In context: Half-Life 3 might still be years away (if it hasn't been outright canceled by now), but that doesn't mean the franchise is dead. With the recent launches of both Half-Life: Alyx and the third-party Half-Life 1 remake, Black Mesa, it's safe to say that many fans' Half-Life cravings have been sated -- for now.
Fortunately, even more Half-Life goodness is on the way, courtesy of Black Mesa developer Crowbar Collective. Apparently, the studio has been working diligently on a "Definitive Edition" for the game for quite some time.
Indeed, work on the DE started before Black Mesa had even been fully released in March. Now, after months of post-launch effort, Crowbar Collective is finally ready to release the Definitive Edition -- in beta, anyway.
The full feature list arriving with the DE is mind-bogglingly long, but we'll try to cover some of the most exciting changes here. For starters, Crowbar Collective has rolled out full workshop support for Black Mesa, which could be hugely impactful for the game's modding community. Now, modders can create new content that includes scripts, choreography changes, and particle effects.
Additionally, the "Power Up" chapter of Black Mesa has been completely reworked, with the team adding more "cause and effect" gameplay. "You now have to fight your way through a darkened facility to get the lights back on, kill the Gargantua, and 'Power Up' the tram," Crowbar Collective writes in their announcement post.
The devs go on to show off some of their new dynamic lighting systems in action -- see that below. The results are pretty attractive, in my opinion.
Another significant change arriving with the Definitive Edition is updated visuals for older Black Mesa maps. For those who don't know, this game has been in development for around 15 years, which means some of its older maps, while still prettier than the original Half-Life's, pale in comparison to its newer ones.
One of the Definitive Edition's goals is to bring those maps up to par across the board to eliminate inconsistencies. We'd say the team has done a pretty good job on that front, but you can judge for yourself by taking a gander at the screenshots throughout this article.
If you want to test out the Definitive Edition for yourself, you'll need a copy of Black Mesa, which, luckily for you, just so happens to be on sale for a mere $10 right now (50 percent off) as part of Steam's Halloween Sale.
Once you've grabbed the game, just right click on its Steam Library entry, hit Properties, go to the Betas tab, and then select "public-beta" from the dropdown list. Voila! The next time you boot up the game, you'll get access to the current Definitive Edition features, with more to come over time.