Black Mesa – the Valve-approved fan remaster of Half-Life – launched on Steam last year. However, anyone who checked it out will know that it wasn’t quite the full package.
While the fan project was an incredible undertaking, it left out the infamous Xen areas that make up the somewhat underwhelming climax to the original Half-Life.
However, this is set to change, as the team behind Black Mesa has now released a proposed timeline for when we can expect to see its redesigned version of Xen.
Developer Crowbar Collective revealed on Steam that the current plan is to get Xen out during summer 2017. Obviously, that’s a bit of a wait, but Crowbar seems to think it’ll be worth it in the end.
We can’t overemphasize how much work it was to get the game on Steam. Most of our effort before launching was put into porting to the retail engine and getting the game to work better than it did in the mod. Since release, the team has been focused on developing Xen. We even planned our updates to have features that would help improve the earthbound levels and Xen.
Even when Black Mesa was originally put out on Steam all those months ago, it was made very clear to everyone that the plan was to give Xen the attention it deserves.
The store listing for Black Mesa states that the plan is not only to recreate the area, but to ‘improve upon it to make it an enjoyable and memorable experience’.
As a statement of intent, and to prove just how serious they are about getting Xen right, the team shared an image showing a scale map of the original compared to Crowbar’s redesigned effort – it’s a lot bigger.
Crowbar’s most recent message to fans continued:
We want to do Xen the justice it deserves, and have it be the definitive climax to the Half-Life 1 story. To do this we have completely redesigned and expanded the Xen levels to what we think Valve would have done without the limitations of the time.
The post concludes by promising we’ll be seeing more of Xen very soon – perhaps in the form of a trailer, or some shiny screenshots.
Crowbar clearly have their work cut out for them here. Xen was an absolute chore to play through in the original Half-Life. Hopefully they can get it right where Valve got it wrong.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.