Since last year, we’ve been reporting that the final chapter of third-party Half-Life remake Black Mesa is “very close” to release. Last month we reported that it was one step closer, with some screenshots to show for it. Now, finally, we get to see a technical beta of the Xen chapter. Crowbar Collective shared an update on Steam with the instructions for players to try the technical beta build through Steam. The build only includes the first three maps of Xen, which has six in total, and it continues the Freeman’s adventure following the cliffhanger segment of Lambda Core.
Obviously, the purpose of a technical beta is to collect bugs and feedback on a range of different PCs. The developers say they made significant improvements and changes to the Source engine, so they want Black Mesa to run as smoothly as possible. So if you’ve got the time and the inclination, you can get into the bleeding edge of testing and opt into the beta. However, if you’re still hoping for a polished, complete Xen experience along with a full playthrough of Black Mesa, they advise you to wait, and this time it won’t be much longer.
Technical tips for the technical beta
To opt into the beta, you have to own the game, then right-click on the title in your Steam library and select Properties. Then you have to go to the “BETAS” tab and select “public-beta” from the drop-down list. It will download the beta build, and you will have access to the Xen levels to give it a roll. If you don’t have a save, or if you haven’t yet reached the final chapter of the current Black Mesa build, you can still play the Xen levels by enabling the developer console (Options, Keyboard, Advanced, Enable Developer Console) and typing in the command “sv_unlockedchapters 19”. Then just click New Game and scroll down to the Xen chapter (though the chapter images are intentionally blank for now).
Don’t forget the long jump mechanic as you drop into Xen, as the long jump is a big part of the last fight in Lambda Core. To trigger it, you have to press jump (usually Space) twice rapidly in any direction, and use WASD to control the Freeman in the air as you jump.
Have you tried the Xen technical beta yet? What does it play like so far? Is it better to wait for the final release? Drop your comments below — we’d like to hear your thoughts and opinions!