Welcome back to Homeworld; That’s the essence of Homeworld 3. Developed by Blackbird Interactive, you have to imagine that the game is in good hands – the studio was started by Relic and Homeworld veterans Rob Cunningham and Jon Aaron Kambeitz. Taking the reins of this new entry after the initial release of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock as they look to transcend the originals while staying true to the series that fans love.
One of the questions is how do you make the space interesting, and mainly how do you make it interesting tactically. Blackbird Interactive attempted to answer this question by making one of the most cluttered battlefields a tactical one. If there’s one thing you should know about getting in, it’s that newcomers don’t have to worry; While this relates narratively to the rest of the series, it will be more than capable of standing alone, giving you a story of its own.
During my work with Homeworld 3, I was able to play what would be the second and third levels of the campaign. The second mission is basically a tutorial on how the mother ship works and aspects such as movement, probes to detect, and classes of smaller ships that will be under your control. This mission makes you reclaim a production facility unit for your motherland, which will be essential on your future travels, as you will be out of range of any support.
Here, you move to standing with your nation. Of course, nothing can go well. The Kalan Pirates are here and they will try to take what they can. As you slowly get the unit out of the facility, you’ll have swarms of pirates trying to stop you and take what you need. Here you will look at all angles, using the 3D space inside the space. It would be an excellent tutorial to introduce completely new players to the immense freedom that Homeworld offers, much more than generic strategy players have experienced before.
Once the production facility is on board your mother ship, you can produce objections. You’ve already collected the resources, so now it’s time to build some units and take the battle to the main pirate ship. In the end, after learning that they were lost today, they jumped into the excess space and ran away. That was the end of Annex 315. Now it’s time for the campaign’s third mission, and it’s time for Homeworld 3 to show me its most important new feature yet; coverage.
I know, cover. It sounds very simple, but one must remember that space is not the most populous of environments. If you want to make a comparison, the cover here looks as revolutionary as the cover system in Company of Heroes. The next mission, Kesura Oasis, is where this comes to light, and Homeworld 3 begins to shine. It’s also where you realize you’re definitely in the Homeworld game. The goal is to get a waypoint working again, and you’ll do that by getting the power to spin around some pretty massive structures and shipwrecks.
Skip forward a little, and the enemy will appear. You will find enemy missile ships, they are shooting at you. Fortunately, there are some large space rocks and debris from the ships around them, allowing you to hide and get around them eventually. Once you do, you’ll also find hostile ships surrounding you, using the giant trenches of the main ship. This is when you can do the same or cycle through the engine exhaust, which brings you to the middle of the map.
This clever implementation of the cover feels really revolutionary and makes the scenery inside these maps important, rather than just the cool looking stuff. Thanks to the fact that the weapons use the new “real ballistics” system, everything is simulated. The launched missiles will move towards their target, giving you a chance to evade or put something between you. The cover adds to the rock, paper, and scissors style that Homeworld – and practically every RTS – has worked in in the past, giving the weakest force a chance to outsmart the stronger through tactical style.
Everything played during my time in Homeworld 3 was enhanced by an excellent atmosphere, pushed forward with more than fun audio and visuals that were absolutely stunning. You’ll find the game contains the usual scenes that show off the scene, such as background stars sending what could be a stunning light through shipwrecks and asteroids. However, the most important is the camera control which can give you the same view.
There aren’t many games that came out of the preview thinking the end result might be one of the best games of the year, but Homeworld 3 and Blackbird Interactive certainly did. With a storyline that will take you on a mission to discover the source of the “Anomaly,” darkness swallows portals, outposts, planets, and more, threatening the galaxy. I look forward to discovering this and experiencing the most extensive and intense missions to be found within the game when it launches in the first half of next year.