Map Review of black-mesa-arena

by GrandmasterJ | March 20, 2023 | 4110 characters

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Black Mesa Arenas is title with three words I dread when I see Sven Co-op maps. The screenshots and the description didn't help. But I must admit to my first impression being totally wrong, which is something I have found happens a lot.

The map description says it all, there are 17 arenas to fight in. These arenas are usually pretty simple with the best looking ones evoking an overlarge liminal feel. Some arenas look better than others, like the graveyard was pretty fun but then there are a bunch that have spike pits ringing the outside that are just big blocks with whatever texture the author found. Some parts looked good, some looked bad, and I feel it looked bad more often than not.

For all its visual problems it does deliver on some good level design. There is a fantastic checkpoint system with unlocking teleporters that drop players into some of the most beautiful supply rooms I've ever seen. Ammo that respawns in a second in vast piles with weapons arrayed before me. There were a lot of areas that I saw and accidentally stumbled on with hidden weapons and supplies. One arena had a rocket launcher in an alcove and players had to take a risky jump to get it. I found an HEV charger under some acid with some sort of backpack. There are hard to reach windows and vents hidden behind breakable crates. There are lots and lots of breakable crates, and many of them have ammo and other fun things inside. It was a constant parade of fun discoveries.

The actual arena combat starts off really easy with just headcrabs and eases into us softly. By the end we're fighting two Tors at once with a swarm of stuka bats along with a Kingpin and Gargantua. Enemies spawn in with the flashy sprites and everything. Sometimes in waves, most times when we hit invisible triggers. There are some areas with platforming to break up some of the action, but the focus is all on the action. The map slowly metes out weapons as we progress and our updating checkpoint drops us right in the action most of the time. In the second map there wasn't much updating checkpoints happening and we did have to walk a long distance repeatedly.

At one point in the second or third arena I fell down a pit. I didn't die as I expected and instead found the teleporter to the next arena. My teammate was still fighting so I just hung out until he could join me. This happened a few times, one of us would run around the arena and find the portal to the next one. In one map we intentionally did this to avoid a fight that spawned on top of us. It was an annoyance and I don't understand why the map author didn't lock the teleports until the arena was cleared. On the second map at the final checkpoint my teammate triggered it before we finished clearing the last arena, then I died and appeared at that checkpoint. I wanted to clear it and look for secrets, but oh well.

I really enjoyed this map. The checkpoints and resupply rooms absolutely spoiled me. Most times the trek back to the action was very short and the supplies respawned so fast that I never had to wait. The combat was solid and the arsenal was stacked. I really get that old school Sven combat vibe that I remember from back in the day with this map. It may look pretty bad sometimes, but it's hard to hold that against it when it has so many fun hidden things to find, one secret I'll let you in on is that this map is really good and you should play it.


  • Updating checkpoint system
  • ammo respawns near instantly
  • well placed and well stocked resupply rooms, plus ammo and weapons throughout the map
  • good map design
  • fun secrets
  • great array of weapons to use on a diverse array of enemies


  • The map doesn't look great
  • the second map had a weaker checkpoint system
  • we often would accidentally teleport ourselves to the next arena
Score: 8.5 / 10
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