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Black Mesa shows off Xen to celebrate Half-Life's birthday

Happy birthday, dear Half-Life

To celebrate Half-Life's twentieth birthday today [more on that later today -continuity ed.], the Black Mesa gang have made a new trailer showing progress on their commercial Half-Life fan remake's final chapters, the alien world of Xen. They also say that they're now planning to add the Xen chapter in 2019, some time from March to the end of June, so that's three-ish years after the early access debut of its terrestrial chapters. I am pleased with how alive parts look.

Apparently the Gonarch can now swing her eggbag to smack objects at you, so that's nice.

Developers Crowbar Collective say the 2019 launch "will allow us to finish Xen to a place where the entire product is stable, smooth, and most importantly...fun! We are already happy with the design state of Xen as it stands currently: almost everything is design locked and functioning as intended. We are going to be using the remaining time between now and launch to bring it up to our art and polish standards."

They add that "the levels and design for Xen are largely original work (with cues taken from Half-Life), rather than just simply a remake of Xen", and say they expect the chapter will take about six hours to complete. That's a fair bit longer.

I'll be curious to see how much of Xen they've jettisoned. In retrospect, I quite like the weirder areas like the big rocky box with an Ichthyosaur swimming around beneath. I like that Xen's tone is so different. And I like the weird swirly textures that look somewhere between meat and sweets (how can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?). But I do recognise why some people would rather see it redone. And I do like all the glowing fungi and flowers and things in this trailer.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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