The long-awaited Half-Life fan remake Black Mesa first came out back in 2012. Gee, sure has Xen a while since then, huh? And yet, only now is the saga finally nearing its conclusion. The Black Mesa team decided to take Half-Life’s divisive “Xen” chapters back to the drawing board and flesh out the alien fish farm. That process has taken seven years. You can finally play three of those revamped levels now.
These three maps are just the first portion of a full 19-map Xen campaign. They’ve been released as part of a technical beta, which you can opt into by going into Black Mesa’s Steam properties menu and selecting “public beta” in the “betas” tab. The developers say this is only “a taste of what’s to come.”
“The purpose of this beta is to collect bugs and feedback on a range of different computers,” the Black Mesa team wrote on the game’s Steam page. “We have made significant improvements and changes to the Source engine, and we want the game to run as smoothly as possible.”
Apparently, the full campaign is just around the corner. “If you want to be on the bleeding edge of testing, opt into this beta,” the developers said. “If you want the polished, complete Xen experience, you should wait. It won’t be long!”
But then, it’s been seven years since the first portion of Black Mesa came out, so it may still be a little bit before we get to wake up and smell the ashes. Or fishes, as it were.