Halo 2 was one of the most secretive games ever developed. Due to some poor scheduling, Bungie was forced to produce the game on an incredibly tight schedule. On top of that, Bungie struggled to hide a major plot twist; for half the story, you wouldn’t be playing as Mr. Chief, but as an enemy Elite known as the Arbiter.
While the single player missions were interesting, the real feature players were dying for would be the Xbox Live enabled multiplayer. With the ability to create clans, dig through all your stats on an interactive website, and see heat maps for each of your battles, Halo 2 multiplayer was going to be like nothing gamers had ever seen.
In the sumer of 2004, Halo 2′s multiplayer made it to an internal beta status where the game could be fine tuned. Considering the agressive deadline to get the game out the door, a number of features had to be cut from the multiplayer. Luckily for us, this beta build was made before that cut.
You’ll see a few features here that didn’t make it into the final game. The first thing you’ll notice is the UI, most obviously the shield display is vertical in the beta. The other thing you’ll notice about the UI is the watermark from the beta program. Each image is watermarked with the date and time it was played. This game was played on 08-16-2007, back when the Xbox1 partnernet (developer version of Xbox Live) servers were still up.
The next thing you’ll see that was cut from the final game is the flamethrower.
This seems to have been cut fairly early, since it doesn’t have any textures and causes no damage to enemy players.
The final item that we have in this beta that was cut from the final game is the mongoose. Yes, the useless little ATV that showed up in Halo 3 was actually planned for Halo 2. In this build, it drives horribly and has a severe tendency to get stuck in the map. It’s easy to see why it had to be cut.
Finally, I’ll leave you with an overview from the Zanzabar map. The level design seems pretty final, but you can see the graphics weren’t all in place for the sniper rifle yet.