The Homeworld video game series consists of four real-time strategy games as well as a re-release of two of those games.
These games are:
- Homeworld (1999): the first game in the series, detailing the flight of the Kushan exiles from their destroyed adopted world of Kharak and their attempt to resettle their original homeworld, Hiigara, overcoming the forces of the hostile Taiidan Empire along the way. Homeworld was developed by Relic Entertainment.
- Homeworld: Cataclysm (2000): a stand-alone title set 15 years after the original game. This game chronicles a furious battle between Kiith Somtaaw and several allied forces against the Beast, an ancient cybernetic organism, before it can overrun the Galaxy. Cataclysm was developed by Barking Dog Studios.
- Homeworld 2 (2003): a direct sequel to the first game, set 100 years after the events of Cataclysm and focusing on the battle between the Hiigarans and the Vaygr for control of three powerful ancient artifacts (the Hyperspace Cores) which hold the key to the future of the galaxy. This game was also developed by Relic Entertainment.
- Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak (2016): a direct prequel to Homeworld, set on Kharak before the events of that game and focusing on land-based battles for control of the planet's dwindling resources. This game was being developed by Blackbird Interactive, consisting of many veteran developers of the original games. It was published by Gearbox Software..
In addition to the above, Homeworld and Homeworld 2 were re-released as Homeworld Remastered in February 2015, updated to work on modern computers with numerous graphical improvements and some gameplay changes. The remastered edition also included a new multiplayer mode combining all four playable factions and "classic" versions of the original games, only tweaked so they can work on modern operating systems.
History of the franchiseEdit
Homeworld was created by Relic Entertainment, a software development company founded in 1997. Sierra Entertainment released the game in September 1999 to immediate critical acclaim and strong sales. The game's success attracted an offer by Microsoft for Relic to work on a new game for them with an impressive financial incentive, so Relic chose to delay work on Homeworld 2 to produce a new game.
In the meantime, Sierra (who owned the intellectual property rights to the series) contracted Barking Dog Studios to work on an expansion to the game. Assisted by Relic, Barking Dog created Homeworld: Cataclysm for release in September 2000. The game expanded beyond its original concept, and Sierra were so impressed that they released it as a stand-alone game, to similar high praise and commercial success.
Relic published their new game, Impossible Creatures in 2002 to largely indifferent reviews and only modest success. They released Homeworld 2 in 2003, but Sierra did not widely publicise the game and it was not a major financial success. In addition, reviews were slightly more disappointing than for the previous two games in the series.
Shortly after the release of Homeworld 2, THQ purchased Relic for a large sum of money. Relic was put to work on a new game using the Warhammer 40,000 science fiction setting. This game was released in October 2004 as Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and was a huge success, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Relic followed this up with three expansions for the game. In late 2006 they released Company of Heroes, a World War II-themed strategy game which was also hugely successful. Relic released Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II in 2009.
In 2007, Rob Cunningham and several other Homeworld developers left Relic to found Blackbird Interactive, a new game studio. In 2010 they began work on Hardware: Shipbreakers, their first strategy game.
In the meantime, the rights to the Homeworld franchise remained with Sierra and their parent company, Vivendi Games, but they showed no interest in developing new games in the series. In 2007 THQ purchased the Homeworld IP from Vivendi for an undisclosed sum, leading to fan speculation that a new Homeworld game would be made by Relic. However, THQ failed to develop such a game, with Relic instead developing Dawn of War II and several expansions before moving on to create Company of Heroes 2. In 2013 THQ collapsed and went out of business. Relic were acquired by Sega and THQ's remaining IPs were put up for auction.
In April 2013, fans were surprised to learn that Gearbox Software had acquired the Homeworld IP. Gearbox were known for their first-person shooter games and had never previously made a strategy title. Gearbox contacted both Blackbird and Relic for assistance in developing a new, remastered edition of the Homeworld games. The Cataclysm source files had been lost (due to Barking Dog's acquisition in the meantime by Rockstar Games), but Blackbird and Relic were able to provide most of the source codes for the other two games. During this period Blackbird demonstrated Hardware: Shipbreakers to Gearbox, who were so impressed they agreed to publish the game. After some discussion, they re-branded Shipbreakers as a new Homeworld game, a prequel set before the first game in the series.
Homeworld Remastered was released on 25 February 2015, with Homeworld: Shipbreakers set to follow at a later date. In December 2015 it was confirmed that Shipbreakers was now called Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, for release on 20 January 2016.
Homeworld: Deserts of KharakEdit
The inhabitants of the desert planet Kharak are divided into feuding clans or kiith, jockeying for power and control of the planet's limited resources. The discovery of what appears to be the wreckage of ancient space vessels in orbit (and possibly on the ground) spurs a new conflict as the kiith race to uncover the secrets of these ruins and what they might mean for their own origins.
The inhabitants of Kharak discover the wreckage of a vast spacecraft buried in the desert. Exploring this wreck, they learn that they are not native to their world and originated far across the galaxy. They embark on a sixty-year project to build a vast starship, the Mothership, equipped with a hyperdrive recovered from the wreck, and seek out their homeworld.
On the eve of the mission's launch, alien forces from the Taiidan Empire attack and destroy Kharak, levelling the planet from orbit and igniting the atmosphere. The Mothership survives due to not being present: it was testing its hyperdrive on the outskirts of the system. The crew of the Mothership rescue some civilians in cryo-stasis in orbit and embark on the trip to Hiigara.
Along the way, the Kushan learn that their ancestors forged a powerful empire but fell prey to hubris and the desire for conquest. The Taiidan conquered and defeated them in turn, exiling the few survivors to Kharak. The Taiidan have become corrupted and decadent. Aided by the powerful and enigmatic Bentusi and Taiidan revolutionaries, the Kushan eventually defeat the Taiidan fleet, kill the Emperor and reclaim Hiigara.
Fifteen years after the events of Homeworld, the Kushan - now known as the Hiigarans - are forging a new interstellar society. Some of the old prejudices remain, and Kiith Somtaaw find themselves relegated to the roles of miners and scientists. After a raid by Taiidan imperialist forces on Hiigara, the Somtaaw mining vessel Kuun-Lan recovers an alien artifact in deep space. This artifact overwhelms and takes control of the ship's engineering module, which it ejects into space. The artifact is revealed to contain a hostile cybernetic organism known as the Beast. This organism spreads like a virus, consuming and taking control of everything it touches.
The Beast overwhelms several Taiidan imperial fleets and other Hiigaran forces, but with the reluctant help of the Bentusi the Somtaaw are able to develop counter-measures and strike back. Eventually the subverted engineering module (which has become a whole new Mothership) and the original source of the organism, the extragalactic vessel Naggarok, are both destroyed before they can infect an inhabited planet and the galaxy is saved. The Somtaaw are finally granted recognition by their peers, becoming a more powerful force on Hiigara.
One century after the Beast War and 115 years after the reclamation of Hiigara, the galactic peace is threatened by the arrival of a new alien force, the Vaygr. Previously existing as scattered, roving war bands of raiders, the Vaygr are unified by a charismatic warlord known as Makaan, who also takes control of the few remaining Taiidan forces loyal to the dead emperor. With this impressive array of forces, Makaan attacks Hiigara and besieges the planet, cutting it off from the rest of the galaxy. Makaan is following an ancient prophecy that states that the three great Hyperspace Cores left behind by the near-mythical Progenitors will, when reunited, grant their owner tremendous power. The Bentusi have one core, the Hiigarans the second (recovered from the wreck on Kharak). The Vaygr have discovered the third, spurring their attack on Hiigara.
The Hiigarans, aware of the growing threat of the Vaygr, have already built a new Mothership, the Pride of Hiigara, in preparation to fight back against the Vaygr. Evading the initial onslaught, the Hiigarans seek to destroy Makaan's forces whilst also stopping their core from being captured. Their attempts to unlock the secrets of the Progentiors carry them far across the galaxy. The last of the Bentusi sacrifice themselves to save the Hiigarans and give them access to their core. With two of the Cores in hand, the Hiigarans confront Makaan at Balcora Gate, deep within the Galactic Core, and finally defeat him. They reunite the Three and activate the Sajuuk-Khar, a starship of tremendous power. Learning that Makaan has unleashed ancient Progenitor weapons known as Planet Killers against Hiigara, the Hiigarans rush back to their homeworld and defeat the weapons at the last moment. They drive the remaining Vaygr forces off and liberate their planet.
After these events, the Hiigarans use the Sajuuk-Khar to discover and unlock the Eye of Aarran, a hyperspace gateway that forms the nexus of a vast network of gateways criss-crossing the galaxy and allowing for much faster interstellar travel. This results in the beginning of a golden age of peace and trade, known as the Age of S'jet.