The Homeworld franchise kicked off in 1999, instantly spawning a rabid fan base of science fiction loving gamers who appreciated its hardcore RTS roots. Due to the success of the original a sequel was released by Relic in 2003, which also went on to garner critical acclaim. Thanks to the success of the franchise, and the adoration of its fans, Gearbox secretly gathered a team of former Relic developers that worked on the franchise, as well as its own internal devs, to create a remastered collection of the two Homeworld titles.
This past weekend at PAX South Gearbox finally showed off the Homeworld Remastered Collection, which is going to ship on February 25th for PCs, and I got to spend some time with the game in a closed door meeting. I must tell you that I didn’t have much background with the Homeworld franchise, but after checking out the work that the team has accomplished with the remastered versions, I’m definitely a new fan, and enjoyed the small slivers of the game that I got to play.
The demo was setup in a way where I could see the new version at work, which is the station I was controlling, as well as another PC playing the original version of the game so I could see the visual improvements in the remastered versions. Let’s get one thing clear, the remastered versions aren’t just simple texture upgrades or resolution boosts. Every detail about the visuals has been remade for this collection and it shows. Although, the classic versions have held up quite well when you consider the original is 16 years old, and the sequel is 12 years old.
Quite frankly, I was reminded of what 343 achieved with Halo and Halo 2 in regards to their Anniversary editions, which both showed drastic improvements over the original versions of the game. The frame rate is super smooth, although it’s not going to be locked in at 60fps, but the developer explained it will dynamically adjust for the best possible performance. The detail in the ships is very drastic now, which can be seen if you zoom in on a particular member of your fleet. In the old version of Homeworld the ships had very little detail and polish, but now you can see varied designs, textures, and minute enhancements that you’d expect to see on a real life model of a spaceship.
New versus Old
The ships look great, but the space environments look even better thanks to the work put into the remastered editions of Homeworld and Homeworld 2. Nebulas, star clusters, and other celestial beauties look like they’re straight from the Hubble telescope. In the previous versions a Nebula would essentially be a different colored texture set against the darkness of space, but in the remastered versions these environments look like they came out of a NASA photo album. They’re simply stunning to look at, and drastically change what you’re used to seeing in a Homeworld title.
I can’t talk much on the gameplay besides its methodic pace, because we weren’t given very much time to mess around with the titles. From what I did get to play it’s clear that this title will speak to hardcore RTS fans thanks to it heavy focus on strategy and space combat tactics. Small fighters are great for taking on other small fighters, but they’ll get decimated against larger ships. Frigates and what not move like turtles in space, but they pack a heavy punch and can take down other large ships. During skirmishes the map comes to life with ships doing battle by maneuvering into position like Maverick and his F-16. Small details like exhaust trails accentuate the dog fights, while lasers go pew-pew-pew in a symphony of destruction.
All I can say is that I wish I had more time to play around with the Homeworld Remastered Collection, because it looks like a gem, but also features gameplay that I know I’ll enjoy. Like I said before, I didn’t know much about the Homeworld franchise going into the demo, but now I’m a fan thanks to what I saw and experienced with the remastered versions of the games. Considering that you will get four versions of the game for just $30 (15% off if pre-ordered), as well as the Steam multiplayer beta, there’s no reason not to pre-order the title if you’re an existing fan of the series, or just enjoy space-based RTS title. Just know that the multiplayer piece is a work in progress, which is why it’s being billed as a beta. The developers want to perfect it based on community feedback and global testing, so don’t be too harsh if you opt into it and treat it for what it is – a beta.
You can check out the reveal trailer and some screenshots of the Homeworld Remastered Collection in the announcement post we put up over the weekend.
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