The four-hour director's cut known as Zack Snyder's Justice League has led to the discussion of movies in the past that might have fared a whole lot better had they been released to be more in line with the original vision of their creators. But, as it turns out, cut content doesn't just happen in movies. In fact, the act of cutting content before the release date happens arguably just as often in video games as it does in cinema.
With that said, we took the time to discuss a handful of the best video games with cut content and that would have been even better if that content was restored and released as originally planned.
Mass Effect 3
When it comes to video game endings, only a few are as controversial as that of Mass Effect 3. The lackluster ending, which effectively boils down to three choices, feels so off compared to the epic adventures that the entire trilogy, along with the DLC, treated players to, and it just so happens that the ending could have been vastly different.
One possible versions of the ending apparently supported the Indoctrination Theory that fans came up with says that Commander Shephard was actually still inside a dream and that the final sequences of Mass Effect 3 didn't actually happen. The supposed evidence was found by fans after digging through the files of Mass Effect 3. There, fans found out that the chamber where Commander Shepard could make one of the three choices had a secret underneath that players can only access via a mod that showed the reflection of stress on the surface.
Considering that Commander Shepard has had dreams of trees throughout the game suggests that the two could be related.
Another potential ending for Mass Effect 3 comes from the original Mass Effect writer, Drew Karpyshyn. Karphyshyn left Bioware just before the studio had finished working on Mass Effect 2. As a result, her original plans for Mass Effect 3 were scrapped, which is a shame. Apparently, had her vision been followed, Mass Effect 3 would have gone in a completely different direction. Instead, the Karphyshyn Cut would have cast the Reapers in a different light because, in this story, the Reapers weren't trying to destroy the universe - they were actually trying to save the universe from the dark energy that was pulling it apart.
Whether these changes would have made Mass Effect 3 is entirely subjective. However, what we all can probably agree on is that Mass Effect 3 would have been a completely different game had either of these plans panned out.
Here's to hoping that there won't be as much of a backlash once players get their hands on Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was and still is epic. The open-world role-playing game remains just as popular today as it was when Bethesda first released it in 2011. Although mods are to blame for Skyrim's longevity, one can't deny that the game's vast world gives players dozens if not hundreds of hours to sink their time and get lost in too.
Speaking of getting lost in Skyrim, did you know that there's a civil war happening between the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion? You'd be forgiven for forgetting. Most players do. But, for those who actually thought to care enough about the fight between the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloaks, one thing that's clear about it is that what's supposed to be a huge struggle easily takes a back seat from all the side quests in the game.
Just a short time later, fans found out that Bethesda had grander plans for the war between the two factions. Had Bethesda gone on to implement their initial plans in the final game, Skyrim would have seen players do more than just take sides. The civil war would have included large-scale battles that spanned across the entirety of Skyrim with quests that reportedly included you trying to escape from whatever holdfast the opposing side was invading.
Sure, some players still would have probably ignored the more fleshed-out story in favor of hunting dragons, but hey, wouldn't it have given players more incentive to care if there was an actual visible war going on?
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This is it. The poster boy of cut content in video games. One could say that this is the Snyder Cut of video games.
The eccentric auteur, Hideo Kojima, had spent decades meticulously handcrafting the lore of the Metal Gear franchise. Unfortunately, fans never got a chance to see its full conclusion after Kojima left Konami. Or, to be more precise, the story of Metal Gear wouldn't have technically concluded. Rather, it would have gone full circle. Or, at least, that's what the cut content from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain suggested.
Now, before we proceed, we'd like to say that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the best video games ever made. It's not just a fine piece of gaming. It's one of the finest there is. It successfully combined the stealth-action gameplay of the earlier Metal Gear Solid games while also giving players a much larger and more open world to play in. But, despite all of its success, nearly all players can agree that The Phantom Pain feels like an incomplete game.
One could argue that the feeling that the Phantom Pain's endgame was purposely done. After all, it leaves you with a lingering pain of something that should be there but isn't. However, as players who bought the Collector's Edition of Phantom Pain soon found out, the game should have gone on a bit longer. There is a bonus disc for Collector's Edition owners that showed concept art and a video for a "Mission 51" that would have served as the true ending for The Phantom Pain.
Had Mission 51 been actually added in The Phantom Pain, it would have seen Eli and the child Psycho Mantis steal the Sahelanthropus to get away to an isolated island all by themselves. Venom Snake would have then had to infiltrate the island all by his lonesome and basically put a stop to Eli's shenanigans. More importantly, the ending would have helped flesh out the ending of The Phantom Pain more, allowing the events of the game to tie into the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid titles.
Older games who grew up with a Nintendo 64 back in the 90s surely have fond memories playing the multiplayer mode of 1997's classic first-person shooter, GoldenEye 007. However, as good as it was, Rare was aiming for something bigger.
Originally, Rare wanted players to be able to choose from the different James Bond depictions up to that point. In fact, Rare had already gone as far as to digitize and include the faces of all the actors who'd played James Bond in a movie. The only problem? Rare failed to let the actual actors know that they'd already done this.
So, basically, because Rare had a brainfart of a moment, it essentially put in numerous hours adding a feature to GoldenEye 007 only to end up leaving it on the cutting room floor anyway.
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana is one of the most beloved JRPGs of all time. Although it wasn't as well-known in the west at the time of its release in 1993, the game's success within Japan soon paved the way for the game to be translated and shipped over to other countries all over the world. In subsequent years, Secret of Mana's popularity would only continue to grow with many considering the high fantasy RPG title as one of the best games for the SNES alongside The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
With that said, you'd think that Secret of Mana was shipped as intended, but you'd be wrong. As long as the game already was with a multiplayer component to boot, it was actually meant to be even longer and bigger. The reason for this is that it wasn't originally meant to be just a SNES game. Rather, at the time, Square (now Square Enix) had developed the game with Sony's SNES CD add-on in mind. However, when the planned partnership fell through midway through Secret of Mana's development, the game had become too big to fit on the traditional SNES cartridge.
Because of how the SNES (and other consoles at the time) worked, developers couldn't split games across multiple cartridges. As a result, Square had to cut a lot of content. In fact, according to the game's director, Koichi Ishii, around 40% of the original content was removed from Secret of Mana just so it could fit in one cartridge.
Surprisingly enough, Square Enix didn't bother to release some of the cut content alongside future remakes of Secret of Mana. Perhaps this explains why the 2018 remake was universally panned by audiences and critics alike.
Did you know that the developers wanted to add an atmospheric pressure system to BioShock? This subtle addition would have affected enemy dialogue, animations, and lighting, among others. Unfortunately, the feature never made it to the final game. The only way players found it about its existence is through the extra content on the Ultimate Rapture version.
Speaking of cut content from BioShock games, if you felt like BioShock: Infinite strayed a bit too far away from the horror theme of the earlier games, you're not alone. As a matter of fact, the original plan was to be more like the first two BioShock games. This included making boys of silence more common and making Tears a more significant part of the gameplay. Song Bird was also apparently planned to be the final boss and would have hunted players down throughout the game.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Like many platformers released at the time, 1992's Sonic The Hedgehog 2 suffered from deleted and cut content. In particular, the classic Sega title had numerous unused zones that should have made it into the game. Unfortunately, despite being nearly complete, the developers ultimately decided to make the said zones inaccessible instead.
The most notable of these cut zones is a more bizarre version of Emerald Hill Act 1, the complete but inaccessible Hidden Palace, as well as the unfinished Dust Hill Zone.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the best Final Fantasy games ever released. It was way ahead of its time in terms of replayability, depth, and story, which the sequels and even other mainline Final Fantasy titles can't even compare against. However, as much content as Final Fantasy Tactics already had, Square Enix had more planned for it.
After digging through the game's files, data miners found out that Final Fantasy Tactics had at least six unused battlefields and eight removed jobs. You could even access the latter using a game shark. There was also supposed to be an epic battle that would have seen your party face off against Folmarv just before he transformed into the demon Hashmal.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is also one of the good if not great games that would have been even better had most if not all the cut content made it to the final release. case in point, the HK factory. Although the developers later redistributed aspects of the HK factory to other parts of the game, the studio never did put back in the part where players find out that G0T0 is a droid.
Another big slice of content removed from The Sith Lords was the true battle on Dantooine. It still exists in the game. It's just that it's far from the big battle that it's billed as. Lastly, the ending was also gutted. So, if you notice that it doesn't make as much sense as you feel like it should, well, that's because it's not the complete ending that should have made it into the game.
Here's to hoping that the rumored remake considers this.
Of the many games with cut content from our list, Spore is the one that suffered the most. True, other games also saw just as much content cut from its final release. The only difference is that those games still went on to receive either critical acclaim or commercial success if not both. The same can't be said for Spore.
Initially billed as a life-simulation strategy game where players would literally see life sprout from several stages of evolution, what gamers actually got was an incomplete game with nowhere near the amount of content that it should have had. The biggest exclusion was the removal of several evolution stages like molecular, aquatic, and city, which would have no doubt fleshed out the gameplay more.
Spore also released with very little of the details and nuance that the developers promised that it would have. Even the graphics were far too different. Instead of the more realistic look the initial trailers had, the actual release looks far more cartoony. This was reportedly done so that Spore would cater better to children. Although, in the end, it was all for naught as Spore failed to hit its mark and would end up being a colossal failure.