Remember Homeworld? No? Me neither, it was 1999! What about Homeworld 2? Still not ringing a bell? Same here, it was 2003! The last two years, however, have seen some very exciting developments in this old franchise. As some may recall, THQ went bankrupt a few years ago and the ensuing auction saw its assets scattered (perhaps “ashes” would be more fitting) about to the highest bidder. One of those properties was Homeworld, which, after fending off competing bids from Aspyr Media and Paradox, was purchased by Gearbox Software for a measly $1.35 million. Then, earlier this year, Gearbox released the Homeworld Remastered Collection, a set containing a fantastically improved version of both original games, as well as unmodified copies of both.
Since then, an independent developer, Blackbird Interactive, had started work on a successor to Homeworld 2, if only in spirit (they didn’t own the rights). In 2013, promotional videos were released for this successor, known as HARDWARE: Shipbreakers, which would later become Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak after Gearbox announced their collaboration with Blackbird. Deserts of Kharak is now the official prequel to the Homeworld series and is the game I’m here to talk about.
This new RTS will be set on a doomed planet where something strange has been located in the remote, windswept dunes of the desert. The hope is that this discovery will unearth a solution for saving the planet. Players will help Rachel S’jet, chief science officer, lead an expedition formed by “The Coalition of the Northern kiithid” to recover this anomaly through a campaign totaling thirteen missions. Somewhere in the sands, fate will reveal itself and with it, the connection between this prequel and the other Homeworld titles.
With industry professionals from previous Homeworld titles and RTS heavyweights like Company of Heroes, Deserts of Kharak looks very exciting. The beautifully rendered environments will be large, featuring a vast array of terrain features, forcing players to adapt accordingly. Enemy forces may be confronted directly, or the choice could be made to suffocate one’s enemy through the destruction and denial of his resources. Research and development of technology, resource management and the units a player decides to field in battle will all play a role in determining success from failure. Ranked solo and cooperative multiplayer will give players a chance to compete against each other as well.
Combined with the expertise of Blackbird and the production genius of Gearbox, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak ought to be nothing short of amazing. Anything less would be considered a failure and a disappointment to fans of the series. On January 20th, 2016, for $49.99, PC gamers will find out which one is the case. If you’re feeling certain of success, preorder now and get both remastered Homeworld titles for free as well.