Half-Life remake Black Mesa is ending its five-year stint in Early Access next week. The bulk of the game has been finished and playable for a long time, but with the arrival of the brand new Xen levels, some map tweaks and AI improvements, it's finally approaching that last development milestone.
Developer Crowbar Collective announced the launch update in January, and now we've got a release date: March 5. Studio boss Adam Engles revealed the date in a post looking back at the game's long development, a process he joined in 2006 when it was still an unofficial Half-Life mod. From there, he became the art lead, project lead and now owns the company.
"Through luck, hard work, and maybe a bit of ignorance we didn’t shy away from our goal of bringing this game to completion," he writes. "We are proud of what we built. We think this upcoming 1.0 release is the best, most polished, and most fun version of the game yet. The anticipation and excitement around our project is beyond flattering."
Engles emphasises, however, that development is not over. With 1.0 ready, there will still be bugs to fix, and he wants to manage expectations.
"This is not to downplay, or make excuses, but as the person who drafts most of these media posts, I think it is important to break away from the marketing and the 'hype.' Before Astroneer launched, they made a blog post about managing expectations for their game, and it really resonated with me, and inspired me to someday write a post like this one. We are super excited to have Black Mesa be 'complete,' but acknowledge it is not perfect and won’t ever be perfect."
If the itch is too great and you can't wait for March 5, the whole game is already playable from start to finish, and is much larger than the team had planned. The meatiest addition is probably Xen, the alien world we hardly spend any time exploring in the original game. Crowbar Collective has fleshed this section out with what's effectively an expansion, and one full of wholly original levels and mechanics.
There's still quite a lot coming with the 1.0 patch, however, and you can check out the changes in last month's developer preview.