After fifteen years in development in various forms, Black Mesa will finally launch in full on March 5. Started as a mod, the Valve-sanctioned remake of Half-Life eventually became its own commercial game and entered early access in May 2015. Since then, they've been working on remaking the much-maligned final chapter of Xen, overhauling and fixing bits, and generally tweaking. Which they've now about finished. A few fixes will follow after that, granted, but the end is oh so close.
Adam Engels of Crowbar Collective announced the March 5th date in a blog post overnight.
"As I write this, I am realising that we plan to FINISH Black Mesa exactly 14 years to the month from when I first joined the team," he said. "14 years working on a single project, with a dedicated team, that had a vision, and saw it through." He has a lot to say about the commitment and effort to reach the end.
You can, if you want, play basically the finished version of Black Mesa right now. The devs have been publicly testing Xen as they added more and more to it, and the v1.0 beta is currently on they public beta branch.
Crowbar Collective have massively expanded Xen in their version, with whole new sections, puzzle types, story bits, and enemies that aren't even in the original. The publicly-accepted opinion is that Half-Life's Xen was bad (I disagree!) so they've really been trying to make it special. It leads into Half-Life 2 a bit more by showing more of the Vortigaunts and their life. I like a lot of Black Mesa's Xen an awful lot, but some parts did wind on a bit too long when I played. I'll wait until March to see how it ends up.
"Black Mesa is a video game, it is our video game, and it has its strengths, and its flaws," Engels continued. "As Leonardo da Vinci said, 'Art is never finished, only abandoned' and while we plan to fully support this game after 1.0 with bug fixes and more, it will never be a perfect game.
"This is not to downplay, or make excuses, but as the person who drafts most of these media posts, I think it is important to break away from the marketing and the 'hype'. Before Astroneer launched, they made a blog post about managing expectations for their game, and it really resonated with me, and inspired me to someday write a post like this one. We are super excited to have Black Mesa be 'complete', but acknowledge it is not perfect and won't ever be perfect."
It is a heck of an accomplishment. March is a big month in Half-Life, with Valve launching Half-Life: Alyx on March 23rd.