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One of the most beloved and critically well received real-time strategy series out there, the Homeworld games have long enthralled players with a blissfully epic mix of intergalactic strategy and compelling storytelling. With a number of different games, expansions, remasters and more making up the series, join us for the story of Homeworld so far as we chronicle the past, present and future of this indisputably legendary RTS series.
The first game to be developed by Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes studio Relic Entertainment, Homeworld was and remains a science fiction RTS quite unlike any other. As the commander of a vast fleet of exiled Kushan or Taiidan ships that must seek a new home on a far-flung planet, Homeworld’s premise is certainly one with both sweep and scope that neatly dovetails into its real-time strategy beats.
Embracing a story driven single-player campaign and viewing the action from a spherical view across all three axes, Homeworld charts the journey of the fleet through sixteen different levels, each filled with its own primary and secondary objectives that must be completed. Chiefly in charge of a gargantuan mothership that cannot move but can manufacture other ships, Homeworld is all about scooping up the resources in each area, constructing improved craft and defending your fleet from threats whenever necessary in full three-dimensional combat.
Much more than just a science fiction RTS in space, Homeworld makes you feel like you are part of a greater whole, a journey from exile into deliverance that wonderfully echoes and updates the spirit of The Oregon Trail with newfound verve and aplomb.
Formerly known as Homeworld: Cataclysm (thanks to some legal wrangling from Blizzard on account of the word ‘cataclysm’ already being trademarked for its third World of Warcraft expansion), Homeworld: Emergence is a Homeworld expansion pack which boasts a single-player campaign that takes place fifteen years after the event of the original game.
Unfolding on the newly reclaimed world of Hiigara, Homeworld: Emergence tracks the plight of the Kushan as they deal with internal fighting, hostile external factions and the rise of an all-new, horribly infectious enemy known as “the Beast”. Even though Homeworld: Emergence relies on the same engine as the original game and the same design, a range of new features have been added such as transforming ships, new craft designs and much smaller fleets, resulting in more focused battles against pockets of enemies, rather than the epic encounters that defined the base game.
Released some four years after the first Homeworld, Homeworld 2 retains the three dimensional, real-time strategy mechanics that made the original such a compelling prospect, in addition to the threading of an all-new narrative through the numerous missions of its sprawling single-player campaign.
A direct continuation of Homeworld’s story that assumes that the Kushan are the canonical good guys, Homeworld 2 has the now established Hiigaran forces attempting to ward off an invasion from the Vaygr, a vicious race of galaxy conquering marauders that are hellbent on destroying the planet of Hiigara. As was the case with the missions seen in the first Homeworld, Homeworld 2 has players manoeuvring a sizable fleet in three-dimensional space, engineering new ships, fighting massive space battles and more besides. Also as before, while the mothership is the backbone of your fleet (and will result in a quick trip to the main menu if it gets blown into bits), Homeworld 2 allows players to control a much wider number of ship types than ever before, adding further wrinkles to the series’ established tactical formula.
Most keenly though, Homeworld 2’s narrative is one that blows wide open the potential for many more entries in the series, with the Sajuuk progenitor starship that is obtained at the end of the game capable of accessing a series of hyperspace gates that allow the Kushan to expand far beyond the borders of Hiigara.
Homeworld Remastered Collection
Developed by Gearbox Software and released by Gearbox Publishing a decade after the release of Homeworld and Homeworld 2, the Homeworld Remastered Collection did the whole world a favour by allowing an all-new generation to experience these (inter)stellar science-fiction real-time strategy games for the first time.
Boasting an invigorated audiovisual presentation that encompasses higher detail models, support for 4K resolution, reworked special effects, recreated cinematics, full mod support and fully remastered musical score and voice samples, the Homeworld Remastered Collection is arguably the best way to experience this pair of incredible, intergalactic real-time strategy offerings. Wonderfully, the Homeworld Remastered Collection also includes the ‘classic’ versions of Homeworld and Homeworld 2 which, you know, is quite nice.
Homeworld: Deserts Of Kharak
And now for something a little bit different. Shifting the focus away from the deep space exploits of previous Homeworld games, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak instead narrows its focus a little and invites players to take part in a deadly ground war on the surface of Kharak, depicting events that occurred more than a hundred years prior to the first Homeworld title.
With Kharak slowly dying thanks to an ever expanding desert, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a prequel that has players directing a vast land force under the command of Rachel S’jet, the ancestor of the Kushan commander from the first Homeworld game, who must lead her people to salvation as they desperately reach to the stars as a means to unshackle themselves from their dying realm.
Boasting the same resource gathering gameplay and technology research elements as the mainline Homeworld titles, Deserts of Kharak augments that central concept with thunderous battles that include all manner of ground and air vehicles, forcing players to improvise the sort of flanking and ambush tactics that the previous Homeworld games couldn’t really allow.
Initially crowdfunded on the Fig platform, Homeworld 3 is set due to release in the first half of 2023 and looks set to combine traditional Homeworld combat beats with the environmental action seen in Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. In Homeworld 3, not only will players be duking it out in the glittering cosmos as before, but vast space derelicts lend an additional wrinkle to the proceedings, providing both players and their enemies with substantial creative latitude to evade and flank their foes effortlessly in full three-dimensional space. Elsewhere, not only does Homeworld 3 include a range of all new ships to get to grips with, but it also promises a new co-operative game scenario as well as a range of player versus player skirmish and team-based battle modes to boot.
Story-wise, Homeworld 3 takes place many, many years after the events of Homeworld 2, depicting a galaxy that has grown reliant on the hyperspace gates discovered in the previous game. However, those very same gates have now begun to fail, forcing the inhabitants of Hiigara to look inward to uncover the mystery behind the sudden deterioration of this technology upon which the galaxy has relied on for so long.