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Black Mesa: Xen's first 2 chapters are available now

(Image credit: Crowbar Collective)

Black Mesa's ambitious expansion to Half-Life has reached the last stretch. After a technical beta in June, which tested a few maps, Black Mesa: Xen's first two chapters are now available in the public beta branch. Xen and Gonarch's Layer contain nine maps, so it's triple the size. 

The other chapters will be added to the branch later, letting you test all 18 of the expansion's maps. Before you dive in, you can check out the known issues here. Developer Crowbar Collective says things will get quieter on the update front, but only because the team the expansion ready for launch. 

Xen has grown over the years from a rework of the disappointing Half-Life level to a full campaign with lots of different environments and improvements. It was originally slated for a 2017 launch, but it's changed quite a bit from the original plans.

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.