Half-Life Wiki
Half-Life Wiki
This subject is from the Combine era.This is a featured article.
Imagecat.png This article is about the Resistance location. For the Half-Life 2 chapter, see Black Mesa East (chapter).
Imagecat.png For other uses, see Black Mesa (disambiguation).
Wiki spoiler.png This article contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Wiki images.png This article would greatly benefit from the addition of more images.
To illustrate the article add one or more relevant images or upload them from canonical / official sources. For more instructions visit Half-Life Wiki:Images.

"It's not Black Mesa, but it's served us well enough."
Eli Vance[src]

Black Mesa East is a Resistance base located at the Wasteland end of the Canals outside of City 17, opposite to a dam, its generating station and its reservoir, and right next to the abandoned mining town of Ravenholm. Black Mesa East is where Doctor Eli Vance, Doctor Judith Mossman, Alyx Vance, and many other Resistance members, including several Vortigaunts, used to live before its destruction. It was named after the Black Mesa Research Facility. (see below)


The generating station which conceals Black Mesa East.

Black Mesa East is set several stories underground, and includes many facilities that make it self-sufficient, such as its own power generators recharged by Vortigaunts, kitchens where Vortigaunts can be seen cooking Headcrabs, recreational areas, and most importantly, Eli Vance's lab, where he is constantly refining the teleportation technology salvaged from the Black Mesa Research Facility, from which Black Mesa East took its name. Eli works with Isaac Kleiner, who also has his own lab, hidden in downtown City 17. They eventually established a working teleportation system between their labs that would have reduced any journeys on foot from City 17 to Black Mesa East, and finally eliminated the need for the Citizen-operated Underground Railroad, but Alyx Vance was the only person to be successfully teleported to Black Mesa East before it was invaded by the Combine.

The Vortigaunts at Black Mesa East appear to do a lot of the work around the place, such as preparing food or powering generators with their natural ability to generate electricity. They also help Eli around the lab, by manning computers or installing or powering parts for various machines. Another area briefly seen is the dormitories/barracks for members of the Resistance, which is shared by both Vortigaunts and humans. In this area Rebels rest and pass their free time.

All entry points to Black Mesa East are under constant surveillance by CCTV cameras, and contain decontamination chambers with heavy blast doors to hold anyone or anything that is not meant to enter. Black Mesa East is directly connected to Ravenholm via a tunnel that has been barricaded off since the shelling of Ravenholm took place, to prevent Zombies and Headcrabs from entering the facility.


Half-Life 2

Black Mesa East's teleport.

At the end of his journey through the canals, Gordon Freeman arrives at Black Mesa East for a short visit. He is greeted by Judith Mossman in one of the decontamination chambers, and she brings him up to speed on the scientific breakthroughs that have taken place in the last few months. She soon after takes him down to Eli's lab, where Eli and Alyx talk to him, and show him that much of the research begun at the original Black Mesa is continuing at this new facility.

Newspaper clips revealing some details about the story setting.

In Eli's lab, Gordon also learns about events such as the Seven Hour War and the Portal Storms by reading newspaper clippings found in the lab: "Earth surrenders" on a cover of The Times with a picture of the damaged United Nations Headquarters in New York City under it, "Wallace Breen Declared Interim Administrator", "Black Mesa Admin Charged with Human Affairs Bureau", "Portal Storm Continues", "7 Hour War Ends in Combine Victory" and other unreadable newspaper clips. Other interesting things such as a Cremator's head in formaldehyde can be seen, as well as a machine resembling a smaller AMS, and containing a Xen crystal similar to the one used in the original experiment. Several books can also be seen (see below). Eli will make comments on various other things around the place, such as an old family photo containing him, Alyx, and his deceased wife, Azian Vance. The photo has been salvaged somehow from the Black Mesa East destruction and can be seen in White Forest.

Soon after Gordon arrives in Eli's lab, Alyx takes him to an outdoor scrapyard, and gives him training with the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator (or Gravity Gun) Eli built. Originally designed for heavy lifting and the handling of hazardous materials, Gordon finds a much better use for it - turning it into a weapon which will serve him well throughout the rest of his mission. Alyx also introduces Gordon to Dog, the robot built by Eli to protect her while she was young. Gordon and Dog play a game of fetch using a Combine Rollermine which has had its ability to electrocute people disabled, and use the Gravity Gun on various other objects such as crates, found in the scrapyard. Alyx also introduces the limitations of the weapon, ordering Dog to throw something bigger and stopping him upon choosing a dumpster the regular Gravity Gun cannot hold.

Black Mesa East is eventually raided by the Combine. They launch a massive attack using Scanners, Headcrab Shells, Hunter-Choppers in the air and Civil Protections in the facility. The Vortigaunts present attempt to fight off the internal attack, but are overpowered and Eli Vance ends up being captured and taken to Nova Prospekt. The raid was actually made possible by Judith, as it was revealed while watching a conversation she has with Doctor Breen over a screen at Nova Prospekt that she had provided him the information on Black Mesa East's location, during which her secret alliance with the Combine is revealed.

During the course of the raid, Black Mesa East is heavily damaged, and much of its personnel are presumed to have been killed or having escaped. Due to hallways being blocked off by rubble and collapsed ceilings, Gordon Freeman is forced to go through Ravenholm on his way to the Coast, as it is the only remaining exit from the facility. After this, Black Mesa East is not seen again for the rest of the game.

Behind the scenes

Concept art for Eli Maxwell's lab.

The original teleportation sequence

  • As heard in the dialogue files found in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta sound files, the teleportation sequence at the start of Half-Life 2 was originally to be much different and much longer.[3]
  • Kleiner and Barney, located at Kleiner's Lab with Gordon, and Helena Mossman, located at Kraken Base, were to discuss the best place to send Gordon, in a dialogue much longer than in the retail version (where several sentences survived, even though they were rerecorded), and not including Alyx.
  • After the team agrees that Eli's facilities are too primitive to make use of Gordon, being, according to Mossman, more suited to mechanics than research scientists, and that its teleport is in pieces, therefore not working, and that the only way to reach the place would be to go on foot through the dangerous Canals, Mossman suggests to send Gordon to Kraken Base instead, and by teleportation. Kleiner seems hesitant about it, while Barney expresses even more doubts in very pessimist remarks. While Kleiner pretends to be sure about the reliability of his equipment, Mossman is very determined, since she says to have run seven sequences without a single failure.
  • While the teleportation is being prepared, Gordon must do his part to set things up. Then the teleportation begins, and Barney thinks it is the best time to mention the issues about the cat they used for the previous test, saying that he had to turn the animal right side out again to make sure it was a cat (kept in the retail version for Alyx's teleportation, but minus the explanation), thus providing the information missing from the retail version. The teleportation then succeeds, and Mossman is able to introduce herself to Gordon and compliment him when he is still in the teleport instead of releasing him right away. At Kleiner's Lab, Lamarr jumps into the teleport like in the retail version, disrupting the connection between the two teleports and bringing back Gordon behind a window near Kleiner's Lab (like in the retail version) and damaging both teleports.
  • It is also suggested by Barney's sentences that something happens to Kleiner, dying or being hurt and left unconscious, since he ceases to talk after he approaches the teleport, worried by Lamarr's fate. The failure having blown their cover and the lab's roof about to cave in, Gordon finds himself forced to journey to Eli's lab on foot. Barney leads him to the Canals, where the next chapter begins, and leaves at some point, like in the retail version.[3]
  • Arrived at Black Mesa East after the Canals and the Ravenholm chapters, Gordon discovers a very basic, primitive underground lab installed in some kind of scrapyard cave, indeed more suited to mechanics than research scientists, since it looks more like a garage than a real lab. A prototype map of this original lab, last edited in August 2001, can be found in the WC mappack under the name "proto_eliden003.vmf" ("Eli's Den"). It does not contain any hint of a lab, but rather some sort of garage with a damaged school bus and several damaged cars, mirroring Mossman's sentence about the facility being more suited to mechanics than research scientists.
  • Gordon meets there Eli Maxwell. He demonstrates the abilities of the original physics manipulator and shows Gordon a slideshow of what happened during the last 10 years (which was later said to be nearly 20 years[4]), including the loss of his leg to a Bullsquid.[1] It is possible that, being in the Wasteland, the lab was to be surrounded with many junked vehicles and machines, relics of the Seven Hour War, and inspired by the scrapyards near Chernobyl with rusty and irradiated vehicles, and where from Eli's team would have probably collected parts.
  • Eli's lab was finally transformed into a real underground building, the scrapyard being kept only for playing fetch with Dog and the Gravity Gun (although a small scrapyard must be crossed to deactivate the Autogun in Episode Two). Then Eli Maxwell was merged with Captain Vance to become the Eli Vance of the final version. Kraken Base being cut from the storyline, the choice of the destination was simplified, and thus the dialogues.
  • In the playable Half-Life 2 Beta can be found a more recent prototype ("orange") map of Black Mesa East, named "eli_lab". Similar to the final version, it features early/expanded dialogue also recorded by the final actors, and Vortigaunts in slave outfit. Of note is a mention by Alyx of Antlion activity outside or that the Gravity Gun is based on a Combine weapon. The Combine also discovers the base before Gordon can test the Gravity Gun.[5]


Eli's books.

  • In Eli's lab, several books can be found on the shelf located left of the teleport. They include:
  • Lost Socks (a reference to Hal Robins' The Meaning of Lost and Mismatched Socks[6])
  • Calabi-Yau Space
  • Book apparently written in Chinese (The title is Mechanical Engineering)
  • To the 8th Dimension and Back Again
  • From Here to There in Under a Second by Isaac Kleiner (likely about teleportation)
  • Aeronautical Robotics by William C. Wood
  • The Extreme Aggrotato by Marc Laidlaw
  • Strings, Quarks and Me
  • Applied Dynamics
  • Advanced Modular Theory and Speculation
  • The Big Book of Big Text by Dayyan Eng (Eng is a Chinese-American filmmaker, related to Dhabih Eng, who designed Black Mesa East and produced one of Dayyan's short films)
  • At the start of the scrapyard, an old HEV Suit charger panel as seen in the original Half-Life can be found. Picking this up will unlock The Orange Box Achievement/Trophy 'Blast from the Past'.
  • The Half-Life 2: Deathmatch map Steam Lab draws some inspiration from both Kleiner's Lab and Black Mesa East, and includes a teleport as well.
  • When launching a crate into the ventilation hole (the right one) above the blast door at the scrapyard with the Gravity Gun, a group of Crows will fly away.
  • In the room Judith Mossman walks into, pointing the flashlight at the table between two of the monitors will reveal a picture of Mark Twain, a famous American author.
  • In Black Mesa East and Kleiner's lab, there are boxes with the radiation trefoil symbol under tables, they are a reference to the plutonium boxes from the film series Back to the Future.




List of appearances


  1. 1.0 1.1 Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
  2. WC mappack
  3. 3.0 3.1 Playable Half-Life 2 Beta files
  4. Ia icon.png Episode One: The story so far on Half-Life 2's official website (Archived)
  5. Playable Half-Life 2 Beta
  6. Interview: Hal "Dr. Kleiner" Robins on HLFallout.net

See also