Cut Halo: Combat Evolved weapons
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Halo: Combat Evolved cut content
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- "At that time we were just like "what if we did this?" and we built it, got it in the game and it just sat there. Some of them made it into the final game, some of them sat there and withered on the vine."
- — Marcus Lehto discussing the weapons found in 2000-era builds of Combat Evolved.
During the development of Halo: Combat Evolved, the game went through many different styles including a strategy game, a third-person shooter and a first-person shooter. Throughout these iterations, many different weapons were cut from the game, some of which presenting notably different design styles from those found in the final 2001 release. Most known cut weapons are from the 1999-2000 era builds of Combat Evolved, during which time the game was intended to be a third-person shooter. However, a small handful from the FPS era are known.
At the time of the game's development, Bungie had a creative attitude to weapons creation - weapons were often designed with a question of what could be done, with details of how it might work in-game left to be figured out later. Due to this, there is no guarantee most of these weapons would have ever made it into a final build. However, the ideas or designs for many of them would later make their way into subsequent Halo entries, in particular Halo 2.
Of particular note is the timeframe at which Halo started development. The initial RTS that would later become Halo begun development in 1997 under the codename "Armor", and as such many of the early designs for human weapons and equipment bear strong visual similarities from real-world Cold War weapons programs active in the 1990s and late 1980s. These include the Objective Individual Combat Weapon, AAI CAWS and H&K CAWS, Denel NTW-20, Steyr IWS 2000, Walther WA 2000 and others. Additional inspirations for human weaponry were based on popular science fiction media of the 1980s and 1990s - particularly 1986's Aliens and 1997's Starship Troopers - the latter of which released the same year as Halo beginning its development.
The chaingun is a tri-barrelled rotary cannon that could be held with two hands by the player. It was frequently seen in promotional material for the game including the first-ever screenshot released, though was ultimately cut. The concept was later revived with the AIE-486H machine gun in Halo 3.
Labelled in-game as the Pattern-2 Composite Sword, the machete was to be a human counterpard to the Covenant energy sword. Early revisions of John-117's armour had a port for the Machete to slot into. Althought the weapon was modelled and animated, it was never made functional as a weapon in-game. Although the machete was cut, it did live on in-game and in-lore as the Machete - a UNSC bladed weapon for use in jungle environments and found on all variations of the difficulty sigils for Normal, Heroic and Legendary difficulties.
An image showcasing the Pattern-2 Composite Sword.
The crossed machetes on the Heroic difficulty icon for Halo: Reach.
Labelled in-game as the Lamprey Sub-Ed, the spear gun was intended for underwater combat against sea creatures. When fired, its projectiles would stick into enemies akin to those of the Needler and Paegaas Workshop Spiker in later games. The concept was revived in Halo Infinite with the Flaktura Workshop Skewer.
The SMG (referred to in UI as the 12.7mm MP-99 Para) is an SMG originally slated to appear in Halo. The weapon's concept was later revived in Halo 2 as the M7 SMG. The SMG in the 1999-era builds sports a side-loaded magazine akin to a Sten, which holds 50 17.7 rounds, with at least one spare.
c concussion gun is another weapon found in the 2000-era builds of Combat Evolved. The weapon appears to have a charge up before firing, and uses the Shotgun sound effect for firing (presumably as a placeholder). In later discussions, the weapon was jokingly referred to as the "drumkey".
While not strictly a weapon, Sangheili wielding arm-mounted shield-generating gauntlets akin to those employed by Jackal infantry can be observed in concept art and screenshots. A similar device lives on in Halo canon.
c excavator is another weapon found in the 2000-era builds, and jokingly referred to as the "boring device". The Excavator has a tilted, rotating magazine near the front. The Excavator would eventually form the basis for the design of the Mauler in Halo 3. Although labelled in-game as a Covenant weapon (using the
c_ prefix) and visually reminiscent of the alien designs, the weapon is claimed in The Art of Halo 3 to have been intended for use by the UNSC. It is unknown whether this was actually the case, or simply the case of the developers misremembering the facts in the intervening seven years.
The texture for the Excavator went on to be used as a placeholder texture for the Gravity Rifle and the Microwave Gun.
The gravity rifle can be found in the files for released builds of Combat Evolved, though lacks textures, first-person models, animations or projectiles. The weapon can be enabled on some maps in Halo Custom Edition by using the command
cheat_all_weapons. When firing, the weapon emits a bright light and produces flames on its target, and is extremely accurate.
Data gathered from the game files of Combat Evolved reveal a few more details about this weapon;
- It has the maximum rate-of-fire possible in Combat Evolved - essentially acting as a beam weapon similarly to the sentinel beam.
- The weapon has a magazine set up, with a 200 round capacity before needing to reload, and capable of carrying 200 spare rounds.
- The weapon has no additional properties such as spread or magnification set up.
In this manner, the gravity rifle appears to be somewhat of a spiritual successor to the microwave gun featured in the 1999 builds, and somewhat of a precursor to the Disintegrator later cut from Halo 2.
A Spartan employing the Gravity Rifle on Battle Creek.
Appearing to function akin to a grenade launcher, the gravity wrench features two prongs which charge up and generate an energy ball between them, which is then launched on a projectile arc.
The weapon labelled
c microwave gun is found in the 2000-era builds of Combat Evolved. The weapon is held in two hands akin to holding the turrets found in Halo 3-onward, and emits an orange beam-like particle effect while firing. When asked about this weapon, Marcus Lehto indicated he did not remember what purpose the weapon had, or if it had even been given one when it was first implemented.
Particle beam rifle
Found in the 2000-era builds and labelled
c particle beam rifle (also referred to as the "alien sniper rifle"), little is known of this weapon. It presumably fulfills a role of a Covenant sniper rifle, and presumably evolved into the particle beam rifle weapons later included in Halo 2 and subsequent entries.
Concept art for the special purpose sniper, a cut enemy which would have wielded the weapon.
Covenant sniper rifle
Early weapon designs
While Combat Evolved ultimately did ship with a diverse set of weapons, these final designs went through a large amount of iteration throughout the game's progression from strategy to shooter. This section covers the early iterations and radical redesigns that some of the weapons went through, before ending up at the versions ultimately found in the final release.
Early revisions of the MA5B assault rifle seemingly take influence from a number of sources, including the MA–75B assault rifle from the Marathon series and the M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens - a film which Halo is heavily based upon. Some of these early RTS and third-person era assault rifles also displayed obvious outward similarities to the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) program which was active in the 1990s (around the time Halo began development) and the Morita assault rifle from 1997's Starship Troopers - the former of which likely inspired the MA5's in-universe designation "Individual Combat Weapon System" (ICWS), while the latter was similarly-influential on the Halo series as Aliens. This early OICW-inspired design can be seen firing an underbarrel grenade launcher.
The assault rifle design would gradually evolve throughout the rest of 1999 into a design more familiar to fans of the final game. PC Gamer's October 1999 issue would run a piece showcasing an updated screenshot with an assault rifle bearing much heavier resemblance to the final iteration. This version of the assault rifle has a black steel frame and green furniture, similar to the Aliens M41 rifle, and has the addition of a secondary magazine located in front of the trigger - presumably used to reload the grenade launcher. A version of the assault rifle later seen in the third-person builds of Halo boasted the name MA-5 ICW/30mm CGL (possibly standing for something akin to Model A-5 Individual Combat Weapon/30mm Caseless Grenade Launcher).
Early 1998-era concept art by Robert McLees.
A May 1999-era screenshot of the map room showcased in that year's E3 event, showcasing an assault rifle more overtly inspired by the OICW program.
The M6D magnum went through a handful of design phases throughout development. The earliest images of the Magnum originate in 1999 and bear an extremely crude, blocky design - a low-detail weapon intended for third-person viewing. Some brief footage of UNSC Navy crewmen in footage provided by Marcus Lehto showcases a second, alternate pistol design that is much more slimmed down and reminiscent of modern handguns.
Around 2000, a radical design shift can be seen for the pistol, with screenshots and concept art showcasing a pistol seemingly-based on the Luger pistol. Ultimately, the design was scrapped, and the Digsite restoration project has been unable to recover its files for restoration in The Master Chief Collection. Despite appearing in relatively later builds of the game, the Luger design did not make the final cut, and instead the original first design was used as a basis for the weapon that would appear in the final game.
Early 2000-era concept art of a Flood combat form depicting this Luger-based design.
The rocket launcher featured in Halo originated as two distinct designs; an anti-armour rocket launcher and an anti-air missile launcher. Both designs can be seen in various early screenshots, before merging later on in development to form the M41 SPNKR seen in final gameplay. The SPNKR takes its name from the SPNKR-XP surface-to-surface missile launcher in Marathon.
- Missile launcher
Referred to in-game as the SPNKR 108 SAM, this weapon was described as being a rocket launcher intended for use against aircraft, while the standard rocket launcher was intended for anti-vehicle usage. A similar design was later concepted for Halo 3 as the G4H-DuSH, though was similarly cut. The M57 Pilum would later debut in Halo 5: Guardians, bearing some broad similarities to this rocket launcher.
The name "SPNKR 108 SAM" presumably stands for "SPNKR 108 Surface-to-Air Missile".
- Rocket launcher
The original design for the M41 rocket launcher bears resemblance to the final game counterpart in most areas. Its most notable differences lie in the red-coloured housing and the less boxy housing for the rockets. In the final game, the housing from the missile launcher appears to have been kitbashed onto the rocket launcher, and the red trim recoloured black.
The Shotgun can be first seen in 1999-era third-person builds, though little gameplay has been shown of it. In the HUD seen in these builds, the weapon is labelled the WSTE-M90 sacs, named in reference to the WSTE-M5 Combat Shotgun featured in Marathon 2. The WST name would later make its way into Halo canon with the lore given for the M90A shotgun in Halo 3, with Weapon System Technologies manufacturing numerous pieces of equipment for the UNSC. The 1999-era shotgun held five shells in its magazine, with at least one extra magazine in reserve.
The shotgun would make a few minor changes between 1999 and 2000, predominantly graphical enhancements on the same basic design. From here, it would remain largely unchanged until final release in 2001 - save for a re-designation from the WSTE-M90 sacs to the M90 Close Assault Weapon System (CAWS). It is likely that the CAWS acronym was inspired by the real-world AAI CAWS and H&K CAWS shotguns, both predominant during the 1980s and 1990s.
Referred to in-game as the SWS99C-S2 (presumably standing for something akin to "Sniper Weapon System 99C-Series 2") and jokingly by developers as the "old shovel", this weapon was to be a bolt-action rifle featured in Halo. The weapon appears to bear some resemblance to the real-world Steyr IWS 2000 and the Walther WA 2000. In-game, the weapon could only fire one round before reloading.
By 2000, the sniper rifle design had evolved massively from the "old shovel" rifle design to something more resembling the final game - based on the real-world Denel NTW-20. A 2011 GDC talk by Jaime Griesemer revealed the following from Halo's original design documentation (quoted verbatim);
- Sniper Rifle/ Digital Scope
- Long range, high penetration, high rate of fire with 5 round clip (but clip reloads slowly).
- Small contrail, very loud bang with huge flash and slowly dissipating smoke.
- Second trigger adjusts zoom level (exactly how TBD).
- Head shots kill anything man-sized except flood (these high-velocity bullets pass right through flood).
By the time of the final release, the sniper rifle would gain its magazine and a grey finish alongside general graphical improvements. The final canon name for the rifle is inspired by the original designation, now known as the SRS99C-S2 AM sniper rifle.
Master Chief using the 2000-era redesign to hunt thorn beast.
Two power-ups are present in the files of the retail Halo: Combat Evolved (PC port). They can be activated using the console command
cheat_all_powerups, and display the tooltip "Picked up flamethrower" when activated.
A Speed Boost powerup can be found in the files for Combat Evolved. It speeds up all of the player's actions, though entering a vehicle sees the game slow down. It makes a strange sound when activated.
Unused powerup 2
- YouTube - HiddenXperia, TALKING TO MARCUS LEHTO (Co-Creator of Halo) ABOUT HALO INFINITE, joining 343, Bungie's Halo 4 +MORE
- YouTube - ForumsExtremeDotCom, Evolution of Halo Part 2: Pre-Xbox 1999 Version to 2000 Demo
- Twitter, Marcus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "Some were asking about all the weapon names in this old #Halo PC build." (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- Twitter, Marcus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "Here's an old one. Early Halo build. Did you know that the hilt on the back was originally a retractable sword?" (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- Twitter, Marcuus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "Some of you wanted to see a closer look at the early Master Chief's back design. He used to have a single hump backpack and lower back retractable sword. Also thought I'd run into the Macworld early Forerunner building." (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- Twitter, Marcus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "It was never built as a real functional weapon, but was intended to be a good option for close melee combat." (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- Twitter, Marcus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "Here's a simple gif of the early Halo build" (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- Twitter, Marcus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "Here's a human weapon I forgot we prototyped in the 2000 Halo PC build. The Spear Gun. I like how the spears stick into targets! And wow, the early Elite was almost naked back then." (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- Twitter, Marcus Lehto (@game_fabricator): "I found these Covenant weapon prototypes in my old 2000 Halo PC build that you might like. c concussion gun, c excavator, c particle beam rifle, c microwave gun. I like the meter cooldown on the concussion gun. The microwave gun would have been hilarious." (Retrieved on Jul 17, 2021) [archive]
- The Art of Halo 3, page 61
- PC Gamer, August 2000 (Issue #75) - Scoop! HALO, page 17
- Bungie.net, Halo: Pre-Xbox Slideshow: "An Elite holding a Covenant sniper rifle 2000" (Retrieved on Dec 11, 2004) [archive]
- halo.bungie.org, Halo Press Scans: PC Gamer October 1999 (Retrieved on Apr 6, 2022) [archive]
- PC Gamer, December 1999 (Issue #77) - Your First Look at HALO, page 8-9
- Halo Waypoint, Cutting Room Corps: "As seen in this classic marketing shot, Marcus gets all the cool toys, even in the 26th century! Believe me, if we find that pistol even a Covenant invasion would not be able to stop John from telling the entire world." - Kenneth Peters (Retrieved on Jul 14, 2022) [archive]
- YouTube - GDC, Changing the Time Between Shots for the Sniper Rifle from 0.5 to 0.7 Seconds for Halo 3
- YouTube - asdf, halo ce unused powerup (slowmo)
- YouTube - Generalkidd, Halo 1 - The Secret Double Speed Powerup