In 2012 Blackbird Interactive started making public noises about a spiritual sequel to the Homeworld series. If you were playing PC games at the turn of the millennium then a copy of Homeworld, scratched but well-loved, was probably in the front of your CD Rom binder. Homeworld is a 3D RTS set in space, with a major focus on tactics, an art style and visual design that still holds up over a decade later, an atmospheric soundtrack and an engaging story all combined to create an instant classic, courtesy of Relic Entertainment. Blackbird Interactive is compromised of former Relic employees from the original Homeworld dev team.
The noises Blackbird squeaked out were attractive if a little vague. They promised a spiritual sequel, but besides concept art and videos, had no concrete description and no legitimate gameplay to share. Most importantly, they had no license to Homeworld, because THQ was holding on tight with dying fingers. That death grip relaxed in 2013 when THQ passed away, with Gearbox Software picking up the Homeworld IP at firesale prices. Gearbox hooked up with Blackbird and Homeworld: Shipbreakers was born…and not much was heard up until yesterday, when Gearbox made an official announcement of a release date and a new title. Homeworld: Shipbreakers has become Homeworld: Desert of Kharak with a firm release date of January 20th.
Gearbox is marketing Kharak as a prequel to the first two Homeworld games, and in a first for the series, combat is focused planetside. There’s a trailer as well, but it’s short, and doesn’t add much more than the concept videos Blackbird released two years ago. What we can ascertain from the trailer is that the art style remains the same, the RTS combat looks similar…but how will ground combat stack up compared to the genre-breaking freedom of 6 degrees of freedom Homeworld created with its epic space battles? Hopefully more details are revealed in the coming weeks.