The Long Road Home – Impressions of “Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak” (Video)
I wound up having a great opportunity to play and capture some gameplay from launch day for this game. While I had some problems getting a stream (thanks to YouTube which apparently ate the file after I ended the stream), the Elgato HD60 bailed me out with its excellent local capture. I had a lot of fun in this game, mainly due to my nostalgia for both the original Homeworld games as well as Ground Control. Deserts of Kharak definitely invokes the DNA of both of those franchises, given the fact that they were both developed by the same dev studio, Relic games. And the developer for Deserts of Kharak, Blackbeard Interactive, is composed of former devs from Relic and others. It’s not a speed-of-light RTS with a ton of difficulty just for the sake of making it hard. But is that such a bad thing?
Deserts of Kharak is the new prequel to Homeworld and Homeworld 2. You experience the events that led to the need for the…the…whatever race they are to have to leave Kharak. You also see the famous expedition into the desert to recover the…the…McGuffin. Point being, names and places will garner you some nostalgic payoff if you’re looking for it. But if you are not a veteran of Homeworld and Homeworld 2, don’t worry. You’ll be just fine.
In the video below, you’ll see my first experiences in the game. Of course, due to YouTube’s glitch, this is not technically the First Boot. But since it’s the first video of this game that I have to post, it counts.
This game looks, feels, and smells like Homeworld, but it’s a skosh off of that magical formula. The original Homeworld formula, I mean, because Homeworld 2 was just kind of a rehash of a near perfect formula. Based on the Steam comments, I think people forget that. There is a lot of revisionist history about the overall critical reception of the Homeworld franchise as a whole. The first one blew crap out of the water. Public opinion was lukewarm on the second installation though. That series has garnered a huge following in the years since it went into backlogs and digital releases. But when those games were out there initially, there were like 10 of us playing them worldwide. So I’m not sure I can agree with the perspective that Deserts of Kharak is some huge dropoff in quality from the rest of the series as a whole.
I will say that this game is neither as beautiful or as hauntingly quiet as those two games, but it gets the spirit. And, I mean, there should be an ambient difference between an RTS in space and an RTS on the ground. I came into it expecting Deserts of Kharak to be more like Ground Control than Homeworld. But then, only about five of us played Ground Control and Ground Control 2. The one thing that is neat to me is that Deserts of Kharak combines elements of that Ground Control game design, a game that came out of the same studio as Homeworld, with the 3D beauty of that space opera. Those two game series might easily be my most favorites of all time. So while others find fault with this title, I feel right at home. Things are good so far, but it’ll take me getting into the skirmish mode to see just how far this game’s legs will carry me. I’m about two hours in so far, and I am happy. I just don’t know if I’m $50 happy.
I talk about some of the graphical weirdness that I’ve experienced with nVidia GPU’s in the video below. The one thing that chaps by bottom is that I have not been able to achieve a group of configuration settings that allows me to see the beautiful graphics that I’ve seen in screen caps. This despite the fact that my systems that I am playing it on or above the recommended specs.