Wait a decade and there’s no telling what you might learn about a classic game. Surprising, too, may be the source. Take Halo 2 for instance. According to that game’s composer, the 2004 FPS was actually supposed to have a more conclusive ending.
Over on the IGN Unfiltered YouTube page, a recent upload includes a chat with former Bungie composer, Marty O’Donnell. According to O’Donnell, Halo 2 did not originally end with a cliffhanger.
The name Marty O’Donnell might be ringing some bells due to the fact that, after working with Bungie for more than 10 years, he was kinda publicly fired back in 2014. But while he may not be working on Halo
For those of you who were around back in 2004, or who have maybe played Halo 2 since then, you might recall that the fight to save Earth ended rather abruptly. Well, maybe that’s a poor choice of wording. What had folks upset was that the fight did not actually end in Halo 2, which is where a lot of folks thought the narrative was heading.
Instead, the game finished up mid-conflict, leaving players to wait for Halo 3 before they could learn how things progressed. That tale is, in a way, still going to this day.
In his interview with IGN Unfiltered, O’Donnell explains that the original ending to Halo 2 featured a grand battle with Master Chief and the Arbiter working together to save the day and beat the stuffing out of the Prophet of Truth. That all would have come after Master Chief discovered the Ark of the Covenant here on Earth.
In case you’re wondering what that might have looked like, O’Donnell himself described the planned ending as “grand and glorious.” The team was so far into development of that original ending, in fact, that O’Donnell says Bungie had already recorded all of the dialogue.
So, why the change of plans? Unfortunately, it’s for an all-too-common reason in this industry: They needed to hit their launch date. O’Donnell said that there was no way the team at Bungie could have hit their target date and finished everything that was planned for the conclusion, so they had to put in a cliffhanger instead. In the end, he said the decision to cut the original ending was “so painful” for the team, eventually leading to the “cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers.”
So there you have it, folks. Halo 2 could have been a much more complete game had the team managed to finagle a bit more development time. Without it, they had to basically hack off an entire closing chapter. Thanks for the new/old Halo details, O’Donnell!