Game development is less akin to a sprint to the finish and more like a team-based marathon were only a handful of the competitors are destined to cross the checkered flag. Along the way, countless concepts are sacrificed to allow room for other elements of the project to flourish. When dealing with huge titles like World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto V, we would not be surprised to learn that their cut content is more extensive than most full games.
There is an old saying that the art of writing lies in rewriting, and the same holds true for game design. Any project bringing together hundreds of people is doomed to result in a couple of conflicting ideas, so studios are often required to abandon a potentially interesting mechanic that simply does not compliment the rest of the property. While the cutting room floor tends to be packed with audio files and a cutscene or two, there have been instances when major changes were implemented. In some cases, these alterations transform the game's blueprint into a wholly different design. Would these projects have been better off without such cuts? Or, did the developers make the right call? While modders have been known to drag a game's secrets out into the light, quite a bit of content has been forever lost to time.
Here are epic things deleted from console games (that change everything)!
29 They Deleted A Whole Race In Oblivion
When dealing with Bethesda, there is no such thing as cut content. There is simply incomplete material that requires a modder or two to push it across the finishing line. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is not only the series' best entry but continues to inspire an active modding community until this very day! Vampires can take the shape of any ethnicity in Bethesda's RPG, but there were plans to include them as their own race. Obviously, this did not come to pass, but modders quickly fixed this shortcoming.
28 No Man's Multiplayer
Promising literally the infinite universe, figuring out whether No Man's Sky's omissions were cut content or wishful thinking can be difficult. Remember when Hello Games promised that multiplayer would be a thing? Technically, Sean Murray said nothing wrong, but he simply forgot to mention that this mechanic would not be available until 2018. Bashing No Man's Sky is a beloved past-time of the internet, but the developer has genuinely tried to make amends for the base game's many deficiencies. Just to be crystal clear, this does not excuse the misleading marketing, but Hello Games might survive the backlash.
27 They Removed The Entire Ending Of MGS5
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain completed Hideo Kojima's run with Konami on a confusing note. Over budget and delayed, the beloved director drew Konami's wrath and Venom Snake's storyline got pushed out with a muddled final act that left many fans screaming up to the heavens in rage. In due time, Konami published a definitive version that included missing content and provided a touch more closure; however, the fabled Mission 51 still failed to make the grade. Even though this ending dealt with a side plot rather than the main narrative, the surviving cutscenes suggest that it would have been a fitting end to the series.
26 Shadow Of The Colossus' Missing Colossi
A majestic landscape filled with enormous monsters to defeat, Team ICO's Shadow of the Colossus possesses more ambition in a single frame than the majority of its peers can muster in their entire campaign. With 16 colossi to take down, there is a respectable amount of content that should keep players engaged for a satisfying number of hours. Initially, Fumito Ueda planned to include 48 colossi but eventually cut the roster down by half. Alas, this quantity asked too much of the PlayStation 2's hardware, so a further eight colossi were removed from the final version. Shadow of the Colossus was ahead of its time.
25 Elizabeth Was Supposed To Feel Alive... She Doesn't
Anyone who remembers watching BioShock Infinite's E3 demos should be aware that Irrational Games undertook a fair amount of adjustments before publishing the shooter in 2013. A couple of months prior to its release, IGN released a detailed article outlining a number of the alterations, including changes to the upgrade system and Elizabeth. Acting as the game's poster child, the teenager's exceptional A.I. meant that Booker's companion was not completely useless, but Elizabeth is ignored by enemies during firefights. For better or worse, demo Elizabeth had more of a presence.
24 Spider-Man Gets Too Real
Typically, the decision to omit content is prompted by either a creative or financial reasoning; however, certain incidents result in such wide-reaching ripples that companies see the need to react. Published a couple of weeks prior to the September 2001 attacks, Activision pulled Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro of the market due to the final battle taking place on the World Trade Center. This was done out of respect for the victims of the attack, and a new version of the game was eventually re-released featuring an alternate location for the ending.
23 The Dark Side Of Cut Content
Time constraints are the bane of any creative undertaking, and Obsidian Entertainment felt the brunt of this force during the development of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Pressured by LucasArts to publish the game by the holiday season, the highly anticipated sequel launched with a fair amount of bugs and a great deal of cut content, especially when dealing with the RPG's ending. Obsidian's property still managed to achieve greatness, but there is little doubt that Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords would have benefitted from a tad more time in the oven. Thankfully, modders were able to restore some of the lost material.
22 Halo 2's (Non-Existent) Ending
Prior to disappointing gamers everywhere with Destiny, Bungie revolutionized the first-person shooter genre with its Halo series. While 2004's sequel deserves praise for its multiplayer component, the campaign felt like a substantial step back from its predecessor, and Halo 2 is arguably the original trilogy's weak link. Sadly, things did not need to be this way, as Bungie had big plans for the campaign. For anyone who completed Halo 2, you should be aware that the story concludes with a sudden cliffhanger that brings forth absolutely no closure. If presented with a bit more time, Bungie might have fixed that shortcoming.
21 Half Of Half-Life 2
Prior to launching Steam and going into semi-retirement, Valve consistently raised the bar in terms of game development. 1998's Half-Life needs no introduction, but the studio kept up the momentum with the enjoyable Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike. With Gordon Freeman set for a return in 2004, Valve went through years of development and originally planned to implement a grittier aesthetic for Half-Life 2. In 2003, a young hacker leaked a prototype version of the final game, which served as a mid-point between Valve's original and final plans for the influential FPS.
20 Marston Cannot Catch Them All
With Rockstar's sequel finally on the horizon, there has never been a better time to revisit Red Dead Redemption. Released nearly a decade ago, 2010's Western has aged gracefully and deserves to be mentioned alongside the studio's most highly acclaimed work. Besides a character-driven single-player campaign lasting dozens of hours, Marston can also earn a living by hunting down wanted criminals for their bounties. Rockstar shipped the game with 45 targets, but this was nothing more than a drop of sand in a sprawling desert. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but Red Dead Redemption had more bounties.
19 Skyrim's Civil War Was Cut Short
Putting aside the endless bugs and hilarious glitches, Bethesda's RPGs are expansive undertakings capable of entertaining players for years. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim refuses to go away, and its persistence can be partially credited to an active modding community which strives to improve upon the developer's framework. Cut down to an almost pathetic degree, the Stormcloak Rebellion is quite a disappointing quest that feels way too small for its backstory; however, Bethesda had big plans for the Civil War. Thankfully, modders managed to piece together some remnants of the original code.
18 They Deleted The Story In Destiny
Despite being in development for a number of years, Bungie's Destiny launched with a laughable amount of content. For a game marketed as a cross between an MMO and a shooter, Destiny's non-existent story felt almost insulting. As pointed out in this Kotaku article, Bungie decided to fire the writing team after they worked for more than two years on the project, effectively forcing Destiny to start from scratch. While the later expansions fixed some of the base game's issues, Bungie launched its highly anticipated shooter with the lore confined to Grimoire cards.
17 Mass Effect 3's Leaked Ending
Gamers only agree upon a select handful of things, and Mass Effect 3's terrible ending happens to be among them. Following three games driven by player choice, the climax boils down to picking a color, and there was precious little in the way of variety. In hindsight, BioWare was never going to satisfy all the choices made by each player, but a better ending would not have hurt. Prior to its release, Mass Effect 3's script was leaked containing the original plans for the trilogy's conclusion, but BioWare switched lanes for the actual game. Admittedly, the script's alternative was hardly brilliant, but the series could have ended on a brighter note.
16 The Deleted Arc In Final Fantasy 13
Final Fantasy XIII's turbulent development process is relatively well-documented, so the disappointing ultimate version should have almost been anticipated. Square Enix's JRPG divided fans down the middle, and the combat is definitely not an exception. While battles do not actually play themselves, Final Fantasy XIII's reluctance to relax its leash results in the majority of the encounters feeling like extended cutscenes. Initially, Square planned to dedicate another area solely to grueling fights, but The Seventh Ark had to be cut from the final package. Depending on someone's point of view, more battles would have either helped or hampered the experience.
15 Dark Souls' Forgotten King
FromSoftware's Souls franchise holds a special place in the hearts of gamers who love demolishing massive bosses who hit like a bus. Arguably the series' high-point, Dark Souls is a masterclass of intricate level design and memorable battles, although the game loses steam after the legendary Ornstein and Smough confrontation. Lost Izalith and Crystal Cave are far worse than any area in Dark Souls II, and the boss fights also take a noticeable nosedive. Alongside the lackluster levels and the Bed of Chaos being truly the worst thing ever, Dark Souls dropped a boss fight against a hulking dude known as Undead King Jar-Eel. We want to wield his awesome curved sword!
14 Demigra Was (Almost) Ready To Go
Out of all the genres, fighting games are probably the simplest for companies to exploit. Whenever a title is released with an obvious omission in the roster, we cannot help but assume they were held back for a future character pack. Dragon Ball Xenoverse appeared to be doing the same thing when the storyline's main villains could not be unlocked, especially since Mira seemed to possess a complete moveset. Lo and behold, DLC Pack 2 included Mira and Towa as playable characters, although Demigra failed to make the grade.
13 Dynasty Warriors (Minus The Weapons)
Despite hitting the shelves by the dozen, musou games are an acquired taste. Omega Force has done just enough to keep the Dynasty Warriors series interesting, but 2018's ninth entry's attempt to go open-world proved to be ill-advised. In the lead up to its release, the cast's unique weapons were cut for the sake of realism, although this seemed like an obvious strategy to draw an extra buck by selling the content as DLC. Predicted by the likes of Jim Sterling, Koei Tecmo ultimately announced that fans could purchase the weapons as premium content.
12 A Ninja Has No Time For Puzzles
Team Ninja redefined the action genre with 2004's Ninja Gaiden, before re-releasing two alternatives in the Xbox's Ninja Gaiden Black and the PlayStation's Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Regardless of the platform, Ninja Gaiden is a must-play for anyone with even a remote interest in hack and slash combat; however, 2007's PlayStation 3 edition circumvented quite a lot of the original's variety. While Sigma incorporated a new playable character and a colorful art style that complimented the gameplay, Team Ninja removed nearly all of the campaign's puzzles, turning Ninja Gaiden into somewhat of a one-trick pony.
11 Nier's Forgotten Brother
Taro Yoko's games are the living embodiment of niche, and Square Enix was not convinced that a Western market existed for the Drakengard spin-off, Nier. Technically, this is not cut content, but Western audiences missed out on the chance to play the Japanese-only Nier Replicant, a companion piece to Nier Gestalt that focused on a sibling rather than a parental core relationship. Outside of Japan, the latter was rebranded as simply Nier, and Nier Replicant's teenaged protagonist was removed from the game's lore.
10 Final Fantasy XV's Story Is Left For A Movie
Final Fantasy XV was in development for around a decade, so expectations were astronomically high when Square Enix published its JRPG. A decent game in its own right, Final Fantasy XV was held back due to an uneven story that skimmed over major world-building and lore. Actually, this content can be consumed in the form of an accompanying movie and anime series; however, this does not excuse the game's disjointed pacing. Considering the amount of time and effort that was put into this project, players should be able to experience a satisfactory story by just playing the game.
9 Enslaved: Odyssey To The West's Lost Promise
Sort of like PlatinumGames, Ninja Theory design stylized action-adventure titles which tend to struggle to turn a profit. An underrated gem with a fun storyline and a gorgeous world to explore, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was set to receive a multiplayer mode as DLC, but the game's poor sales caused the studio to judge such an enterprise as unfeasible. As a consequence, any expansions were cut and Ninja Theory moved on to its next project. Unsurprisingly, Namco Bandai put a pin on any plans for a sequel, causing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West to go out with a whimper rather than a bang.
8 Quake Meets Virtua Fighter?
As the spiritual successor to Doom, Quake seemed like the next logical step for id Software and John Romero. Refining its predecessor's FPS mechanics and substituting the underworld for a medieval terrain, 1996's shooter played an important role in cementing the popularity of online multiplayer. Despite releasing a thoroughly engrossing and confident heir to Doom, Romero initially considered taking Quake in a completely separate direction, with melee combat serving as the primary focus. Impressed by Virtua Fighter, Romero wanted to implement a fully realized 3D world, but the move was considered too risky.
7 Capcom Draw The Wrath Of Gamers Everywhere
In theory, downloadable content should serve as a means for loyal fans to extend their time with a project that means something to them. Things start to get fuzzy when publishers begin to cut content from the base game and charging customers a premium price to access it. Vying to win the crown for the least customer-friendly company in the business, Capcom locked Asura's Wrath's true ending behind DLC. The four-episode bundle was released only two months after the base game's launch, so it surely had to be planned prior to that point.
6 The Phantom Thief
What is a reasonable length for an RPG? While certain developers love to bog their games down with mindless busy work, Atlus effortlessly incorporated Persona 5 with nearly 100 hours worth of fantastic content, and a couple of things still needed to be cut! Besides the playable cast, Joker forms relationships with a myriad of Confidants, but they are generally left to their own thing. Out of the bunch, Hifumi Togo is the only one who seems suitable for the core group, but the Shogi player is introduced relatively late into the campaign. In an interview, Persona 5's director mentioned that Hifumi was originally regarded as a playable character, but the game was getting too long by that point.
5 Vaan' Promotion
A popular theory among Final Fantasy fans implies that Basch was meant to be the twelfth entry's protagonist but Square went with Vaan due to his marketability. Regularly mentioned among the franchise's worst main characters, Vaan feels superfluous to the plot, while Basch plays a far more substantial role. Ignoring personal preference, it should be noted a story does not always need to revolve around the protagonist, as there are numerous examples when the main character is more of an unwilling bystander rather than the plot's driving force. On the other hand, Vaan is duller than a rock...
4 Too Much Madness To Handle
While far from the worst game ever, Alice: Madness Returns is screaming out for a sizeable edit, as nearly every level overstays its welcome by an hour or two. McGee put together a gorgeously macabre package, but the lack of boss fights or much in the way of diversity made many segments drag into the realm of frustration. As highlighted by the beta, there were plans to expand upon the London segment, but quite a few things needed to be cut to meet the deadline. Wonderland is still worth visiting, but the magic is not quite there.
3 Legacy Of Kain's Dropped Enemies
Even if later sequels like Blood Omen 2 and Defiance were somewhat uneven, Legacy of Kain remains one of the more ambitious franchises to ever grace the console screen. While the original and 2001's sequel are fantastic, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is comfortably the best in the franchise, and that is after Crystal Dynamics cut multiple hours of content. As helpfully pointed out by Thelostworlds.net, the developer chopped multiple enemies, areas, and abilities from the final game. Obviously, Soul Reaver managed to still be a masterpiece, but we would not have minded fighting "The Priestess" or "Turel."
As outlined in a Super Best Friends podcast, David Cage and company recorded a couple of unused lines for Jodie's Red House Bar scene in Beyond: Two Souls. While Cage seems to have good intentions, he tends to rely on certain detrimental tropes when it comes to any character that is not a middle-aged white man. As the protagonist of Beyond: Two Souls, Jodie is constantly put in perilous situations which are largely driven by her gender, and the encounter with Earl at the Red House Bar is easily the most wicked. In the final version, Aiden arrives just in time to save the teenager, but this was not always the case.
1 Another Perspective
Dead Island's exciting trailer caught the industry's attention, but the released product failed to even come close to matching its potential. Just to avoid angering any Dead Island devotees, 2011's FPS is far from terrible, but we would be hard-pressed to describe Dead Island as good. It is the living embodiment of mediocrity. Techland would go on to improve upon the formula with Dying Light, but Dead Island had a couple of interesting ideas that did not quite survive the development process. For example, Techland considered implementing a third-person perspective.