Homeworld 3 is a beautifully familiar blast from the past (hands-on preview)

Many years have passed since the last Homeworld game set in space launched (Deserts of Kharak was more or less its own thing). Yet the series still has many fans, who are clamoring for a new title and patiently waiting to reunite with the stars.

Finally, Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox Publishing bring the series back to its RTS space roots, and I played a fairly comprehensive demo that included two full missions.

The first thing I can tell you is that this time around Blackbird hasn’t reinvented the wheel. Everything looks familiar, from the visual style to the gameplay.

While the graphics have been vastly improved and take advantage of modern technologies like ray tracing and more, the much higher resolution and visual quality allows us to enjoy our starships in vastly improved detail.

Image source: Gearbox edition

Still, like everything else, the visuals look familiar, as the developers have painstakingly recreated the art style of the original games, which is great as it includes some of the most gaming-inspired mecha designs. The franchise has always been known for its soft and sweet spaceships, and soft spaceships are exactly what we’re getting this time around as well.

That being said, perhaps what benefits most from over 20 years of technological advancement is the space itself, which is now much more beautiful, denser and full of detail to enjoy.

Although the controls are more intuitive and quick compared to the original games, it also made me feel like I was playing an evolution of Homeworld, not a revolution, with all the depth I expected from a game of franchise.

It’s no coincidence that I say depth, because your ships can move freely in 3D space. Players used to “starting the field” RTS games will likely need time to adapt and relearn basic movement concepts, but I don’t think there’s a way around this unless the developer does decide to make things dumber, and luckily they don’t.

I mentioned that the space is now much denser, but it’s not just about the visuals. These abandoned obstacles and debris now provide hiding places, stealth routes, and cover, adding massively to the tactical depth of gameplay.

Homeworld 3
Image source: Gearbox edition

A well-timed ambush is hugely satisfying, and that’s something I can say about Homeworld 3’s overall combat. RTS space battles are back and they’re awesome.

As I said above, Blackbird didn’t reinvent the wheel, and that’s exactly how a developer supporting an old and beloved franchise should approach a sequel. They used the hammer (gently) here, the chisel there, added bits and pieces that made the battles more interesting, but gave fans exactly what they’ve wanted for so many years without fancy.

While the jury is still out on whether the storytelling and overall campaign will be worthy of Homeworld 3’s glorious predecessors, the game has the potential to be a shining example of how this kind of franchise revival project should be. managed – with love, care, and respect.

For now, it’s a blast from the past, and that’s exactly how it should be.

Homeworld 3 is coming to PC in the first half of 2023. As of now, no specific release date has yet been announced.

About Cedric Lloyd

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