Call of Duty: Ghosts’ Ending Sets Up Potential Game-Changer Sequel

WARNING: This editorial contains explicit spoilers for the plot and ending of Call of Duty: Ghosts. There are also some for the original BioShock, so if you’ve made it these past six years without playing it or finding out its twist, then go away.

In 2007, BioShock made us face a thing we had internalized in our lifetimes of playing video games: that we are merely pawns, and that our actions are usually dictated by others.

It was a concept I know I took for granted, but the reveal that the phrase “Would you kindly” was compelling our character’s actions, even as we were forced to work toward the objectives that Irrational Games gave us in the structure of the game, was a pretty strange moment.

The pretense that the people we controlled had some sort of in-universe free will even as we operated them without any such literal illusions was shattered in an instant, and ever since, it’s been difficult to swallow the paint-by-numbers approach taken by most linear narrative games.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 took us further in this journey of self-discovery five years later, by introducing a plot that branched not because of direct player choice, but rather through the ability to fail, to be misled — or to avoid either. Its Call of Duty successor, this year’s Ghosts, stayed with a more traditional linear approach to its narrative, in which events are predetermined. But what occurs at the end of that game could lead to a new level of self-aware gamer dissonance if Infinity Ward and Activision choose to take this new subfranchise to its natural next step.

In Ghosts, you play as Logan, a typical first-person silent protagonist. That Logan never speaks is to the detriment of the campaign in its own context, considering the other main characters are Logan’s brother, Hesh, and his father, Elias. The campaign concerns a scenario in which a South American confederation manages to cripple the defensive infrastructure of the United States and mount an invasion, and that war lasts for longer than the decade over which the game takes place.

In that time, an American military unit, known as the Ghosts, carries out what are apparently crucial missions in the ongoing fight, and one of their own, Rorke, was captured early on and turned by the enemy. During the bulk of the game, he leads an anti-Ghosts force and serves as the primary antagonist.

The vague tale goes that Rorke was tortured with techniques cultivated by native tribes in the southern continent, using poisons found in the rain forest. He was broken by this torture to the extent that he became fully convinced that his former allies were the enemy. He became ideologically opposed to those who had once been his greatest friends.

At the conclusion of Ghosts’ plot, Logan and Hesh are lying on a beach in South America watching U.S. forces rout their foes from afar. Hesh has been shot through the gut, and so when Rorke appears mid-credits to interrupt this moment of respite to drag Logan away, Hesh can do nothing but scream.

And when, as he pulls Logan into the jungle, Rorke claims he is going to turn Logan against his brother and friends, I believe him.

So how could Ghosts 2 take this cliffhanger ending and turn it into one of great meta-narratives in modern gaming? Quite simply, by having Rorke put Logan through the same torture and indoctrination Rorke himself experienced, and having it work. And, then, putting players in the role of Logan as he fights against Hesh and co.

It’s one thing to force or allow you to play as a bad guy — think Star Wars: The Old Republic, in which you can fight for the Sith — or to have what was previously a protagonist group become villains themselves — as in Killzone: Shadow Fall and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It’s another thing entirely to take a playable good guy and make him (you) fight against the good guys, without any player choice or moral grayness entering the equation.

Imagine this: In Ghosts 2, you are Logan, turned forcibly and now convinced that your old friends and home country are the bad guys. In traditional Call of Duty fashion, missions are perfectly linear and there’s no element of choice, but all that you do is to the detriment of the USA, its people and your brother, who you see in that game the same way you saw Rorke in Ghosts or Gen. Shepherd in MW2. The game presents the Ghosts as antagonists with absolute conviction, and in order to progress through the campaign, you must work against them alongside Rorke, knowing full-well as the player all that is really going on.

That possibility feels like the perfect follow-up to “would you kindly” — knowing perfectly well that you are serving the interests of the antagonist, that you are the antagonist, even, but not having any alternative actions. I don’t believe Infinity Ward will go there, but I can’t think of any other direction that would be effective from here. Taking over as Hesh or some other Ghost in a fight against Logan would not be a particularly effective tactic, since Logan has neither a face nor a voice, and as such, if he were to become an actual character, it wouldn’t mean anything. But if you were able to continue to be Logan after he’s turned, it could make for some truly brilliant player dissonance that could offer far more talking points than forcing you to be baptized in order to enter Columbia.

But in addition to being a ballsy move, such a thing could do much to revive Call of Duty’s reputation. Ghosts was the worst-reviewed Call of Duty of the dying generation, and that is not a meaningless distinction. Black Ops 2 was a good shake-up for the series, but it needs to be shaken a lot more if Activision hopes it can maintain its dominance in the marketplace.

Messing with players in a truly meaningful way in Ghosts 2 — so that they’ll actually have something to talk about after finishing the game, instead of just forgetting it ever happened — would be a good start.

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30 Comments on Call of Duty: Ghosts’ Ending Sets Up Potential Game-Changer Sequel

Zendah

On November 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I actually like this idea, maybe in Ghosts 2 they can give Logan a face and a voice. I really enjoyed Ghost’s campaign and I’m definitely going to get the next to see how the story continues.

StephenG

On November 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm

You seem dead set on Rorke turning Logan as being the only option. I can think of another just of the top of my head. What if Logan escapes, kills Rorke, learns of another layer behind Rorke. Maybe a higher up in the US that was pulling the strings. Then has to escape and expose/eliminate the new big bad. Not fully thought out I agree, but it should demonstrate that with a little thought there are many options from here.

SG

Ghost001

On November 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

There is no way Logan is going to break. He’s Elias’ son for heaven’s sake. I have no doubt in my mind to Logan will escape the Federation’s hands and give Rorke what he deserves.

dylan

On November 27, 2013 at 1:33 pm

On call of duty 4 when you as soap he doesnt have a face or voice so technically it will end up like MW2. But I think that logan will turn and fight but will come face to face against hesh and then he’ll be pointing his gun at him but he would have a memory of when they were young of all the good times they had then rorke when be next to him and say pull the trigger and the ghosts will be extinct then you’ll turn around about to kill rorke he’ll stop you and then hit the gun out of your hand then breaks logans arm, he picks up the gun points it towards you shoots your chest, he’ll say, you are good logan and strong but not clever, picks up your leg again about to drag you hesh pulls out his pistol and shoots him in the head.

dylan

On November 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm

People say that rorke is tough because he survived from all of that but I dont think he is, I think that the toughest thing is Riley the dog takes on everyone, shoot by sniper and still he survived, he’s so cool.

dylan

On November 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm

The ending was great for call of duty ghost but I have to say without people hacking or moding the best call of duty so far for the campaign and multiplayer is call of duty modern warfare the first one cod 4.

but I wish that they put the hard core headquarters back on without the thing that kills you instead of your teammates but put the option where if you kill your teammates more than 3 times you should be kicked from the match or wait like in cod 4. They should also bring back some guns like the m21, mp5 and the m4 carbine from cod 4 because the older guns are all ways going to be better than the new guns.

Demetria1207

On November 28, 2013 at 8:46 am

Still it would make no sense to end the game like and not have it continue. People were sayjng thats the last of COD. But if it was. Rorke wouldn’t have pulled you offshore. I hope that they make another one for sure. I mean I’m just so hype to see what might happen in the next game.

Sonya

On November 29, 2013 at 1:07 am

This game looks amazing but i heard about some fps problems with the PS3 system, i hope they are correcting it soon as i would like to play with my friends.

Dillan

On November 29, 2013 at 2:30 am

What i think is going to happen is while Logan is taken hostage Hesh and merrick and everyone else is looking for him if they get to him in time then they would be able to rescue him before Roarke could get a chance to turn him against the ghosts and he could fight with his brother and the other guys against Roarke and just continue until they actually kill him this time…but that’s only what I think

Jdog

On November 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

Well, we didn’t get to see Soap’s face or hear him until MW2, as he was the same silent type in CoD4 that Logan is in Ghosts. The only thing I didn’t like about Ghosts is the lack of variation in the characters we play. We played Logan almost every damn mission, Elias in a flashback, and some astronaut (I think two different ones) acting like James Bond in Space. There’s no other main/sub faction we get to be in. Other than that, I think that Ghosts was a major improvement in the Call of Duty series, and I trust that Infinity Ward will make the sequel to Ghosts just as good, if not better. I am kind of on the edge about the name, though. (“Call of Duty: Ghosts 2″ just seems so bland.) But Infinity Ward will not let this cliffhanger (that they probably spent months on trying to perfect it) go unanswered, and they’ll do a fantastic job of catching us up with the story, or even start right where they left off like in MW2 and 3.
I have faith in Activision,

CGR

On December 2, 2013 at 2:34 am

Could Be That Europe Teams Up With Russia And USA, And Asia Teams Up South America? I’d Like To See A Cut Scene In Which Your Planning An assault On Some High Value Target Somewhere And Price The Only Guy Who Knows A Way In Is Price, Maybe Your Planning On Attacking A Prison or camp In which Logan Is Being Held In? I Have Tons Of Ideas XD hope The Sequel Is Just As Great

Dan Miller

On December 2, 2013 at 9:41 am

This is a clever pitch for the next game, though I think it’s a mistake for either of the CoD developers to commit to multi-part stories, given that they can’t control what shape the game carrying the same name and released in between their entries will take. I’m not sure I’ll remember who Logan or Hesh are in 2 years.

I don’t buy that CoD needs some dramatic shakeup though. Ghosts was reviewed negatively for being something of a rehash… I’m not sure where everybody has been for the last 3-4 entries in the series but apparently this was perceived as a departure from the norm. I’m all for bashing lazy games, but CoD sort of has a social contract with the players that they are just going to make a perfectly tuned multiplayer game with a Mountain Dew / Dorritos adrenaline campaign tacked on. Ghosts delivered well on that promise, plus they threw in a super awesome dog and a very enjoyable Extinction mode (which is better than games that try to just be a good FPS/tower defense). And it gets a cheap upgrade across generations, and was a beautiful launch title. I keep score 90% on the quality of the multiplayer, but having just prestiged once in the multiplayer I can say I’m pretty happy with it. On the pantheon of CoDs, it’s just below Black Ops 2, which I consider the pinnacle at this point.

dirt

On December 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

if you are logan and hesh and logan go face to face hesh will probably tell logan to remember his family and friends

Jonathan

On December 15, 2013 at 1:18 am

I have a feeling that this will happen: Rorke will be able to turn Logan and then Logan will kill most of the ghosts except his brother. Then, when he fights his brother, Hesh will convince him to be good again. And then Logan will realize what he has done and either kill himself or die while killing Rorke.

TheSchemenator

On December 25, 2013 at 7:56 am

A fire extinguisher to the back of the head, a magnum blast to the gut leaving him unconscious underwater (in which a fairly uninjured Logan and wounded Hesh nearly drowned in)……and Rorke still lived! Must be using Juggernaut.

Danish

On December 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I hate it how they captured Logan. I honestly would like to see a battle between the two brothers but then at the end They end up saving Logan.

Charles

On December 29, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I think that this is a great prediction, but I think otherwise. I think that I’d they were to make a 2nd Ghosts that they would do it a bit like the change from Call of Duty:Modern Warfare to Modern Warfare 2. In the first Modern Warfare game, you play as “Soap” and Captain Price is your Captain. In MW2 you play as “Roach” and “Soap”, or otherwise known as Captain McTavish is then your captain. That may do it like that in Ghosts 2 but instead you play as a whole different character and “Hesh” once again is your captain. Then you would fight Logan with Hesh.

I also have another theory. Before the cliffhanger part, Hesh called in backup to come pick them up on the beach. Then Rorke comes along and starts dragging Logan’s body across the beach, and that’s where it ends. Ghosts 2 can start out with Logan’s body being dragged slowly by Rorke but then backup comes and Rorke drops Logan and runs away, but then he gets captured. Then maybe the Ghosts find out Rorke wasn’t the real Villian behind all this.

Devin

On December 29, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I think that this is a great prediction, but I think otherwise. I think that I’d they were to make a 2nd Ghosts that they would do it a bit like the change from Call of Duty:Modern Warfare to Modern Warfare 2. In the first Modern Warfare game, you play as “Soap” and Captain Price is your Captain. In MW2 you play as “Roach” and “Soap”, or otherwise known as Captain McTavish is then your captain. That may do it like that in Ghosts 2 but instead you play as a whole different character and “Hesh” once again is your captain. Then you would fight Logan with Hesh.

I also have another theory. Before the cliffhanger part, Hesh called in backup to come pick them up on the beach. Then Rorke comes along and starts dragging Logan’s body across the beach, and that’s where it ends. Ghosts 2 can start out with Logan’s body being dragged slowly by Rorke but then backup comes and Rorke drops Logan and runs away, but then he gets captured. Then maybe the Ghosts find out Rorke wasn’t the real antagonist is, not Rorke.

Redspawnsilver

On December 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Apparently you didn’t watch the credits to the end… He doesn’t escape, but is in a cage at the very end of the credits… Can’t make the next one start, where this one obviously didn’t end…

Francisco

On December 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I think what happens to Logan is that he becomes bad and you become another character to try and stop Logan then brainwash him to become good ghost

Caboose

On December 31, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I was thinking the same thing when I finished the campaign. Of course there has to be a cliff hanger so they can keep the series going so they can keep making money, and the gamers and be interested in the gameplay.

Craig Roebuck

On January 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I loved the campaign On COD Ghosts, especially playing as Logan through most of the game. By the end I feel empathy with him and hesh. I don’t believe Logan can be turned especially after checking out the Elias rorke files, there is no way Logan would ever betray them, he may escape or be rescued but never turn. At least I hope I’m right. Can’t wait to find out in a year or two. Maybe Activision could release a campaign addon so we don’t have to wait so long, why not they keep doing it with multiplayer maps?

IAMtheTRUVAILLIN

On January 20, 2014 at 10:44 am

I feel so violated how can this be, I almost had a heart attack when I saw what happened. I really want to see how this plays out. I have to say that I didn’t expect such a plot twist, especially not from the call of duty franchise

TheWoodOre

On January 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

What I would like to see is Call of Duty changed up a bit.

Heres a first level idea:

Logan is tortured and fights for South America. The Ghosts find where Rorke is keeping him and try to kill Rorke, and they succeed. They go over to Logan laying on a floor after being tortured recently. Logan turns over and grabs a gun from someone’s pocket and shoots Keegan in the left arm. Knowing the Ghosts have weapons while he has just a pistol, he runs and the Ghosts lose him (The Ghosts don’t shoot but run after him). In this first level you would play one of the Ghosts, maybe Merrick or Keegan. You would first fight a bunch of enemies to get to the torture room or pit.

I believe choice would be smart to add in too, like if you don’t tap square fast enough to disarm Logan then he will shoot you, but if you do, then the fire might go somewhere else. Also other storyline choices, but not like the walking dead, the game won’t be totally different cause of one choice, but maybe a little different changes that could lead to different missions or team mate’s fatalities. I would also like the campaign to have a little “special combat”. Some kind of chase or trying to find an enemy in a public crowd in New York. Just a little zest here and there

sebastian

On January 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

this sounds good but i hope that in one mission logan remebers who hesh and riley are and turn good again and tells hesh rorke’s plan to get rid of him and the other memebers of the ghost squad.(Hopefully)

Josh

On February 20, 2014 at 5:09 am

Rorke probably doesn’t understand that it wasn’t just the torture that mad him bad, it was the hatred of his team letting him fall. Logan won’t turn simply bc he doesn’t have the problem and rorke will be shocked at how much torture he takes and doesn’t turn

Trevor

On March 16, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I wish we did not have to fight the ghosts now but what I really want to know is if we are going to have to kill Hesh, Keggen, Ajax, and the others even Riley.

everingham00

On April 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm

You must keep in mind that in COD4 that John “Soap” MacTavish (main playable character) never talked or show his face. But in MW2 it did so this could be the same way.

black bla

On April 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

What if they did the next Call of Duty Ghost story line as by switching off between the two brothers. Logan will be getting tortured trying not to change, while Hesh is trying to find Logan and stop stop Rorke just in time to fully commit Logan to join him.

Ryan

On April 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I hope Logan will never be brainwashed in the next game and that he’ll be able to find a way to escape the federation,or if before the brainwashing can begin the ghosts will show up in the nick of time to save him,and then Hesh would give him a weapon and that could be a good way to start the gameplay. With a rescue,reunion,and starting level.