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Cut Halo 2 levels

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During the development of Halo 2, several levels were cut during development.

Cut campaign levels[edit]

alphamoon[edit]

Main article: alphamoon
"Assault the occupied control room and find the oracle"

A cut campaign level on the September 2003 build of Halo 2. This level seems to have the same story goal as the level The Oracle from the final game, involving the Arbiter securing 343 Guilty Spark for the Covenant. Unlike The Oracle, this level would be set in a heretic camp on Threshold's moon, Basis - the setting of the multiplayer map Burial Mounds.[1]

Covenant Ship[edit]

This level was to take place immediately following Cairo Station. The level would have seen the player, as John-117, board a Covenant CAS-class assault carrier with a team of ODSTs, serving as the main introduction for Miranda Keyes. After opening the airlock of the Cairo Station's docking bay, the player would be blasted toward the Covenant ship and board it instead of destroying it with the bomb as seen in the final game. This level would have involved infiltrating the Covenant ship, taking on and killing its crew and eventually stealing a Wraith and end up destroying the ship by bombarding its power core with the Wraith's mortar.

As mentioned by Joseph Staten, Miranda Keyes and her ODSTs would have also been onboard the ship in order to help you and may have played a big role in the eventual outcome. This level however was cut due to time constraints and replaced by a cinematic that created "just as much work" for Bungie Employees.[2]

Forerunner Tank[edit]

Main article: Forerunner Tank

The level named Forerunner Tank was only revealed on the Halo 2 cutscene commentary contained in the Halo 3 Legendary Edition's Halo 2 cinematics commentary.[2] The purpose of the level was to tie in plot between the end of the level Regret and the cutscene after the end of the level Quarantine Zone. The level was said to be placed after the cutscene in Quarantine Zone where the Arbiter is pushed down the index chamber by Tartarus and before the cutscene where the Arbiter meets the Master Chief and talks to the Gravemind. This level was supposed to be the Gravemind's introduction; in the level, the Gravemind's tentacles were going to slam down all around the player, and move behind doors like racing freight trains.

The level would have described the Master Chief's adventure through the bowels of Delta Halo before his eventual capture by the Gravemind; the "Forerunner Tank" providing the namesake of the level was only described as something "... awesome, that blows things up, glows a lot from little windows and moves real fast." When asked why he wanted the Forerunner Tank in the game, Jason Jones' response was, "Awesomeness would ensue". The level's replacement was the short cutscene at the end of Regret; the level's removal resulted in the long series of different cutscenes between Quarantine Zone and Gravemind.

forerunnership[edit]

Main article: forerunnership

In-house name for the level High Charity, this level was to have Halo 2's Warthog run but was ultimately cut for time.[3] The level geometry remains mostly intact in the final Halo 2 game, and through modding can be rendered playable again.[4]

Early campaign levels[edit]

The campaign levels here are all work-in-progress versions of the levels found in the final Halo 2 release, seen in a build of the game from September of 2003. As such, they are mostly early editions of the final missions with various changes such as missing geometry, textures and lack of optimisation. The "mission pairs" seen in Halo 2 were originally developed as one mission each, then split into two - as a result, levels share the same internal names (IE Outskirts and Metropolis sharing the earthcity map).

alphagasgiant[edit]

"Go to Alpha Halo, find the Heretics and destroy their base"

An early build of the levels The Arbiter and The Oracle, present on the September 2003 build of Halo 2. Upon spawning in, the player is in a dark room with several Special Operations Sangheili. The SpecOps Elites have no weapons and simply walk forward. Falling out of the level can reveal the gas mine geometry. The level has an extremely low frame rate.[1]

deltacontrolroom[edit]

"Start the revolution and recover the sacred icon"

An early version of the final level The Great Journey present in the September 2003 build. This level is unlit and untextured, spawning the player by the "Scarab dock" structure from the final level. On spawning, a Banshee, a Phantom and a Wraith attack the player. The vehicles cannot be boarded.[1]

deltatemple[edit]

"Warp to Delta Halo and assassinate the Prophet"

An early version of the levels Delta Halo/ Regret in the September 2003 build. The player spawns with an SMG and a sniper rifle, but no enemies populate the space. The art in this level was likely created by Paul Russel. When playing, the level has a low framerate.[1]

Curiously, when entering the multiplayer lobby of this build, deltatemple is available for play as a multiplayer map. In the menu, the level's preview images are those of early builds of the final level Ascension.

earthcity[edit]

"Pursue the Covenant through a human city"

An early version of the levels Outskirts/ Metropolis in the September 2003 build, bearing heavy visual resemblance to the Halo 2 E3 demo. A large section of the city is modelled, with Wraiths attacking the player.[1]

sentinelhq[edit]

"Breach the sentinel quarantine"

A level present on the September 2003 build of Halo 2. The level was not launched in the Halo 2 E3 demo stream, leaving information about the level minimal aside from its name and description. Presumably, this level was an early version of the levels Sacred Icon/ Quarantine Zone.[1]

Multiplayer maps[edit]

Around 4-5 multiplayer maps were cut during the development of Halo 2. Most were described by Max Hoberman as cut "for the right reasons" fairly early on in their respective block-out stages, with Hoberman calling this "the right call".[5]

Anchor Point[edit]

Main article: Anchor Point

A multiplayer level tested during development. Anchor Point was to be a predominantly 2v2 map, designed for aerial Banshee dogfights. The map was revealed by Vic DeLeon on Twitter[6], and was scrapped as it purportedly "played like crap".[7] The level files still exist at 343 Industries, with Jeff Easterling having played it as recently as November 2019.[8]

Untitled Blastacular map[edit]

The Blastacular Pack was originally conceived to release with three multiplayer maps; two remakes and one original map. The two remakes - Desolation and Tombstone - were able to make the cut but the original map had to be cut, as the map pack's original release date would have clashed with the timing of the Halo 3 Beta. As such, the map was cut for "the wrong reasons" to allow the map pack to release earlier in 2007. Unlike other cut maps, this map was described by Max Hoberman as coming along fairly well and having potential.[9]

This map was to be an asymmetric level similar to Zanzibar, and feature many dynamic elements. A focal dynamic element on the map was intended to be a light bridge which could be turned on or off by the players. As of 2014, Hoberman has yet to resurrect this level, though still wants to.[9]

Development and testing levels[edit]

These levels were created for the testing of various game features, and were never intended for release.

AI_test[edit]

"Test the AI!"

AI_test is a testing environment on the September 2003 build of Halo 2. In the build played by Brian Jarrard and Frank O'Connor, this level simply loaded with two Hunters and a non-flyable Banshee in a small room. The room has some corridors around the outside, and some textures more closely resembling those of the final game - though some objects simply display UV checker textures.[1]

Meat Grinder[edit]

Meat Grinder was another level used for testing during the development of Halo 2.[10]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g YouTube: Halo 2 E3 2003 Demo Stream from 343 + Never Before Seen Alphas/Betas (1080p 60 FPS)
  2. ^ a b Halo 3 Legendary Edition: Essentials, Disc Two - Halo 2 cinematics commentary
  3. ^ Bungie.net: One Final Effort
  4. ^ YouTube: Halo 2 - The Warthog Run That Never Came To Be
  5. ^ YouTube, Ex-Bungie Dev Shares Halo 2 Stories - Podcast Unlocked: 39:17
  6. ^ VicDeLeon on Twitter: Ok ok I’m sorry, here’s one of four shots of the never-released #Halo2 map we called #AnchorPoint.
  7. ^ Vic DeLeon on Twitter: So, I’m on the fence here. Would today be a good day for me to finally post shots of a #Halo2 MP map I made back in ‘04 that was completely rejected? I had cobbled it together in a week and it’s definitely not pretty (Also it played like crap).
  8. ^ Jeff Easterling on Twitter: I actually played this not too long ago lol.
  9. ^ a b YouTube, Ex-Bungie Dev Shares Halo 2 Stories - Podcast Unlocked: 38:00
  10. ^ a b The Art of Halo: Creating a Virtual World, p.13