This article is about a cut campaign level. For other uses, see Guardian (disambiguation).
Guardian Forest was a level intended to be set on Installation 00, in the eponymous forest. During the level, the Master Chief would have piloted an AV-14 Hornet through the trees in an aerial battle. Although Bungie scrapped Guardian Forest, the team felt the aerial battle was too fun to lose, and transplanted the sequence onto the next level, The Covenant. The level was also intended to introduce a new Forerunner enemy type, the titular Guardian. Described by producer Allen Murray as a "floating, conical sentry" with a laser-emitting eyeball that the player could rip out and use as a weapon.
Much concept art was created for the Guardian enemy, with the Guardian reaching a stage of being fully-modelled and animated, with the weapon and character itself extensively prototyped in-engine. The Guardian was intended to be massive in size, similar to the cut Strato-Sentinels. The Guardian model remained in the final release of Halo 3, existing as a hologram on the map Epitaph, while the Guardians' concept was later used and expanded upon for the Guardian Custode which debuted in Halo 5: Guardians. The Guardian concept from Halo 3 additionally featured in the Halo Legends episode Origins.
By the time the level was cut, the Guardian Forest level had more than a year of art, design and engineering time put into it. Unfortunately, the level was one of many victims of scope reduction in Halo 3 for time. However, by this time many pieces of concept art had been put together for Guardian Forest by artists Chris Barrett and Frank Capezzuto, which inspired level designer Steve Cotton to create a map with lots of platforms and walkways similar to Halo 2's Lockout. Cotton put together a "moodier" piece of concept design, which led to the Guardian Forest aesthetic and design being repurposed for the Halo 3 multiplayer map Guardian.
Although most level files for Guardian Forest do not exist within Halo 3 anymore, one texture file does remain in the
Level concept art