The long, long wait for a new Homeworld title is finally coming to a close. This classic RTS series once stood toe-to-toe with the titans of the genre such as StarCraft and Command and Conquer, but hasn’t been seen since the sequel in 2003, aside from a more recent prequel.
At the same time, the entire RTS genre has fallen from the grace it once enjoyed, with almost none of the major names existing in that space anymore. However, we did get hints at a proper Homeworld sequel coming in the future after Gearbox purchased the rights and released the Homeworld Remastered Collectiona prequel game called Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, and even a tabletop version of the game. Here’s everything we know so far about this RTS title.
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The specific date for Homeworld 3 isn’t set just yet, but it will be coming sometime in February 2024.
RTS games have dabbled in the console space, and only recently have there been a few that are just okay on a controller, but the PC is Homeworld 3‘s true home. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about the complexity of this series being compromised to work on a console since it is confirmed that Homeworld 3 will be PC exclusive and hit both Steam and the Epic Games store when it launches.
The Game Awards finally showed us the first look at what gameplay in Homeworld 3 will look like, plus some CGI scenes as well that set the tone.
We open with some narration about the Khar-Toba, Guidestone, Diamond Shoals, and other deep Homeworld lore as beautiful images of planets, asteroids, and galaxies are shown. Eventually we are treated to some ships soaring across various locations in and out of planetary orbit. Intercut with these establishing shots are flashes of a woman in some sort of tube filled with fluid and connected via large cables. For those unfamiliar, or who may have forgotten, that is the series’ main character Karan S’jet.
As the ship action begins to intensify, giving us cinematic looks at what the battles will be, Karen begins waking up. When she does finally open her eyes the narration kicks back in to say it hasn’t been so long, or long enough, before the Homeworld 3 logo appears.
Based on that, almost nothing about the story could really be gained, however, other sources have pulled a few hints and bits about what the team wants to do with the narrative portion of the game. According to the team, “prioritizing single-player has always been the case for Homeworld development” and that the main elements of the game will be “exploration, redemption, and exodus.”
Just before the latest trailer hit, there was quote from Blackbird CEO Rob Cunningham from an interview with IGN. “Homeworld 3 is the realization of the vision of what we set out to create in the Homeworld series, with modern technology allowing us to push beyond our wildest dreams of large-scale dynamic space combat packed with emotional sci-fi storytelling. We could not be more excited to debut the deepest look yet at gameplay with the incredible Homeworld community and the world at The Game Awards. We have got a lot more exciting details to share next year as we prepare for the launch of this massive next chapter.”
They also claim that they learned a lot from the new narrative techniques used in Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, and believe that style of storytelling to be the future for the series.
Homeworld 2’s story took place many years after the first game, and Homeworld 3 will also be set after a time skip at a point where the hyperspace gates are beginning to fail. Cunningham has said that “We wanted to put a bit of time after Homeworld 2 because we wanted the story to be about the consequences of Homeworld 2. As opposed to being a live feed of what takes place immediately after.”
The story trailer came much later at Gamescom 2023’s Opening Night Live. This trailer focused on Intel Officer Isaac Paktu and Imogen S’Jet’s mission across the universe. After being hit by an unforeseen strike by an enemy force known as the Incarnate, the crew is forced to escape into something called the Anomaly, which Karan S’Jet previously entered, but never returned from.
This is the big question, but despite the last trailer saying it was the gameplay reveal, it was all shot from cinematic angles. We still haven’t actually seen what real gameplay looks like, in the way we’re going to truly experience it, but it is safe to assume a few important bits. First, Homeworld 3 is still an RTS. It will build on the 3D style that made it unique among its contemporaries at the time and is still quite novel to this day. With Homeworld 3a new focus on planetary and space terrain will be introduced.
Massive buildings, or asteroids and other large bodies floating through space, will all play a tactical role in how you position and attack units. It can be used to your advantage, such as for cover, and even build defensive structures on them. This, built on the already complex style of an RTS, and a fully 3D one which most people probably haven’t been exposed to, could lead to a very steep learning curve. However, Cunningham has stated that “We want it to be as seamless and intuitive as possible. The way you deal with how the camera works, how you issue move orders — we’ve simplified a great number of things and made it easier to get around. And in fact, in almost all cases, the introduction of space terrain actually makes it easier.”
In terms of scale, Homeworld 3 looks to take the genre to a new level of detail. It is touted to have brand new ships with fully simulated ballistics and ship and unit damage that will persist between missions. If that damage can be fixed, or if it will impact that unit’s effectiveness, is still unclear.
Yes, Homeworld 3 will have various multiplayer modes, but details are scarce. What we do know for sure is that you will be able to go head-to-head against other players online in a one-on-one match, as well as in a free-for-all style, though the number of players that mode will support wasn’t shared. The most interesting tease the developers have shared is some form of rogue-like co-op mode. For now, we’re left with the promise of more information coming as the game gets closer to release.
The Homeworld games proper haven’t had DLC, due to the fact that they were released a bit before DLC was a real thing, but Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak did get one expansion in the form of the Kiith Soban Fleet. This added a brand new set of units to the game, which is the most reliable form of DLC for RTS games. Since we don’t even know the amount of factions Homeworld 3 will have at launch, we have no way to predict which, if any, more will be added later, but it seems like a safe bet.
There’s also the potential for this mysterious co-op mode to get some kind of DLC addition to expand its supposed rogue-like elements, or even completely new co-op or multiplayer modes. There’s always the option for more story content, but based on how little we know about that, it’s just a reasonable guess.
There’s only one version of Homeworld 3 you can preorder if you want some physical goodies, but Steam does have a page open for you to add to your wish list if you want a standard copy. The Collectors Edition can be found on the official site and ordered through various retailers listed there. For $175, it includes:
- The Mothership, Khar-Kushan: 14 inches
- Hiigaran Destroyer: 3 inches
- Hiigaran Torpedo Frigate: 1.8 inches
- WWII-inspired spotter deck
- Homeworld 3 logo keychain
- Homeworld 3 base game Steam key
- Homeworld 3 Year One Pass
- Homeworld 3 soundtrack by Paul Ruskay
- Ship decals
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