Halo’s RTS and third-person roots are about to be restored

Loads of Halo cut content from when the game was an RTS, and then in third-person, is so close to being restored into Halo The Master Chief Collection.

Halo's RTS and third-person roots are about to be restored

Halo The Master Chief Collection already brings together six of the most important FPS games ever made for you to play via PC Game Pass, and 343 Industries has now shown off a treasure trove of the cut content it promised to help modders restore, as the days of Halo as an RTS and third-person shooter come back with a plethora of enemies, vehicles, weapons, and maps. Soon Halo The Master Chief Collection is going to have so much preserved history it’ll make your head spin.

343 Industries is working directly with an intrepid team of modders, known as the Digsite team, to bring back a slew of classic Halo cut content, a lot of which has been known about over the years, but has never seen the light of day. It all began when 343 pledged to restore content from the fabled 1999 Halo RTS last year, and we’re even closer to that goal now. We’ve got cut enemies, vehicles, maps, and weapons all from the Halo PC port, the very early days as an RTS, and even when Halo was a third-person shooter as well.

With the help of 343, the Digsite team went into the Halo archives over the last year and uncovered a lot of stuff, saying that “Of particular interest to us were design/production docs, Bungie feedback notes, tags, compiled maps, and source data for previously unseen multiplayer maps.”

One of these pieces of cut content was a map called Indoor, from the Gearbox Software PC port of the original Halo, and this has been remixed with assets made by Gearbox that never saw the light of day into an all-new map: Underground.

Halo's RTS and third-person roots are about to be restored

“Gearbox had made a bunch of brand-new textures that were not being used whatsoever,” says Digsite team member Ludus. “I felt it would be a shame if these textures never got used, so I decided to remix Indoor into a brand-new map that could better utilize these newfound bitmaps.”

Fellow Halo PC map Dusk was found, but this was in a much rougher state, so it’s been rebuilt with some inspiration from the iconic Call of Duty map Rust. There’s also the eight to 16-player map Ruined Pain and a Swamp-themed level that reuses a lot of assets from the original Halo level Guilty too.

Most surprisingly, we’re getting the entire Macworld 1999 sandbox to play with, which was actually built when Halo was going to be a Mac-exclusive third-person game and a follow-up to Maraton – which is coming back. “It’s a big place,” the article reads, “and used a heightmap-based terrain system incompatible with Halo: CE, so it took some work to get running in MCC. We’ve set it up as a sandbox to play in, explore, and repurpose for your own mods.”

There is also a whole host of cut Halo 2 maps and development testing areas shown off too, but undoubtedly the coolest thing is all the weapons and equipment that’s been restored from when Halo was a third-person game, except you’ll be using them in first-person.

Halo's RTS and third-person roots are about to be restored

An assault rifle with a grenade launcher and an SMG are the stars of the show, but you can even check out loads of these weapons in a third-person perspective too – no, I’m not joking. “It works, and it looks really cool,” says Digsite modder Scruffy. “These third-person reticles aren’t perfect recreations of the older builds in function, instead of 2D HUD layers they exist physically as 3D holograms. Even so, they indicate your weapon’s aim precisely, even at a distance or while jumping around.”

Halo's RTS and third-person roots are about to be restored

Loads of vehicles from Halo’s early days as a ‘90s RTS have also been found and recovered, although these will be data-only assets due to lack of documentation on how they should perform, but it won’t stop more modders from trying to figure it out. The same goes for some old Halo alien enemies, as “These creatures do not have any special AI or gameplay functionality implemented. That was never developed to a point where we could get it working in the retail games.”

All of that said about Halo’s early RTS days, there are still loads of cut vehicles and Covenant enemies at various levels of completion. You’ve got a fair few enemies that have been almost fully restored and retooled as well, like the giant Sharquoi, Slugman snipers, skinnier Hunter-looking guys called Neos, and Covenant Masters, which have been tooled to function as Elites.

(In the image below: Top Left: cut RTS enemies. Bottom Left: Neos. Right: Covenant Masters)

Halo's RTS and third-person roots are about to be restored

While this isn’t out yet, the 343 blog says more content showcases are coming, with GitHub and Steam workshop links for all the content drops to follow suit. I absolutely have not covered or shared everything from 343 and the Digsite team in this article, with all of it over on Halo Waypoint, but you should get a good idea of what assets the team has been able to make public and what they’ve been able to actually make playable in the game as well.

Remember, you can gain instant access Halo The Master Chief Collection via PC Game Pass right now, which you can snag for just $1.

In the meantime, we’ve got everything you need to know about the Halo Infinite system requirements alongside the best multiplayer games currently available on PC, if you want something a little different.