The release date for Homeworld 3 isn’t for another seven months, and for some the waiting is tough. Blackbird Interactive has been slowly dropping new information and trailers, and in honour of the recently announced multiplayer mode, I was fortunate enough to spend around an hour with Homeworld 3: War Games. Not only does is integrate the dense strategic elements the series it’s known for, it also challenges you to work with others to complete a series of objectives that, if successfully completed, reward you for your hard work. Folks, it’s good to finally play the next entry in the award-winning RTS series.
The main premise of Homeworld 3: War Games allows you to play solo or in teams of three to complete a series of three randomised challenges. By harvesting materials to spend on new ships and upgrades, you’ll need to complete each phase before jumping into hyperspace to take on the next challenge. Throughout each game, you can earn Artefacts that help to improve your fleet in a number of ways, balancing the difficulty of progression with the reward of success. Before I jumped into the mode, I refreshed my knowledge of the controls as there’s a lot to take in, but once I grasped how everything worked I was ready to jump straight in.
In one of the first challenges, we were tasked with capturing three separate positions on the map to be able to rescue the CIVs. The environments are massive, and having three players managing three squads made for some epic space battles, but preparation is everything and you do have some time before the enemy comes knocking. In this time, you need to gather currency from specific locations via your resource controllers who fly towards the mining locations. In my first playthrough, mine got destroyed unexpectedly, leaving me to scrape through the next two challenges with a small band of recon and interceptor crafts.
Once I’d gauged the attack patterns and ways in which you can be flanked and blindsided by the enemy, I made good use of the resources I’d gathered. I also send a squad of ships to protect the resource controllers so that I didn’t have a repeat of the first mistake I made. You’ll gather a fair amount of resources, which can be used to buy more basic attacking ships, or, if the option is available to you, research some of the larger frigates that fire torpedoes or ion canons, ones that provide support, or more. Managing your supplies is key, as everything carries over into the next mission, so spending too much early can have repercussions later on.
Amassing a large fleet becomes one of your main goals, especially as some missions require you to fight countless enemies. You can direct individual ships to attack, send in larger parts of your squad, and launch a tactical barrage of firepower with relative ease. It’s hard to be two steps ahead of the enemy, but there’re plenty of options available to how you attack and complete objectives. Even after you’ve finished the objective, you can continue to collect resources and fight off the enemy. It’s just one of many things you need to think about when participating in Homeworld 3: War Games.
One of the more impressive features of the mode comes from Artefacts. Once the option to unlock one appears, there’s a wide range for you to choose from. Some are more specific to your strategies, so it pays to find the right one rather than just experiment and hope for the best. Some of the ones I used included the ability to increase by bomber’s damage and speed at the cost of its range. I also used one that increased my interceptor’s armour and damage, despite affecting my range of vision. There can be these mild caveats when choosing which Artefact to apply, but it’s all part of the fun.
Although my time with it was short, Homeworld 3: War Games implements the familiar RTS roots of the series with the roguelike genre, and welcomes players to work together in tense and strategic encounters with ferocious enemies. From the moment your carrier arrives in the warzone to the moment you decide to jump into hyperspace, the combat is fluid and weighty, with multiple options to succeed. Mistakes will be made, but your teammates are right there with you, and when you’re in a match with your friends, I can see this being one of the best features Homeworld 3 will have at launch.