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Xen levels in ‘Black Mesa’ look better than ever, release pushed back again

When it comes to the Black Mesa HD recreation of the original Half-Life, we have some good and some bad news.

The good news is that we have our first look at what the Xen levels will look like. The bad news is that the game’s release has been pushed back again. We now have to wait until December 2017 for its final release, though we’re told that the developers consider this as a “do-or-die” deadline.

The Black Mesa remastering of the 1998 classic, Half-Life, has been in development in one guise or another since 2004 and its eventual release was questioned many times over the years. However, a near-complete version was released in 2012 and a follow-up Steam Early Access edition hit in 2015. Neither was entirely complete though, lacking the final Xen levels from the original Half-Life.

While those levels are now nearing completion and looking far prettier than anything in the original Half-Life, they still aren’t quite ready for prime time.

The wait should be worth it though, as beyond just looking much more contemporary, with advanced lighting and particle effects made possible with modern renditions of the Source Engine, Xen is far more expansive a place to explore in Black Mesa. It’s larger, more detailed and said to be more in line with the rest of the game in terms of “mechanics, cohesion, and expression.”

Whether that will come to pass remains to be seen, but the team, which has expanded a lot over the years of the remake’s development, seems confident that it will do.

Although this latest announcement isn’t something that fans of Black Mesa wanted to hear, alongside the other detail reveals, the team has shown off a new type of lighting they are now adding to the rest of the game. Thanks to a new deferred rendering system, Black Mesa now supports fully dynamic lighting, which will come into play in a few key scenes and settings to make them much more realistic.

The entire game is also being given a new color palette to provide a more cohesive experience to better unify the game’s visual style, and soldiers now hold weapons far more realistically than before. We are assured that the final release will not have any hands clipping through guns.

Look forward to Black Mesa‘s final, complete release this December.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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