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It's crab-fighting time: Black Mesa's Xen beta is diving into the Gonarch's Lair

It feels like only yesterday that Half-Life remake Black Mesa was a joke. The highest-profile vaporware of the Source modding community. That thing had been milling around since 2005. Nobody thought it would ever actually come out. I remember feeling properly shook when eventually did in 2012, seven years later.

Except, it wasn’t exactly done. Crowbar Collective have been trying to figure out Xen, Half-Life’s notorious last chapter, for almost as long as the Earth bits were in development. With today’s Gonarch chapter entering public beta, it got a little bit closer to completion.

It’s not too surprising that the alien world is taking so long. Xen was always a bit of a rubbish (if at least interesting) closing chapter for Half-Life. Crowbar Collective have spent a long time reimagining what a better version of it could look like..

We got our first at how they think Gordon Freeman’s first outing should have ended with the first Xen Public Beta. Far removed from the bare void-borne polygons of the original, Black Mesa’s xen is a lush, if a little familiar alien world bursting with life.

That beta opened up a second chapter today. It’s time to dive into the Gonarch’s Lair – your favourite disgusting crab mom is back. Even with the musty orange glow hanging about, it’s recognisable as the same cliff edge you encountered the big nasty on over 20 years ago. The Gonarch itself hasn’t changed in design or behaviour, but I’m not sure I needed to see that dangling egg sac in HD.

Black Mesa’s Gonarch beta can be checked out over on Steam, starting today. There are a few bugs and issues to keep in mind, and Crowbar Collective recommend you don’t pull in an old save. You can find the full list of additions, known errors and more over on the Steam announcement post.

With Earthbound and Gonarch checked off the list, Xen will be only three more chapters away from completion.

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Natalie Clayton


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