Your moment of Xen

Black Mesa was once a humble video game mod — but as of today, it’s a full-fledged remake of Half-Life, newly released out of Steam Early Access. Developer Crowbar Collective finally launched a 1.0 version of Black Mesa, which updates the 1998 first-person shooter with smarter enemies, levels built from scratch, and a level of detail that wasn’t possible two decades ago.

Black Mesa has been sort of playable for some time. It launched as a mod for Half-Life 2 in 2012, earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. Then, Valve granted permission to make a standalone commercial game, and an incomplete version appeared on Early Access in 2015. Late last year, Crowbar Collective released the ending — a dramatic reworking of the infamous Xen levels, one of Half-Life’s weakest areas. Now, in 2020, the whole game has been polished into an official non-beta release.

Crowbar Collective isn’t quite done with the game. It’s planning a “Definitive Edition” update with additional gameplay tweaks and improvements to the modding workshop, and it wants to hold community events for people who are interested in working with Valve’s Source engine. But if you’ve been having fun with the free official Half-Life titles in advance of Half-Life: Alyx’s imminent debut, here’s your chance to see a modern vision of a classic game.

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