It was always going to be interesting to see how heavily Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak borrowed from the original Homeworld games, considering the developers had chosen to isolate the game to the confines of a planet rather than the surroundings of space. Fortunately, Blackbird Interactive has fixed what might be one of the biggest hurdles for new players.
If you’re not aware, the trick with the original Homeworld games was that your fleets carried on from mission to mission. End a mission with too few ships left over and you could leave yourself with a impossible set of odds to overcome for the next task.
In the original Homeworld, that applied for the resources gathered as well. If you didn’t mine out the map before warping on your merry way, you might not have the requisite funds to fight as efficiently as you could going forward. It was tricky to manage, particularly if you came from other titles where troops where much more disposable.
Fortunately, Blackbird has offered an olive branch to newer players in Deserts of Kharak with a simple menu option. If you play through the campaign mission to mission, your LAVs, armoured vehicles, railguns and assorted armies will carry over just as in the previous missions.
If that’s not to your liking or you find yourself in too difficult of a spot, you can start with a default squad. This is a squad that has enough firepower to allow you to finish the mission, avoiding the hassle of having to retread previous missions just to ensure you can finish the campaign.
It’s a sensible inclusion that skips over a major hurdle which could be far too frustrating for players in 2016. Nobody wants to be told you have to go back and spend one or two hours retreading ground you’ve already covered. Not having this option could have been an outright deal-breaker for some people, particularly in 2016 where appetites for strategy games are more aligned to simpler mechanics, shorter experiences and fewer units to manage — design choices that run counter to the Homeworld experience.
I’ll be spending more time with Deserts of Kharak as the week unfolds. It’s nice to know that I’ll be able to progress through the campaign a little more conventionally — although, if you’re a hardcore fan of the originals, it’s also good to see that commanders will also be rewarded for their ruthless efficiency.