Gearbox Software is most commonly associated with the Borderlands series nowadays, but decades ago it was also responsible for developing Half-Life: Blue Shift. This was a 2001 add-on to Valve’s original Half-Life, which told the story of that fateful day at the Black Mesa Research Facility from the perspective of Gordon’s security guard pal, Barney Calhoun. Now that FPS game is making the jump into Black Mesa, thanks to a group of modders called the HECU Collective.
The HECU Collective means for Black Mesa: Blue Shift to be exactly what you’d expect: an update of Half-Life: Blue Shift featuring all the enhancements and new features found in the modernised Black Mesa. The original Blue Shift, released several years after Half-Life, added an ‘HD texture pack’ that gave Half-Life a crisper look, and the leap should be all the more noticeable now, 20 years later.
Blue Shift isn’t a long game – in fact, it can be finished in a single sitting – and it’s the rare game told from the perspective of a low-level mook. You get to see a lot of the stuff going on behind the scenes in Gordon Freeman’s story, and eventually even make a trip to Xen.
Black Mesa expands the original Half-Life’s Xen segments considerably, so it’s possible we’ll see more of that in Black Mesa: Blue Shift too – although Barney’s job really is to get the hell out of the base with all his limbs intact, and part of the add-on’s appeal is, in our view, its brevity.
The modders decided to begin work on Black Mesa: Blue Shift when they learned about the cancellation of Black Mesa: Insecurity, a mod that began way back in 2014.
HECU Collective shared some early work-in-progress screenshots on ModDB this week, and it says it will be releasing a demo of Black Mesa: Blue Shift in the near future. We’ll be excited to see where they go with it.