Hl nihilanth
The Nihilanth is a gigantic alien, who leads the forces of Xen.
Game series Half-Life series
First game Half-Life

The Nihilanth is the final boss in Valve's first-person shooter Half-Life. In the game, the Nihilanth is the controlling intelligence behind the invasion of Earth. Hovering silently in an enclosed cavern dozens of stories tall, it has been commanding the forces of Xen and holding open a dimensional rift connecting Xen to Earth, enabling its creatures to attack.

Physical Attributes[]

Physically, the Nihilanth resembles a gigantic, oddly-proportioned fetus with its head alone outsizing the rest of the body, and its brain cavity forming most of the head's bulk. Its legs, minuscule in relation to its body, appear either to be vestigial, or are the remains of amputation. The creature sits on a large mechanical levitating contraption consisting of a large base with spikes underneath. Like the rest of the intelligent Xen races, the Nihilanth has a third appendage protruding from the middle of its pectoral chest region. Its unusually long arms end in disproportionately huge hands and fingers, and it wears metallic wristbands, which look similar to bands worn by the Vortigaunts.

Attack Methods[]

The Nihilanth attacks by launching energy balls, which come in two types: a swarm of purple-colored electrical orbs that causes immense damage, and a slow-moving, green-colored orb (similar in appearance to the teleportation portals constructed in the Black Mesa Research Facility) which homes in on and teleports its target to other sections of its lair populated by Xen aliens. It also uses these green orbs to teleport Vortigaunts and other Xen creatures into its main chamber to help defend it against intruders. This may not be intended as the creatures appear only when the green orb flies into a wall or rock or is destroyed by the player and triggers the teleportation. A series of gold-colored "energy spheres" orbit around the Nihilanth's head, rendering it impervious to damage. These are consumed as the Nihilanth suffers damage from the player, but specialized crystals within the upper portion of its chamber replenish the spheres as they vanish. When the player destroys these crystals and does sufficient damage to its body so that all the "energy spheres" are consumed, the Nihilanth's head opens up like a flower, revealing a shining, massive portal as was described by the scientist who tasked you with taking it out (they were aware that this opposing portal was created by the intense mental strength of another being). Sufficiently damaging this portal destroys the Nihilanth. Additionally, once the Nihilanth uses up all its golden energy orbs, and cannot replenish them, it can only attack with one electrical orb, instead of a swarm of ten, or a teleportation orb.


Hl nihilanthcrystal

The Nihilanth regains its strength using a Xen crystal.

  • Gordon Freeman was tasked with killing the Nihilanth because it was the only force holding the dimensional rift open after the satellite delivery rocket was used by the Black Mesa Lambda Labs to reverse the resonance cascade. It is believed that the Nihilanth's death triggered the portal storms, and Marc Laidlaw, one of the writers of the Half-Life, has said that they continue to the present day.[1]
  • The material that makes up the crystals protecting the Nihilanth is the same as the crystal sample which Gordon Freeman placed into the anti-mass spectrometer, triggering the resonance cascade in Black Mesa and portal storms across Earth. This is clarified in the expansion Half-Life: Decay, although it is never made completely obvious. In Half-Life: Blue Shift, the player is required to align a teleportation signal located on the planet Xen, which uses a crystal similar in size to the ones in Nihilanth's chamber. Multitudes of smaller crystals, found in groupings of two or three, can be found in random places on all Xen levels. A similar crystal can also be seen in Half-Life 2 in Eli's lab, housed in a small analogue of Black Mesa's anti-mass spectrometer that can simulate a small resonance cascade. In Half-Life 2: Episode Two, it is revealed that the crystal Gordon pushed into the anti-mass spectrometer (thus putting the whole Half-Life series storyline into motion) was delivered to the Black Mesa complex by the G-Man.


  1. Laidlaw, Marc (2005-09-06). " - Info received from Valve". Retrieved 2008-01-04. "Those things came through during the portal storms, which continue erratically to this very day." 

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