without looking bad.
- Heavily Armored Mook: Minigun-wielding Juggernauts return in multiplayer as a killstreak reward, now with a new melee-focused variant called the Maniac who's faster than normal and armed with a knife. Both variants have an effective health of 1250 compared to 100 for a normal playernote , but don't regenerate health. Michael Myers is a reskinned Maniac with slightly different timing and animation, while the Predator has identical stats but unique weapons and gameplay.
- Heroic Mime: Much like previous Call of Duty games by Infinity Ward, the player character in Ghosts never speaks. Even Elias, who is otherwise very talkative, is completely silent during the flashback mission where you play as him.
- Hero Killer: Rorke, "The Ghost Killer", the main antagonist of the game. He's been tasked with wiping out the Ghosts, and he's pretty damn good at it. After all, he used to be their most dangerous member. And he manages to kill Elias.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The United States is devastated by their own orbital weapons system. Later, the same thing happens to the Federation.
- Hollywood Glass Cutter: The laser-powered Glass Cutter in "Federation Day" is used to enter through the windows.
- Homage: A few players have noted that Ghosts has several similarities to Star Wars. Both feature good guys fighting for freedom against an explicitly evil empire (the Federation), Rorke is a former hero has fallen to the dark side similar to Darth Vader, and Elias Walker fills the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The game even has its own Death Star subsitutes in the form of kinetic weapons satellites.
- Another notable one, yet still quite easy to miss, is the mission were Logan and Keegan must launch a portable missile/torpedo while underwater in order to destroy an advanced warship. The weakspot? A thermal exhaust port.
- Not to mention that most Federation soldiers wear masks or face-concealing helmets, making them quite Stormtrooper-ish. Hell, one mission even has the Ghosts infiltrating a Federation facility by dressing up as Fed soldiers, similar to Luke and Han disguising themselves as Stormtroopers in A New Hope.
- Plus, it's apparent from the ending that Rorke is intent on turning Logan into somebody just like himself: a Federation-loyal Ghost-killer. Just like how Darth Vader attempted to turn Luke to the dark side. Unfortunately for Logan, 'Darth Vader' here has a MUCH higher chance of succeeding.
- The start of the battle to capture the Federation Space station is remarkably similar to the space battle in Moonraker.
- Idiot Ball: In "All or Nothing", the Federation lands helicopters on an American aircraft carrier while the carrier's crew and escort ships all apparently forget how to use their point defenses.
- I'll Kill You!: Hesh completely flips out when Rorke murders Elias Walker.
- Informed Attribute: For being described as basically a Physical God, Rorke is never showing actually doing anything out of the ordinary in combat. The only fights he's shown winning have the other combatant tied to a chair helpless, and kicking a barely-conscious soldier in the face, so he comes off as no different than any other soldier. Then again when the Ghosts are known for being a group that kills large quantities of people while not being seen, it kinda makes sense. Rorke's durability, on the other hand, is, if anything, understated.
- Applies to the Ghosts themselves. For a group that supposedly specializes in stealth, they are notoriously noisy. Their first mission consists of ramming a stadium full of enemy forces with a truck, guns ablazing. Not very subtle.
- Rorke is also described as being a Blood Knight and totally obsessed with killing Almagro by Elias... and yet, in the actual mission, he's a decent leader who is just as level-headed as everybody else, if not more so; Elias is a Heroic Mime, Ajax does nothing, and Merrick suggests abandoning the mission for no reason.
- Interface Screw: There are a couple of instances in which the game's Y-axis controls are flipped without warning,note notably when controlling the shipboard missile turret and the hand launched mini-torpedo.
- Keystone Army: Averted. It turns out that 12 years ago, the Ghosts assassinated the leader of the Federation, General Almagro. Obviously, this did not cause the Federation to collapse like they thought it would.
- Kill Sat: Plays a major role in the story. The United States has the Orbital Defense Initiative (ODIN for short), which is taken over by Federation astronauts at the start of the game and used to destroy Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, and Miami (causing an estimated 27 million casualties). The station is scuttled by surviving American astronauts before it can destroy any more cities. Later in the game it's found that the Federation are building their own killsat called LOKI. During the final mission LOKI is successfully hijacked by a team of American astronauts, who use the rods within to deal heavy damage to Federation land and sea forces.
- La Résistance: The Ghosts are this, composing for former U.S. Special Operation Forces
- Laser-Guided Karma: At the beginning of the game, the Federation hijacks the United States' ODIN killsat to destroy several American cities and soften the country up for an invasion. At the end of the game the United States hijacks the Federation's LOKI killsat and uses it to devastating effect against the Federation's army and navy.
- Latin Land: The antagonists of the game are a coalition of South American states who devastated the U.S. using a kinetic weapon, and then invaded and occupied the crippled country.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Sixty soldiers are cut down to just fifteen against an enemy force of five-hundred; after regrouping and sending one of their men to lead the civilians to safety, the remaining fourteen (who presumably received similar training to the dead forty-five) inexplicably destroy the entire enemy battalion.
- Mauve Shirt: Ajax and Kick, two of the Ghosts who have no real personality or anything notable about them. While Ajax gets a death scene, Kick is even less important and you'd be forgiven for not even remembering he existed.
- Meaningful Name: Perhaps unintentional; "HESH" was the designation for the "High-Explosive Squash Head" cannon round, a projectile which flattened itself on the outside hull of a tank before exploding, causing the inner surface to peel off as shrapnel and killing the crew inside. Logan's brother is so badass he is capable of killing tanks.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Elias Walker, the main protagonists' father/commanding officer, gets executed by the Big Bad about halfway through the game.
- Mooks but No Bosses: While Call of Duty has always been generally conservative when it comes to enemy variety, Ghosts is by far the most extreme example in the modern series, with the only enemy type in the single player campaign being basic enemy soldiers, without even the snipers, Shield-Bearing Mook, or Heavily Armored Mook enemies seen in other games in the series.
- Next Sunday A.D.: Ghosts and Black Ops 2 both take place in roughly the same future time period. However, while Black Ops 2 had many explicitly Sci-Fi technologies, almost all of the weapons and equipment seen in Ghosts are modern real-world gear, with the major exception of the orbital kinetic strike satellites. Justified in that being bombed into the stone age has restricted U.S. tech growth, while the Federation is an upstart nation that has had a lot of catching up to do in a very short period of time.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- During the defense of Santa Monica, Logan takes control of drone A-10 attack aircraft at several points in order to keep attacking Federation soldiers at bay. However, on one run, the drone he's controlling gets shot down and it crashes into drone control, effectively causing Santa Monica's defenses to collapse.
- At the end of the game, Hesh decides to go after Rorke alone instead of waiting for the rest of the Ghosts to catch up to them. Not only does this not accomplish anything, but it also gets Logan captured by Rorke and set up to be brainwashed.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Ajax, Hesh, and Kick; Hesh and Ajax's real names are only revealed Rorke Files, while Kick never has his name revealed.
- Orbital Bombardment: The cataclysm that wrecked the United States was caused by the Federation hacking a kinetic weapons satellite and having it fire at major cities.
- Revenge Before Reason: If Hesh and Logan had simply obeyed Merrick's orders and not chased after Rorke, the entire final mission wouldn't have happened, and Logan wouldn't be captured by the Federation.
- Scenery Gorn: All over the place, just to drive home the nature of the Crapsack World the Ghosts live in. Also, very conspicously, after someone calls in a K.E.M. on the Strikezone multiplayer map.
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: The main campaign is pretty standard Call of Duty difficulty, but the Safeguard co-op game mode is significantly more difficult than the similar Survival Mode from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. You can survive much less damage in Safeguard compared to Survival Mode, while enemies have much more health and are super aggressive.
- Sequel Hook: The Federation is forced into full retreat, but Rorke is still alive and has managed to capture Logan, and plans to brainwash him the exact same way the Federation had done to him.
- Short-Range Shotgun: The shotguns have an effective range of about 20 feet; anything further than that, and you won't even hit the target, let alone kill it.
- Shout-Out: The Ghost mask in the briefings look like Darth Nihilus's mask.
- "The target is a small thermal exhaust port just below the main port."
- Apollo 13 "Talkback is barberpole, go ahead and retract"
- During the defense of the American carrier, there is a brief segment where you can save a crewman named Ryan.
- The "Devastation" DLC pits the player up against - and lets them play as - the iconic extraterrestrial hunter with an invisibility cloak and a clicking growl.
- The SMG/assault rifle Ripper owes a lot to Ghost in the Shell's Seburo guns.
- The Federation commandos' rescue of Rorke is pulled from The Dark Knight Rises.
- The team attacking LOKI is Icarus.
- Sibling Team: The main characters, Hesh and Logan, are brothers that kick ass together.
- Sole Survivor: According to the Ghosts' origin story, they were originally part of a team of 60 Tier 1 operatives drawn from various different branches of the military that was sent against a vastly numerically superior enemy force in the Middle East. Most of the operatives were wiped out, but a handful of survivors regrouped, slaughtered the enemy force in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and became the Ghosts.
- Space Marines: Both the United States and the Federation employ the use of armed astronauts in this game. The US astronauts are specially-trained United States Air Force enlisted men and officers who are tasked with operating and defending the ODIN space station, while the Federation uses their astronauts as a strike team to seize control of the station. At the end of the game the United States launches their own assault against the Federation's own kinetic weapons satellite to turn it against the Federation.
- The Stinger: After getting captured by Rorke, the last thing shown after the credits is of Logan being imprisoned in a hole in the Amazon.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: You end up almost being drowned an astonishing number of times throughout the game. It may be that the writers are trying to use water as a motif for the game or its Big Bad, similar to the use of fire in Black Ops 2.
- Tempting Fate: Kyra Mosley wishes to be able to go home again after spending three months already in space. Unfortunately for her, ODIN gets hijacked soon after she states this, forcing her and Baker to give their lives to destroy ODIN.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: At the end of the game, Hesh calls down a freakin' rod strike for the sole purpose of killing Rorke, and not even it manages to succeed.
- Throwaway Country: It's mentioned in passing during the prologue that the entire Middle East was utterly incinerated, presumably in some sort of nuclear incident. Specifics are not given (although it's implied this may have been the same conflict where the Ghosts were first created), what's important is that the loss of Middle Eastern oil leads to the collapse of the world's superpowers and the rise of the oil-rich Federation.
- Token Minority: Ajax is the only black member of the Ghosts. And he is promptly killed off early in the game.
- Trauma Conga Line: The United States as a whole, in spades. First, a kinetic weapons satellite is used against the United States by Federation forces, then the said Federation use their global superpower and military to invade United States. And it is highly implied they are trying to establish a puppet state in the said United States and make it an Oppressive States of America.
- Trojan Prisoner: Rorke pulls this in Mexico, leaking his location so the Ghosts will come for him, and give the Federation a chance to hit them all at once.Rorke: "You haven't beaten me Elias. You just made my job a helluva lot easier!"
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: Besides the obligatory vehicle sections, Ghosts mixes things up a bit with an underwater scuba level and a final battle in outer space, apparently drawing inspiration from the James Bond films Thunderball and Moonraker respectively.
- Unreliable Narrator: Elias, when talking about the mission to assassinate Almagro, claims that Rorke was totally obsessed with killing him. When we play the actual level, the only implication that he's obsessed is when he shoots down Merrick's suggestion to abandon the mission when the town gets flooded. Considering Merrick's reasoning is flimsy at best (if anything, the flood would make things easier due to the Federation being in disarray), Rorke comes off as fairly rational. Neither Ajax or Elias say a word in support of Merrick, either.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some players have found it is possible to summon their dogs and force them to fight each other in impromptu dog fighting rings.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Riley the dog is seen alive and well onboard the U.S.S. Liberator in the mission "All or Nothing", however near the end of the mission the main characters are forced to evacuate the now sinking ship via helicopter with Riley nowhere to be seen. He neither appears nor is mentioned in any of the subsequent missions.
- The prologue mentions that fifteen Ghosts survived against the Arab Coalition. However, there are only 9 Ghosts in the game, excluding Hesh and Logan as they joined later (Rorke, Elias, Keegan, Merrick, Ajax, Kick, Neptune, Greene, Poe; the latter three are only seen in intel files or as a Voice with an Internet Connection). The other six men/women are never referenced again.
- White Man's Burden: Invoked by the Federation, who are depicted as so incompetent that they need to kidnap a white guy to lead their forces to even stand a chance against the Ghosts.
- Whole Plot Reference: Charismatic antagonist who gets captured, put on a plane, is mocking the protagonists' attempts at doing a High-Altitude Interrogation and breaks free with the help of his own plane, wires and cuts the plane in half causing the pieces to fall? It's The Dark Knight Rises intro scene, only with Rorke in the position of Bane.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The entire endgame and Elias Walker's death could have been averted if, when Rorke is first captured, you weren't taking him alive.
- Justified in that he was needed alive by one group and wanted alive by the Ghosts at the time.
A co-op game mode styled on Treyarch's successful Nazi Zombies sub-game. The game focuses on a team of soldiers sent to investigate 'hives' near the ODIN impact site, and starts a series of DLC episodes that completes the story.
Warning: Spoiler Alert!
Point of Contact
Set a few weeks after the ODIN Strike on Colorado, the US military receives word of an outbreak of 'aliens' in the blast zone. General 'Godfather' Castle sends an elite team of specialists to investigate the contact site, and contain/ destroy if need be.
After the Colorado outbreak has been dealt with, Godfather tasks the team, CIF-1, to Alaska; to rescue a scientist (Dr Samantha Cross) who was recruited by Cpt David Archer for a top secret project codenamed Nightfall. In truth, Archer's project was to use the aliens, (sorry, Cryptids) to bio-engineer a new breed of Cryptid and learn how they operated. However, the captive Cryptids escaped, killing almost all that were present, except for Archer, Cross, and a few surviving soldiers.
After securing Cross, Archer was able to obtain a Chinese decommissioned Destroyer, the Stormbreaker, which he planned on using to reach an 'Ark' containing the Cryptid leaders, and planned on using Cross as a beacon due to her unique gifts. However, Cross became too powerful, and after almost 3 weeks captive, attacked the ship using the Cryptids. Archer issued a Mayday, calling for aid from Godfather, who sent CIF-1 to extract him and eliminate Cross. Cross escaped with help from a massive Cryptid beast the Kraken, and fled to the Ark, now known to be Balls Pyramid.
Archer led the charge towards the Pyramid, but his team were ambushed. With most of his team dead, Archer is approached by Cross, who wants to make a deal with him and Godfather. Archer and Cross head to the main chamber, where they meet the Ancestors, the Cryptid commanders. After losing contact with them, Godfather sends CIF-1 to extract the pair and recover the Cortex, a device capable of combating the Cryptids, created from the autopsied remains of an Ancestors brain. CIF-1 fought off wave after wave of Cryptid soldiers, decrypting obelisks and scouring the maze-like pyramid, before finding Archer and Cross in the command room. Cross leaves Archer to die in the pyramid as retribution for his actions towards her, and the five escape the pyramid with the Cortex.
However, their victory pales in comparison to what they have unleashed. In firing up the Cortex, they activated every beacon in every Ark across the planet, and in doing so, have inadvertently caused the Extinction of the human race. Godfather tells the US President that the only option left at this point is Scorched Earth, and reminds the President that they too had an Ark, waiting right over their heads.
As the extinction of humanity commences, CIF-1 fights their way to the Exodus launch site, fending off attacks from Cryptids and even facing off against the Ancestors themselves. Fighting through the obliterated streets of San Francisco, they must recover the 'Cortex' prototype and defend the shuttle from the aerial Cryptids, before it reaches low Earth Orbit.
As the team re-power the generators left by the astronauts in order to power up their superweapon, they learn of the fate of Samantha Cross, and watch as she heads off into space, leaving CIF-1 to die on the Earth.
This game mode provides examples of:
- Abusive Precursors: The Ancestors are not pleased that a new civilization evolved up top while they were sleeping, and they're going to do something about it.
- Action Girl: Potentially, since you can choose the gender of your soldier. Played straight with Dr Cross.
- Alien Invasion: Of a sort. The cryptids are in fact natives of Earth, so it would be more accurate to call it a subterranean invasion
- Artistic License Paleontology: The cryptids are described as having populated Earth approximately 300 million years ago. The problem is that 300 mya was the late Carboniferous period, and recognizable life was well established by that point. The description given of the Earth in cryptid times lines up more closely with parts of the Precambrian (such as the Paleoarchean or maybe the Eoarchean eras).
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: the Breeder in Nightfall is almost 5 times the size of a human, with legs capable of piercing straight through a soldiers body armor, skin and bones. The Kraken is a 100ft behemoth with large tentacles capable of producing more cryptids, and also heating up metal to the point it causes severe burns to humans. Both can also take quite a lot of punishment from small arms fire, not so much from autoturrets
- Big Bad: Swings between Cross and Archer from map to map; the former for being a human-cryptid spy, the latter for being a disavowed captain conducting experiments to make a bioweapon.
- Bittersweet Ending: CIF-Team 1 is able to activate the Medusa and evacuate the remainder of mankid via Exodus, but they are killed in the process, as well as the POTUS, and nearly all of the human race.
- Cunning Linguist: Dr Cross, who can speak 28 different languages due to a neurological condition. This makes her a prime candidate for translating alien glyphs.
- Da Chief: General Godfather Castle, and by extension POTUS.
- Death from Above/ Kill Sat: Implied by Godfather in the Awakening Epilogue, when he mentions that the human race had an Ark of their own, and how the only option left is the Scorched Earth protocol.
- Enemy Mine: Invoked by Archer during the events of Mayday, as he is the only person that has the data Godfather needs to attack the Ancestors, as some careless git destroyed every other copy.
- Necessary Evil: Quoted word-for-word by Godfather when conversing with POTUS over his decision to recruit Archer over shooting him.
- Four Man Band: CIF 1, which has 4 major roles:
- Weapon Specialist: Highest Damage Output, and can boost damage of allies for a short period of time.
- Tank: Increased health and melee damage, and can become invincible for a short time, while focusing all Cryptid attention on them.
- Engineer: Increased drill armor, and can make traps more efficient. Has the ability to produce an impenetrable forcefield around them.
- Medic: Increased health regeneration, and revive allies quicker. Has the ability to produce a stasis ring capable of instantly reviving downed allies (but not dead allies).
- Gatling Good: Part of CIF-1s loadout can include, among other things, a portable HMG turret, and a Death Machine minigun.
- Godzilla Threshold: What occurs during Awakening apparently crosses it, as Godfather and POTUS discuss Scorched Earth.
- Grenade Launcher: You have the option of including a deployable Grenade Launcher armored turret, as well as the War Machine rapid fire launcher.
- The Venom-X acts like a remote-detonated grenade.
- Handicapped Badass: Players, via the use of any of 10 relics. The effects of these are:
- Take more damage from Cryptids.
- Inflict less damage on Cryptids.
- Smaller Wallet (half of maximum cash, and earn less).
- Mortal (no class bonus).
- Take fall damage and take more time to regenerate health.
- Move slower than normal.
- No access to Equalisers and Machines.
- No access to Ammo pickups, Armor, Team boosters or loot boxes.
- Less starting ammo.
- Incendiary Exponent: Incendiary ammunition, which burns on impact, as well as fire traps.
- No-Sell: Rhinos and Mammoths, which are massive hulking beasts that charge you and pound you into putty, can take an astonishing amount of punishment before they go down
- More Dakka: Unless you are a maxed out Weapon Specialist with an LMG, Armor Piercing Ammo and the appropriate upgrades, in which case they turn into chunky cryptid salsa in about 10 seconds
- Person of Mass Destruction: Dr Cross, post Nightfall. After binding with the Beacon amplifier, she starts to gain psychokinetic abilities, which she uses to attack the crew in their dreams. Once she becomes powerful enough, she breaks out of her cell on the Stormbreaker and escapes to Bells Pyramid.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Almost all of the cryptids have red eyes, bar the Seeders and Scorpions which have yellow eyes instead.
- Turns Red: When the Kraken does this during the boss battle in Mayday, it gets very powerful, at the cost of its defences; hence it is a signal to start hammering it with everything you have.
- Ultra Terrestrials: The Ancestors, which have been in stasis in their arks for hundreds of millions of years.