Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak’s First Story Trailer

Imagine you live on a planet that’s entirely desert. Maybe it’s Tatooine. Maybe it’s Arrakis. Maybe Abydos or Korriban or Kharak. You wake up every morning. It’s a million degrees. You wasted all day yesterday in Toschi Station picking up power convertors, so your moisture vaporator is on the fritz. Imagine how damn thirsty you’d be.

That’s about how thirsty I am for Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak [official site].

Hark, an oasis. Gearbox/Blackbird just released a new trailer for the upcoming RTS, this time focusing on the game’s story. Take a look:

I bet you can guess most of it. The planet is dying, there’s a “Primary Anomaly” hidden in the middle of the desert, people go looking for it, other people are presumably already looking for it, dune buggy battles ensue.

But damn, the scale. Even if you took away the Homeworld name, you’d be able to tell this was from the same people just by the size disparity between units. Take a look at this shot:

Those two tiny purple blotches? The ones that look like you accidentally smeared jam on your monitor? They’re ships, peppering the desert aircraft carrier with small arms fire. That extraordinary sense of scale is so uniquely Homeworld, I’m glad Gearbox lent Blackbird the naming rights for this prequel.

This trailer’s but the barest dribble of water for my parched mouth, but at least we don’t have long to wait. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak releases on January 20, which is less than two weeks away at this point.

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  1. Mario Figueiredo says:

    20 January is not good. I need a 30 day prior warning to quit my job.

  2. internisus says:

    I love that the narration maintains the dispassionate tone of the original games’.

  3. GepardenK says:

    Some of us had a chat with a few devs over on discordapp. Seemed like great guys and they were really exited for release.

    One of the most promising things for me was how they talked about getting the ‘vehicle fantasy’ right. Which according to them always was a core pillar of Homeworld. Like having simulated suspension allowing for dune jumping and the like.

    To me Homeworld was great not because it was set in space but because of how they did ‘space’ (It was so much more than a backdrop in HW). If they can manage a similar thing for desert dunes we may be in for a real treat.

  4. Captain Deadlock says:

    An RTS which is “Homeworld without 3D space” but just one giant desert biome instead. Next year: Minecraft without blocks where everything is desert, Skyrim without crafting where everything is desert, a prequel to Elite Dangerous set in a desert. Hell, that last one might be an improvement.

    • GepardenK says:

      Nah it’s more like they if they had the audacity to put the sequel to Alien on a planet instead of in space. Oh wait…

    • Werthead says:

      People tend to forget that for the whole alleged importance of the 3D movement in Homeworld, 90% of the time it was never used. There was that missing in the junkyard where you had to sneak underneath the enemy defences and retrieve the data, and in the final mission there were enemy fleets that hyperspaced in above and below you. But that was really it. It’s great to have it in there, especially for multiplayer, but it’s also not the thing that defined the games.

      What defined them was the writing (Deserts has the same writers), the art design (Deserts has the same designers), the music (Deserts has the same composer) and the atmosphere. The last bit is what Deserts really has to nail.

      Deserts is also, very much, a spin-off. It was developed by Blackbird when they didn’t have the Homeworld licence and, when they got it, they were able to convert it into a Homeworld game. But it’s not Homeworld 3. That will follow, pending sales of Remastered and Deserts. In fact, there was a dev video where the said that the new engine (well, heavily rejigged HW2 engine) was partially designed with the ability to create new maps in high fidelity in mind, in case they decided to do a HW3.

      • Rich says:

        “People tend to forget that for the whole alleged importance of the 3D movement in Homeworld, 90% of the time it was never used.”
        Speak for yourself. I used it all the time, and it seemed like that was what the game expected.
        You’re right on everything else though.

        • Werthead says:

          I should have said that 90% of the time it wasn’t necessary. The game only “forced” you to use if a few times. Optionally you could use it all the time, of course.

      • GepardenK says:

        To be fair the space setting in Homeworld was more than just the tactical advantages of the z-axis. They really did something special there. Just look at how HW compare to any other space rts game out there (space in HW simply feels more real, not realistic but ‘real’ as if what is shown is actually there). It should also be noted that HW Cataclysm used the z-axis to much greater effect and it worked marvelously.

        That being said I do not think that a space setting is integral to the Homeworld experience. If they can make the sand dunes feel ‘real’ in the same way that the original HW made space feel ‘real’ then the magic is back as far as I am concerned

    • Wulfram says:

      Dune set in a desert.

      Skyrim set in a desert would be cool, I’d like to go back to Hammerfell, and few RPGs wouldn’t be improved by removing crafting.

    • DrBomb says:

      The setting is accurate to the Lore. Kharak was dying, and the clans were at war. This “anomaly” was what made the events of HW possible.

      • EhexT says:

        There is no mention of a war or even violent conflict at the time this is set and the tech level and number of wrecks as well as several things in the trailer directly contradict previous lore. This is very much a (thoroughly unnecessary) retcon.

        Also the game is 2 weeks from release, there’s no been any gameplay shown and there’s been zero marketing. Anyone having real hope this is genuinely good would be a huge optimist considering all of these things.

        • GepardenK says:

          Well, the HW backstory mentions that the translation of the Guidestone a few years after they found the Khar-Toba and it’s hyperspace module is what united the clans. Implying that there were some contentions up to that point.

          You are right that there is no mention of all out war though. But adding in an unmentioned conflict is not even close to the massive rectons done by HW2

          • Techne says:

            It’s mentioned that Kiith Gaalsian is known for attacking scientific outposts and sabotage attempts on the mothership construction, so it’s not a stretch to add a conflict over the Khartoba I think – that seems to be the antagonist in the trailers.

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    heretic says:

    Looks interesting, I hope the story is good – is this a pre-homeworld thing?

  6. DailyFrankPeter says:

    I’ve heard this plot, I’m more interested in the huge-ass desert ‘dry’ dock doors… (isn’t the outside dry enough?) They look as improvised as the truck-gate from Mad Max. Also what is the point of having a wall if almost anything I’m shown later in the trailer (hovercraft, fighters, dropships, ion cannon…and seemingly even the sand) get fly over it?

    • Rich says:

      People like walls and fences. It makes them feel safe.

    • GepardenK says:

      That was the research station sending out the initial expedition, it was not a military base. The walls are there to keep the sand from piling up

  7. Phasma Felis says:

    Can’t watch the video right now. Is it still completely butchering the actual Homeworld backstory?

    • Hunchback says:

      It does’t seem to be REALLY related. They have found an artifact, apparently some spaceship. Will they found the tablet with the coordinates in it or not… we’ll have to see.

    • Jerodar says:

      With this trailer we finally have a confirmed time period: 1100 KDS.
      According to the Homeworld 1 manual this is after the discovery of a wreckage in the desert by a satellite in 1106KDS. On 1110KDS an expedition was launched, so this matches. However there is no mention of any conflict during this era.
      I think they did a good job finding a hole of sorts in the original story to put this game in.

      • EhexT says:

        Post HW1 would have been a MUCH better place for the game and would have required no retcons, unlike what they chose. They also could have gone for a different desert planet and which also would have required no retcons.

    • DrBomb says:

      I’m no scholar at Homeworld lore. But the clans were indeed in constant war if I remember correctly. It was what they found in the desert what united them all and made possible hyper-space jumps.

      • EhexT says:

        The clans hadn’t been at war for hundreds of years. The Nabaal stomping everyone with steam tech out of nowhere ended it.

  8. CheeseOnToast says:

    This looks just as lovely as the original Homeworlds did. They’ve maintained the amazing flat, painterly art style which the HW remake botched by adding too much greebly detail, IMO. The originals have a lot of love directed at them from other game artists to this day.

    Simon Trümpler has several articles about the old games on his excellent blog, which are great reading if you’re at all interested in art for games.

    link to simonschreibt.de

    link to simonschreibt.de

    link to simonschreibt.de

    link to simonschreibt.de

    The great thing about those is that they’re actually all pretty simple, low tech solutions which end up looking wonderful.

  9. DutchLaw says:

    Oh yes, yes… family, say goodbye to Dad – he is going to be a bit busy in the very near future…

  10. bill says:

    Looks and sounds lovely… but I’m not all that interested in a ground based RTS. I loved the 3d movement in Homeworld.

    That said, the other thing I liked about the actual gameplay in Homeworld was its relatively slow pace compared to most RTS. If they can capture that, in addition to the art and atmosphere, then I might be interested.

    But since we haven’t seen any gameplay yet… who knows.

  11. Bugamn says:

    Are those Bentusi on the header picture?

    • SomeDuder says:


      Now shame on you. Go play HW1.

      • Bugamn says:

        I played HW1. And every time I look at the header picture it reminds me of the Bentusi ships.

  12. Cyroch says:

    Thye lack of shown content has me a little concerned to be honest. Especially, since the name Gearbox invokes serious doubts in me at this point. Nothing I can do about it.
    I desperately want this to be good, but I will definitely hold out until I get some actual gameplay

  13. Bernt01 says:

    I have a feeling that this game will deliver some the good old gaming enjoyment, that seem to be harder and harder to find as i grow older.

    • SomeDuder says:

      How come? They haven’t really shown anything yet and are fully banking on the “BUT WE ARE INVOLVED WITH HOMEWORLD NOW!” thing. And they didn’t even make those games, they just tried to update them for the modern age (And whether they succeeded is still heavily debated…).

      • Bernt01 says:

        You have a point, Guess it’s more of a heartfelt Hope that I can experience some of that magic the homeworldgames delivered all those years ago.