As Helldivers 2 soars, former Halo dev says tons of pitched ODST games never saw the light of day: "Some galaxy-spanning, some more intimate…and one that was really dark"

An ODST in Halo.
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • Helldivers 2, the hit new PvE co-op shooter from Arrowhead Game Studios, is blowing up right now with extremely impressive player count numbers.
  • Many Halo fans are wondering why Microsoft and 343 Industries never made a similar game about Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs), which use drop pods to land in the thick of combat like Helldivers do.
  • Former 343 Industries senior game designer Kevin Schmitt says that "20-30 game ideas" were pitched while he was with the company, and that there were "many SP & MP ODST themed ones. Some galaxy-spanning, some more intimate…and one that was really dark. lol."
  • The reason why these projects never saw the light of day is unknown, though many speculate it's due to Microsoft and 343 Industries' focus on telling "a Spartan story."

Arrowhead Game Studios' hit new co-op shooter Helldivers 2 is all about tough-as-nails space marines hot dropping directly into enemy territory and blowing alien threats to pieces, so naturally, fans of Xbox's flagship franchise Halo are wondering why Microsoft and 343 Industries never made more games about the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) like Halo 3: ODST. Ever since their appearances in that game, Bungie's other Halo titles, and the series' novels, these battle-hardened troops have been fan favorites, and are almost as iconic and recognizable as the Spartan super soldiers you typically play as.

According to former 343 Industries senior game designer Kevin Schmitt, though, many ODST games have been pitched before, but were never greenlit. Notably, these include both single-player and multiplayer concepts, as well as both small and large-scale ones. One, apparently, was also very mature.

"We must have pitched 20-30 game ideas over the 12 years I was there that would have totally worked in the Halo universe," revealed Schmitt on X (Twitter). "Many SP & MP ODST themed ones. Some galaxy-spanning, some more intimate…and one that was really dark. lol."

Like Helldivers, ODSTs in Halo use drop pods to land right into the fray. (Image credit: Windows Central)

The reactions to Schmitt's post were about as downcast as you'd expect them to be, with tons of fans heartbroken to learn that none of these spinoff ideas never saw the light of day. Halo YouTuber HiddenXperia sums it up pretty well: "Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan." Yeah. That's how I feel, too.

Right now, it's unclear why none of these projects ever got past the concept stage, though some believe that it might have something to do with Microsoft and 343 Industries' focus on telling "a Spartan story." This is just speculation, of course, though it wouldn't surprise me if this was one of the reasons the developers never moved forward with these pitches.

The Halo universe is as wide as an ocean and as deep as one, too, so it's disappointing that aside from Halo 3: ODST and parts of Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2, the games have never ventured far beyond the perspective of a Spartan. Can you imagine a gritty, grounded co-op ODST shooter like Helldivers 2 where you're desperately fending off waves of Covenant with iconic Halo weapons? Or a single-player action horror game in which you play as a UNSC Marine in the midst of a Flood invasion? Projects like these would show off just how rich and diverse Halo can be, which is why it's such a shame that none have ever come to fruition. I hope that changes in the future.

Watch out for the Chargers! (Image credit: Windows Central)

Speaking of Helldivers 2, the Starship Troopers-meets-Terminator PvE shooter has absolutely taken off since its launch on February 8. It broke a record for PlayStation Studios publishing by surpassing 150,000 concurrent Steam players last weekend, and its community has been growing steadily since then. This weekend, its concurrent player peak on Steam has surpassed the records of Starfield and Destiny 2, and Halo Infinite.

Notably, there are so many Helldivers trying to do their part that the servers have hit capacity at the time of writing. This has been an ongoing problem for most of the weekend and has led to other bugs and issues like connection loss and missing mission rewards, though developer Arrowhead is working hard to expand its server structure. And hey, at least everyone is earning 50% bonus XP and Requisitions right now.

Helldivers 2 is available now for $39.99 on both PS5 and PC, and so far, it's one of the best PC games of the year. The game also supports cross-platform play between PS5 and PC. 

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

Helldivers 2 — $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

Battle aliens, robots, and other beasts in humanity's quest to spread democracy through an unforgiving galaxy. It's 4-player co-op at its absolute best, and its most refined.

Also at: Amazon (PS5, Physical) | Walmart (PS5, Physical)

Super Citizen Edition: Amazon (PC, Digital) | GMG (Steam, PC, Digital)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.