When Gearbox won the bid to the Homeworld licence, it certainly raised eyebrows, and saw a mix of hope and fear for the franchise, particularly as the new team formed by many of the original Relic developers failed to get it themselves. And then Gearbox announced that, in collaboration with those aforementioned developers, they would be releasing a full remaster of the two main games of the franchise, with a heavy visual upgrade to boot.

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Many a Homeworld fan had to change their pants at that moment. And now, it’s finally here. After seventeen years, Homeworld fans have the opportunity to once again explore the original classic duo, reborn anew with flashy coats of paint. At least, they have the opportunity to do so without resorting to arcane pc magic to get it to work.

Is it worth it? Here’s a spoiler: It totally is. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll absolutely adore the remastered edition. Assuming that initial spoiler hasn’t sent you tripping over yourself, your chair, and any loved ones unfortunate enough to be nearby in an effort to buy the game, let’s start with the most immediately noticeable thing about the remaster – how it looks.

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The game is astonishingly beautiful, though by now there’s no need for saying it as it’s been proven by many a glorious screenshot. I’ll still say it though, and keep saying it, because oh my god the visual rich-caramel-chocolatey-goodness look-tastes so delectable to my eye-tongues. Repeatedly I’ve seen visuals strongly reminiscent of 80’s science fiction artwork, and I’ve enjoyed taking screenshots of this game far more than is considered normal when it comes to general game reviews.

I fully admit a lot of the visual adoration is revisiting places within the game I experienced as a child, so I see a lot more value than someone new to the franchise may perceive for themselves. Nostalgia is wonderful but fragile, and many times the reality is a far cry from the mental ideas that memory coddle. What I’ve loved so much about the remaster is that it allows one to revisit the nostalgia of Homeworld 1’s campaign and actually see the game in the full glory one remembered it being when first experiencing it.

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Additionally, the massive bump in detail has allowed a much greater look into the designer’s intent when it came to designing the ships. It also provides some new insights into how many of the ships function, such as revealing certain design elements are actually hatches, and so on. There are also a slew of nice visual technical tweaks, such as Ion Cannon beams that now accurately illuminate ships they fire from or over. The nebulae that surrounds levels now emits light as well, and seeing ships fly past actually obscuring that light is marvellous to behold.

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Of course it’s not all about the aesthetic upgrades, and there are certainly some changes to be seen. To best understand what has changed and why, it should be explained that what the remaster has done is import Homeworld 1 into Homeworld 2’s engine, and worked to improve Homeworld 2’s engine so that it can be pushed into modern day standards, particularly when it comes to visuals, sound, and user interface. This effectively means that the overall remaster is a single game, with two separate and very different campaigns. This has meant that Homeworld 1 has adopted many of the mechanical and aesthetic qualities of Homeworld 2, including the UI as well as the more dramatically pleasing ship deaths.

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The merger has resulted in some larger differences for the original however, that affect the gameplay experience for the campaign particularly. The first is that research is no longer free and, like Homeworld 2, steadily drains resources as it progresses towards completion. This is a surprising new addition to economic pressure, though it is somewhat balanced out by another new change – salvageable wreckage from Homeworld 2, left by destroyed capital ships, are now also present in Homeworld 1. This provides a nice boost to economy that helps fund the new research fee.

The other difference is the removal of fuel usage from smaller craft. It’s not surprising in hindsight considering that Homeworld 2 had removed that mechanic originally, but it does reduce the role of certain ships which provided refuelling, as well as enemy ships whose sole purpose was centred on the mechanic. Particularly the Kadeshi Fuel pods encounter in the campaign, which helped resupply swarms of fighters and were thus an important and tricky focal point when fighting within the Gardens of Kadesh, are largely useless and can now be easily ignored.

UPDATE: I replayed the Garden / Cathedral of Kadesh missions a few times, paying special attention to the refuelling pods. The swarmers do indeed return to Fuel Pods, but it’s a pseudo variant of the original mechanic. Essentially, if one destroys the pods, the swarmers do eventually suddenly become idle as if they had run out of fuel. This is momentary, however, and they will then fly slowly towards pods and dock, which also heals them. 

 Apologies for missing this – the fact that they now retreat slowly, which I definitely did see, after being temporarily stranded made it appear to my mind that they had never been stranded at all. Compare this to the original where, if they ran out, they were permanently stranded in space – thus my confusion!

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Of course, if one would prefer to simply replay the original, with all of its original mechanics, the remaster comes with the classic variants of both games, reworked to run on modern systems but otherwise entirely untouched.

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And finally, the merger means that the multiplayer of the two games has amalgamated into a single entity, with all four factions playable. The development team have stated that bringing the two older factions into multiplayer has created difficulty in achieving balance, so for the moment they have slapped the term “beta” onto the multiplayer, and have opened the doors for players to help them achieve some semblance of balance.

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They also added something new to the Multiplayer: Relics. If included, a single relic will spawn somewhere in the central part of the map. When a player secures it, the relic slowly generates an increasing amount of resources while held – though opponents can try to steal or destroy it. In the case of the latter, a new relic will randomly spawn some time later.

So, how does the classic play today? It’s generally been a fantastic experience, barring one or two disappointments I noticed, though I’ll speak on those in just a bit. Considering how few games have attempted to recreate the fully three-dimensional gameplay, how few have tried to change and advance the idea, the formula doesn’t feel dated at all. The game is still as challenging as it was, and still very enjoyable for it, and I’m still pleased at how pausing to issue orders allows for a nice level of micromanagement within the chaos of a larger battle.

Homeworld (5)

The stories of the two games are still enjoyable to experience, though tempered by former experience. It’s been a pleasure once again playing through a wonderful mix of ancient saga mythology mixed with far future interspace travel, all mixed with beautiful colours.

That said, it wasn’t all roses, as I did also run into some small issues when playing through the remaster of Homeworld 1. Once or twice about half way through the campaign, certain cinematics or story related dialogue didn’t trigger properly, requiring me to load an earlier save and simply making sure I wasn’t doing anything during the time I recalled (from childhood) something should happen. It also seems that through the transition, some ships from the original have suffered a bit – particularly the Minelayer Corvettes, which I’ve unfortunately had a lot of trouble trying to get to work properly in the remaster. Overall I’m extremely happy with the remastered edition. Honestly, I’m happy enough that I can actually install and run both games with no additional hoops to jump through.

Last Updated: February 25, 2015

Homeworld Remastered Collection
Summary
The huge amount of work that went into modernising and reinterpreting the many visuals, from the ships to the wonderfully abstract nebulous backdrops feel like a massive love letter to both the original game, and to the fans who love it.
8.5
Homeworld Remastered Collection was reviewed on PC
86 / 100

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  • SargonTheGreatPandaOfAkkad

    It just moved to the top of my wishlist. I already knew I wanted it. Now I have to have it.

    Great visuals. Great game. Great review. Now where did I leave my Steam Wallet…

    • SlagywaG

      And its pay day 😀

  • Matewis Jubilai

    Sheesh, what time is it?
    That 5th pic though o.0 Has got to be the most beautiful game ever, although Outcast, Abe’s Oddyssee and Shadow of the Colossus are also strong contenders

  • Spy Master Tokashi

    This game is epic and I am really happy that GearBox is taking it in the right direction.

    Gearbox managed to get the Complex (best HW2 mod ever) developers involved with the game, if you read their forums you can see that Gearbox got the modding community involved to make it even more epic. In Gearbox’s one PAX video they also mentioned that the Complex developers helped them to make it even better.

    I just cannot wait when they bring out the Complex v10 mod for this amazing game.

  • Raving Rabbids

    The game has the best soundtrack ever.

    • Brady miaau

      And cool nic

  • Johann

    Hopefully they’ll start with a Star Wars mod as well. There was one for Homeworld 2 that actually didn’t look bad at all.

  • Blood Emperor Trevor

    Cool, I’m glad it’s turned out well.

  • Pariah

    Only 8.5? Pass.

    Trololol

  • SlagywaG

    I think one thing that was not included (forgive me if I missed it) was that they have announced full modding support. While redeveloping a lot of the tools required to work on the engine they always kept in mind that they wanted to give it to the community for modding. Which in my opinion adds MASSIVE value to a game like this

  • Kensei Seraph

    That launch trailer is beautiful.
    *Literally wipes tears from eyes*

  • Kensei Seraph

    Quick, someone convince me not to get this right now!

    • Remember the mission with the asteroid that was nigh impossible to defeat?

      Actually never mind …. that was what made it fun. 🙂

      • Kensei Seraph

        That doesn’t help.

        • Okay okay …what about … Gearbox also made Duke Forever and Alien:CM and that is me really pushing it in terms of reasons not to buy. 😛

          • Kensei Seraph

            Better, except I never played DNF or A:CM.

    • Brady miaau

      You do not have enough time for this, what with work /studies and other games.

      Have I convinced myself as well? Hmmmm

      • Kensei Seraph

        Sleep and sanity are overrated so no you haven’t.

  • SargonTheGreatPandaOfAkkad

    I just have to say. That launch trailer. Awolnation. They were made for each other. Daaaaamn.

  • Greylingad

    Aaaaaahhhh…… All the eye candies…. I quite recently played HW2 (kind of in anticipation for this) and it was brilliant! I now cannot wait for the download of this to finish…

  • Lardus-Resident Perve

    Good news indeed. I would love to play this. Well, not good news for my bank account as I will need to upgrade both my PC and Console this year.

  • Ragnar The Vengeful

    A buggy Mine layer corvette is one thing but I got stuck in the original because the Air Defence Drone frigate won’t retract the last drone so that we can do the hyper jump. I had no way to shoot the drone because the level end sequence already started. Those were the days.

  • Brady miaau

    Nice review. Also, seems a name I do not know.

  • Andrew vd Walt

    Wonder if they’ll remake Homeworld Cataclysm. It was actually my favourite one.

    • Daniel Hallinan

      Cataclysm has never really been 100% legitimate when it comes to the franchise canon. Homeworld 2 refers to some of the clans involved, but beyond that nothing it seen or heard regarding the events of the game.

      Personally, I’d be very happy to see them include the Raider Retreat mission never included in the original release of the game.

  • Fluffy

    “Kadeshi Fuel pods encounter in the campaign, which helped resupply swarms of fighters and were thus an important and tricky focal point when fighting within the Gardens of Kadesh, are largely useless and can now be easily ignored.”
    Um… Really? I heard that Kadeshi swarmers still uses pods to refuel… Have you played that mission or you never made to it?

    • Daniel Hallinan

      In Homeworld 1? Got to mission 14 – so yeah, I played it (had to restart the second part of the Gardens, too). The fuel pods were hanging out at the edges of combat alone, and I never witnessed the swarmers using them. There’s a large update for the game currently downloading, so I’ll check that stage again when it’s completed to see if it’s been changed.

  • GetRekt.com

    Lised of known issues and fixes here if anyone needs help http://forums.getrekt.com/threads/homeworld-known-issues-and-fixes.5221/

  • falconian

    I totally love this game, shame we can’t have more ships than the game allows, how many of these reviewer have played the full game to the end, specially competing against the AI, the more frigates I build the less fighter I am unable to produce, am I doing something wrong here or what!

  • falconian

    I know you people will say “that’s the way the original was” but it was clear in the early days we where subjected to limited ships because of the hardware in the the early day, but hell! we have moved on a little since then, so give use more ships, why the hell not.

  • falconian

    If supreme commander forged alliance can do it, it would be simple to have it implemented in this game.

  • falconian

    After all Forged alliance only uses one core on my processor (4 core 8 threads Intel 870 I7), or are we gaming for the masses with lesser machine, oh come on, its the software that pushes on to make better machine, just like Cyris 1 did so many years ago, it’s a shame we have to settle for ” what you have is what you got” this remastered version could have done so much to make the game such a big epic.

  • Nick Jones

    Cannot believe they removed the fuel mechanic. It was a core mechanic of the game. It sounds like they’ve removed formations as well.

    They’ve obviously missed the key difference between HW1 and HW2. HW1 was focused at frigate level combat where as HW2 was focused on capital class combat. Fighters and corvettes were much more valuable assets in HW1, so to give them the constraint of fuel added a much deeper level of strategy. Also, its just more realistic. in HW2 you just throw them at stuff and repair the squadron. This is why they moved to squadrons rather than individual ships. How hard would it have been to put this mechanic in?! And no formations? Formations are absolutely key to fighter and corvette effectiveness. Agan, less importants in HW2 because the emphasis had shifted. Its like they had no understanding of the game, they just wanted tEh money so they made it pretty. Fucking gearbox. more like toolbox.

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