The Master Chief Collection is meant to archive the Halo series, running from the original all the way through Halo 4. It’s not a 100% complete collection since Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Infinite are missing, but it will soon have something that no Halo game has ever had before — the Halo 2 Earth City demo.
For those unfamiliar, you can watch the original Halo 2 E3 2003 gameplay demo below. Earth City, as the demo is called, doesn’t exactly match up with what Halo 2 actually looked like upon release. Bungie, the developer at the time, used a lot of technological tricks to beef up the visuals in a way that just wasn’t possible in the full game. Nearly 20 years later, it very much is.
In a long blog post on Halo Waypoint, current-day developer 343 Industries detailed its plans to restore Earth City in Halo 2 in The Master Chief Collection. This involves working with a group of modders, dubbed the “Digsite” team. “The ‘Digsite’ team created new animations (or fixed old ones), corrected shaders, made new tags, and adjusted assets to not only get them working, but working pretty darn well,” praised senior franchise writer Kenneth Peters.
Halo 2 cut content includes more than just what E3 2003 attendees saw in Earth City. The Spectre and Kestral hover tanks were originally planned for the very first Halo game, and while the Spectre did make its way into the sequel, the Kestral has never been officially usable. Digsite is working to restore the original versions of both of those, along with a smaller version of the Warthog known as a Piglet. Beyond vehicles, the modders are looking to restore unused Master Chief models and NPCs, weapons, and even an additional campaign map called Alphamoon.
Between the Earth City demo and all the cut content, 343 and Digsite have their work cut out for them. There is currently no ETA on when the project will be complete, but Halo fans are sure to be grateful once they can get their hands on original content that never saw the light of day.