Homeworld 3 overview: lengthy awaited sci-fi sequel is an unsatisfying saga

The Khar-Kushan mothership gets ready for hyperspace travel in Homeworld 3.
Homeworld 3
MSRP $60.00

“Homeworld 3’s vast galaxy clashed with the limits of a poorly paced campaign and buggy missions.”

  • Exciting house fight
  • Glorious visuals
  • Seamless interface and digital camera
  • Disappointing story
  • Buggy habits
  • Multiplayer is combined

It’s been greater than 20 years since we final noticed a mainline entry within the Homeworld franchise – not counting remasters (2015) and Deserts of Kharak (2016), in fact. Now, the lengthy look ahead to followers is lastly over with the upcoming launch of Homeworld 3. The newest sci-fi, real-time technique (RTS) recreation from Blackbird Interactive guarantees thrilling house battles, with you accountable for a fleet ofships.

Set 100 years after the occasions of the second recreation within the collection, Homeworld 3 affords an expertise that’s each acquainted and contemporary. There are sure enhancements to graphics and digital camera controls, issues that modern-day audiences would love, in addition to ideas and mechanics for veterans. Sadly, a litany of points mar what may have been a outstanding return to its vibrant universe.

From historical past to fable

Homeworld 3 continues the story of the Hiigarans. Those who’re new to the collection needn’t fear, as there’s a “History of Homeworld” cinematic within the Extras menu that fills you in on the small print. Under the management of Karan S’jet, the Hiigarans had been capable of reclaim their planet, all whereas warding off incursions from tyrannical empires. A century has handed since these victories, and Karan herself has handed from reminiscence to fable. Now, Karan’s successor, Imogen S’jet, goals to information the Khar-Kushan fleet as its navigator.

This kick-starts Homeworld 3’s marketing campaign, one which introduces the specter of the Anomaly. A collection of disturbances throughout the galaxy has seen the collapse of components of the Hyperspace Gate Network, with planets destroyed and whole star techniques darkened. It then results in the introduction of a brand new menace: the Incarnate faction.

Homeworld 3 shines due to its real-time technique gameplay.

After taking part in the remastered Homeworld video games and Deserts of Kharak, albeit briefly, I used to be taken with seeing the narrative arc develop in Homeworld 3. Upon finishing the marketing campaign, I walked away upset because the story is a step down in comparison with its predecessors’. Without spoiling an excessive amount of, let’s simply say that the narrative arc depends on drained previous tropes, a moderately comical villain, and targets that really feel far faraway from what’s at stake.

Though the story disappoints, Homeworld 3 shines due to its real-time strategy gameplay. Borrowing from its predecessors, the sport provides gamers management of a Mothership, the aforementioned Khar-Kushan, which is ready to assemble a wide range of spacefaring vessels. These embody every little thing from utility choices like Resource Controllers and Probes, to quick Interceptor strikecraft, cumbersome Carriers, and large Battlecruisers.

The thought, which is

much like Rock, Paper, Scissors, is to make use of models which have a tactical benefit towards opposing targets, whereas hitting them from the flanks or rear. For instance, you’ll be able to have Assault Frigates or Destroyers take the brunt of the injury, whereas Torpedo Frigates and Railgun Corvettes “snipe” enemy craft from additional behind the road. Then, as you slowly attract opposing squadrons, you’ll be able to command Interceptors and Fleet Bombers to swoop in from a better altitude.

The new navigator, Imogen S’jet, listens to an intel transmission in Homeworld 3.
Gearbox Publishing

The single-player marketing campaign, which consists of 13 missions, presents an interconnected romp from one finish of the galaxy to a different. The thought is to construct up your forces whereas preserving current models, as they’re carried over from one mission to the following. Protecting the Mothership can be of utmost significance, since shedding it results in an abrupt recreation over.

There’s a missed alternative to reinvent the wheel right here. Given that models carry over to succeeding missions, I puzzled why ideas similar to veterancy (generally seen in different technique video games), fight/heroic perks, and even some RPG flair (at the least for the marketing campaign solely) weren’t included. Outside of fundamental upgrades, even ships that survived from the primary mission till the very finish nonetheless felt like generic models. There’s nothing flawed with a simple, no-nonsense method to an RTS. However, given the lengthy look ahead to a mainline entry to the collection, I hoped for extra intriguing step ahead that coincided with the idea of build up a large fleet with veteran models.

It doesn’t assist that the marketing campaign is poorly paced. The first two missions function tough tutorials, regardless that a separate tutorial already exists. Certain sections are pretty quick, with targets which might be easy and simple, making you assume that finishing them would open up an even bigger battlefield within the void — however you then notice that the mission is over.

Sci-fi strike pressure

Underneath its hood, Homeworld 3 sports activities each technical feats and issues. On the constructive aspect, it appears completely gorgeous. Grand battles and ship dogfights in house are a wondrous sight to behold. There are loads of jaw-dropping places and maps similar to derelict gate networks, frigid landscapes, and technologically superior superstations. Perhaps my favourite is a mission that takes place in an space with hazy nebula clouds. The Mothership and all my models had been hidden from view, however so had been enemy forces. Near the tip of the mission, all hell broke free, resulting in a blinding show of lasers, cannonades, and explosions.

That energy is additional complemented by trendy digital camera controls, permitting for freedom of motion when taking a look at your fleet and surrounding areas. The person interface is extra streamlined, with construct queues on your Mothership (and Carriers) which have drop-down segments, in addition to a inhabitants tab so you’ll be able to shortly test and group ships of a specific kind. Tactical pause can be a welcome function within the marketing campaign, because it means that you can cease the motion so you’ll be able to marvel on the sights or problem extra instructions. It’s even doable to decelerate time as an alternative, providing you with a window of alternative to react to issues as they happen.

You’d assume that an RTS title that emphasizes tactical gameplay would have fluid controls.

While these elements give the sequel some shine, different issues weigh it down. Naturally, you’d assume that an RTS title that emphasizes tactical gameplay would have fluid controls. Sadly, that’s the place Homeworld 3 veers off target.

A great instance is how one can choose a Resource Controller and click on on a node. The utility unit will siphon sources solely from that lone deposit, after which flip idle regardless that there are different nodes close by. You can even hit the “H” key to auto-harvest supplies. This makes the Resource Collector fly off to distant clusters which might be surrounded by enemies, versus safer areas. There had been even occasions after I needed to reload my save as a result of I couldn’t click on on deposits. And maps with a shiny hazy glare made it onerous to see the sources themselves.

Apart from having to babysit Resource Controllers, I’ve seen egregious pathfinding issues and fight AI woes. In most RTS video games, deciding on a unit and right-clicking would trigger the unit to maneuver to that location. In Homeworld 3, nevertheless, right-clicking can typically trigger the motion disc interface to look randomly (which suggests it’s important to left-click on a location as an alternative). Miss or cancel that immediate, and also you won’t discover that your models didn’t transfer in any respect. There had been additionally moments after I would click on on a unit, however it could get deselected a split-second later for no purpose, in addition to cases when models merely refused to assault seen targets. The complete endeavor made me really feel much less like an admiral micromanaging varied spacecraft and extra like I used to be simply making an attempt to chase down a bunch of unruly cats.

The Khar-Kushan’s fleet attempts to pass through an asteroid field in Homeworld 3.
Gearbox Publishing

Unit stances (i.e., habits) additionally want a bit of labor. There have been occasions after I had squadrons set to Neutral Stance (i.e., assault on sight, however don’t pursue), however they’d nonetheless wait idly by even when there are hostiles within the neighborhood. Aggressive Stance isn’t that useful both, since models usually tend to have interaction whole enemy teams on their very own.

I hit one portion of the marketing campaign the place all these issues got here to a head. It was throughout a mission known as The Lighthouse. The objective was to cross an asteroid subject by hiding behind bigger chunks whereas avoiding smaller rocks that might crash into your ships. Units had been presupposed to destroy smaller asteroids as soon as they moved inside vary, and but there have been a number of cases after they didn’t comply with this motion. I couldn’t inform if this was resulting from weapon vary or one thing else, however unit habits was pretty inconsistent. Issues like that put a dent in promising sci-fi set items.

It’s War Games!

Apart from the marketing campaign, Homeworld 3 affords a few multiplayer recreation modes to check your mettle. The first is Skirmish, which helps you to choose Hiigaran or Incarnate forces to battle these managed by the AI or one other participant. The different is War Games, a mixture of sequential, bite-sized RTS missions and roguelike mechanics.

Homeworld 3 did preserve me engaged for a time due to beautiful visuals …

The objective in War Games is to finish three quick missions per run. Along the best way, you’ll be able to get hold of Artifacts, which offer bonuses to ships of a specific kind. These boons additionally carry over onto your subsequent run. Co-op is enabled, too, which suggests as much as three gamers can be part of forces to deal with the targets. Skirmish and War Games matches even internet you expertise factors on your profile, unlocking beauty choices and beginning fleet compositions.

I largely performed Skirmish and War Games solo. I didn’t discover these modes as participating primarily as a result of aforementioned bugs and the dearth of ship selection. War Games engagements, which had been full of numerous foes that spawned in waves, are messy chaos at finest. Meanwhile, the roguelike nature and randomized rewards weren’t that fascinating. Although I used to be capable of attempt co-op for War Games whereas taking part in with different reviewers, both I or my teammates obtained disconnected in the midst of these matches. Sadly, this meant I didn’t obtain rewards or XP for that point. Hopefully, these points will likely be hammered out shortly.

The Incarnate and Hiigaran motherships face off in a multiplayer match in Homeworld 3.
Gearbox Publishing

Homeworld 3 did preserve me engaged for a time due to beautiful visuals and thrilling tactical fight within the vastness of house. Performance-wise, I didn’t discover too many hiccups. With an Nvidia RTX 3080, Intel i9-10900K, and 32GB of RAM, I used to be capable of choose excessive graphical settings with out a hitch. Unfortunately, the marketing campaign’s story is a big step down from earlier installments. Missions, whether or not within the marketing campaign or in multiplayer modes, are suffering from innumerable points associated to unit pathing, controls, and instructions. It’s a disappointment that was 20 years within the making.

Homeworld 3 was reviewed on PC.

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