The blasphemy of playing Half-Life with a gamepad is now easier as Black Mesa gets a sudden weighty update, devs tease 'more dangerous patch' to come

A Black Mesa security guard looks worriedly at the player's blood-spattered crowbar.
(Image credit: Crowbar Collective)

What's the half-life of Half-Life? By my reckoning, it seems we'll stop receiving updates to (one version or another of) Valve's classic roughly around the time Chernobyl becomes habitable again. Not only did the original game get a big ol' update last November, but now Black Mesa—its Valve-endorsed remake—has just put out a meaty list of fixes. It's calling it the "Necro patch" for reasons I'm not entirely clear on but am very enthusiastic about.

Crowbar Collective called this one a "Mini patch" when it was in beta last month, but it sure seems hefty to me. It ports the game to a newer version of the DXVK renderer, tightens up performance, ends crashes, and switches the game over to use Steam Input for its controller support, which has been significantly improved in general.

That last one is interesting. Sacrilegious as it may be, I actually tried to play Black Mesa with a gamepad the first time I picked it up. It went horribly. The game just isn't designed for the treacle-slow aiming of a thumbstick, meaning enemies will chew you up as you laboriously swing your weapons around to point at them. It's a game that's understandably designed for the whip-crack aiming of a mouse.

But now, Crowbar Collective has "massively overhauled our old auto-aim implementation." That means "Your crosshairs and aiming angles now magnetically attract to enemies you encounter," rather than the old system, in which bullets themselves magnetised to enemies but your aim wasn't helped at all. In other words, it now works like auto-aim does in every other FPS out there. Oh, and don't worry, it won't work in multiplayer.

All of which sounds like it might make a gamepad playthrough of Black Mesa a proper possibility. Plus, the Steam Input shift means the game now has "partial support" for Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch controllers. You can even use gyro aiming on your Steam Deck if that appeals for some incredible reason.

The update is out now, and you can find the full patch notes below. When the Necro patch hit beta, Crowbar Collective teased the possibility of a "more dangerous patch" (meaning one that broke saves) to follow. I think Half-Life might be far from done, folks.

Black Mesa Necro patch notes

Key updates

  • Improved performance of the game (Vulkan, UI optimization, New Renderer/New Post Post Process Optimization)
  • Fixed cases where game would crash on startup
  • Fixed UI flickering and artifacting
  • Fixed crash in the first map of Interloper that players were experiencing
  • Improved controller support using Steam Input
  • Fixed hitch when weapon decals are first applied to gun
  • Re-enabled weapon decals by default


  • Ported the game to DXVK 2.3.1 (first launch option)
  • Performance enhancements have been implemented for the New Renderer and New Post-Process systems, particularly noticeable in scenes featuring water
  • Fixed moss shaders and direction control for both vertex lit shader and skin shader (for props with/without phong)
  • Fixed halflambert/warp/specwarp related problems across all the shaders
  • Unlocked the even higher graphics setting in options menu
  • The lighting quality settings in the New UI have been updated to reflect recent changes.
  • Monitors and refract views can now leverage the New Renderer features
  • God Rays support has been added for the sun and local lights
  • -Note: God Rays are intentionally turned off for monitors and reflection views
  • Improved the blending quality of normal maps within 4-way blending
  • SpotLight cookies should now work on any orientation. Cookie sprite sheet no longer needs to be square.
  • Black Mesa now requests high-performance power management on Windows, which should reduce power throttling impacting performance
  • Implemented the ability to dump environment variables (-dumpenvironment launch option), assisting in resolving potential issues
  • Lots of misc graphics fixes
  • Disabled CPU-based backface culling for Func_Brush models
  • Disabled CSM for viewmodels for secondary cameras
  • Fixed flicker near Light Volume edges
  • Fixed Xog artifacts with cheaper water

Controller support

  • Developers and the community can now create custom controller bindings and share them!
  • With Steam Input now implemented, Black Mesa now has partial support for the following devices:
    • Xbox Controllers
    • Playstation Controllers
    • Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers
    • Proper Gyro support for Steam Deck!

User interface

  • Modified the Game/UI rendering synchronization, aiming for stable UI presentation across all three available modes
  • Updated the UI frame limiter logic to enhance the smoothness of frame pacing, which was particularly noticeable when vertical synchronization was active
  • Improved performance by optimizing the texture lock implementation within the UI
  • Resolved the issue where the UI occasionally failed to render at full size after resolution adjustments
  • Fixed alpha blending of UI with background map
  • Added a number of missing translators, including the 2012 mod translators (need to track down a list of who did what language)

Bug fixes

  • Interloper A crash fix
  • Resolved the issue where the Tau Canon would crash upon the owner's demise
  • Addressed a potential hang issue upon exiting the game
  • A reflection bug involving Xen fog at extreme angles has been fixed
  • Transparency issues in fake water have been resolved, and it now supports New Renderer, New Post-Process, and CSM
  • Resolved outline artifacts present in alpha-tested materials
  • Resolved an issue where view models were improperly identified within one shader, leading to lighting and shadow inconsistencies
  • Fixed a bug related to the Diffuse Warp when using more than eight slots in the atlas
  • Fixed a Workshop Client issue related to double initialization, which had the potential to cause crashes

Known issues

  • Alt-Tabbing while using Vulkan can sometimes crash the game
  • Anti-virus can sometimes flag the game as malicious even though it is not
  • Minor UI overlap errors on some ultra wide monitors
  • Some UI elements need localization
Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.