Homeworld 1 already skillfully put the player in the role of a Starfleet admiral, as if he were Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica. Now you let space captain recruit Langer at the wheel.
23 years are meanwhile since Homeworld and 19 orbits of the sun since home world 2 past. After Part 2, things remained quiet for a long time about the unusual 3D space RTS, in which you control a fleet that sails through enemy space in a resource-depleting and mission-solving manner. Until 2016 Homeworld-Deserts of Kharak (Grade in the GG test: 7.5) see 7.5-TestT: ) moved the events to a single planet without further ado.
About nine months before the planned release I was able to attend Gamescom 2022 home world 3 allude to the real successor to Part 2, like Kharak, again from Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox (the latter eventually secured the rights). Over 100 years have passed since the Homeworld 2 storyline, when Karan S’Jet – our protagonist from the first two parts – opened a vast network of hyperspace gates. But this discovery not only boosted human trade and research, but also opened the door to the “anomaly,” which began to engulf entire planets. In Part 3 we play Karan’s “successor” Imogen S’Jet – and we have to save the galaxy.
At Gamescom I have two savegames to choose from, the first is probably Mission 1 of the game. That’s why I choose it, especially since I’m promised a tutorial. As in Part 1 so many years ago (by the way, the first and last Homeworld that I played for a long time) I control a huge mother ship, surrounded by tiny dots, namely a few hunters and two slightly larger resource gatherers. I don’t control medium-sized ships, such as frigates, in this scenario.
All of this happens in a three-dimensional space through which I navigate with the camera, which is brain-wracking: Am I doing something wrong, or do I really have to overheat the mouse wheel for many seconds to zoom in a bit? Ah, with W, A, S, D I steer within the current “level”, with Q and E it goes up or down. The shift key speeds up the camera a bit. But the real trick seems to be to center on an object and look from there – if only I knew how to do that reproducibly!
I’m supposed to dock with a silent space station, Facility 315, to gather information, by first building six probes and sending them to six circled spots in the area – sure, the cautious Fleet Commander lives longer. Something like that wouldn’t be a big deal in any RTS ever made. Not so in Homeworld 3: The six drones are built in no time at all, fly out of the mother ship and gather as a neat little line of six tiny dots at a short distance in front of it. But of the six points to fly to, only two are in my current field of view. “Looking around”, i.e. shifting the camera position and viewing angle (although I keep reaching for the laminated keyboard layout card), is so incredibly slow and cumbersome that I almost despair.
Hoping to get a better overview, I switch to an alternative view, but it only shows me the surrounding resources better, not a greatly zoomed-out or “2D” simplified representation of the “level”. Well, then I just have to remember which circles I’ve already targeted and laboriously search for and select the next one.
Next step: As the unworthy Homeworld newbie that I am, what does 30+ years of experience with dozens if not hundreds of RTS count for? – I keep unintentionally redirecting, and by that I mean: again and again, the probes that are already flying to the destination, suddenly to the destination that I choose for the next drone. Because, unlike dozens if not hundreds of other RTS, just clicking in space isn’t enough to deselect a unit. In fact, someone who seems to get their satisfaction from inflicting mental anguish on innocent players decided that you have to Ctrl-click a unit to just select it. Incomprehensible!
So I sent six probes – we’re still talking about the very first task in the very first mission that would have been solved long ago in 100% of any other RTS on this planet – somewhere, and kindly, when the probes arrive, the circles disappear too. Only one circle remains because I managed to send the probe somewhere else entirely due to the 3D perspective. I correct that, with some difficulty, and the first task is finally completed. At least now, in truth much earlier, I ask myself: Is it really serious that I have to find and mark these six pixels floating around somewhere in space by hand every time I want to control them? Isn’t there a list I can just call up and then click through the probes there? Maybe there is, maybe I should have put all the probes in a group manually, and then my crazy idea of not wanting to do a three-dimensional hidden object search task as a commander to command would work, but it’s another point that leaves me highly amazed .
|This is how Mission 2 of the fair version begins. Clearly recognizable: the size differences between the mother ship (below), fighters (the two rows in front of it) and the warp gate (above).|
Next I’m supposed to build four Recon fighters and, guess what, send them to four circled locations to secure my approach to the space station. However, I already have recon fighters near the mothership and I’m a little confused as to why I should build four new ones. But anyway, with the same “minor” problems as before, I awkwardly manage to send the scouts to the right points around the station.
After that, a short in-game cutscene shows me how enemy fighters that were hiding, docked to several asteroids, break out of their hiding places and fly towards my mothership. I’m building more Recon Fighters like crazy – I’m not yet allowed to build Interceptors for some reason – and fend off the attacks with the kid’s soccer tactic (“everybody on the ball”) that’s effective in a surprising number of RTS. For better or worse, I familiarize myself with the next control madness…
Actually I just want to right click on the enemies to attack them. It always works, and then everything is fine. Tiny dots shoot at other dots, enemy dots disappear. Yay! But since everything is so tiny, I often click next to it. And then suddenly I’m in normal motion command mode.
A pane appears on which I first select the movement target on the X/Y axis, however, be careful, with a left click instead of the usual right click. Then I have to select the Z-axis, i.e. whether the target is below or above the current level of my ship or ships, also with a left-click. What is certainly a great idea for the positioning of sluggish capital ships leads to an unnecessary loss of time in the combat situation, because by the time I have made the two additional clicks, the targeted enemies are somewhere else again.
It doesn’t matter, I fend off several attacks, but slide into the next problem: Now I should slowly build five interceptors, the program is probably not in a hurry with the defense. Unfortunately, I’ve already blown my resources for all the Recon fighters, with only 10 resource points left I can hardly pay five times 100 points for the desired interceptors. So I send my two resource collectors to several locations, which actually generate what feels like one resource point every 20 seconds. Do I need to mention that once they’re mined at one point, they don’t do anything until I click the “collect” icon once or twice and they fly on to the next resource location?
Well, at some point I fended off the last attack without any interceptors, the enemy pirate mothership retreats according to the mission update (I’ve never seen it, by the way, but it’s probably cruising around somewhere), and shortly afterwards Homeworld 3 graciously acknowledged me, albeit graciously not true, I would have built the five Interceptors (in fact there were zero).
The first mission is done, it goes on to mission 2, in the “Kesura Oasis”. Here I am supposed to get a switched off, severely damaged hyperspace gate going again by having two resource collectors docked to two gate control modules. I can do that without any problems worth mentioning, I’m just a pike! After that, the huge warp “ring” is half activated, visibly charges, and the next leg of the mission is triggered. But because of my massive control problems and the perplexed trawling through the keyboard layout, I’ve already reached the end of my almost half hour of playing time.
What I’m still asking the developers: The campaign will again consist of linearly arranged missions, without a branching storyline. But: You can take resources with you, what you collect, so it has advantages if you (partly under time pressure) graze as much as possible in one section. When I ask “Home World – Deserts of Dinges took place on a planet – will you be able to land on a world in part 3?” the answer was “We only show these two missions today, but stay tuned to see what we do.” yet to announce.” – That sounds like confirmation to me.
Don’t get me wrong: Homeworld 3 is very compelling in depicting a space fleet’s journey through space. These include the massive size differences between the mothership and fighters. The radio acknowledgments and the interface also underline the “realistic” approach. But to be honest: In my 28 years as a games journalist I have rarely experienced such a confusing, non-intuitive operation. She seemed actively fun-killing to me. For further previews or even the review of Homeworld 3, I’ll make sure that a series fan like Rüdiger Steidle takes the wheel – I’ve basically taken on the role of the inexperienced normal guy who was accidentally allowed onto the command deck.
Nevertheless, I have to underline one last time: The interface seems to me to have been conceived by full-blooded sadists for full-time masochists. The developer urgently needs to improve this before the release if he doesn’t want to limit himself to old hardcore fans with Homeworld 3.