The creators of Black Mesa, the ambitious, fan-made remake of the original Half-Life, released something special for fans this holiday: the first public look at its version of Xen, the alien world players are transported to in the game’s final chapters.
Black Mesa developer Crowbar Collective released the first screenshot of Xen today on its forums. The team behind the Half-Life “recreation” also elaborated on their approach to remaking Xen, which was generally considered to be the weakest aspect of Valve’s landmark first-person shooter.
“We want our version of Xen to feel like it really belongs with the rest of the game in terms of mechanics, cohesion and progression,” the team said in a forum post. “But we also want to push the boundaries and explore this unique and varied setting; to build an experience that feels both fresh and familiar to players from all walks of Half-Life veterancy. While our Xen is certainly going to be gorgeous, we are first and foremost really committed to making sure that the gameplay works on every level.”
Crowbar Collective officially released Black Mesa on Steam in 2015. The Half-Life recreation was released as an Early Access title and included about 85 percent of the game’s single-player campaign. In the game’s Early Access description, Crowbar Collective said, “For the last 15% we want to not only recreate it, but improve upon it to make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.”
The developer is targeting a summer 2017 release for Black Mesa’s Xen chapters, but given the transitive properties of Valve Time and Black Mesa’s very long development cycle, don’t hold them to that.
In the meantime, here’s a reminder of what the original Xen looked like, back in 1998.