Out of bounds: Going on vacation… in Halo 2

BY ALEX WAKEFORD

Halo 2 Anniversary has brought its complete suite of features (from its fan-favourite campaign to its revolutionary multiplayer) to The Master Chief Collection on PC.

This seemed like an opportune time to remember one of the most fun things to do in the game – breaking out of the level boundaries.h4I wonder what would happen if I jumped over the building where the level is meant to end and walk into the area they’ve clearly rendered for the next one…

These thoughts occurred to me over a decade-and-a-half ago while playing Halo 2, coming to the end of the mission Delta Halo where the first bit of the following level is visible behind a large temple structure.

Fortunately, I was stacked up on grenades and managed to get onto one of the temple’s side struts, with just a few pixels to stand on – a watery grave and checkpoint restart below.

Another well-placed grenade and perfectly-timed jump sent me soaring up to the top of the temple, where I was now free to explore!

I made my way down to the starting area of the following level where – as an excellent bit of detail – enemies were already placed, patrolling the ancient Forerunner structure that connects a series of gondolas to separate temples over a vast lake.

The best part, though, was that I was completely invisible to these enemies – they did not register my presence, unless I directly bumped into, meleed, or shot them. So I could get up close and personal with these gorgeously designed aliens for the first time without coming under plasma fire.

I find myself doing this every time I replay the level, leading to some truly incredible little scenarios…

Invisible walls, kill boundaries, ten-second ‘RETURN TO THE BATTLEFIELD’ timers – all these things and more are designed to keep players within the playable area, especially in more linear campaign experiences.

These days, barriers are often insurmountable, but far from being a deterrent they are seen as a challenge.

If you’re not supposed to take a vehicle into the next section, a bit of elevated ground preventing that, players will try to find a way over it.

If there’s a cliff edge or a building you’re not supposed to get on top of, players will try to find a way on top of it.

Sometimes developers find creative ways to prevent this. In Thatgamecompany’s 2012 masterpiece Journey, for example, if the player attempts to go out of the desert boundaries, a sandstorm would push you back into the playable area.

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That’s not right…

Even in Halo, various multiplayer maps have fun ways of challenging the player.

On Snowbound, a series of turrets are set up along the perimeter of the map’s open boundaries which will fire on the player if they attempt to leave.

On Sandtrap, a deadly minefield awaits the player in the outer ring of desert. And, on the map Sandbox, the towers around the circumference of the map will open fire with lasers on the player – a skull can be found in these outer-boundaries, award the player an achievement if they can find a way to protect themselves from the towers.

There’s a certain artistry to preserving the illusion of an expansive world space that you can’t actually explore fully, and in Halo 2 that is a very thin, easily bypassed facade, with plenty of Easter eggs to find on these ‘vacations’ – as they’ve been termed.

From speedrunning routes to hidden skulls (granting gameplay-modifying features, such as HUD removal and making enemies throw grenades more often) and even unique deadly weapons (the infamous Scarab gun), Halo 2 practically invites the player to test the limits of the levels’ boundaries and rewards them with some amazing discoveries.

Even just an expansive view of the game’s incredible vistas is rewarding enough…

See our expansive gallery of out-of-level screenshots below!

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With Halo 2 Anniversary having released on PC, now’s the perfect time to dive back into this classic campaign and rediscover the many secrets it holds – now with a glorious new coat of paint from Saber Interactive and Blur Studios, and additional cinematics from The Sequence Group, in what is one of the definitive remasters of all time.

Stay safe, Spartans!


h2a

Halo 2: Anniversary comes to PC as the next instalment in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Now optimised for PC, experience the impeccably remastered edition of the original Halo 2 game.

Following the destruction of Halo, humankind experiences a short-lived victory. Eager for revenge, the Covenant launches a surprise attack on Earth, but they find themselves ill-prepared to defeat the UNSC’s home fleet and are forced to flee into slipspace.

When the Master Chief pursues his overzealous enemies, they discover yet another Halo ring, uncovering long-buried secrets, including an unlikely ally, that will dramatically alter the course of the Human-Covenant conflict forever.

Halo 2 Anniversary is now available on Steam as part of The Master Chief Collection.


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