After nearly 4 years in development, Crowbar Collective is finally reading to release their original take on the Xen chapters from Half-Life. The chapters will be released as a free update to Black Mesa, the Half-Life remake first released in 2015.
Upon release, Black Mesa included the entire campaign of Half-Life, faithfully recreated in Valve's Source engine, up to but not including the final hours of the story, known as the Xen chapters. Crowbar Collective wanted to do something big with the games finale, and now we will finally get to play it. Starting August 1st, public betas for the final 5 chapters will begin rolling out to all owners of Black Mesa.
It's with an enormous sigh of relief that the community acknowledges the end may finally be in sight. The history of the fan-remake spans almost 15 years and this finale has been anticipated for at least the last half decade.
With the release Half-Life 2 in 2004, Valve also released a remaster of the original, titled Half-Life: Source. It wasn't the quite the update fans were hoping for, so fan efforts to remake the game from the ground up in the Source engine began quickly. Two mods were announced in 2005: titled Leakfree and Half-life: Source Overhaul Project. Seeing that the two projects had similar goals, they decided to combine and form the 13 person team that would eventually release Black Mesa.
Black Mesa: Source released as a mod for Half-Life 2 in 2012. Valve requested that they remove "source" from the title so as not to be confused with an official Valve release. The game was eventually released in early access as Black Mesa in 2015 and, since then, the team has been putting all of their considerable effort into creating their vision of the Xen chapters.
Originally planned for a summer 2017 release, the Xen chapters were a massive undertaking. According to an update written in October 2016 titled "Xen Timeline", the plan was to expand and redesign Xen to be "what we think Valve would have done without the limitations of the time." The team continued to update the community on their progress in the following years, and now they are finally ready to show us what they got.
The first 2 chapters, Xen and Gonarch's Lair, will go into public beta on August 1st, then, within several weeks, the final 3 chapters: Interloper, Nihilanth, and Endgame will go into beta.
Black Mesa is available on Steam for $19.99. You can play the entire story now, as well as a robust multi-player mode, ahead of the Xen chapters release.