Cut Halo 2 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 2 cut content
- Cut content
Cut enemies and ambient life
Halo 2 development
E3 campaign demo
E3 multiplayer demo
To check out cut content for other Halo games, see here!
During the development of Halo 2, several levels were cut during development.
Cut campaign levels
- 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.
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.
- "This is Eddie’s [Smith] interior design with my heap of corpses. This is the Infinite Succor, which was never used. Here, the Gravemind is basically a giant mass grave of putrescent flesh and bodily fluids."
- — Robert McLees, discussing the Infinite Succor's concept.
At some point during early production, concept artists Eddie Smith and Robert McLees investigated the idea of a Flood-infected Covenant hydroponics ship, in which the Flood had taken over and formed a Gravemind from the ship's livestock. This ship, the Infinite Succor, ultimately went unused in Halo 2 and it is unclear as to how much the concept was seriously considered for inclusion as a level. The idea was ultimately taken and reused in 2006 with the release of the Halo Graphic Novel, and the aptly-titled short story within The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor - which takes place aboard a Covenant agricultural ship of the same name and focuses on the actions of the Special-Operations Commander during the events of Halo: Combat Evolved.
Not to be confused with a cut Halo: Combat Evolved vehicle of the same name, the level named forerunnertank was only revealed on the Halo 2 cutscene commentary contained in the Halo 3 Legendary Edition's Halo 2 cinematics commentary. 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.
- Main article: Earth Ark
Earth Ark was the name given to the final three missions of Halo 2, including the game's original ending. This last act was ultimately completely cut for time constraints, though would later go on to be used for inspiration in Halo 3.
Early campaign levels
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 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
- "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.
- "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.
- Main article: deltatemple
- "Warp to Delta Halo and assassinate the Prophet"
An early version of the levels Delta Halo/Regret in the September 2003 build.
- "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.
- Main article: forerunnership
The in-house name for the level High Charity, which would have had Halo 2's Warthog run but was ultimately cut for time. The level geometry remains mostly intact in the final Halo 2 game, and through modding can be rendered playable again.
- "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.
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".
- 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, and was scrapped as it purportedly "played like crap". The level files still exist at 343 Industries, with Jeff Easterling having played it as recently as November 2019.
Cyclone was one of the earliest design exercises done for Halo 2's multiplayer. The map was designed by Max Hoberman with the intent of creating the smallest map humanly possible - intended for just 2-4 players. The map was ultimately scrapped as Hoberman didn't think it would play well, and instead created the final game's Midship instead.
Design documentation for Cyclone references a cut powerup, Adrenaline - though little information exists as to what the powerup was intended to do.
Raceday is the working title of a map experimented on very early in Halo 2 development, based around the concept of a "Car Wars" style mode. The map is noted as being cut so early, it more closely resembles Combat Evolved cut levels. It is one of several maps unearthed by 343 Industries as part of the ongoing Digsite project.
Overboard is a map ill-recalled by Max Hoberman, who remembers little of its existence - and suggested it may have morphed into another map. In April of 2023, he posted several design layouts by Chris Carney on his Twitter, further adding that the reason for the map's cutting may have been due to his preference for mirrored map layouts over rotational symmetry. This is due to his belief that mirrored symmetry is more intuitive for allowing a player to navigate a map - something that is an issue in rotational symmetry style maps.
Hoberman later added that he suspected his original issues with the map in 2003-2004 were that it had a great degree of verticality and use of ladders among the aforementioned issues with rotational symmetry. At the time of production, Hoberman was interested in intuitive player navigation in the maps he shipped, and believed that a map such as Overboard could play well but would require much more work from the art team to make playable.
Untitled Blastacular map
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.
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.
Halo 2 for Windows Vista map editor examples
With the release of Halo 2 Vista in 2007 came a new Halo Editing Kit toolset used to create mods and custom content. On the disc was included one sample map - Example - used to show players how to work with the toolset. However, three additional maps were planned for inclusion on this disc, but were ultimately cut. One of developers from Hired Gun, the studio which ported Halo 2, later finished the maps and uploaded them to halomaps.org under the username NiTrOuSoXiDe2k as free downloads on Halomaps.org.
Earth City (human_sample)
"Earth City", known by the filename
human_sample, serves as a small test environment similar to Example set in Old Mombasa. The map consists of a short street surrounded by buildings, with a Gauss Warthog present in the middle. The extremely small nature of the map makes it best suited for 1v1 or 2v2 play, and features weapons such as Battle Rifles.
Earth City can be downloaded for the Windows Vista edition of Halo 2 from here.
Beach Battle (forerunner_sample)
"Beach Battle" serves as the Forerunner counterpart to Earth City, under the filename
forerunner_sample. The map is set on a small coastal outcropping presumably on Delta Halo, and notably features the Suppressed SMG - similarly to Example.
Beach Battle can be downloaded for the Windows Vista edition of Halo 2 from here.
A third counterpart to the two prior maps was intended, focusing on a Covenant theme similar to existing maps such as Midship and Gemini. However, it was never released by NiTr0uSoXiDe2k, so no further information is available.
Development and testing levels
These levels were created for the testing of various game features, and were never intended for release.
- "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.
- "We almost call it the Matrix of Doom because with the amount of surface types we have in the game vs. the amount of object that we have in the game coliding with each other and against the environment, we will be generating hundreds, and indeed thousands, of sound tracks to try to cover up this matrix."
- — Jay Weinland
The audio playground is a sandbox used by Bungie to experiment with sound effects during the development of Halo 2. It consists of a large enclosed space of varied terrain in which the player can test hitting objects and gunfire against the floor and walls, which represent particular surfaces. The surfaces' names are frequently written in the texture pattern. Audio playgrounds have been shown to come in variants for "solid steel", "dirt", "room", ice, water, and reportedly can feature virtually every substance in the game.
Meat Grinder was another level used for testing during the development of Halo 2.
Marines on the Meat Grinder level.
- ^ a b c d e f g YouTube: Halo 2 E3 2003 Demo Stream from 343 + Never Before Seen Alphas/Betas (1080p 60 FPS)
- ^ a b Halo 3 Legendary Edition: Essentials, Disc Two - Halo 2 cinematics commentary
- ^ a b Bungie.net, Feast of Bones (Retrieved on Aug 9, 2014) [archive]
- ^ Bungie.net: One Final Effort
- ^ YouTube: Halo 2 - The Warthog Run That Never Came To Be
- ^ YouTube, Ex-Bungie Dev Shares Halo 2 Stories - Podcast Unlocked: 39:17 (Retrieved on Jun 1, 2020) [archive]
- ^ VicDeLeon on Twitter: Ok ok I’m sorry, here’s one of four shots of the never-released #Halo2 map we called #AnchorPoint.
- ^ 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).
- ^ Jeff Easterling on Twitter: I actually played this not too long ago lol.
- ^ Twitter, Max Hoberman (@MaxHoberman): "Here's one I had forgotten - a Halo 2 original multiplayer map that I cut at paper design. Meet Cyclone, an exercise to design the absolutely smallest map possible." (Retrieved on Apr 1, 2023) [archive]
- ^ Twitter, Max Hoberman (@MaxHoberman): "I didn't think it would work - too small. Was intended for 2-4 players. Scrapped this and came up with Midship instead." (Retrieved on Apr 1, 2023) [archive]
- ^ Halo 2: Artifacts, Episode 3 - Legendary Map Design (30:40)
- ^ Halo Waypoint, Cutting Room Floor (Retrieved on Jul 7, 2022) [archive]
- ^ Twitter, Max Hoberman (@MaxHoberman): "Everyone is always asking about cut mp maps from Halo 2. Well here's one I have no recollection of: Overboard. Maybe it morphed into another? Carney would remember, they're his drawings. I recall being adamant that mirrored > rotational symmetry, so that may have been a factor." (Retrieved on Apr 11, 2023) [archive]
- ^ Twitter, Max Hoberman (@MaxHoberman): "It's easier to intuitively know where you are on a map that uses mirrored symmetry – something to your left, vs to your right on the opposite side." (Retrieved on Apr 11, 2023) [archive]
- ^ Twitter, Max Hoberman (@MaxHoberman): "After sleeping on this, I suspect I had issues with the verticality, ladders, and rotational symmetry, as I was obsessed with maps being intuitively navigable at the time. It's a cool design though—just one that requires a lot of heavy lifting from Art to differentiate sides." (Retrieved on Apr 11, 2023) [archive]
- ^ a b YouTube, Ex-Bungie Dev Shares Halo 2 Stories - Podcast Unlocked: 38:00 (Retrieved on Jun 1, 2020) [archive]
- ^ a b c d YouTube - Generalkidd, Halo 2 - The Unreleased Secret Maps That Almost Never Existed
- ^ halo.bungie.org, New H2V content at HaloMaps (Retrieved on Sep 24, 2021) [archive]
- ^ Halo 2, Behind the Scenes Making of Halo 2
- ^ a b The Art of Halo: Creating a Virtual World, p.13