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Black Mesa ventures deeper into Xen

The end is nigh!

As the many hapless scientists now wearing wee aliens as hats (and Valve Software themselves) could tell you, one need be careful with Half-Life's alien dimension of Xen. That's why the gang behind sanctioned remake Black Mesa gang have taken their time remaking those much-reviled end-game levels, initially releasing the game without any Xen then getting back to work on it. They've been gradually expanding Xen in a beta branch, and now they invite us to that weird meaty factory processing (cloning? packaging?) aliens. The unexpected concept made it my favourite part of Xen, so I'm glad to see them go for it.

Developers Crowbar Collective released the first five maps of Black Mesa's Interloper chapter to the public beta branch, welcoming us to the meatlab. I don't have the beta installed right now but it looks a little something like this:

Another three Interloper maps are still to come, then they're basically at the end of Black Mesa. After this, the final two chapters are the boss battle against big spacebaby Nihilanth then our spooky job offer in Endgame. And they all live happily ever after.

"The team has been crunching hard to release the last chapters, and the game has been fighting us every step of the way," Crowbar Collective said in the announcement. "We will be releasing the last 3 maps of Interloper shortly, after a final art and polish pass. Our current plan is to release Nihilanth and Endgame with those maps, but we may stagger the next releases to better refine the last fight and to get more concentrated feedback from the community."

The idea that they're crunching on Black Mesa surprised me, considering this project has been in development in one form or another for fifteen years. I don't know which (if any) financial or professional pressures they may be under but huh, it just feels weird. Crunching Black Mesa. Pushing it out hard and fast. In 2019. Huh.

If you have Black Mesa and fancy a peek at Xen, follow these instructions. After starting the beta in June, they finished the introductory chapter and added the Gonarch bits in August.

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