|Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak|
|Platform(s)|| Microsoft Windows |
|Release||January 20, 2016|
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a real-time strategy video game developed by Blackbird Interactive and published by Gearbox Software. The game was released on January 20, 2016,and is a prequel to the 1999 space-based real-time strategy video game Homeworld .
Gearbox Software bought the intellectual property rights to the Homeworld franchise during THQ's bankruptcy auction in 2013.Following this, they announced that they were remaking both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 in high definition, released on Steam in February 2015 as Homeworld Remastered Collection.
After obtaining the IP rights, Gearbox granted permission for use of the Homeworld IP to Blackbird Interactive, a company formed by members of the original Homeworld development team in 2007. At the time, Blackbird was developing a ground-based RTS game entitled Hardware: Shipbreakers, which was subsequently renamed Homeworld: Shipbreakers and announced as a prequel to Homeworld.On December 16, 2015, the game was officially announced as Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. The game also became available for pre-order on Steam on that date. Pre-orders of Deserts of Kharak also included the Homeworld Remastered Collection for free, while those who already owned the Homeworld Remastered Collection received a 20% discount for their pre-order of Deserts of Kharak. The pre-order also came with a free copy of the interactive Expedition Guide, a DLC companion application to the game, which details the history of Kharak and its society, the expedition and its purpose, technical data on the vehicles used by the Coalition and the Gaalsien, and a behind-the-scenes look at Blackbird's founding and the eventual progression from Hardware: Shipbreakers to Deserts of Kharak. Blackbird would later revive the Shipbreaker name and concept with the space salvage simulator Hardspace: Shipbreaker, released in early access on June 16, 2020. Deserts of Kharak became available for purchase on Steam, along with the game's soundtrack by Paul Ruskay (who also composed the soundtracks for all of the previous Homeworld games), on the day the game launched.
On 15 March 2016, the Soban Fleet Pack was announced as Deserts of Kharak's first in-game DLC pack, adding Kiith Soban as a playable faction in Skirmish and Multiplayer modes. Kiith Soban is a subfaction of the Northern Coalition, but with a number of unique differences, including their own version of the Carrier, Battlecruiser, Baserunner, and Railgun vehicles. The pack is available as of 22 March 2016. A second DLC pack introduced the Khaaneph faction, clanless scavengers from Kharak's southern deserts who use salvaged Gaalsien technology. The Khaaneph fleet pack was released on 26 April 2016.
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The game is set on the desert planet of Kharak, the home-in-exile of the Kushan (Hiigaran) people, 106 years prior to the events of Homeworld. Kharak is a dying world, the desert growing larger with each passing year, and the Kushan clans regularly wage war amongst one another. Then a satellite detects an object in the Great Banded Desert, known as the Jaraci Object, or the "primary anomaly". An expedition had been sent by the Coalition of the Northern Kiithid, a group of Kushan clans from the northern polar region of Kharak, but had disappeared in the desert four years earlier; the in-game campaign centers around a second expedition, and its chief science officer, Rachel S'jet.
Rachel's expedition, centered around the Kiith S'jet land carrier Kapisi, departs from Epsilon Base in the Kharakian desert. Shortly after the expedition departs, however, Kiith Gaalsien (a group of religious zealots exiled from mainstream Kharakian society) attack and destroy a number of Coalition bases, including Epsilon, and lay siege to the city of Tiir, the planetary capital. The Gaalsien then attack the Kapisi at a S'jet base known as the Boneyard, while the Kapisi is undergoing final outfitting for desert operations.A masked Gaalsien commander named Khagaan declares that the Coalition's use of satellites and other space-based technology violates the law of the Great Maker, Sajuuk, and the Gaalsien declare war on the Coalition. Escaping from the Boneyard under cover of a sandstorm, the Kapisi searches for their sister ship, the Kiith Siidim carrier Sakala, which also escaped its base after a Gaalsien attack.
In a region called Hell's Gate, the expedition stumbles upon the wreck of a previously launched S'jet carrier, the Ifriit Naabal, the flagship of the first expedition four years earlier; Rachel's elder brother Jacob had been first officer of the carrier, which recovered an artifact from the wreckage of a space-going vessel called the Kalash. The expedition moves in to salvage more artifacts from the Kalash, but come under attack from superior Gaalsien forces, led by Khagaan from the carrier Ashoka. Just as the expedition is about to be overrun, the Sakala and its escorts arrive with reinforcements, driving the Gaalsien forces off. The Sakala draws off the Ashoka while the Kapisi attacks the Gaalsien resource operations, but the Gaalsien carrier changes course to attack the Kapisi and its escorts. Despite the Gaalsien carrier's defenses and EMP weaponry, the Coalition forces engage and destroy the Ashoka.
Approaching the edge of Gaalsien territory, the two carriers assault a Gaalsien fortress, again using the Sakala to draw off the base's defenders while the Kapisi attacks the resource operations. Accessing the Gaalsien database, Rachel discovers that her brother had survived for years in Gaalsien custody, and that the Gaalsien believe the Jaraci Object to be the mythical Khar-Toba, the "First City" and origin of Kushan civilization. The Gaalsien leader, the K'Had Sajuuk, believes he will become ruler of all Kharak if he enters the temple of Khar-Toba. Along the way, the expedition also discovers a number of shipwrecks that are largely intact in spite of their age and conditions in the desert, and Rachel theorizes that they in fact materialized inside solid rock (referencing the hyperspace abilities of vessels by the time of Homeworld), having been forcibly intercepted by the power contained within the Jaraci Object site. Making their way through a narrow canyon into a region the Gaalsien call the "Dreamlands", the Kapisi and the Sakala engage and destroy two Gaalsien carriers, and fight their way to a high plateau in order to obtain critical supplies via airborne cargo landers from their leaders in Tiir.
As the K'Had Sajuuk's forces approach the primary anomaly, a weapons satellite opens fire on them from orbit; Rachel leaves to investigate the source of the signal that triggered the satellite, as the Kapisi holds its ground against enemy forces on the plateau in order to secure a runway for the landers. Just as the Coalition forces gain the upper hand, however, the Siidim forces betray them, opening fire on the S'jet cargo landers; the Siidim, long-time enemies of the Gaalsien, declare that they alone were of divine origin and would "purify" the desert, and that Khar-Toba and its secrets were theirs to claim. Rachel discovers that the signal that triggered the orbital satellite was from a Taiidan carrier, which crashed on the surface after deploying the weapon; Jacob used the transponder to trigger the satellite himself before dying of starvation and exposure. Rachel escapes the wreck with the transponder and makes a rendezvous with the Kapisi, which engages and destroys the Sakala and its escort forces.
With the Siidim defeated, Rachel travels ahead of the expedition, discovering that Khar-Toba is in fact an ancient starship, surrounded by an ancient city buried in the sand. The expedition sets up a scanner network around the wreck to better direct the Taiidan weapon satellite in orbit, and face the K'Had Sajuuk, commanding a unique flagship-style carrier. The Coalition forces destroy the Gaalsien flagship in a heated battle; as his ship is consumed in the explosion, the K'Had Sajuuk warns that Kharak would be destroyed by fire from the sky (prophetically referencing the events of Homeworld) as a result of the Coalition's actions. At the end, Rachel reflects that her brother had believed the salvation of their people to be found in the desert as the scene pans out from Khar-Toba towards the night sky, and the future that would await the Kushan in the century to come.
Unlike the previous games, which had two separate races, all of the factions in Deserts of Kharak are Kushan, but have distinct looks from one another, and also work differently. The campaign centers around the Coalition (the player's faction) and Kiith Gaalsien; two other groups, Kiith Soban and the Khaaneph, were added in DLC packs as playable factions (in addition to the originals) for Skirmish and Multiplayer modes.
Deserts of Kharak is a spin-off, in that it deviates from the backstory included with the original Homeworld in the form of the Homeworld Manual: Historical + Technical Briefing booklet. The latter maintains that Kiith Gaalsien self-destructed and was reduced to the status of myth centuries before the discovery of Khar-Tobaand clans had long ceased any serious military conflict.
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak has received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, scoring 79/100 on Metacritic.
Mark Steighner of Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4 out of 5 saying, "Homeworld: Desert of Kharak is an accessible and well-made strategy game with outstanding production values and a legitimate claim to being part of the legendary franchise."Patrick Hancock from Destructoid rated the game a 7.5/10 saying, "the campaign is well executed for veterans and newbies alike, proving that over a decade without Homeworld is far too long." IGN awarded it a score of 8.8 out of 10, calling it a "deep, exciting, varied RTS with all the right tools." Zach Turnbull from Gone With The Win rated the game a 8/10 saying, "A good, if not ground-breaking, tactical RTS accompanied by excellent story elements. Don't expect to recreate the magic of the original Homeworld 16 years ago and you won't be disappointed.".
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Military expeditions to track them down once and for all have always failed, and a certain mythology has grown up around them -- as if there is a nagging suspicion in the minds of modern Khiraki that the only way Kiith Gaalsien could have survived is if they really did have the grace of Sajuuk.
In 810, with all factions exhausted and falling from internal anarchy, a small clan emerged from hiding from the settlement at Tiir. [~snip~] within 20 years Tiir was the new capital and the Age of Reason had begun.