ByKen McDonnell, writer at
Now Loading's sentimental Irishman. I can't stop playing Overwatch, please send help.
Ken McDonnell

go through an inordinate degree of changes throughout their development cycles. Just look at what happened with No Man's Sky, The Last Guardian and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! But some of the most extreme alterations seem to happen to video game characters themselves.

Characters are generally drawn up pretty early during development in order to give developers a build to work with when designing the worlds around them. But as the worlds change, so do the characters. Some of the changes have been so extreme that you may not even recognize some of your favorites. Care to take a look?

From Early Concept Art To Beloved Video Game Characters

1. Wheelchair-bound Daddy

This here is a very early concept image for how the Big Daddies would appear in Irrational Games' BioShock. Apparently they were going to be bound to wheelchairs and kitted out with enormous mini-guns. However, while their basic form of movement may have changed over the course of development, you can still identify the roots of the finished design. Irrational just gave the Daddies some legs and a hand-drill instead of a mini-gun. For the best, I think.

Speaking of BioShock...

2. Little... Rodents?

Irrational Games was planning on having creatures in BioShock that players could either liberate or kill. They were going to be protected by large beings and would reclaim ADAM from corpses around Rapture. They eventually became the Little Sisters, but originally, Rapture was going to be populated with rodents!

The earliest concept for these things was a wide-eyed bipedal chipmunk guarded by a homicidal robot, but eventually Irrational opted for something a little more... normal? Here is a slightly later (and more disturbing) concept for the Sisters:

3. Claire Bikerfield

This here is an example of a character that, in my mind, changed for the worse during development. You may not recognize her, but this is Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2. This is the design that the developers eventually went with:

All pink and some furry shorts... great.

Originally, Claire was set to be a badass biker who would walk through the entire game in a red jump suit—awesome! But then everything was retracted to show off a load more skin. Are we even surprised?

4. Gordon Biker

Yep, you're actually looking at Gordon Freeman, the star of Half-Life. This early version of the character has been dubbed "Ivan the Space Biker" by fans, but I think we can all agree that this concept would have fundamentally changed how we view the series' facial-hair-boasting protagonist. Imagine seeing this dude on the cover of Half-Life 2!

Fans have also brilliantly figured out who would have played Ivan in the inevitable Half-Life movie.

I'd watch it!

5. Get Me Off This Chocobo


Wow... so yeah, everyone's favorite mount in the Final Fantasy series could have actually looked like something that devors happy thoughts and rides through our nightmares like Satan himself. Just look at this thing—its skin appears to be barely clinging to its body. It's like an old, unhappy, dishevelled mix between a camel and a dinosaur.

Look how much these things changed!


This is another change that I wholeheartedly support.

6. That's One Strange Looking God

Believe it or not, this is actually Kratos from the God of War franchise. While the design on the left is certainly a lot closer to the finished product, what on earth is the thing on the right?! The little grin on him doesn't exactly fit with the image of the hate-filled God we know so well.

However, the image on the left seems to be a concept that the developers returned to later in the series. God of War 4 is currently in development and it sees Kratos as a father teaching his son how to handle himself in their demon-filled world. To be honest, looking at the design on the left, I kinda wish Kratos was a blind God in the end...

Be sure to check out the God of War 4 gameplay trailer below if you've yet to indulge!

7. Generic 80s Action Robot

This looks exactly like the kind of robot you'd expect to find in an 80s sci-fi movie—look at that visor! But this was actually one of the earliest designs for the figure that'd become the star of Bungie's Halo: Combat Evolved: Master Chief.

It's amazing how a simple change in helmet design can completely transform how we view a character. I can so see this dude strafing through corridors accompanied by some beautifully fast-paced synth. He actually looks like the perfect character for a Metroidvania-style platformer! What do you make of him?

8. What Up, Lion Boy?

You can instantly tell which franchise this character was going to feature in, but Kingdom Hearts' Sora didn't always look like he does now. In fact, he was once significantly less human!

Early concept art shows Sora as a chainsaw-wielding lion boy. Seriously. He had lion paws, lion ears, a tail and he even had a little lion head dangling from the end of his weapon. All of this was eventually replaced with conventional human stuff and the Disney logo, and it was probably for the best. The mixture of Final Fantasy and Disney characters is far more powerful when the designs don't amalgamate like this...

Would you have preferred these early designs?


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