Black Mesa’s Xen chapters nearing completion


Black Mesa developer Crowbar Collective has revealed that the authorised Half-Life remake’s Xen chapters are nearing completion.

Black Mesa is a remake of the original Half-Life, made by a team of hobbyist developers using Valve’s Source engine, and with the express intention of bringing the Xen section of Valve’s much-loved 1998 first-person shooter up to the high standard of the rest of the game. In a Steam community post, Crowbar Collective provided an update on its progress on the five Xen chapters. It said: “There has been lots of progress on Xen. We have started external playtesting. The first two chapters, “Xen” and “Gonarch’s Lair”, clock in around two hours. For reference, all five chapters of Xen in HL1 can be completed in approximately one hour! We are really excited to show our work to everyone, but we also want to save the majority of Xen as a surprise.”

In a more detailed chapter-by-chapter breakdown, it added that for the first chapter, Xen, “Most of the design and art is completed, and we are polishing one or two rough edges in the design.” As far as the second chapter, Gonarch’s Lair, is concerned: “We are doing some last minute design revisions to get the gameplay tight and consistent throughout the chapter, and then we can drop in our already created art. The first map is locked, the second map is finishing its main art pass, and the final map is undergoing some design iterations, with some art already implemented.”

Regarding the third chapter, Interloper, Crowbar Collective said: “This chapter has gone through a hefty number of positive and ambitious design revisions since we started it. We are really happy with the direction and iterations that have gone in, for all five maps. They are very close to gameplay complete, and are playable start to finish. We are currently finishing the modular art pieces, trimming some of the chapter’s “fat”, and polishing the last of the rough design edges to produce a streamlined and action-packed conclusion to Xen’s main story.” 

As for the Nihilanth chapter, “The art for this level is completed. Without giving too much more away, we have a really exciting evolution for this chapter, and we are starting the final push to get this chapter completely coded, scripted, and animated.” And the last of the Xen chapters, Endgame, “Is locked. There are some dependency assets and some polish we have to implement once the rest of the game is complete, but other than that, it is ready to go.”

Black Mesa has been in Steam Early Access since May 2015, but still has no full release date. However, given Crowbar Collective’s progress update, it looks like a full release may not be too far off at last – possible before the end of the year, even. We’ll keep you updated with any more Black Mesa news when it emerges.

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Steve Boxer
Steve Boxer has been writing about videogames since the early 1990s. His first console was an Atari VCS, and he misspent most of his youth in the 1980s in the arcades. As well as for Green Man Gaming, he can be found writing for The Guardian, Empire, TechRadar and Pocket-Lint. He’s currently having trouble deciding whether his favourite console is his Xbox One X or his Switch, and plays a wide range of games, but especially RPGs (he loves a good JRPG) action-adventure titles, shooters of all descriptions and driving games. Follow him here.