Black Mesa, the stellar remake of the original Half-Life, has just plopped its previously teased Definitive Edition update, intended to further improve the Version 1.0 release, into public beta.
Developed by Crowbar Collective, Black Mesa - which started out as a fan project before shifting to a Valve-sanctioned commercial release - finally got its full launch back in February, five years after entering Steam early access and a whopping 16 years after development began.
Writing at the time of Black Mesa's release, Crowbar described Version 1.0 as "the best, most polished, and most fun version of the game yet", but had already announced plans to revisit certain parts of the experience post-launch for polishing and improvement.
The first fruits of that process are now available in public beta as part of the jokingly titled Definitive Edition update, and it's a whopper, making extensive changes and enhancements throughout the game - but particularly focussing on areas that, as a result of Black Mesa's protracted development, looked dated in comparison to more recent additions.
To that end, Black Mesa's Earthbound outdoor environments - including those from levels such as Questionable Ethics, Surface Tension, and We've Got Hostiles - have all received a significant art pass to bring them inline with the striking work done on the Xen portion of the game.
Elsewhere, Interloper has received improved detailing, while Power Up and On A Rail have both seen lighting improvements and gameplay tweaks designed to improve the flow of the experience. The latter stage's rocket, says Crowbar, "now gets the respect it deserves". The massive list of improvements implemented in Black Mesa's Definitive Edition, including a game-wide collision pass and new designated supply boxes, can be found on Steam.
Existing owners can access the Definitive Edition beta by right-clicking the game in their Steam library and selecting Properties; from there, go to the Betas tab and choose "public-beta" from the dropdown menu. And those that don't already own a copy of Black Mesa can currently pick it up with a 50% discount, putting it at £7.49, as part of the Steam Halloween sale.