Half-Life: Nihilanth and Endgame

5th August 2012

The Replay Experience Experiment: Half-Life: Nihilanth

In a vast cave, Gordon finally confronts the powerful and mysterious being that is holding the portal open. Gordon destroys the Nihilanth’s shield, allowing him to destroy its vulnerable brain. As the creature dies, it floats toward the ceiling, and explodes in a giant green blast that overpowers Gordon’s senses.

“It’s time to choose!”
– The G-Man

When Gordon comes to, he is confronted by the G-Man. Both are transported to various locales around Xen, while the G-Man praises Gordon’s actions in the borderworld (which he refers to as “a nasty piece of work”). He explains that his “employers”, agreeing that Gordon has “limitless potential”, have authorized him to offer Freeman a job. The final teleportation takes Gordon to the same tramcar that he rode on at the beginning of the game, but apparently flying through space at immense speed. Gordon accepts this offer by stepping though a portal, and, finding himself floating in nothingness, hears the G-Man’s voice one last time: “Wisely done, Mr. Freeman, I will see you up ahead…” The story continues from this point in Half-Life 2.

Alternatively, the player may choose not to step into the portal in the final scene. This causes Gordon to be teleported into a giant cave facing rows of Alien Grunts and Manta Rays as the game ends with the G-Man’s comment, “Well, it looks like we won’t be working together. No regrets, Mr. Freeman.” Gordon’s appearance in Half-Life 2 suggests that this ending is non-canonical. Following this scene is a status report saying, “Subject: Freeman; Status: Observation terminated; Post Mortem: Subject declined offer of employment.”


The chapter name “Endgame” is given in the “titles.txt” file and in Half-Life save and load dialogs.
The rows of Alien Grunts in the non-canon (“bad”) ending are not all spawned NPCs. The rear rows of Alien Grunts are actually rendered as sprites

The Poll


The challenges below have been set by 2muchvideogames

  • Hidden surviving scientist!? (Thanks, Dr. Amazing)
  • Finish off Nihilanth with the crowbar.

MEDIUM: 100 Health 100HEV [24KB]

HARD: 100 Health 100HEV [24KB]


Click on the thumbnails below to open a 1024 pixel wide image.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth
The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth
The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth
The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth The Replay Experience Experiment: Nihilanth
The Replay Experience Experiment

This post is part of the The Replay Experience Experiment 2012 event. This is a chance to replay all the Half-Life games and discuss them based on our experiences since we first played them.

Hat Tip

All text taken from the CombineOverWiki, a fan-supported, editable wiki covering the Half-Life series of games.

A Complete Half-Life Walkthrough
A Complete Half-Life Walkthrough

On the left is a complete text walkthrough for Half-Life.

It has been written by Stanley E. Dunigan and updated with all the tricks and tips from PlanetPhillip.Com readers.

It is in PDF format, meaning you can open it directly in modern browsers or download it and print it.

(Left-click to open and right-click to save)

Do Not Own This Game?

You can purchase Half-Life directly through Steam and could be playing in within moments, depending on your internet connection.


  1. Summary

    I didn’t really enjoy the low-gravity aspect of the Xen areas and this final boss didn’t help.

    The first time I played it I couldn’t help feel it was too baby-like and I almost felt sorry for it. That’s maybe what Valve wanted but I feel I should have hated that SOB.


    Like many bosses, it’s a case of fire and move. I imagine this is very easy to beat when you plan correctly. I, on the other hand, run around like a headless chicken shooting and jumping in random, almost demented fashion.

    Points of Interest

    Very interested to see this surviving scientist mentioned in the challenges!

    G-man Sightings

    Well, at the end of course!

    Bugs or Errors

    If you get up to the head early on you can see through it – see one of my screenshots.

    The Poll

    Yes, I killed him once but then didn’t save, so I don’t know if he re-appears when you go back.


    – Hidden surviving scientist!? (Thanks, Dr. Amazing)
    – Finish off Nihilanth with the crowbar.

    I seriously suck at these challenges, no really!

    5 Words or Less Review

    More fun than I remember


    48 minutes



    1. Ade

      That’s a weird looking G-Man you got there, Phil!

      1. Really, what’s weird about him?

        1. He looks different with or without HD pack, maybe that’s why?
          TBH I like the old one better.

  2. Nihilanth

    The final boss of Half-Life appears in front of us. “Fre-e-e-e-ema-a-an” – he says and it turns out that his voice spoke to us before. Nihilanth starts to attack us and from this point we understand that there’s no diplomatic solution even though he can talk with our language.

    He shoots blue projectiles and we have to time our long jump or our high jump very well, otherwise we will lose a lot of health. He also shoots teleporters which move us to different places.

    We shoot him and notice that the orange stars around him disappear. Looks like he uses them to recharge his health. Then he replenish the stars using crystals on the walls, and now it’s obvious that we need to destroy them to prevent him from recharging.


    First place he teleported us in is some kind of pit with very imaginative and stylish design. Alien controllers – “mini-nihilanths” appear from the teleporter on the ceiling and attack us. There’s some cool low gravity jumping.


    Second place is some beautiful cave. Flying orbs are a nice touch and they make the feeling of being in the alien world stronger. There’s a dead man in hevsuit, we can get his medkits and ammo.


    Gargantua’s roar is heard, hinting that soon we will meet this big monster.


    Third place is a big cave. There are some things similar to corn flakes lying on the floor. There are pits which lead into water. There are an ichtyosaur and some ammo caches. There’s a ledge on the wall below the ceiling, a scientist is hiding there. Another ledge shows cherished blue light of the healing pool. Alien slaves try to stop us, but it’s not a problem due to big size of the cave.


    Fourth teleportation leads to the same cave as third, but now there’s the Gargantua.

    In the end, Nihilanth’s head opens like a flower and there’s something similar to teleporter in there. But he dies only when we shoot at this portal-like thing with gauss gun. A lot of beams and small teleporters fly from him, and then another teleportation catches us.

    Playtime: 14 minutes


    Half-Life’s spectacular ending. Mysterious man in blue suit finally starts to speak with us. During the speech we are being teleported through the part of Xen that we’ve never seen before. The design is, as usual, original, beautiful and imaginative.


    Eventually, we find ourselves in a train which flies through some dark space. Now it’s time to choose. Of course here the best course of action is to save game and see two endings. If we enter the portal, it’s just black screen. Continues in Half-Life 2. If we don’t, we see a spectacular scene. What’s good with it is that it doesn’t say that it’s a bad ending, but instead leaves the continuation to our imagination.


    Some mod authors chose the alternative ending as a starting point for their mods, so you can continue with Return to Lambda Core mod or Instinct. Return to Lambda Core has nice design, but it doesn’t feel like Lambda Core, it feels like an imitation. Instinct has great level design, but no ending.

    There might be some better mods that I’m not aware of. So if you know a mod or mods which continue the game from alternative ending, I’ll be glad to hear about it from you.

    Playtime: 4 minutes


    I’m going to admit right now that shamefully I’ve never actually finished this chapter before, I have never beat the Nihilanth. I believe I couldn’t quite figure out how to beat it and I grew tired of trying to do it with the floaty gravity.

    Oh how I hated the chamber you had to ascend, I kept managing to fall off.

    Luckily with some quick thinking I was able to beat the mighty Nihilanth for the first time ever!

    Playtime: 20 minutes

  4. Ade

    Gah I hated this chapter and I still do, I guess I found it a bit unfair, I mean who ever saw portals with tracking device! And it’s full of bugs if you ask me.
    If I crouch in the water, most of the stuff isn’t even visible, including lil Nihi. RPG didn’t wanna reload on me once til I right clicked on it and most of the time it didn’t even follow the laser.. I died like a dozen times and refused to finish the area where the 2nd portal took me so I just reloaded lots and never got to the 3rd to see the scientist.
    Took me ages to finish him, too, since some rockets missed as he went higher and faster than me, some would go straight like I said and some would be repelled by it 😀
    Next, areas with lots of invisible walls. And game doesn’t even end proper, after the credits, I briefly hear some Xen birds then am left to jump around in darkness, no return to main menu. I hate that when even ep2 mods do it and I would’ve never expected this from THE GAME itself.
    Was a fun ride with a bitter ending, but am glad in the end I got a job out of it so I can’t wait for my “next assignment” 🙂

    Playtime: 32 minutes (cus of Steam chat!)

  5. 2muchvideogames


    The epic showdown between Gordon Freeman, defender of justice and humanity, and the Nihilanth, eternal dictator of Xen, starts here! Watch as an orange monkey who can carry 14 weapons at once does battle with a giant underdeveloped Xen Buddhist foetus that can cast lightning orbs! Anyway I was pretty lucky not to die at all in the video. There are some rather close calls too, especially towards the end… enjoy!

    I avoided all the teleports, so I did not get to fight the itchy nor the the gargantua. Very convenient for recording, though, but it also means that I couldn’t do one of the challenges…\

    Playtime: 06’24”

    1. Let’s take a look at the video description:
      “The Ultimate Showdown between Gordon Freeman (Last Defender of Humanity and Insanity) and the Nihilanth (dictator-for-life of Xen). Watch As Gordon Plants the Pipewrench of Justice into the Nihilanth’s Brain, and then.. BABY YOU’re A FI-I-I-REWORK! MAKE IT GO OH-OH-OH-OH”
      Oh my.

  6. Stanley Dunigan

    Just a quick note to say that I can’t understand why so many people have so much trouble in this chapter. There’s a very easy way to finish it that’s given in the detailed walkthrough above these comments. The only reason not to use it is if you enjoy making the final chapter of Half-Life into a desperate run-and-gun event and/or if you want to explore all of the teleport destinations to extend gameplay. If that sort of thing annoys you or gets you killed all the time, then use the above walkthrough’s method for killing Nihilanth to avoid all of that frustration.

    Special Challenge: Only use the hornet gun and crowbar in this chapter. Or if you’re playing the Source version, use only the hornet gun and one pistol bullet. Also, play on “hard” difficulty and don’t take any damage (which can be kind of tough when you have to jump up into/over Nihilanth’s head).

  7. William

    Playtime: 23:57


    This is it. This is the end. You will die. You cannot win. Game Over man, Game Over.

    Bugs and Glitches

    Although this isn’t a bug or glitch, some of the textures are terribly pixelated. Also, in the bad ending, the sprite grunts look terrible.

    Dreamcast Differences

    You can actually see underwater in one of the places you get teleported to.
    Also, there is no hidden Scientist 🙁


    “(Thanks, Dr. Amazing)” 😀
    I do not qualify for the first challenge, due to the fact that the scientist is not there in the Dreamcast version. I did however, get the second challenge.

    Playtime: 10 Minutes
    5 words or less: Panic and Die

    Invulnerability Code: Otis Loves Dreamcast

    The Ending Credits song is amazing

  9. Unq

    Ah, our finale. I’m of two minds on Half-Life’s climax here; I don’t like the final boss battle (too typical, quite disappointing) but I really like the intrigue of the exposition at the end. And I love the nihilist and a bit wry ending, I thought it was perfect.

    I don’t really have too much to say about the battle itself. I found it pretty tough, even using cover wisely. The purple balls of death do some serious damage, and even slaves left behind by the green teleporter balls can do some damage on Hard. I died quite a few times before finishing off the Big N. It always takes me a few tries to find the right bounce pad that gets the good height.

    The scientist challenge was great! I honestly usually avoid getting teleported at all costs but this one still took me a while to find even after exploring everywhere.

    And a final mention of the great music from Kelly Bailey – the end credits theme. Somewhere along the way it was titled Freedom, so that’s what I’m going with. It’s a much better title than “Credits/Closing Theme” and it’s deliciously sardonic.


    Mapper’s Corner: Well, Nihilanth is a unique guy and he’s pretty scripted so we’ll look at something simpler – the “warp” effect you see as you ride the tram at the very end with the Gman.


    – The tram is not a moving entity at all, but a set of normal world brushes. A tiny bit of trickery here by Valve, taken above and beyond by Gearbox in the opening sequence of Opposing Force.

    – Instead, the warp lines move around the stationary tram to make it look like you’re flying through space. Each little white line is actually a little func_train (36 total) that move along rings of path_corners parallel to the way the tram’s facing, and teleport from behind the tram to in front of the tram in a big loop.

    – Each ring has 12 path_corners, and they are configured to offset a little bit at each stop. Think of them as the hours on a clock face – when a warp line hits 1 o’clock on ring #1, it is directed to 2 o’clock on ring #2 which is closer to the tram. Repeat this for every path_corner and you have a set of warp lines that spiral around the tram in gentle curves.

    – The walls are simply textured black here so it seems like we’re out in space.

    Playtime: 14 minutes

  10. Nihilanth & Endgame

    “…most of them were government property” (Gman)

    Excuse me Gord…Valve, what went wrong here? If you ask me: a LOT!
    What I’m about is the final boss battle and also the endings which make no big difference, but rather are simply disappointing.
    The “battle”, yes battle in quotes, is just worth a lot laugh and frustrating than being interesting and / or that challenging.
    What’s most annoying are the minions and the green teleporter spheres Nihilanth shoots from time to time.
    His purple lightning balls can be avoided via hiding or just using a jumppad, being more faster than this threats, while landing on safe place is recommended of course.
    Although I wrote the battle and the endings are ridiculous, it took me a while to finish this on hard because the jumppads are sometimes unpredictable, even when you can “move” in the air. Also because on hard difficulty alien slaves and controllers do pretty much damage.
    And being on low health at all times ain’t an advantage too as healing is somehow difficult when Nihilanth shoots his lightning bolts.
    However, it was relief being beamed to the cave with the healing pool up on a ledge while a Garg was down there, and fortunately I saved some rockets and satchels to kill it, challenge accepted and completed 😛

    It was rather a pain than fun to replay this battle, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining because of that I died quite often here it’s just all about design and realization.

    I wish there was some cutscenes at the end, for both endings, but all what appeared are the credits. How lame!
    It feels and just did felt like Valve did this within a few hours, in the meaning on: “hey, what to show the player after defeating Nihilanth?” – “I dunno, the Gman is mysterious, let’s show him up, talking some more or less wise phrases and uhmm…dunno” YAAAAAWN!
    MISSION FAILED VALVE! Players want to see cutscenes at the end, I know a lot even crappier shooter games which made it better than HL!

    Nonetheless HL is a brillant game, a masterpiece with some boring passages, minor bugs and many open questions.
    And to be honest, it was relief to finish the last chapters, starting with “Interloper” as for me it’s not that well-done like other chapters before.
    Maybe it’s just because of I dislike the Xen design a lot, thinking it’s not made that sophisticated as an ending for a game.
    Whatever…. looking forward to “Uplink”, “Opposing Force” and “Blue Shift”.

    Poll: Voted yes, Garg was killed.

    Bugs: Getting stuck on a ledge, near a wall taking damage constantly.

    Deaths: Many on hard, around 15


    -Hidden surviving scientist!? (Thanks, Dr. Amazing) – Huh?? Nope..
    -Finish off Nihilanth with the crowbar. – No way

    5 words or less review: There’s no place like home.

    Playtime: 41 minutes

  11. I still have trouble with youtube upload. I really hpe phillip has a way to edit other’s comment, so he will be able to add my link (that I will post in another comment) to this review comment, or maybe just delete the first one and I rewrite the review.

    I always liked to beat Nihilanth because it’s the easiest boss of the game acording to me. You can kill it with pretty much anything (unlike tentacles or garg) and he almost doesn’t move at all (goes up and down to follow you, that’s all).
    I hate the fact that he throws portals at us. I always try to dodge them, and if I can’t then I just shoot some hornets at the portal and it breaks.
    It’s pretty easy to realize that you need to break the crystals to be able to damage him, the devs made it pretty obvious. then we shoot him until his head opens, then attack his “core” once with anything and he dies.
    Then a long scene with gman talking, and teleporting. he offers you a job, or to be killed. the choice is easy, let’s just accept the job so the game ends faster.

    1. Damn I’m tired tonight. I just realized (too late to edit) that I forgot those:

      – Hidden surviving scientist!? (Thanks, Dr. Amazing)
      I knew where he was, I always thought it was odd to have a sicentist without an HEV suit in there. I didn’t look for him in my playthrough, so I guess the challenges is failed.
      – Finish off Nihilanth with the crowbar.
      Not sure if I could consider this challenge as completed or not. I actually finished nihilanth with the mp5, but I managed to get on his head AFTER killing him and hit him multiple time with the crowbar waiting for the teleportation to happen. Since when he starts dying he floats on to the ceiling, it’s pretty hard to do what I have done, so I would consider the challenge completed. but as I stopped my timer BEFORE hitting him with crowbar, this could be considered failed too. Tell me in comment reply if you think this one should be completed or failed.

      Five words or less review:
      That was a huge abortion

      None. As I predicted, this was an easy chapter and I didn’t die. actually I didn’t get hurt at all 😀

      1 Minutes 13 seconds 792 milliseconds

      Please note that I stopped the playtime as I shot the final bullet that made Nihilanth start his death script, because after that everything is scripted (can’t change the time) except for the speed at which you enter the final portal.
      All speedruns of the game start the timer as the level transition to c1a0 is done and stop the timer as the final blow to nihilanth is shot. I decided to follow this convention.

      1. Ade

        cb challenge is failed cus u didn’t literally kill it with the crowbar 😀

  12. ^

    This is the link, so phillip if you can could you please add it on top of my other comment (review). also if you want, you could merge my 2 comments (the review and the deaths/playtime/whatever), but that isn’t really necessary

  13. omg I have to see that surviving scientist. How the hell did he even get there? seriously, did he just have a displacer (from OpFor) or did he actually make his way to Nihilanth’s chamber?

  14. I guess a bossfight this easy could be disappointing for such a game, but atleast it wasn’t frustrating in exchange. I just hid behind one of the pillars so that Nihilanth couldn’t reach me…

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