In celebration of Half-Life‘s 20th anniversary, the creator of the Black Mesa mod has released a new trailer for the final part of the project, the Xen levels.
This trailer grants us a remarkably thorough look at the Xen content (at least compared to updates we’ve seen in the past). What’s immediately clear from this footage is that the visual scope of this project is significantly larger than what has previously been anticipated. The first part of the Black Mesa mod looked good, but it’s clear that this part of the mod will take advantage of not only modern technology but the varied landscape of the Xen area itself. The result is something rather remarkable.
Half-Life’s final levels (which occur on Xen) have proven to be especially tricky for Black Mesa‘s developer, Crowbar Collective. In a 2016 update, Crowbar noted that the final area of the game required significantly more work to remake than any other section of the 1998 classic.
“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,” said Steam user Adam-Bomb regarding the struggles to remake the final section of Half-Life.
For those who don’t know, Xen is the alien world that players are transported to at the end of the original Half-Life. When Black Mesa was first released in 2012, this final portion of the original game was not included. It’s no mystery why the Xen levels are taking so long to remake. Xen is the rather infamous low-point of the original version of Half-Life. Its collection of jump puzzles and generic world design compromised nearly every element of Half-Life that made it a true classic.
While it’s not clear how much this update will fix the area’s gameplay woes, it has been made clear that Xen will be significantly expanded (it’s believed to take hours to complete whereas the original version of the finale could be finished in under an hour) and that it will be strikingly beautiful. At present, Xen is expected to be released sometime in the second quarter of 2019.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.