Valve may now be best known for the Steam platform but it also has a few original titles under its belt. One of the earliest, which gave birth to not a few sequels, spinoffs, and remotely related games (like Portal), is Half-Life which is celebrating its 20th birthday. And what better way to celebrate a 20-year legacy than by “remaking” one of the games most unpopular and final levels. And who better to breathe new life into Xen than the dedicated people who made the Black Mesa remake a reality as well.
Like most first-person shooters, Half-Life’s plot may take a back seat to all the action but it definitely has one. It chronicles the adventures and misadventures of the almost iconic Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist who is forced to take up arms to fight an alien invasion. Exactly like in movies.
While the reception of Half-Life has been mostly positive, the game had one huge wart on its face, a wart that had the name “Xen” written all over it. That refers both to the aliens’ homeworld as well as the game’s last levels, which has gone down in history as a shoddy rushed job compared to the rest of the levels.
However, Half-Life wouldn’t be complete without that Xen level and neither is the Black Mesa remake. In fact, the remake just stops short of Freeman being teleported to the alien world. Those final levels were intended for an expansion, which the developers are now proudly teasing with a Q2 2019 target launch as well as a trailer.
The developers claim that Xen alone will take 6 hours to complete, which is more than half of the rest of the remake. But rather than simply remake it, they’ve decided to actually just rebuild the levels with their own original work, taking some cues from the original Half-Life game, of course. Hopefully, that also means better and less horrifying levels as well.