Black Mesa is a fan-made re-imagining of the first Half-Life game that has been in development for over ten years. Currently, they are in a beta phase and only three maps of the Xen chapter can be accessed.

For context, Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve, said that the ‘Xen’ portion of Half-Life was his biggest regret in his game development career. Due to this, Crowbar Collective have taken it upon themselves to completely overhaul this portion of Half-Life which will be added to Black Mesa as a free update.

To try out the first three Xen maps, you simply have to opt into the beta which can be done by right clicking on Black Mesa, selecting ‘properties’, moving to the ‘Betas’ tab and selecting ‘public-beta’. After that, the game will update with the brand new content ready to be play-tested.

However, once you have opened up the game, it is likely that the chapters will be locked off to you. In order to fix this, open the console and type “sv_unlockedchapters 19”. After you have done this, click “New Game” and select “Xen” to start playing. Currently, this chapter has a black box and no image attached but this is intentional.

Xen was never great but Crowbar Collective’s take on this alien border-world is breathtaking. It is absolutely worth looking into and, for only £5.99, the entirety of Black Mesa could be your entry into the Half-Life series.

For more information on the beta itself, check out the official announcement from the Crowbar Collective which goes into further detail.