After 13 years’ development, Half-Life mod about a marine assault on Black Mesa launches to rave reviews
Half-Life: Field Intensity is a new mod for Valve’s 1998 shooter released this week after 13 years of development and created by a group of three veteran modders known as the Hazard Team, whose previous work includes the 2009 prequel mod Half-Life: Induction. Field intensity is a much larger project. Based on the Opposing Force, the mod’s 34 cards tell the story of one of the Marines sent to Black Mesa to quell an alien invasion and silence the scientists working there. The mod received very positive reviews, with one ModDB user calling it “one of the best mods I’ve ever played.”
The Hazard team started working on the mod in 2009 after the launch of Induction. Originally known as Soldier’s Adventures, the Hazard Team wanted to make a “classic” Half-Life mod that, according to its programmer Roman Chistokhodov, “tells the story of the Black Mesa incident from another character’s point of view.” Initially, the mod focuses on the first Marine attack on the Black Mesa facility. “Opposing Force starts with the osprey crashing and Adrian Shepard being unconscious for a long time and skips most of the Half-Life storyline,” says Chistokhodov. “We tried to fill this gap and show some of the HECU activities before the evacuation order.”
The mod’s action is divided into two parts, which the Hazard team calls “Days.” Day 1 is dedicated to the Marines’ early encounters with Zen aliens, and the maps are made mainly by one of the mod’s creators, who goes by the alias KRSK. Day 2 is, according to Chistokhodov, “the classic ‘try to escape Black Mesa’ trail.” The two halves of the story are woven together by an unseen radio operator who informs you of wider events at the facility, an addition that Chistokhodov says was “inspired by games like Bioshock and SOMA.”
Field Intensity is a massive project that adds custom content and new maps and story. The mod was initially based on the Opposing Force game libraries, but in 2017 Chistokhodov began work on his “own version” of the Half-Life SDK. “Eventually, this allowed us to move away from using the Opposing Force game libraries and switch to our own implementation,” he says. “Having that kind of freedom opened up a lot of new possibilities, so I added new enemies and weapons beyond the Opposing Force.”
As to why the mod has been in development for so long, Chistochodov explains that development has been “jumpy” due to “shifting interests or lack of motivation.” “There was a time when I even wanted to abandon it altogether, thinking that Half-Life modding was outdated and no one would be interested,” he says. “However, I have seen that the Half-Life community is still alive, and many mods are still being developed, and some are even being released on Steam.”
Hazard Team is a Russian-Ukrainian modding team that has been working together for many years. The Russian invasion of Ukraine affected the team. KRSK, the modder who worked on the first part of Field Intensity, was unavailable for direct contact due to the conflict, although Chistochodov said they “keep in touch with him every day at this time.” When I asked Chistokhodov how he felt about the timing of the release, he replied: “We are glad that we lived to see the release. While the reviews are great, people like it, so not in vain. leave feedback and watch videos to see what we can fix and improve in the mod.”
You can download Half-Life: Field Intensity here.