After 13 years' development, Half-Life mod about a marine assault on Black Mesa launches to rave reviews

Half-Life: Field Intensity
(Image credit: Hazard Team)

Half-Life: Field Intensity is a new mod for Valve's 1998 shooter that launched this week after 13 years in development. Created by a group of three veteran modders known as Hazard Team, whose previous work includes the 2009 prequel mod Half-Life: Induction, Field Intensity is a much larger project. Taking cues from Opposing Force, the mod's 34 maps follow the story of one of the marines sent into Black Mesa to quell the alien invasion and silence the scientists working there. The mod has had a very positive reception, with one ModDB user calling it "one of the best mods I've ever played".

Hazard Team began work on the mod in 2009, after the launch of Induction. Originally known as Soldier's Adventures, Hazard Team wanted to make a "classic" Half-Life mod that, in the words of its programmer Roman Chistokhodov "tells the story of the Black Mesa incident from the point of view of yet another character." The mod initially focuses on the Marines' opening assault on the Black Mesa facility. "Opposing Force starts with an osprey crash and Adrian Shephard being unconscious for a long time, and skips a big bulk of the Half-Life storyline" says Chistokhodov. "We tried to fill this gap and show some HECU action before the evac order."

The mod's action is split into two parts that Hazard Team refers to internally as "Days". Day 1 focuses on the Marines' early encounters with the Xen aliens, with maps made primarily by the mod's co-creator, who goes by the nickname KRSK. Day 2 is, as Chistokhodov puts it, "a classic 'try to escape Black Mesa'" trope. The two halves of the story are weaved together by an unseen radioman who informs you about the wider events at the facility, an addition that Chistokhodov states was "inspired by games like Bioshock and SOMA."

Field Intensity is a substantial project, adding custom content as well as new maps and story. The mod was originally based on the Opposing Force game libraries, but in 2017, Chistokhodov started working on his "own version" of the Half-Life SDK. "Eventually it let us abandon using Opposing Force game libraries and switch to our custom implementation," he says. "Having such freedom opened a lot of new possibilities, so I've added new enemies and weapons beyond Opposing Force ones."

(Image credit: Hazard Team)

As for why the mod was in development for such a long period, Chistokhodov explains that development was "intermittent", due to "shifts of interests or lack of motivation". "There was even a time when I wanted to abandon it altogether, thinking that Half-Life modding is outdated and nobody would be interested," he says. "However I saw that Half-Life community is still alive and a lot of mods are still being developed and some are even getting released on Steam."

Hazard Team is a Russian and Ukrainian modding outfit which has been working together for many years. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had an impact on the team. KRSK, the modder who worked on Field Intensity's first part, was not available for direct contact as a consequence of the conflict, although Chistokhodov said they "keep contact with him every day at this time." When I asked Chistokhodov how he felt about the timing of the release, he responded "We're happy that we made it to the release. So far reviews are great, people like it, so it was not for nothing. We gather all the feedback and watch playthough videos to understand what we can fix and improve about the mod."

You can download Half-Life: Field Intensity here.