Homeworld 2 is a real-time strategy computer game sequel to Homeworld developed by Relic Entertainment. It takes place after the events in Homeworld, and concerns Hiigara's response to a new enemy called the Vaygr. It features enhanced graphics and audio and its gameplay takes a new direction: Vaygr and Hiigaran ships differ significantly in design and application, in contrast to the closely equivalent Kushan and Taiidan forces of the original game.
Homeworld 2 was released in late 2003. Shortly afterwards, Relic Studios was bought by THQ, a direct competitor of publishers Sierra and Vivendi, who owned the Homeworld license. In November 2007, THQ confirmed that it has acquired the license for the Homeworld franchise.
Homeworld 2 features only one resource, the ubiquitous "Resource Unit" which is collected by harvester craft. These harvesters often work far away from the Mothership, with the result that strikes against an opponent's supply line can be devastating. Furthermore, RUs are the currency for both ship creation and technology research, meaning the competitors in a multiplayer match must decide carefully what to do with their limited funds.
The Mothership is capable of constructing almost every unit in the game, from the smallest Scout fighter craft to enormous Destroyers; the two exceptions are Shipyards (which according to in-game lore are built back at the home planet of Hiigara and then sent to the front lines via hyperspace) and the Battlecruiser, which is the largest combat-worthy ship in the game and can only be built at a Shipyard. The Mothership can also build Carriers, which themselves can build any ship from the Fighter, Corvette and Frigate families. The Mothership is the center of new research, though Carriers and Shipyards can build the same on-board Research Labs to take over the duties. Finally, in multiplayer matches, the Mothership (or Flagship for the Vaygr) is the only craft that cannot be rebuilt if destroyed, making it the symbolic heart of a player's fleet, even though all its functions can be carried out by surviving Carriers and Shipyards in the event of its destruction; during the single-player campaign, loss of the Mothership leads to an immediate Game Over.
The vacuum of space also creates differences in the striation of soldiers. While a land-based RTS might feature infantry, cavalry or armor, artillery, navies and aviation, Homeworld 2 works with starships in various size: from smallest to largest, Fighter, Corvette, Frigate and Capital Ship. The larger the ship, the more powerful it is and durable it is, but conversely the less maneuverable it is and the longer it takes to bring it into battle. Ships within each family are designed to accomplish certain things and are subsequently vulnerable to certain other ships. For instance, it is inaccurate to say that Frigates as a rule are vulnerable to Fighters; while this is certainly true of the Hiigaran Ion Cannon Frigate, which is basically nothing more than an engine attached to the Homeworld franchise's most powerful beam weapon, Ion Frigates are routinely escorted into battle by Flak Frigates, which is specifically designed for anti-fighter work. Having said that, Flak Frigates lack the firepower to defend themselves against other Frigates, requiring Ion Frigates—or, preferably, the Hiigaran work-horse Torpedo Frigate, which is equally effective against any ship class—for protection. These sorts of rock-paper-scissors vulnerabilities are a significant tactical element of gameplay, and a player who shoots well is far more likely to win than one who simply rushes in with guns blazing. (This is exemplified in the later missions of the campaign, in which the player may be outgunned by margins of three-to-one or higher.)
The original Homeworld allowed players to pirate enemy ships using specialized craft, a tradition carried on in the sequel. Marine Frigates (for the Hiigarans) and Infiltrator Frigates (for the Vaygr) maneuver close to enemy vessels and dispatch boarding parties, which will capture the vessel after a short period of time, displayed in a bar beneath the target's health meter; capture can be speeded up by using multiple Frigates against the same target simultaneously. Having said that, a wise opponent (or AI) will attack the Marine or Infiltrator Frigates until they are destroyed, which reduces or eliminates all capturing progress.
Homeworld 2 does not allow players to choose a difficulty level for its single-player campaign; instead, it features dynamic difficulty adjustments, in which the strength of a level's opposition is determined by how many ships, and of what type, the player is bringing in from the previous level. (This has led to an exploit in which players dispose of their entire fleet at the end of a level, generally by "retiring" their ships to reduce them back into RUs, and then enters the next level with a huge store of raw materials to use against the almost-nonexistent enemy.) It also codifies the support caps introduced in Homeworld, and explicated in Homeworld: Cataclysm, by placing overall limits on how many Fighters, Corvettes, Frigates and Capital Ships the player may control at once.
Mission objectives in the single-player game are primarily achieved by destroying key enemy elements, capturing particular targets, protecting certain units for a particular amount of time, or towing an object back to the Mothership. In addition to the storyline objectives, a significant portion of the missions require the destruction of all enemy units.
During the events of the first Homeworld game, the Kushan race of the planet Kharak began a quest to reclaim their home. By discovering the wreckage of a huge interstellar transport, containing a crude galactic map etched on a piece of stone, the Kushan had ascertained that they had actually been transplanted to their desert home thousands of years ago; to reclaim their planet of origin, Hiigara (translated: "Home"), they crafted an enormous self-sufficient Mothership. capable of handling anything its designers could (or could not) envision and carrying 600,000 souls in cryosleep. In that Mothership, these Exiles crusaded across the galaxy to reclaim their homeworld, and in doing so brought an end to the Taiidan Empire which had exiled them. It was later discovered that the Khar-Toba (the ship which contained the Guidestone) contained one of the Three Hyperspace Cores, which were created by the Progenitors and from which modern hyperspace travel took its root. The First Core was possessed by Bentusi, an enigmatic race of traders who had helped the Exiles in their fight; the third was lost until rediscovered, some hundred years after the Exiles returned home, by a Vaygr Warlord named Makaan, who used it to conquer much of the galaxy and—as of the beginning of Homeworld 2—has set his sights on Hiigara. The discovery of the Third Core is also believed, by religious folk across the galaxy, to be the herald of the End Times, during which Sajuuk Himself, He Whose Hand Shapes What Is, will return.
The game begins with the commissioning of a new Mothership, the Pride of Hiigara, similar in shape and design to the original Mothership but designed solely for war, and commanded by the original Fleet Command—Karan S'jet, rendered somehow immortal by her exposure to the energies of hyperspace. After an emergency evacuation in the face of the Vaygr onslaught, the Mothership, which now represents the last hope of the Hiigaran people for continued life or independence, begins to take the war to the Vaygr. The Bentusi inform them that their only hope is to find Balcora Gate, a location left by the Progenitors and holding the keys to stopping either the Vaygr threat, the End Times, or both. Unfortunately, Makaan is racing to this location as well, and the game's penultimate mission takes place on the other side of Balcora Gate, where Hiigarans and Vaygr alike discover an enormous Progenitor starship with sockets for the Three Cores, a ship (whether appropriately or blasphemously) named Sajuuk. Here the player and Makaan duel over the Three Cores; the player, of course, leads the Hiigarans to victory, and combines the Vaygr, Hiigaran and Bentusi Cores (recovered from the wreckage of the last of the Bentusi ships) within Sajuuk. Abandoning the Mothership, the Hiigarans return home to overthrow the leaderless-but-still-dangerous Vaygr invasion; Sajuuk is later found to be the key to a galaxy-wide network of hyperspace gates, ushering in a new age of trade and prosperity for all civilized races in the galaxy.
Homeworld 2 employs the same class system for its units with a few additions, these being:
Both sides have some similar units with minor differences and very different units. The Hiigaran ships are more multi - purpose where Vaygr ships are more specialized in their function. Additionally the Vaygr must research chassis types (eg. frigate, corvette, bomber etc.) separately before they can build them . The Vaygr unit upgrades each apply to more unit types than the Hiigaran equivalents, but are considerably more expensive.
There are four major race groups in Homeworld 2: The Hiigarans, the Vaygr, the Bentusi, and Progenitor.
After generations in exile and a perilous journey across known and unknown space, the Kushan/Hiigarans fought their way to Hiigara, reclaimed their homeworld, and became a well-established nation controlling much of the Inner Ring of the galaxy. During the game we learn that the Kushan were the exiles of the Hiigaran Empire, which had historically spanned throughout a great area of space within the galactic core. However, the Taiidan Emperor believed the Hiigaran expanse was too great, and thus under duress forced them into exile. The Hiigaran refugees fled to Kharak, secretly taking their hyperspace core with them.
However, the true test for the Hiigarans may not be the new threat of the warring Vaygr, but a prophecy that Sajuuk – "He Whose Hand Shapes What Is" – will return and herald the coming of the End Time. The Hiigarans, as always, are divided on religious lines. A number of apocalyptic sects see portents of doom everywhere. To them, the rumor that their enemies the Vaygr are the Sajuuk-Khar- "The Chosen One"- is a dire omen and proof of Sajuuk's anger.
In Homeworld 2, a new Mothership has been created, named The Pride of Hiigara. Karan S'jet must once again prepare for war. Shortly after the The Pride of Hiigara was built, the Vaygr attacked in order to destroy it. The The Pride of Hiigara escaped with its hyperspace core newly-installed. The main story line picks up from this point.
The The Pride of Hiigara has the same role as the mothership did in the original Homeworld, although it now bears a more militaristic look in keeping with its new role. While the old Kushan mothership was the heart and soul of the Kushan people during their great migration, the Pride of Hiigara is the flagship of their space navy. It is the mobile base from which all the crews and resources are ultimately derived. It is the only vessel that cannot be manufactured or replaced.
Over the centuries, the Vaygr have integrated many separate races, civilizations and technologies including as we learn from the opening scenes of the game, The Taidan Empire. The planet Vay is now forgotten, the name they take its only living reminder. Constant infighting between separate crusades and struggling for position among warlords has kept the eastern fringe a warzone as long as any can remember. However, under the guidance of the warlord Makaan, the various Vagyr tribes have formed into a cohesive force. While still operating independently, the overall strategic aims of the Vaygr have been coordinated and focused by Makaan, a master strategist.
Homeworld 2 opens with a massive Vaygr invasion of Hiigarran territory. However, by the end of the single-player campaign Makaan was destroyed at Balcora and the main invasion force defeated in the Siege of Hiigara. It is not clear if remnants of the Vaygr continue to exist in the Outer Rims.
At the beginning of Homeworld 2, the Bentusi are described as having one ship, the Great Harbourship of Bentus. It was revealed that 4000 years before the events of Homeworld, the Hiigaran Empire's fleet abused the use of their hyperspace core. Due to Bentusi pressure, they were ordered to give it, but in an act of defiance attacked the Bentusi fleet. As a consequence, the Hiigaran ships were obliterated by the Bentusi, enabling the vengeful Taiidan to conquer Hiigara and drive the people into exile on the desert planet Kharak. The Bentusi thus are indirectly responsible for the Hiigaran exile and felt compelled to help the Kushans return to their Homeworld. Because of their guilt the Bentusi adopted a peaceful existence.
Eventually, the Bentusi ship self-destructs to save the Hiigarans from an attack by Progenitor Keepers, thus apparently ending the presence of the Bentusi in the Homeworld universe
The three Hyperspace Cores were created by the Progenitors in the forge module of one of their greatest spaceships, which was also the berth for the dreadnoughts. One of the cores was discovered by the Bentusi 6,000 years ago, which brought forth a great age of galactic prosperity by making possible interstellar travel over long distances. The second core was discovered by the pre-Exodus Hiigarans, who through misuse of the device ended up being exiled to Kharak. The third core was found by the Vaygr. The central conflict of Homeworld 2 revolves around acquiring all three cores and unlocking their secrets.
The Progenitors possessed great knowledge of interstellar and even intergalactic travel. Their hyperspace gate network, which uses The Eye of Arran as its main gate, is one of the many constructed by this ancient race which possibly "seeded" intelligent life throughout the universe.
Some Progenitor constructions include:
How the Core Trinity was initially separated thousands of years earlier is not spoken of. Oddly, Makaan- through some supposed influence of the Core found by the Vaygr- predicted that the Hiigarans would bring the other two Cores together [to him] instead of the Vaygr having to fight to acquire them.
Like the Dreadnought, it is armed with a Phased Cannon Array; though it is several times more powerful than a Dreadnought's, and can destroy even Mothership-class vessels in a single volley. Defensive weapons include numerous pulsed energy arrays along the hull. It is also one of only two ships in the single player game that can be commanded to make tactical hyperspace jumps. In addition to a near-perfect resistance to conventional weapons, the Sajuuk is the only weapon capable of damaging (and destroying) the Vaygr Planet Killers- themselves based upon Bentusi technology.
In the game's epilogue, Sajuuk is the key to activating the long-forgotten Eye of Aarran- a portal to a galaxy-wide hyperspace network left behind by the Progenitors. This activation signaled both the End of the Third Time that the Bentusi had prophesied, and the beginning of the Age of S'Jet. It is named this because Karan S'Jet was now linked to the Sajuuk vessel in much the same way she was to both the Kushan Mothership (from "Homeworld") and The Pride of Hiigara.