Skip to main content

Homeworld 3 War Games mode fuses co-op and roguelike gameplay with RTS

A fine addition to the upcoming space RTS
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Space RTS Homeworld 3, which is set to be released in February 2024, will not only contain the traditional single-player campaign and multiplayer experiences, but will also come with a co-op mode that infuses some roguelike elements into the game. This mode is called War Games and was shown off to the public at gamescom 2023 for the first time, though we were able to get a sneak peek at it a little while before the convention and were quite impressed with it.

In War Games, you team up with two other players and are tasked to complete a random series of missions. These can be things like intercepting an enemy convoy, rescuing civilian ships, or capturing key structures. A limited amount of resources will be available to you in each stage, while opposition grows over time and with each completed phase. Each map features wrecks to salvage as well, which in addition to completing goals grant you a choice between powerful artifacts. This is where the roguelike elements come into play, as these artifacts can unlock powerful abilities and bonuses for certain ship classes, allowing you to create a potent build unique to this specific run.

These missions can be quite challenging and good teamwork is essential for survival. It’s a great idea, for example, to have one player protect the team’s harvesters from the incoming waves of raiders while the other two go after the objectives. While we did not have the experience and skill to pull off any well coordinated maneuvers on our test run, it could also be beneficial to have each fleet commander specialize in a certain ship type or role to cover all the bases when it comes to the different objectives and then work together closely. One time, I specialized in getting Torpedo Frigates up and running to deal with a convoy of armored transports. However, in the final stage of the run I was confronted by swarms of Strikecraft and Bombers, which the Torpedo Frigates were helpless against. Coordinating with my allies to get some protection would have been the right move instead of moving to an objective all by myself.

Homeworld 3 artifact selection screen in War Games mode.

Completing mission phases as well as salvaging shipwrecks allows you to obtain additional artifacts.

The mode has been put together very nicely and even though two thirds of my team – and that’s me included – was incredibly rusty when it comes to Homeworld’s controls, we were able to pull off a dramatic victory thanks to a hard-working Gearbox representative on our crew. I'd like to think that the heroic last stand of the battered remnants of my once proud fleet made a difference, but I’m not too sure about that. At least they had a pretty spectacular end thanks to the game’s gorgeous visuals. I’d like to suggest a ramming feature for situations like this one.

Homeworld 3 carrier exploding.

I held them off as long as I could.

Even if you lose, you gain experience points for all your actions during a session, leveling up your fleet. This, in turn, unlocks additional starting compositions for you to go into the mode with as well as fresh artifacts to discover. You can also customize the looks of your ships with emblems and colors, which is a nice touch.

War Games will not only allow players to fly into battle with the Hiigaran fleet, but makes available the campaign antagonists, the Incarnate, as a playable faction as well.

RTS games have struggled for a while now in comparison to other genres with a commonly cited factor in that regard being the missing social component, so it’s great to see more and more titles embrace co-op gameplay as a core mode. Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox plan on supporting War Games with new content after launch.

Earlier this week, the story hook for Homeworld 3 was revealed.