After nearly 15-years of development, Black Mesa is finally complete. For those unfamiliar, Black Mesa is a third-party remake of the original Half-Life featuring updated graphics and modernized gameplay. Originally, Black Mesa omitted Half-Life’s not-well-loved Xen chapters, which replace the game’s usual FPS action with clunky platforming. That was an understandable move, and yet, isn’t improving on what came before the core challenge of a good remake? Just avoiding the Xen levels didn’t seem quite right.
So, over the past few years Black Mesa developer Crowbar Collective have been working diligently to add heavily-revamped versions of the Xen levels back to the game, and after a short beta period they’re now available! Black Mesa: Xen is still technically in Early Access, but the remade Xen chapters are now playable for all, and it seems like a full 1.0 release isn’t far away. Check out a trailer for Black Mesa: Xen, below.
The Early Access launch of Black Mesa: Xen comes with a variety of tweaks and updates – you can check out the full changelog here. Crowbar Collective have also released a roadmap of what they want to achieve before taking Black Mesa: Xen out of Early Access:
- New Achievements We have a new set of achievements that are ready to be implemented for the Xen levels. We would like to release them as soon as possible, but we may roll them into the 1.0 release.
- A Multiplayer Polish Pass. There will not be any features added to MP for 1.0, but we do need to make sure all the current features are working and work well.
- An AI Pass. The alien AI between Earthbound and Xen is completely different. We want to evaluate if it can be ported back into Earth without breaking the gameplay balance. We also want to look at the HECU Marines and make sure they are using all their features, and see about reining in some bad behaviour.
- Workshop Pass. We would love to utilize the workshop for our own experiments and to see what the community can do with our assets and tools. The first step in this will be making sure all the workshop systems are working properly and improve usability.
- Bug fixes and refinements to the entirety of the game. With Xen, Gordon’s adventure clocks in around 15 hours. We want to make sure there are no major sticking points, and that everyone has the best Black Mesa experience they possibly can.