Cut Halo: Combat Evolved levels
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
|This page discusses elements of deleted material and cut content. Some information on the page is sourced from game files and may not be verifiable through external sources. Where possible, such information should be clearly-marked and replaced with a proper external source as soon as one is available.|
This article is part of a series on
Halo: Combat Evolved cut content
- Cut content
Cut enemies and ambient life
To check out cut content for other Halo games, see here!
- "[Crunch] happened on Halo 1 as well, of the 25 planned missions for Halo, we shipped 10. Part of the problem is that as team size grows, all the really informal, seat-of-your-pants stuff you've been doing just doesn't work."
- — Chris Butcher on Halo's cut levels.
During the development of Halo: Combat Evolved, the game took many forms including real-time strategy, third-person shooter and eventually, first-person shooter. As the game transitioned into an FPS and a release for the Xbox platform, work on the game's campaign still hadn't begun by September 2000. Mission brainstorming later began in earnest in December with the rest completed over the course of 2001. This page documents the levels known to be cut from release, predominantly those planned out for the game's final FPS release.
- "I vividly remember building, literally on 3x5 index cards, a number and letter system. A10, A20, A30 and so on for each one of the missions. B30 was “The Silent Cartographer”. I pinned them to a board and I just stared at it for hours. There must’ve been 40 of those cards of there, and I’m like: “There’s no way in hell we’re going to build all of this.”"
- — Marcus Lehto on Halo's cut levels.
When planning out Halo: Combat Evolved's campaign, Marcus Lehto originally planned things out on 3x5 index cards, with a number and letter system assigned. These names can be found in the final game map files, and are listed as such below;
- A10 - The Pillar of Autumn
- A30 - Halo
- A50 - The Truth and Reconciliation
- B30 - The Silent Cartographer
- B40 - Assault on the Control Room
- C10 - 343 Guilty Spark
- C20 - The Library
- C40 - Two Betrayals
- D20 - Keyes
- D40 - The Maw
As can be seen in the numbering, there are several missing gaps indicating where levels were to be included, before being cut. At some point in development, the 40 missions Lehto planned out were eventually reduced to a more manageable 25, though another 15 were later cut for final release.
B20 is a level developed very early in the production of Combat Evolved. Little is known of it, though its files still exist at 343 Industries. As part of the "Digsite" project, the level was explored for potential use as a Firefight map.
The series of storyboards marked X40 depict a cutscene not featured in the final release of Combat Evolved, set after the end of the level The Truth and Reconciliation. The cutscenes depict the commandeered Spirit dropship (notably shown flying backwards due to a mistake on Wilson's part) returning to Alpha Base, flanked by Longsword fighters. The Spirit lands on the base's landing pad to an audience of hundreds of assembled Marines, who cheer at the return of the Captain and the Master Chief. The crowd is hushed and Keyes gives a speech, before turning away from the crowd and addressing the Master Chief and Cortana directly.
This mission lines up with a cut level recalled by Joseph Staten during the Halo: Combat Evolved developer commentary included in the Halo 3 Legendary Edition, in which he mentions that a level was intended to take place between The Truth and Reconciliation and the following mission The Silent Cartographer, which would have explained the purpose of Installation 04 and its purpose as a weapon. This mission was ultimately cut and the information relegated to the cutscene on The Truth and Reconciliation in which Keyes is saved from the brig; a decision later mocked by the developers who referred to the Captain as "Captain Exposition". It is likely that the cutscene shown here would have served the purpose mentioned by Staten. 
These storyboards also give a look at what Bungie intended for Alpha Base, later featured heavily in 2003's Halo: The Flood as the UNSC base of operations on the ring. Part of the original pitch of Halo: Combat Evolved would have seen the player waging a larger guerilla war against the Covenant on the ring, though by the final release almost all mentions of a UNSC home base on the ring were removed for time. The base in these storyboards resembles a beam emitter like those featured elsewhere in the game, though the base as visualised in 2018's Halo: Fireteam Raven has a drastically different appearance.
- X40 1
- X40 2
- X40 3
- X40 4
Level after The Silent Cartographer
In early drafts of Combat Evolved, a level was intended to take place inbetween The Silent Cartographer and Assault on the Control Room. This level was ultimately cut for time, and the cinematic depicting Echo 419's descent inside the bowels of Installation 04 was included instead to justify the travel to a completely new region in the next level. A lack of resources at the time meant no matte paintings were available to depict the dropship flying above-ground.
Despite this level being cut, The Silent Cartographer and Assault on the Control Room retain subsequent ordering of B30 and B40 in the files, respectively - indicating that one of these missions may have been renamed in the course of development, or started development after this level was cut.
One level discussed for development around December 2000 involved "volcanos and heavy machinery". Little is known aside from this.
Indoor is a map developed by Gearbox Software for the Halo PC port, though never shipped with the game.
A map codenamed "ruinedpain" is referenced inside Combat Evolved's files, with files still existing at 343 Industries. The map was recalled by Hardy LeBel as possibly coinciding with a map that was cut from the game involved a huge human interior space and created by Paul Russel as a test for his human architectural styles. The map was later passed onto LeBel, though ultimately scrapped due to requiring too much time and energy to work into something useable. As of 2015, LeBel could not remember if this space was the fabled ruinedpain, or another map.
The map can be spotted in the 1749 Beta, where the image for the level Damnation features the map in an untextured blockout form, with the description "Colony remains on Reach". As part of the Digside Alpha initiative to uncover and restore cut content, this map is being further developed by Conscars under the name "Purgatory", combining the existing model with a modified layout and new scenery inspired by the Beta 1749 description.
The level as it appears in the 1749 Beta.
The following map names are known to remain in the files internally at 343 Industries, though little is currently known of them;
Playground is a developer testing environment used by 343's Digsite project for showcasing and evaluating project content.
- ^ a b Eurogamer, Better Than Halo: The Making of Halo 2: Page 4 (Retrieved on Feb 27, 2022) [archive]
- ^ halo.bungie.org, Re: That reminds me...: "Have they moved into the single player portion of the game yet?
Nope. Although a lot of it is being discussed." - Matt Soell (Retrieved on Feb 27, 2022) [archive]
- ^ a b Rampancy.net, 1/12/2000 Bungie Weekly Update (Retrieved on Feb 27, 2022) [archive]
- ^ a b VICE, The Complete, Untold History of Halo (Retrieved on Feb 27, 2022) [archive]
- ^ a b c d e f g h Halo Waypoint, Cutting Room Floor (Retrieved on Jul 7, 2022) [archive]
- ^ a b c YouTube - Vikingo NO, Halo Combat Evolved: Developer Commentary Playthrough (2007)【55:12】
- ^ YouTube - Hardy LeBel, Question Session - Level Design: (Local archive) "Hmm, well I don't know anything about a volcano mission for single player. And I'm not certain about this, but Ruined Pain sounds familiar. I can say that I had one other map in CE that I cut before we shipped. It was an absolutely HUGE interior "Human" space built by Paul Russell. I think he made it as a proof of concept for his Human geometry. He gave me the files for the space, but as I was looking it over it was so huge that it really would have needed lots of time and energy to make into a good MP map - time he simply didn't have since he was so busy with single-player stuff. So alas - the world never saw it. That might have been Ruined Pain. But we may never know..." - Hardy LeBel