Black Mesa’s Xen chapters delayed again

Warrior princess.

If your Christmas plans include gathering the family around the meat tree and singing songs celebrating the return of our saviour, Gordon Freeman, I have bad news: Black Mesa is delaying the launch of its final chapters. The sanctioned fan-made Half-Life remake had previously planned to launch the remade Xen levels in mid-December but yeah, that’s not happening any more. Why? Because they’re still not ready, obvs. But heck, it’s been two years since Black Mesa hit early access with most of Half-Life remade (and developers Crowbar Collective have added a bit more since) so another delay doesn’t make much of a difference.

“We are truly sorry for getting everyone’s hopes up and then delaying… again,” the Crowbar gang said in Friday’s announcement. “We worked very hard to make December, but we are not yet ready. As a team, we take FULL responsibility for that. We have an internal deadline we are confident in, and we will be getting everyone more details as we get closer to that date.”

Take your time, chummo. Don’t say anything. Release it when it’s done. Word will probably still spread – it is Half-Life after all. And Half-Life is one of the best PC games of all time, or so we say. This carries over for Black Mesa, as Marsh Davies declared the initial early access launch “one of the best shooters around”.

Xen was absent from the initial free mod release of Black Mesa and the commercial follow-up because the devs wanted to do it justice. Xen looks quite different to the first of the game and includes new aliens, meaning there’s a whole lot to remake. Xen is also unpopular with some players so I imagine it’ll take more tweaking than many parts.

Crowbar Collective continue:

“Thank you again to our community and Early Access supporters. The funding from Early Access has allowed us to hire many new talented developers, and has allowed older developers to put more time in the project. Simply put, Xen has proven to be an enormous undertaking, and while we are managing it to the best of our ability, it is proving to take longer than we estimated.”

They have also been working on fancy new technobits that’ll benefit Xen as well as older areas of Black Mesa, lens flares and faster god rays and swish new forms of dynamic lighting. These features will initially hit Black Mesa as part of a public test build due in December. Hit the announcement for more details and pictures.



  1. Rich says:

    Does this have all of Surface Tension yet? I know the original free version was missing most of it after the guy working on those levels buggered off. That was the main reason I never tried it, since that level was always my favourite.

    • Spuzzell says:

      Yep, Surface Tension is present and entirely correct in the paid version.

      I was looking forward to Xen being released, I am the mildly disappointed.

      Like when you think you’re going to make cheese on toast but you open the bread bin and you only have one slice of bread left.

      You’re not devastated, it’s just not quite how you dreamed it.

  2. goalcam says:

    I think the Black Mesa team is putting more work into Xen than Valve ever did. Yuck!

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      It’s not that, it’s just that over the thirteen years that they’ve been working on this mod, they’ve got even better at doing Valve Time than even Valve ever did.

      • Spuzzell says:

        I 100% endorse the Star Citizen “when it’s done” approach to the “release date is it” No Mans Sky approach.

        It’s up to you whether you prefer itineraries or gameplay :-)

        • _TheD0ct0r_ says:

          I 100% AGREE. (Side note:Did you see the Star Citizen 3.0 PTU release? Apparently the devs said they will be doing updates every 2 months from either this point on or once 3.0 is out of PTU. :D) Its better to have a game thats near perfect than have an incomplete/buggy mess.

          • Gear says:

            Yeah, but I might be dead by the time they actaully come out. Think they need more people working on it if it’s taking that long, sure some people would jump at the opportunity. Just gotta weed out the shady ones.

  3. woodsey says:

    Was Xen ever in the mod? I remember playing that years ago and it was “Coming soon…” even at that time.

  4. Carra says:

    I guess I’ll have to replay the entire game as I’ve forgotten most of the story by now.

    • Werthead says:


      Man with crowbar and laryngitis kills lots of aliens. He meets some scientists who agree to teleport him to the alien planet so he can kill more aliens (and their boss who is a bit like the Stranger Things thing). He does so.

      AND NOW THE STORY CONTINUES (only more floaty)

  5. happydan says:

    I wish they’d put this much effort into the Marines’ AI. I haven’t played since pre- the paid version (purchased, but waiting for a complete game to play), but I remember it being a let down that the enemies didn’t behave any way like they did in the original. If they could get that up to scratch…

  6. Halk says:

    They announced Xen in December with the words “do or die deadline”. So this is actually annoying me much more than a “normal” delay. They failed the “do” part and now they don’t have the guts to do the “die” part.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Perhaps they could pop a toe in the post for you.

    • emotionengine says:

      Yeah, so annoying. Pfft, game developers these days. Lack the common decency to go the whole nine yards and kindly off themselves like they said they would. At least the Japanese still know how to commit seppuku properly as promised for missing a deadline. Look what we have to deal with. Not only did these cowardly devs have the gall to actually NOT die, I now have to suffer the indignation of having to possibly wait SEVERAL WEEKS for the promised things. At least if they would have just went through with the dying bit… I mean can you even believe… I don’t even know what to say here… this completely ruined my morning and I am now all grumpy and stuff. #soooannoying #unbearable #literallydying #whycantwehavenicethings

  7. DoomBroom says:

    Played the free version around 2012-2013 I think. It was the last FPS I played flat screen except a few RTS games and some indies also the last PC screen Mouse and keyboard game I played before VR hit and then it all just became flat and awkward. And with VR steadily improving the way it has, now there’s no way back for me, It’s the present and future of my gaming life.

    I’m looking forward to the recreation of Half Life 2 for VR. I hope the team have a holiday gift for us this Christmas. link to

    • stevex says:

      if you’ve abandoned non-vr fps games, what would be your recommended vr shooters?

      • Vandelay says:

        I don’t know about DoomBroom, but I just got the Croteam VR bundle and been playing Serious Sam: The First Encounter. I’ve played the original before (a few times), but this is really amazing. The size of some of the enemies is really immense and captured so well in VR. Plus, they have included proper full locomotion, for those of us that don’t suffer from VR motion sickness, so no need for the awful teleporting movement that many VR FPS games force on you. Duel wielding rocket launchers is really something else.

        Only real downside is that it does have further proof that Valve’s attempts with haptic pads should probably be abandoned. You can get used them, but they are nowhere near as initiative or accurate as just having a thumbstick. I can understand them on a pad when you are looking for a mouse replacement, but the Vive’s motion controls already serve the purpose of a pointer.

        There are lots of locomotion options though and I could just be missing better ones.

  8. Masked Dave says:

    Out of interest, did they include that entirely separate demo story/mission/level that Valve made for the original release? (I forget it’s name.)

    I remember being really confused playing the original game because I kept expected it to come up and it never did!

    • mungo says:

      You mean Uplink? Would be really cool if they found a way to put it back in where it was originally cut out from. Haven’t played Black Mesa yet, but my guess is that they left it out of the game.

    • Werthead says:


      Valve completely rebuilt Half-Life in the year before release (like Half-Life 2 for that matter) and I think the Uplink level was done early in that process and then they completely changed it, so it wouldn’t really fit in any more.

    • dethtoll says:

      The real problem with Uplink is that while it’s a nice vertical slice of the game proper, there’s no real way to insert it into the main game that wouldn’t feel out of place. There’s a mod that integrates it into the main game using the portals you enter in the big Lambda reactor, but by that point Surface Tension (the chapter Uplink is most similar to and was cut from) is long over and it just feels like a throwback, gameplay-wise.

  9. Megatron says:

    Delays, delays, delays. Fair enough, sh1t happens.

    I’m kinda Xen about all this.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    So what you’re saying is that they’re plainly reworking it to fit into the canon of the soon-to-be-release Half Life 3?

  11. abiedster says:

    a do or die date they have said, -_-