Quick about me:
Not to be that guy, but I think everything modern pretty much sucks total ass - video games being no exception. I know I’m among many in saying this, but I haven’t truly liked a game in the passed 10 years besides Dark Souls and classic Resident Evil remakes. I was never the hipster type but I just can’t care about these games today no matter how hard I try. FPS? Fucking dead to me as a genre at this point - a watered down cesspool of heartless, soulless creation for the sake of creation. No good ideas, no reasons for even making a game anymore besides the expectation that games will be made. It was many years ago that I realized that the best era of gaming already came and went… and it likely will never, EVER come back.
Yeah… with that said, Xen and Gonarch’s Lair was one of the best FPS experiences I’ve had in almost 30 years of being alive and when it was over I actually gasped seeing the main menu. I was so immersed for so long that I hadn’t realized how much you guys have done to create this world – I was back in Half Life without even sitting down for more than 10 minutes. I had felt like Gordon Freeman again for the first real time in… I can’t even fucking remember.
There was a moment when I pulled out the Hivehand and said, “Wow… this actually fits Xen now as if it was planned years ahead.” I shot the gun with the new flurry animation and the glowing hornets flew into the environment like they belonged - like fireflies disappearing into their habitat. I was like… “what the fuck is this? How could they have kept this shit secret for so long?” Seriously, I’m blown away on top of blown away.
The way you showed us the new mechanics one by one.
The balance of gameplay, exploration, and true to Valve-styled puzzles that you got perfect.
The more finite resources and the scale of the environments staring you down.
The Souls-like boss fights where I had to get some rhythm down with the jump-pack to dodge.
The sympathy I had for the bullsquids when I saw them shooting at the HEV zombie invaders.
The sadness I felt when I had to blow up the sleeping houndeyes to continue :((((
The way you actually brought all the environmental hazards into the world, making it feel hostile.
The mother f***ing genius underwater barnacles that kept the tension up while exploring.
And MY goodness, the VISUALS! Just stellar across the board, no area any less beautiful than another.
Hell… even just the amount of times I said “Oh, WOW”.
Masterstroke… this is definitely your masterstroke. I truly do NOT believe that Valve, in any present or future enterprise, could pull off what you just did and for that, I officially dub you Valve². You have outdone yourselves this time. Just INCREDIBLE work, be fucking SO proud, please.
You simply MUST release the rest as soon as possible. I can’t wait to play Interloper and Nihilanth, I seriously can’t. I need to get back to Xen ASAP. Words cannot express how excited I am to relive Gordon’s finest hour.