The Homeworld series is a beloved RTS franchise that has laid dormant for the past decade. To this day, Homeworld 2 continues to be the best version for those who were looking to experience the series themselves. But it won’t take long until we finally see a new mainline game finally make its way next year on PC. I recently had the opportunity to try out the demo version of Homeworld 3’s War Games mode, which is a cooperative mode where you can strategize together.
First things first, the game starts you off with a tutorial going over all of the controls. The objective is simple: You’ll be dropped into an area location and objectives will pop up in real time. You must then collect resources, defeat the hostile fleets, and then you’ll be able to move on to the next area. In War Games, that objective is shared across the three players, which is the maximum that a single room can support.
Resources are also individual to each player, so you don’t have to worry about someone using up all of their resources in some useless ship that probably won’t even hurt a fly. That being said, when the objectives are complete, players can still obtain some resources, but a big INITIATE HYPERSPACE button keeps flashing, and it happened many times where someone in the session accidentally clicked on it because it just kept pulsating. And I can’t blame them, the thing looks extremely clickable.
You can select between two control modes: Classic and Modern. Classic utilizes only the keyboard and Modern adds in mouse controls. I personally went with Modern, but I’m not super used to playing RTS games with a keyboard, so it was quite the learning curve until I was walked through all of the different shortcuts that were used. Controller support seems to be a thing, but I couldn’t get mine to work.
Another thing that may not be great is that Homeworld 3 requires a lot of graphical processing power. Even using a 1660 Super, the game auto-defaults my settings to Medium, and try as I might, I couldn’t make it run smoothly on the higher settings. Still, maybe some optimization will be done to ensure that the game runs smoothly on slightly older hardware is definitely in the pipeline.
There’s also no way to adjust the difficulty of the game in this demo, and if you have a full room, it becomes absolutely effortless to clear each of the stages. You can coordinate with your friends over voice call, which really tests your friendship and how well you can all coordinate together to do the objectives as they pop up.
Furthermore, the demo version also had some bugs, which are to be expected, given that this game is still in development. One notable bug was the constant crashing and hanging that happened around Stage 3 of the multiplayer mode. As of the time of writing, it has been fixed, but the game doesn’t save your progress so you are unfortunately required to restart from the beginning.
Lastly, there was a key question regarding mods. If you look up on the Internet, there are dozens of mods for the previous iteration, Homeworld 2. And the developers are aware of it, which is why they have partnered with mod.io to develop a fully customizable mod engine for Homeworld 3 that effectively blows the game’s insides wide open for anyone who wishes to tinker away and create their own adventures, and play them together with friends in War Games mode.
There’s also the beloved Story Mode, and while this demo version I’ve played didn’t have it, the developers have reassured that players will be able to explore ancient megalithic structures and experience space at an extraordinary level of detail while following an epic narrative that will please even the biggest sci-fi fans.
And if you were perhaps looking to get into the Homeworld action before the February 2024 planned release date of Homeworld 3, then you’re in luck. Until August 31, 2023, the prequel game, Homeworld Deserts of Kharak, will be available to download for free. The developers will continue to reveal even more surprises as we close off the year of 2023.
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