Gearbox Software’s first order of business following the purchase of the Homeworld franchise as part of the THQ bankruptcy fire sale was to release Homeworld Remastered, the HD remake of the first two games. The studio announced the second phase of its plan Wednesday with Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, a prequel developed by Blackbird Interactive.
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is set to be released on January 20, 2016, for Window PC via Steam. The game is an origin story set on the planet of the same name prior to the discovery of the spaceflight technology. That makes the game a more traditional ground-based real-time strategy (RTS) game versus the space-based RTS of the original two.
The story of Deserts of Kharak centers on chief science officer Rachel S’jet from the Coalition of the Northern Kiithid. She leads an expedition deep into enemy-controlled terrirtory to investigate a mysterious find that could save humanity trapped on a dying planet.
The accompanying announcement trailer for Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak reveals the usual expected mixture of ground and air-based units in an RTS. However, there are also massive land carriers that are similar to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. The game also appears to feature large strategic maps that can be used to help plan decisions and the direction of the expeditionary ground fleet.
As the name of the game suggests, Homeworld: The Deserts of Kharak primarily takes place on a desert landscape. It’s not all flat and sandy though, as the game’s description states there are dune seas, deep craters, and vast canyons to provide unique terrain features and tactical challenges.
Online multiplayer is supported by the newest Homeworld title, though details are limited to speaking of a variety of win conditions and the ability to reach the rank of Fleet Captain in competitive play. The main course will still be the solo campaign.
“After more than a decade-long hiatus for Homeworld, it is an immense honor in the last year to launch two new entries in the Homeworld franchise: an incredible, critically acclaimed remastering of the original Homeworld games and now the all-new, ground-based, real-time-strategy game called Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak,” Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Software, said in an accompanying press release. “This revival of Homeworld is possible not merely because of commitment within my studio at Gearbox Software, but is due to Rob and his crew at Blackbird, along with other key members of the original Homeworld team, who have come together to deliver a modern spin on the ground-based roots of the strategy genre with an epic story that takes us back to where the Homeworld saga began.”
“When we signed this project in front of the crowd at the 2013 PAX Dev, Randy [Pitchford] spoke about Gearbox’s commitment to quality entertainment and taking risks, and they have fully delivered on that message,” said Rob Cunningham, chief executive officer of Blackbird Interactive. “All of us at Blackbird are super proud of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, and we owe it to the outstanding team at Gearbox. Words fail to describe how exciting it is to be releasing a new Homeworld game, deepening the story for both existing fans and a new audience alike.”
Blackbird Interactive consists of a team of developers that worked on the original Homeworld games at Relic Entertainment along with Company of Heroes. They split off and began development of their own RTS titled Hardware: Shipbreakers. Following Gearbox Software’s acquisition of Homeworld, the game was renamed Homeworld: Shipbreakers. The subtitle has since been changed to Deserts of Kharak.
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is already available on Steam for pre-order at a price of $49.99. Those that pre-order the game will receive Homeworld Remastered for free. Existing Homeworld Remastered owners will receive a 20 percent discount on their Deserts of Kharak pre-order.
[Image via Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak]