June 21, 2024

Ever since its debut in 1999, the Homeworld series has been a staple in the realm of space-based RTS games. Known for having complex and strategic gameplay, complemented by stunning visuals, the series is beloved among avid RTS fans. Homeworld: Vast Reaches from FarBridge Inc is the latest game in the franchise and the first to come to VR, bringing with it high expectations from both long-time fans and newcomers.

From 2D to Immersive Virtual and Mixed Reality

Playing space-based strategy games in VR always conjures up thoughts of  interacting with fleets of holographic starships, similar to what was seen in the movie Ender’s Game. Just like it was in that film, with Vast Reaches the shift to being fully immersive allows players to directly engage with the game’s ships, displays and environments in a more intuitive and natural way, making battles feel more engaging.

The core of the gameplay in Vast Reaches remains true to its roots, focusing on resource management, fleet composition, and tactical engagements. Players command various types of ships, all serving unique roles in the fleet. Interceptors and Bombers are fast and agile, designed for quick strikes and heavy ordnance missions while slower ships like Corvettes are effective against groups of fighters and other larger enemy formations.

Frigates serve as the backbone of the fleet providing more balanced offensive capabilities and offering repair and support functions while Capital Ships are crucial for dealing with large threats. Rounding out the ship types we then have utility vessels such as Resource Collectors, which serve to harvest resources from asteroids and debris fields, ensuring a continuous supply line for building and sustaining the player’s fleet.

Strategic Depth Meets Immersive Interaction

One of the standout features of Homeworld: Vast Reaches is how it balances complex strategy within the immersive capabilities of its new VR and Mixed Reality Modes. Players have always had to think several steps ahead while playing the Homeworld games but now they are also dealing with the immediate demands of managing their fleet in real-time from a first-person perspective. This balance of strategy and tactical management all while being wowed by the action happening around you makes each mission both challenging and rewarding.

Scaling to Large Spaces

Scalability is a significant feature to have and one that makes Homeworld: Vast Reaches stand out. The game has the impressive ability to scale dynamically within the player’s physical play area bringing accessibility to a wide range of audiences, so whether you are the type of VR gamer who likes to get up and move around the room or someone with limited mobility or space that needs to play seated, no matter which way, or at what scale you play, the  ability to customize the size of the gameplay ensures that everyone can enjoy a full and engaging experience.

Visual and Audio Design

Featuring detailed ship models and interfaces that feel tactile and futuristic, the overall look in Homeworld: Vast Reaches doesn’t disappoint. The visual design of the game respects the aesthetic and foundations of this time-honored series while introducing a host of new elements specifically suited to VR.

With soundscapes that enhance the immersive experience, the audio design is also nicely done. The soundtrack remains true to the ethereal and haunting tones of the original games including voice acting that sounds believable, featuring a cast of characters chattering in the player’s ear as if they were on open comms, aiding in the battles and bringing life to the game’s narrative element.

Comparison with Previous Homeworld Games

Vast Reaches introduces several new elements with its first entry into VR and MR yet also remains true to the core aspects that made the original games popular.

Here’s how Vast Reaches remains similar to its predecessors:

  • Strategic Depth: Like the other Homeworld games that came before it, Vast Reaches requires careful planning and resource management.
  • Storytelling: The narrative element of the game continues to be a strong point, featuring a compelling storyline that helps to guide and drive the overall gameplay.
  • Visuals and Sound: While enhanced for VR, these elements remain faithful to the roots of the Homeworld series, ensuring a sense of continuity for long-time fans.

These aspects in combination are what make the Homeworld series a popular choice among RTS gamers and in Vast Reaches, the transition to VR has allowed these elements to evolve, offering not only a new way to experience the Homeworld universe, but a way that players can feel like they are a part of it.

Whether you’re orchestrating an interstellar battle or exploring the depths of space, Homeworld: Vast Reaches offers a compelling and unforgettable experience. This new adventure successfully translates the complex, strategic gameplay of the Homeworld series, all while bringing the franchise into a new and immersive medium making Vast Reaches a standout title in the VR RTS genre and one that we feel is a must-play for both fans of the long-running series and newcomers to VR and MR gaming.

Homeworld: Vast reaches is currently available for Quest 2/3/Pro and, according to the game’s Steam page, it’s coming to PCVR at some point in 2024.