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Homeworld 3 Review | Wasn't Worth The Wait

68
Story
3
Gameplay
6
Visuals
10
Audio
9
Value for Money
6
Price:
$ 60
Clear Time:
8 Hours
Homeworld 3 is yet another case of a legacy sequel losing sight of what made the original games so memorable. It made a valiant effort to bring a cult classic into the modern AAA scene but only managed to butcher its own heritage. It did succeed in making the series look and sound the best it ever has in its nearly three-decade-long run, but it came at the cost of its storied history. Against everything the Hiigarian people stood for, this is likely the series’ final frontier.

Homeworld 3 is Relic Entertainment’s newest entry to their Homeworld series and a true follow-up to Homeworld 2 that’s been more than two decades in the making. Read our review to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth buying.

Homeworld 3 Review Overview

What is Homeworld 3?

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Homeworld 3 is an action RTS where you command the vast fleets of the Hiigarian Empire in an epic campaign through the stars. You play as Imogen S’jet, the prodigy of Homeworld 2’s Karan S’jet and the navigator of the Hiigarian fleet’s newest mothership, the Khar-Kushan.

Your mentor’s fleet went missing during a mission through a dangerous stretch of space called The Anomaly. It’s up to you to figure out what happened to her and prevent yet another galactic crisis in the process. With an entire fleet at your beck and call, only your abilities as a commander will limit the outer reaches of your campaign.

Homeworld 3 features:
 ⚫︎ Pitched ship battles in 3D space
 ⚫︎ Megalithic space structures and massive ship scales
 ⚫︎ New campaign story continuing the spanning narrative of Homeworld
 ⚫︎ New War Games Mode for Roguelike Skirmishes
 ⚫︎ Online PvP and 3-player Online Co-op Modes

For more gameplay details, read everything we know about Homeworld 3's gameplay and story.

xxx Platform IconSteam $59.99

Homeworld 3 Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Stellar Graphics and Great Cutscenes
Checkmark Immersive Sound Design
Checkmark War Games Mode is A Fun Addition
Checkmark Irreverent Story
Checkmark Pathfinding is A Coin Toss
Checkmark Formations are Pointless

Homeworld 3 Overall Score - 68/100

Homeworld 3 is yet another case of a legacy sequel losing sight of what made the original games so memorable. It made a valiant effort to bring a cult classic into the modern AAA scene but only managed to butcher its own heritage. It did succeed in making the series look and sound the best it ever has in its nearly three-decade-long run, but it came at the cost of its storied history. Against everything the Hiigarian people stood for, this is likely the series’ final frontier.

Homeworld 3 Story - 3/10

Homeworld 3’s narrative is an irreverent mess of continuity errors, uninspired characters, and mindless technobabble that only served to bring the series’ well-loved saga to an unfortunate end. Rather than focusing on the Hiigarian Empire as a whole, it had a more personal story that simply did not fit the game’s larger-than-life scale. It’s a poor narrative decision at best and an outright insult to the game’s lore at worst.

Homeworld 3 Gameplay - 6/10

Homeworld 3’s gameplay is a mish-mash of series staples and poorly executed innovations that I really couldn’t jive with. The game’s pathfinding is a coin toss and the use of megalithic structures as cover is clunky at best. If not for the novelty of War Games mode, there’d be nothing special or redeemable about Homeworld 3’s unrefined mechanics.

Homeworld 3 Visuals - 10/10

Homeworld 3’s visuals make full use of the game’s 3D environment, effectively evoking emotions like grandeur and fear through sheer scale alone. The cosmic canvas serves as the perfect background for the game’s ship battles, creating a vivid tableau of the Hiigarian legacy with every tactical pause. This is the pinnacle of Homeworld’s graphics in its nearly 30-year run.

Homeworld 3 Audio - 9/10

Homeworld 3’s background music is phenomenal, as is expected from a series that’s never skimped on its cosmic ambiance. Although the writing is questionable at best, the voice acting is pretty good, adding another layer of realism to the game’s amazing world-building.

Homeworld 3 Value for Money - 7/10

Despite being a new addition to a relatively niche IP, Homeworld 3 sports a AAA price scheme of $60. The discrepancy between the game’s obscurity and its competitive price might rub a few series veterans the wrong way, especially when the gameplay simply isn’t up to snuff. At the very least, the game’s graphics and general production value justify its cost, if only to allow players who already bought it an easier way to cope.

Homeworld 3 Review: Wasn’t Worth The Wait

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The concept of a "legacy sequel" is often attributed to cinema, although, as the past few years would show, the video game industry has its fair share of nostalgia-unearthing titles as well. For every Bladerunner 2049 and Doctor Sleep, there’s a World of Goo 2 and an Outcast: A New Beginning.

With the advent of Homeworld 3, the latest video game legacy sequel to a niche RTS franchise from the 90s, it becomes evident that the curse of fan expectations continues to hound all new entries.

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To Homeworld 3’s credit, it’s no cash grab designed to bank on its fanbase’s nostalgia. That being said, there’s still a lot about this game that prevents it from being a welcome addition to the Homeworld franchise. Let’s make like a S’jet and venture forth into what makes Homeworld 3 not worth the wait.

The game’s unworthiness all boils down to two factors: continuity and execution (or lack thereof). Simply put, Homeworld 3 is a legacy sequel in the most literal sense of the term. The story picks up years after the previous entry and with a new protagonist to boot.

Fresh ideas are brought on by fresh faces and the game now runs the risk of separating itself from the other entries. Of course, the fanbase will notice and the game becomes alienated from its brood. This is what happened to Homeworld 3 to a tee, what with its introduction of Imogen S’jet and a new focus on cover-based combat mechanics and all.

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For the Homeworld fans among you, that name should ring a bell, as it shares a surname with the previous series protagonist, Karan S’jet. While integral to the story, Karan was just another individual in the bigger picture of the Hiigarian Empire’s advance.

Imogen’s story is far more personal, almost ethereal at times, and it’s this shift in narrative dynamic that whiplashed the fanbase. No longer was this an empire-wide battle filled with countless sacrifices, it was now a personal journey wrought with insecurity, ignorance, and naivete.

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This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just check out Kratos’ journey in the God of War reboot, but it’s also a direction that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It should be executed well and be as satisfying as the game’s previous direction, if not more. Sad to say, Imogen’s story just wasn’t what the Homeworld franchise needed nor was it what the fans wanted.

To add another nail to the proverbial coffin, the game’s continuity is all out of whack, with previous plot points being outright ignored. This isn’t limited to franchise-wide plot points either, as new ideas come and go just as quickly, never to be seen again.

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Apart from its narrative, its gameplay is also all over the place and I mean that literally. For one thing, the camera controls are wonky as all heck, especially when compared to the smoothness of the previous games. For another, the pathfinding is so atrocious that you have to babysit your squadrons lest they get stuck in some space debris or something.

The squadron formations from Homeworld 2 return in Homeworld 3 and they’re just as useless now as they were then. Worst of all, however, is the game’s large focus on cover-based combat. With its comparably smaller maps and larger obstacles, hiding behind megalithic structures is the way to go, which would’ve been fine if the game’s pathfinding was more competent.

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To round off its trifecta of gameplay woes, Homeworld 3 seems to have simplified the game to the point of triviality. A lot of the strategic layers like directional armor, utility probes, and capital ship subsystems just ceased to exist while the more prominent ones like unit abilities were reduced to timed stat tradeoffs.

Capital ships are also just "anti-everything" now, ruining the game’s rock-paper-scissors-style balancing from previous titles and removing the late-game viability of strike fighters completely. It’s one heck of a dogfight show Homeworld 3 and it is not winning.

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All this isn’t to say that this game has no redeeming qualities, however, as it put all those years of development into its production value. This is the best that the Homeworld franchise has ever looked or sounded. It has AAA-level graphics now and I’d be lying if I called it unimpressive.

But cinematics don’t make the game and neither do good voice actors. At the end of the day, especially for an RTS with a campaign like Homeworld, gameplay and narrative are key. If I wanted amazing cinematics and great graphics, I’d just pay for a Homeworld movie, not this irreverent continuation of Homeworld 2’s legacy.

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Lastly, I’d like to go over Homeworld 3’s new game modes: Skirmish and War Games. Skirmish is alright, if not a tad too fast for my liking, and unwieldy to boot. War Games is a fun alternative to the campaign that has co-op and roguelike elements. It’s not enough to save this game outright, but it’s a shining beacon of what could have been with Homeworld 3.

And here we are at the end of our chartered course. Homeworld 3 isn’t strictly a bad game. It has a lot of things going for it, although enough of them are too far outside the Homeworld fandom’s ken to be considered a benefit.

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The new character is uninteresting, the new narrative focus is against what the series has been about thus far, and the new gameplay mechanics are either too clunky to play or too boring to try. The game looks and sounds stunning, at least, but a snazzy ship and some gold-tier VA performances won’t win you the intergalactic war. Simply put, it wasn't worth the wait.

Pros of Homeworld 3

Things Homeworld 3 Got Right
Checkmark Stellar Graphics and Great Cutscenes
Checkmark Immersive Sound Design
Checkmark War Games Mode is A Fun Addition

Stellar Graphics and Great Cutscenes

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I’ve mentioned it ad nauseam throughout this review already but it bears repeating because it’s one of the game’s few good aspects: it looks astonishingly beautiful. The planets, the stars, the shadows dancing on the panels of every ship; it all looks like the perfect stage for an epic space opera. It truly is a shame that we got a coming-of-age story in space instead.

Even the scale of the ships themselves, no matter how illogical, evokes a sense of grandeur and fear that no other space game can, not in the way Homeworld does with its full use of its 3D environment.

Another thing to note is the ship designs, which are admittedly less diverse. It’s not a dealbreaker for me at all since I do enjoy the mass-produced hyper-militarism of futuristic settings a lot.

Immersive Sound Design

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A great setting isn’t sold through visuals alone, the audio must pull its weight as well. And pull its weight it did in Homeworld 3, as half of the immersion is dependent on the game’s forlorn space music and miscellaneous radio chatter. Something about the various barks and affirmatives that your pilots say sell the idea of Homeworld better.

Granted, the writing could be better, but the VA performances were really darn good and the ships’ sound effects are equally of good quality.

War Games Mode is A Fun Addition

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I can’t say the same about Skirmishes because the pacing is simply too fast for the traditionally methodical Homeworld formula, but War Games is a welcome addition and is easily one of the game’s only highlights.

Apart from the allure of co-op multiplayer for up to three people, the roguelike upgrades and progression add an appropriately modern spin to an otherwise ancient game franchise.

Cons of Homeworld 3

Things That Homeworld 3 Can Improve
Checkmark Irreverent Story
Checkmark Pathfinding is A Coin Toss
Checkmark Formations are Pointless

Irreverent Story

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I call it irreverent because it’s a disrespectful continuation of everything the Homeworld franchise stood for. Rather than having a minimalist space epic about the rise and fall of an empire, Homeworld 3 chose to showcase the story of someone finding their path across the universe.

Again, not bad by itself, but not the right fit for Homeworld either. I understand adapting the story for modern audiences or finding a new angle to a celebrated narrative. Still, the franchise’s fans were the ones who kept this game from fading into obscurity all these years and this was a disservice that they did not deserve.

Pathfinding is A Coin Toss

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This is a major problem for any RTS game, doubly so if you have twice the pathing vectors to worry about. And with the new emphasis on megalithic structures around a much smaller map, you can realistically lose a scenario simply because your ships got stuck.

The worst part about this is arguably the babysitting you need to commit to mid-dogfight since a squadron of interceptors stuck in a tunnel is a sitting duck for anything. The wonky controls don’t make this endeavor any easier, creating a negative feedback loop that eventually makes the game more tedious than enjoyable.

Formations are Pointless

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This is a leftover from Homeworld 2’s squadron formations and I’m surprised it managed to squeeze onto Homeworld 3 as well. Squadrons are largely useless in both games and, while inoffensive at worst, they seem to have taken design space that could’ve been used for other things like better pathfinding.

You can just choose to ignore these if you can, especially in dogfights because interceptors tend to stay in a tight formation even if evasion is the better option.

Is Homeworld 3 Worth It?

Not if You’re A Homeworld Fan

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Homeworld was originally a pretty niche title with a cult following and getting the AAA treatment didn’t do it a lot of favors. Among the downsides is its AAA price tag of $60 with various tiers of additional merchandise present and the likelihood of an imminent DLC all but confirmed.

If you’ve got cash to burn and are looking to play a serviceable sci-fi RTS, then maybe give this a try. If you’re a Homeworld fan looking to see what’s become of your favorite franchise, save yourself the heartache and just keep playing Homeworld 2.

Platform Price
xxx Platform IconPlatform Store $59.99

Homeworld 3 FAQ

What is the Difference Between Modern and Legacy Controls in Homeworld 3?

Homeworld 3 offers a selection of control schemes for its camera and key binds, allowing players to select either Modern controls or Legacy controls from previous games.

The main difference between the two presets is that Modern controls operate on a free-moving camera and have preset key binds for unit selection. Legacy controls use a rotating camera and rely more on using the cursor to edge scroll to different parts of the map, much like in older RTS games.

What is the Win Condition in Skirmish Mode?

The objective of Skirmish Mode is to destroy all enemy ships before they destroy yours. Doing so will nab you the victory.

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Homeworld 3 Product Information

Homeworld 3 Banner
Title HOMEWORLD 3
Release Date May 13, 2024
Developer Blackbird Interactive
Publisher Gearbox Publishing
Supported Platforms PC(Steam, Epic Games Store)
Genre Strategy, RTS
Number of Players Single Player, Online Co-op, Online PvP
Rating N/A
Official Website Homeworld 3 Official Website

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RobertFor9 days

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RobertFor9 days

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MasonFor9 days

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