Former Bungie composer Marty O’Donnell reveals that the infamous cliffhanger at the end of Halo 2 was not the way the game was originally meant to conclude.
Ever since longtime Bungie composer Marty O’Donnell was fired from his position at Bungie, he has been keeping himself busy. Not only has O’Donnell started a new studio that is currently working on the PlayStation VR game Golem, but he has also been spilling the beans on some of Bungie’s most well-kept secrets. The latest secret revealed by O’Donnell has to do with Halo 2, as we now know that the classic FPS originally didn’t have its often-criticized cliffhanger ending.
Those that have yet to finish Halo 2 for whatever reason should be cautious of spoilers before reading on. Everyone that has played through the game should be familiar with its polarizing cliffhanger ending, which was one of the main complaints lobbied at its campaign back when Halo 2 originally released. As it turns out, the original ending for the game was a lot more extensive.
As explained by O’Donnell, the original Halo 2 ending saw Master Chief returning to Earth, finding the Ark of the Covenant, teaming up with the Arbiter, and then working with him to defeat the Prophet of Truth. O’Donnell claims that the voice actors even recorded lines for this original, conclusive ending, but ultimately time constraints meant that Bungie had to cut the ending short.
“We just couldn’t finish the plan, it was just impossible. So, everything got re-jiggered, and we had the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers.”
It would have been interesting to see how the story in the Halo franchise would have played out had Master Chief returned to Earth at the end of Halo 2. The hype for Halo 3 may have been less intense, considering that it sounds like the original ending for the title offered fans a lot more resolution than actual finale did, but it could have resulted in Halo 2 earning even more critical acclaim.
Since Halo 2 was remastered for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, it could have been a nice bonus for 343 to include some references to this original ending. This could have taken the form of cutscenes that segued more gracefully into the beginning events of Halo 3, or simply Easter Eggs hidden in the game that nodded toward the original, more satisfying conclusion.
At any rate, O’Donnell has been revealing a lot of secrets about his time at Bungie since his departure, and fans should be excited to see if he as anything else to divulge. Learning that Halo 2‘s ending was originally much more conclusive may make some fans of the series look back on that particular entry in a different light, and knowing that Bungie was developing a third-person Minotaur game before the company finished Halo 2 may shed some light on why there wasn’t time to give the game a proper ending.
Halo 2 is currently available for PC and Xbox, as well as the Xbox One through Halo: The Master Chief Collection.