While it is common for video games to have their plot edited or altered during development, Alien: Isolation is notable in that it underwent a major re-write around a year before release, altering the game's story quite substantially; while key events are the same, the paths that led to them were originally quite different and the game seems as though it was initially intended to be significantly longer, with some larger environments and more significant character development. Several characters also had notably different personalities and goals in earlier versions of the story. The finished game still contains data relating to the earlier plot, in the form of unused script files found within the Xbox 360 build and references to cut maps and unused events within the standard build of the game.
Note that because the cut material has been pieced together from unused script files, the events and locations of these sequences, as well as their timing within the overall story, have merely been interpreted from dialogue and as such may not be entirely accurate. Furthermore, the missing script sections seem to be incomplete, and as such there are several gaps in the expanded story they represent. However, some sections are verified in legitimacy through concept art found online and references to cut maps within the game. A developer of the game noted that a lot of early scripts were unofficial and never seen by Fox.
Towards the end of this article, maps and environments that were removed from the game, including several with no obvious story purpose, are described. Game features removed from the final product are also covered, detailing how elements such as the user interface (UI) and gameplay mechanics changed during development. This information is sourced from leftover code in the game files as well as footage from pre-release events and early demos of the game — mainly the E3 demo and pre-alpha demo nicknamed "Showlevel".
The game originally opened with a prologue sequence that touched upon events at Sevastopol Station before the arrival of the Torrens. This section featured stories from characters such as Dr. Kuhlman, Julia Jones, Hughes, Barker, Chief, Marshal Waits and more. Several significant events were to be shown during this sequence, including Kuhlman trying to break into San Cristobal Medical Facility to remove a Chestburster that had been implanted inside of him, Hughes attempting to talk to APOLLO to disable the communications lockdown and discovering that executive authorization is now required, and Jackson witnessing the Drone kill Harper.Little is known about how this section would have played out — it may simply have been a cutscene, although it seems possible that the player may have been able to control the characters during these short story elements. A map is referenced in the game files with the name "BSP_P01_TwoTeams", with "P01" seeming to indicate that this section would have been part one of the story, and "TwoTeams" referencing the ability to swap between characters within the map (as is the case in the bonus DLC map Crew Expendable). It is possible that this section was scrapped and the mechanic moved over to the Crew Expendable DLC due to its complexity and the fact the section was not particularly essential to the overall story.
- Main article: Solace
A significant sequence was removed before the Torrens reaches Sevastopol. In it, the crew were to wake from hypersleep only to realize they have been roused early in response to an emergency SOS signal (mirroring the beginning of Alien). They quickly learn that the signal is coming from a ship, the Solace, which is drifting lifeless in space. Ripley boards the vessel to investigate, finding that it is full of the bodies of passengers who froze to death when the life support systems failed. Further investigation reveals that the ship was hopelessly overcrowded and has no FTL drive, meaning the people on board were being forced to share the few hypersleep pods available by drawing up a rota; evidently they were desperate to flee from something. Deeper inside, Ripley finds blood, and several bodies "squashed into the hypersleep berths". Finally, she learns that the ship came from Sevastopol. The derelict vessel then begins to break up and Ripley is forced to flee, barely escaping back to the Torrens. During her frantic escape, Ripley sees evidence or glimpses of — but does not directly encounter — a Xenomorph, which presumably dies when the ship breaks apart. With Ripley safely back aboard the Torrens, the crew was to continue to Sevastopol as in the finished game.The Solace is featured in several pieces of concept art created for the game. Further evidence of its existence remaining in the game include the Anesidora's map file, which is named "SOLACE", hinting that the interior layout of the Solace was re-purposed for the Anesidora. The Anesidora mission also ends with the ship breaking apart and exploding, possibly a reuse of effects created for the section of gameplay set aboard the Solace. Part of the script for the mission aboard the Solace can also be found in the console version of Alien: Isolation, along with references to a "corridor decompression" animation sequence in the final build of the game.
Kuhlman ImpregnatedFollowing on from the revelation that Dr. Kuhlman is impregnated with a Chestburster in the game's cut opening, a later added scene revealed that the doctor has been using patients, or possibly other survivors on Sevastopol, as test subjects to try and work out how to remove the Chestburster from himself. Most notably, while trying to call survivors over to test on, he says, "I need... You there! What is it? A hurt friend? Need a fix? Perhaps we can help each other," which is quite similar to dialogue used when he first encounters Amanda in the final game.
One of the biggest changes between the original game and the released version was the role of Marlow in the story. Whereas he is already in custody at the Colonial Marshal headquarters when Ripley first arrives there in the game, and is only ever encountered in two brief (but pivotal) moments, it was originally planned for the character to play a far more extensive role in the plot. Instead of being detained from the start, Marlow was to be hiding somewhere on Sevastopol, and has the Nostromo black box with him — apparently, Ripley does not find it early on in the Lorenz SysTech Spire as in the final build. After the first Drone is jettisoned in the Gemini Exoplanet Solutions module, Marshal Waits sends Ripley after Marlow, and she discovers he is hiding in the Executive Suites in the Solomons Habitation Tower.Another interesting change revealed by the script involves the explosive traps set for the Xenomorph all over Sevastopol. Originally, it seems Marlow was the one responsible, not Waits and his men.
The Anesidora CrewRipley's pursuit of Marlow leads her back to the San Cristobal Medical Facility, where she must find a keycard that will allow her to access a private Seegson shuttle, the only way for her to reach the secure Executive Suites. While in the medical center, she discovers the bodies of Heyst and Meeks, two members of the Anesidora's crew, who died birthing Chestbursters. Multiple sound effects still exist in the game files for discovering the medical records of the Anesidora crew.
The Executive Suites
Upon arriving in the Executive Suites, Ripley tracks Marlow to the office of Seegson executive Ransome, who, like Marlow, originally had a larger role in the game. She realizes that Ransome was one of the victims aboard the Solace, and also learns of his attempts to manipulate the Xenomorph discovery to his professional advantage — his machinations in this regard are still featured in the game's archive logs. While Marlow has already moved on, Ripley discovers that he came to Ransome's office to steal the launch codes for the Anesidora. Thinking he is planning to flee, Waits orders her to get after him, telling her he will meet her there.While cut from the game, the Executive Suites and Ransome later formed the basis of the first DLC pack for the game, Corporate Lockdown. This was most likely a way for the developers to use maps that were late in development and would have been wasted effort. Multiple animations and sounds for this level, M15, are still referenced and sometimes present in the game files.
Samuels and Taylor
Although initially Amanda's allies, in the original cut story Samuels and Taylor both turn against her later in the game to try and ensure their own survival. Both break out of the Marshal Bureau while Ripley is heading for the Anesidora and it is apparently Taylor who kills Waits, not the rampaging Working Joes as seen in the final game. Ricardo is also shot and wounded in this confrontation.Samuels and Taylor subsequently flee and contact Verlaine aboard the Torrens, requesting extraction. Samuels lies to Verlaine, saying that Ripley had been killed aboard Sevastopol. While it is assumed they are unsuccessful in their plans to abandon Ripley, their ultimate fates are not revealed in the missing script sections.
In pursuit of Samuels and Taylor, Ripley encounters Seegson Security operatives, who are raiding the civilian encampment in Sevastopol's mall, stealing their supplies and killing any who resist. While Seegson Security were largely cut from the game, their corrupt dealings are the subject of several archive logs, and concept art of their operatives can be found in The Art of Alien: Isolation. Many references to their guns (simply named "SMG") can still be found in the game along with models of the SMG magazines. Concept art also exists of civilians taking cover from gunfire, presumably from the security forces. The suits of the original Seegson Private Guards can be seen on display in the Marshal's office.The raiding sequence in the original scripts is somewhat recreated in the final game when Amanda walks past a security shutter with civilians and Seegson Security personnel behind it in mission 11. However, the violent nature of the scene in the original script is dramatically scaled back, and it is the rampaging Working Joes that kill the Seegson Security and other survivors there.
LV-426Marlow is eventually caught and locked up in the Marshal headquarters (much like in the finished game), leading to the flashback to LV-426. This section takes place on the maps "BSP_LV426_PT01" and "BSP_LV426_PT02" in the finished game; however, a third map named "BSP_LV426_PT03" is also referenced, indicating that there was originally a third section of gameplay on the planetoid, presumably continuing after Foster is attacked by the Facehugger. A lot of concept artwork exists of the interior of the Anesidora's bridge, so it seems likely Foster was brought on-board the ship in this section of the game. It is unknown why this section was cut, however it could have been due to it playing too similar to the events of the original film, Alien, or simply time restrictions during development.
Working with Marlow
While in detention, Marlow was also going to inform Ripley of his plan to destroy Sevastopol (and the Xenomorphs) by blowing up the Anesidora. This would have led to one of the most significant differences between the early story and the finished game — Ripley actually agrees with Marlow and helps him carry out this plan, realising that it is likely only days or perhaps even hours before the Xenomorphs have taken or killed every person on Sevastopol, at which point there will be no one left to warn any rescue teams that may come to investigate the station's silence. To this end, she cuts Marlow out of his cell and the two set off together, the player and Marlow working as a team. Their plan is to reach the Anesidora (which is being kept in the dry dock seen in concept art) and activate the ship's self destruct system. They would then get to the Torrens and escape Sevastopol before the detonation, taking with them as many survivors as they can (including Ricardo, whom Ripley promises to return for).Dialogue from Marlow in this section also implies he originally learned more about the disappearance of the Nostromo, information he presumably gleaned from the ship's black box, including the fact that it was deliberately sent to LV-426 by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and that Ellen Ripley is still alive, adrift in space somewhere.
Blowing Up the AnesidoraRipley and Marlow reach the Anesidora but find that Ransome has previously ordered the Working Joes to completely strip the vessel for clues regarding the Xenomorph, and as a result the self destruct device has been removed. As a workaround, Marlow decides to try and overload the engines manually, the same process he employs in the finished game. However, the process goes wrong, Marlow is killed and the Anesidora does not destroy Sevastopol.
The Gravity Anchors
In a last attempt to wipe out the Xenomorphs, Ripley goes to deactivate Sevastopol's gravity anchors (also referred to as gravity stabilizers or orbital stabilizers), hoping to drop the station into KG-348's atmosphere and destroy it. While this happens in the final game, it involves no input from Ripley, and the anchors are simply destroyed when the Anesidora explodes from Marlow's sabotage.On her way into the bowels of the station where the anchors are found, Ripley was to encounter the Hive for a second time, discovering that it is now considerably larger than when she previously found it. This could explain why so much "Hive" concept art was produced that bears little resemblance to the Hive discovered in the final game. After reaching the anchors, Ripley succeeds in sabotaging them and seals Sevastopol's fate.
Amanda's True NatureIn the initial pitch of Alien: Isolation (when it was known as Alien Year Zero), Amanda Ripley was actually an android. This fact would not be revealed to the player until the end of the game. The developers originally planned to make her a synthetic out of concern that the player would not believe Amanda would go searching for her mother in deep space; her being an android programmed to do so would provide solid motive. However, as development progressed and Amanda became a more prominent character, the developers felt that it would be inappropriate to keep the android twist in the story. The idea was cut and the game's plot was then re-written, supposedly around a year prior to release.
A ship named the Patna (unrelated to the USCSS Patna from Alien3) was intended to appear in Alien: Isolation as a medical transport vessel, however it was cut from the final game. The exact role the ship may have palyed is unclear. Concept art of the ship can be found within The Art of Alien: Isolation and references to the map file "BSP_Patna" can still be found in the final game. The ship was listed as containing basic infirmary, hypersleep and morgue facilities as well as featuring proportionally large engines, keeping the design in-line with Ron Cobb's original Alien aesthetic. At the center of the Patna was an exposed coolant chamber which would allow for the contents to be frozen for transit.It is believed that the Patna was cut early in development and re-used to create the Solace, which later became the Anesidora.
The Dry Docks
The game files contain references to maps such as "ENG_DryDock" and "ENG_DryDockCargo", which seem to be the location where Ripley and Marlow would have unsuccessfully tried to detonate the Anesidora and destroy Sevastopol. Various pieces of concept art also seemingly show views of this area, as well as a Seegson logo with the subtitle "Corporate Docks", possibly intended for the uniforms of the workers employed there. This section apparently made it quite far into development; a window from the cut Dry Docks map is reused in the Tow Platform map, where Amanda goes to extend the maintenance rig near the end of the game. An ambient sound file can also be found in the game titled "AMB_Docks_Cargo", presumably intended for the ENG_DryDockCargo map.Additionally, the map "ENG_ReactorCore" (which contains Sevastopol's reactor core and the area surrounding it, including facility management and a transit station) references a script for the player entering the map "FromDryDockCargo". Activating this allows you to hear audio of the player arriving by a transit car, so it is possible that the Dry Docks were originally accessible by one of the disabled transit points in the Reactor lobby. This is further confirmed by an ambient sound reference titled "AMB_DryDock_Transit". Further ambient sounds reference "Umbilicus", "Vent" and "Transit_Control_Room", so it is likely that these were the main areas found within the map.
Cooling Plant and Waste ManagementThe Cooling Plant and Waste Management sections of Sevastopol, located on the Engineering decks, were seemingly to be a playable environment, spread over three separate maps. The relevant sectors of the station are labelled on a schematic of Sevastopol that was drawn early in development (seen below), when the game was still known as Alien Year Zero. The game's files refer to maps named "ENG_WasteChute", "ENG_WasteManagement" and "ENG_CoolingPlant". Although the reasons behind the removal of these maps is not known, it is likely due to the massive change of story prior to the game's release. Since these locations are labelled on the map of Sevastopol, referenced in the final game's map list and also shown in concept art, we can assume that these sections made it quite far into development even though very little is known about them. It is believed that the Cooling Plant would have been accessible from the map ENG_ReactorCore, as that map has a script to handle the player entering "FromCoolingPlant". This script can be activated, and triggering it places the player underneath the elevator that they arrive in from APOLLO (TECH_MuthrCore).
The Gravity AnchorsA large amount of concept art was produced for the Gravity Anchors area of the station and The Art of Alien: Isolation details some more information about the anchors themselves. Additionally, a reference can be found within the game files to a map directory (removed in the final build of the game) for "ENG_Gravity_Anchor". The game classifies each section of Sevastopol with a different prefix, the Gravity Anchors receiving the "ENG" prefix for Engineering as they were located at the bottom of Sevastopol. Due to the map being referenced within the final build of the game, along and all the concept art available online, it is assumed that this section of the game made it quite far into development. A number of sound files can also be found in the game for this mission/map.
Cut Game Features
General gameplay mechanics
A feature known as "Memento Mori" would have allowed players to pick up items from where they had died when they respawned. The feature could be toggled on or off and although cut from the game, the model of the Memento Mori bag that would contain the player's items and the code for the settings to disable it can still be found in the final game's files.
Alien: Isolation was also to feature a "New Game+" feature, likely unlocking additional difficulties for a second playthrough, although very little is known about the specifics. Novice and Nightmare mode were added in a patch post-launch, able to be selected on first playthrough. These modes may have originally been intended to be unlocked through "New Game+".
The game also originally featured more variety in the arcade machines seen in mission 2, when Amanda first enters Sevastopol and goes to Cred-Op Amusements to restore power. The game's files contain jingles for three unused arcade games titled "Power Up", "Dinky King" and "Super Mooria", the latter two obvious puns on the classic video games Donkey Kong and Super Mario. Additionally, a jingle and a large number of in-game sound effects can be found for another arcade game called "Dragon Gauntlet"; the sound files seem to indicate that this was a fighting game akin to Street Fighter, while the name "Dragon Gauntlet" is presumed to be based on an item available in Runescape that grants improved melee abilities.Additionally, the player was originally able to zoom the flashlight in and out, but this feature was removed from the game in favor of an average-sized fixed beam. This could have been in an attempt to simplify the control scheme. References to this feature and sound effects for the zoom ability can still be found in the game files.
A playable Xenomorph
Multiple references can be found in the files to a point in development where Alien: Isolation was a two-player experience, in which one player would control Amanda and another would control the Xenomorph.
In the final PC build of the game, these are only very vague hints through occasional mentions of player numbers and multiplayer features. However, digging deeper into leftover debug settings reveals that the programmer could originally opt-in to manually control other humans, Working Joes and the Xenomorph. This is further expanded upon in files found within the console build of the game, where two files can be found named "ALIEN_PLAYER" and "ALIEN_TEST" which are not present in the PC release. These behavior settings specify a second player having the ability to control a Xenomorph, with the first player controlling Amanda. The Xenomorph had 1,500 health points compared to Amanda's 1,000 health points and an ability to peek around corners like Amanda, but with a vastly reduced range — only being able to move 45% of Amanda's horizontal peeking and 25% of Amanda's vertical peeking.It is not known if this feature was ever intended to make it into the final game, or if it was simply a means for the developers to test gameplay before the AI was fully finished. It is possible that this method of controlling enemies through the debug options, or having a second player controlling the Xenomorph, was only intended for use in promotional material so that the team didn't have to rely on the AI to perform the actions they needed to capture.
Craftable itemsThe player's inventory has slots for both small and large medkits, the latter of which was cut from the game. The large medkit would have restored all of the player's health when used, as opposed to just a percentage of it. Four other cut craftable items referenced in the game files are known as "chem_light", "wide_area_chem_light", "explosive_mine" and "incendiary_mine". The inventory also references a mission-specific item called the "Oscillator". Oscillators are used to create electronic signals which can be output as sound — therefore it is possible that the "Oscillator" was simply an early version of the noisemaker.
A number of changes were made to the game's user interface (UI) close to release, specifically the motion tracker interface, HUD and "hub" menu.
The original design of the motion tracker UI was similar to what is seen in the final game, however it was lighter and didn't fade towards the edges of the screen. More film grain was applied and the tracking dot was slightly different to the final game, with the pre-release dot being solid white and seemingly updating more frequently than the final game's dot with blurred edges. According to a developer, these changes were made to the motion tracker due to performance drops with the original design.
A number of large changes were also made to the "hub" screen (where the level map can be viewed), with additional tabs allowing the player to check audio logs, inventory and more. In the pre-release demo this screen also had a blue tone with more of a mechanical "blueprint" feel, whereas in the final game this screen is a lot darker with a flatter design and a semi-transparent background. The tab for accessing the inventory menu can be seen in the release game files, although is not accessible within the game. Notably, in the screenshot of the original map design in the hub (to the right), the "KG-348 Research Labs" are named "Prophesys Research Labs".The original HUD was also modified late in development, switching the rounded HUD bar seen in pre-release demos to blocks of information as seen in the final game. Interaction prompts were also changed from red to green, and objective popups were changed to match the style of the new hub design.
In pre-release screenshots (and potentially also some game demos) of Alien: Isolation, the Sevastolink terminals (manufactured by Karnak) have a different design to the ones seen in the final game. They feature an alternate keyboard design and seem to have a different style of user interface. This original interface seems to be black and white, whereas the interface in the final game is based on shades of green and white. The original terminal design can be seen in the KG-348 Research Labs where there is a prop computer that the player cannot interact with that uses the original model. Notably, this computer doesn't hold the Karnak logo like the final Sevastolink terminal design does.
Working JoesSimilarly to the Sevastolink terminals, the Working Joes also featured a different design in pre-release material. For instance, in the Alien: Isolation Pre-Alpha Demo (nicknamed "Showlevel"), the Working Joes seen dead in the KG-348 Research Labs feature a more human facial design compared to the more mannequin-like look in the finished game. It is possible that the design seen in the pre-alpha demo is a variant of early concept art for the Working Joe, seen right, in which designs with a more human appearance and hairstyles were experimented with. The developers stated that they went for a very robotic appearance for the Working Joes to allow the player to easily identify them as a different character to other survivors on the station.
Amanda's backpackInitially, Amanda had a Sonic the Hedgehog logo sewn into her backpack. It can still be seen in the bag_details texture (shown to the right).
Bonus contentIn the finished game, the "Extras" tab on there main menu simply contains an option to re-watch the game's end credits, but the UI files for the menu indicate there were originally to be several additional options, including "Image Gallery", "Dev Diaries" and "Achievements and Progress". Selecting "Dev Diaries" would have allowed the player to view three sections named "Making of Alien: Isolation", "Deleted Scenes" and "CG Trailer". It's not known why these features were removed from the game. The original main menu used for the pre-alpha demos also included a splash-screen for CATHODE, the custom engine that the game runs on. No mention of CATHODE is seen in the final build of the game, however it is referenced on the store page.
- Multiple pieces of music were compsoed for the game's main menu, each with a different mood. The development team then voted on which one they liked best, with the winner being used in the finished game. One rejected piece was similar to the music used in the survivor mode DLC packs, with an eerie piano backing. This theme was seemingly not shipped with the game.
- The game's engine (known as CATHODE) is based upon a highly modified version of the engine used for 2008's Viking: Battle for Asgard.
- Cut scene script files on Steam
- Alien: Isolation maps — A list of used and known unused maps in Alien: Isolation.
- Alien: Isolation missions — A list of the used and known unused missions in Alien: Isolation's campaign.
- ↑ "Steam Community - Alien: Isolation - The Original Story!". Retrieved on 2016-01-08.