While the campaign is largely by the numbers, Infinity Ward proves more daring with Ghosts' new Extinction mode, unlocked after the campaign. Inspired by Treyarch's popular zombie modes, Extinction has players team up to fight off aliens. While the mode has players similarly fending off waves of alien Horde-style, the mode slowly forces players to take the offense by destroying their nests. Like Treyarch's co-op modes, teamwork proves essential to surviving.
As Extinction sessions move along, players can earn cash and skill points to upgrade their equipped abilities. They can increase their health, power-up their weapons, or beef up their loadout resources. Fending off aliens proves fast-paced and exciting in itself, but there's ample reason to come back, thanks to the leveling system that's normally reserved for traditional multiplayer. Higher levels means unlocking additional player classes, weapons, and loadout abilities, which helps keep the experience fresh. While players can opt to go solo in this mode, it's at its best with three friends.
The series' traditional multiplayer also returns with some interesting new twists. The overhauled perk system is perhaps the most notable change, as each perk is now weighted a certain amount of points. A player can load up on numerous low-tier perks or stock on a few high-powered elite perks. Instead of focusing on perks giving outright advantages (like the much-maligned Stopping Power), perks instead focus on an individual's play-style. For example, I had the option to equip Resilience (fall damage resistance), Agility, Marathon, and other similar perks to focus purely on speed. Having five loadout slots suddenly makes more sense with so many options on the table.
Players can shape their kill streak packages in a similar fashion. As someone that dies frequently, I loved having the option to select packages that required low kill counts. Of course, high-skilled players can opt for truly punishing weapons, like a Loki satellite at 15 kills. While it's still annoying to get blown to smithereens by an unavoidable explosion, at least this time, I get the added treat of watching the map dynamically change. The first time I saw the abandoned town, Warhawk, go up in flames was pretty neat.
Like the campaign, multiplayer takes few chances. Cranked, Search and Rescue, Blitz, and Grind are all variations of tried-and-true formulas. However, while they may not be entirely new, these game modes remain frantic and fun to play, especially with the ability to seamlessly slide under and vault over objects on the run.
Sequences like this underwater combat stage are all-too-short