Map Review of black-mesa-epf

by dunkelschwamm | March 19, 2023 | 5142 characters

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Black Mesa EPF is one of the maps that comes with Sven Co-op. It's a very competently made Black Mesa corridor hub action-walkthrough map with a mission system. What does it do that other Black Mesa maps don't? Does it stand out enough to be a default map?

Well, the aforementioned mission system is a sign of where I think this map excels. Even when progress isn't clear, progress is clear enough to find fast. The mission texts and some cutaway scenes help convey what needs to be done next. The hub structure of the map (based around a central corridor) also helps keeping the map from stretching too far from the spawn area, despite being survival by default (undone by vote, because fuck that noise). Also the basic layout of where the map first starts allows for easy fast access to various chunks of the map while exiting the spawn area, by say jumping off of the bridge over the corridor. My teammate was getting lost a lot, but I found things pretty simple to navigate.

One place where the map does not excel is in making players pick up all of the weapons they get quickly out of spawn. It's awkwardly and clunky grabbing things out of the steels in the armory, takes time, and needs to respawn the ammo. If you want to prevent players from taking too much ammo, I guess I get that, but you could just spawn them with less ammo. It doesn't seem like great balancing that one guy who crawls onto the ammo spawner gets all of the ammo and nobody gets any unless he decides to dick around and dole it out or they wait for an ammo replenish. It's just added clunkiness that's unnecessary and serves no purpose. Just spawn the players with the guns. I get making the ammo and the tripmines limited, and I get making the players travel to pick up the sniper rifle, but just have them spawn with the stuff they'll have immediately anyway. I guess this is less of a problem if you player the map with survival, but it's still a clunky interaction where things could have been streamlined.

The combat pits players against Opposing Force enemies and some Sven Co-op enemies. Players use tripmines, uzis, revolvers and glocks, the MP5, the shotgun, and the sniper rifle against shock troopers, pit drones, a voltigore, OpForce HECU grunts, a few HW grunts, black ops, robo grunts, and evil Black Mesa guards. Later in, there also gets to be a bunch of turrets as well, but not so many as to become tiring. The map is actually lain out pretty well for sniping or laying tripmines, even if I'm not sure we managed to get any of our own tripmines to set off correctly. I think overall the combat worked out great.

The mission structure keeps things moving along and motivated, and also sets up setpieces with text. There was one that confused us both, where we were told in 30 seconds grunts would rush in through a certain part of the map. We both thought this was the double doors at the end of the corridor, so we set up our tripmines there. Turns out they came out of somewhere completely different. Oh well. Another time it told us that we could either blow a fuse box or navigate a laser puzzle to turn some robogrunts friendly. First of all, this laser puzzle was brutal and idk how anybody is supposed to do this on survival. Second of all, my teammate seemed unaware that blowing the fusebox was an option, and once I mentioned that to him we both agreed that was the best course of action. I can't imagine giving all of the players on a co-op server the option to individually unilaterally subvert a puzzle like that is a good thing, but given how brutal the laser puzzle is maybe it's for the best. That thing probably would have ended my run.

The brushwork is really good. There's some creative splashes here and there, each area has its own look, and the Black Mesa motif plays some of the greatest hits of what made Black Mesa interesting, rather than using Half-Life textures in place of creativity. It really manages to be interesting to look at all over, and I can see why it's a default map for its creative use of default material.

Overall, I think this is a great example of a straight-forward walkthrough map in Black Mesa with creative flourishes that don't get in the way. Definitely give it a go with your friends or put it on a server rotation- it comes with the game, after all.


  • Easy to navigate, with cutscenes and text to help as well
  • Good arsenal that fits the layout well
  • Really fun combat scenes with hard hitting enemies
  • Things never really get stale, introducing new ideas all the time
  • Very pretty execution of a Black Mesa themed map


  • Collecting the items every time we respawn is a chore
  • The laser puzzle is brutal enough that I think it makes survival being default seem like a joke
  • Some early bits killed me with unpredictable teleporting-in enemies
  • Sorta forgettable ending climax
Score: 8.7 / 10
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