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Video Game / Homeworld
aka: Homeworld Cataclysm

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"100 years ago, a satellite detected an object under the sands of the Great Desert. An expedition was sent. [They found] An ancient starship, buried in the sand. Deep inside the ruin was a single stone that would change the course of our history forever. On the stone was etched a galactic map and a single word more ancient than the clans themselves:

'Hiigara'. Our home.

The clans were united, and a massive colony ship was designed. ... The promise of the Guidestone united the entire population. Every mind became focused on the true origin of our people, every effort on the construction of the ship that would seek it out amongst the stars."
Homeworld, Opening Monologue

A Real-Time Strategy game created by Relic Entertainment in 1999. It was a groundbreaking title, as it was the first RTS franchise to allow fully realized 3-D movement. The game takes place entirely in space, and all units are spacecraft.

Kharak, a desert planet in some distant galaxy (more specifically a replica of the M51 galaxy), is home to a fractionated race of formerly nomadic people, who have just recently begun to build a modern society with the beginnings of sublight space travel. The discovery of the Guidestone confirms that they are not native to their planet. The ship they create for their return to Hiigara, the Mothership, is a self-contained factory ship, able to produce anything it might need on the journey, and it has a cargo bay large enough for over half a million cryonically preserved colonists. The game opens as the ship is to undergo its first hyperspace jump, to the edge of the system and back. Though it is a triumph of engineering, it is also merely the first step in a long, treacherous journey to the center of the galaxy, where the Kharaki discover the presence of an oppressive galaxy-spanning empire, the Taiidan, who will stop at nothing to prevent our plucky player characters from reclaiming their homeworld...

The game drops players straight into a David vs. Goliath story starring the Mothership, which — (First-Episode Spoiler) one Doomed Hometown later — is the Last of Their Kind. The Video Game Caring Potential of shepherding this freighted marvel across the galaxy is underlined by the game's persistent fleet mechanics; what you have at the end of this mission is what you have when you start the next one. Additionally, the player is able to augment their fleet by stealing enemy ships, many of which cannot be built by the Mothership, creating a very visual picture of their success — and, when any such ship is lost, failure — as a fleet commander.

The game on release suffered Critical Dissonance. The slow pace, 3D mechanics and tricky interface did not endear it to the RTS community, who at the time were in the early stages of a long reign for the king of the fast-paced RTS, StarCraft. Though it lacked comparable staying power, the game became a Cult Classic thank to its extremely pretty visuals that do stand the test of time and were remarkable for 1999, the haunting soundtrack and voice acting a level above the usual for video games at the time, a great story and gameplay that rewarded patience.

Two sequels were released in the series:

  • Homeworld: Cataclysm, released in 2000, is of disputed canonicitynote , partially because it was made by a completely different studio (Barking Dog, which would eventually become Kerberos Productions of Sword of the Stars fame), and partially because a wild series of corporate mergersnote  took the rights out of Sierra's hands. (And also resulted in the game's source code getting left behind.) It details the adventures of one clan of the Kharaki people 15 years after the successful return to Hiigara, dealing with the old Taiidan remnant as well as a new threat — The Beast, The Assimilator that creates bio-technological terrors out of your ships — and makes a surprisingly effective turn into Survival Horror as your battered, low-tech Action Survivor mining ship slowly transforms into the Almighty Janitor.
  • The official sequel, Homeworld 2, was released in 2003 and took place a hundred years after the original. It revamped the original's gameplay somewhat, and (of course) instituted a massive improvement in graphics, but met with some criticism that its plot, mood, characterization and voice acting were of lower quality compared to the (unusually high) caliber of the originals. It concerns a Big Bad who is attacking Hiigara to get his hands on the second of three MacGuffins which will grant him power over the entire galaxy.

The series was put on hold when Sierra sold Relic to Vivendi Universal but kept the rights to the Homeworld franchise for itself. A resolution finally arrived in 2013 when the bankrupt THQ auctioned off various pieces of intellectual property as part of their bankruptcy proceedings. Gearbox Software scooped up the Homeworld license.

On 25 February 2015, Gearbox created a high-definition remake of Homeworld 1 and 2 for modern systems, released on Steam and GOG together with the original games as the Homeworld Remastered Collection. On 23 June 2017, Cataclysm, re-titled Homeworld: Emergence due to potential legal issues, hit GOG as well. It is not an updated re-release, but a standard GOG release, optimized to run on modern computers.

Since then, other titles include:

  • A company named Blackbird Interactive were working on a game called Hardware: Shipbreakers, a 2D RTS emphasizing ground-vehicle warfare in a desert setting. This was of particular note because Blackbird consisted of a large number of original Homeworld developers, and Hardware was quickly seen as a Spiritual Successor to the franchise. This was confirmed after Gearbox obtained the IP, which they leased to Blackbird Interactive; when the game was released in 2016 it was called Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, a Prequel set 100 years prior to the original which dramatizes the events leading up to the discovery of the Guidestone. (Some of the other ideas for the game were also spun off into a stand-alone, not-in-Homeworld-canon title, Hardspace: Shipbreaker.)
  • Homeworld Mobile is a tie-in game created by Stratosphere Games in conjunction with Gearbox. It unleashes players into a Mobile Phone Game MMO set in the Homeworld universe, with each player commanding their own, comparatively small, fleet. As of January 2022, it is in beta, with a full release planned for later in the year.
  • On 30 August 2019, Blackbird announced that they would develop, and Gearbox would publish, Homeworld 3, with fans invited to engage in crowdfunding via It has since been outlined as a sequel occurring a century after the events of Homeworld 2, as a new era of interstellar travel has begun with the activation of a Portal Network of hyperspace gates (made possible by the MacGuffins in the second game). It is planned for release in February 2024.
  • Homeworld: Revelations, The Role-Playing Game published by Modiphius Entertainment using the company's proprietary 2d20 system.
  • Homeworld: Fleet Command, a Tabletop Strategy Game produced by Modiphius Entertainment and Gearbox Publishing.


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  • 2-D Space: There is a universal zero-altitude plane on the map, and large capital ships tilt to move 'up' and 'down' as if they were submarines.
  • Absent Aliens: It's strongly implied with the extensive lore in the game manuals that the very human Kushan, Taiidan, and Vaygr, not to mention the liquid breathing raiders and ship-merged Bentusi, all share common origins with the legendary Precursors. However, millennia of colonization and several techno-dark ages led to distinct Human Subspecies.
    • Cataclysm averts this — the Beast is an intelligent alien lifeform originating from hyperspace, while its Hive Queen ship Naggarok is a million-year-old alien exploration vessel from another galaxy.
  • All There in the Manual: All three game manuals, the first game and Cataclysm's especially, contained pages upon pages of extracts, setting information, stories, and general 'fluff' content to add to what was already quite well presented in-game.
    • HW2 was annoying in that elements of backstory and plot developments since the previous games, all necessary to understanding of the plot, were not in the manual but instead in the strategy guide. This includes the core concepts the story was based around, which were never explained in the manual or the game itself (like how the Kushan actually brought their exile on themselves by being a bunch of Jerk Asses with their new hyperspace core, or just what the heck Sajuuk was supposed to be in the first place). Oddly enough this does not apply to the Vaygr themselves, who get most of what little exposition they receive in the opening cutscene.
    • Deserts of Kharak includes a very thorough "Expedition Guide" which includes greater details on friendly and enemy units, as well as a timeline and other deep setting information such as technological progression and details about the various "kiith" clans present on Kharak.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: Very few (if any) specific details are given about most of the galaxy or star systems in which the games take place; all we know is that the vast majority of the characters involved are undeniably human. A key fact known is that the galaxy the games are set in is based off of the Messier 51 "Whirlpool" galaxy some 23 million light-years distant from our own, and HW2 implies humanity made the jump across deep space with a massive intergalactic 'ark' ship.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: You can actually see kinetic rounds disappear into thin air (or is it thin vacuum?) if they miss their target and then fly out to their maximum range. Same is true for missiles.
  • Asteroid Miners: Your basic worker units. Cataclysm has the mining clan as protagonists.
  • Attack Drone: The original and first sequel both have ships designed to deploy these. Unlike in most games, these are quite vulnerable to enemy fire, and are often considered underpowered.
    • The Progenitor Keepers in the second game also deploy them, and those are anything but underpowered.
      • The Keepers themselves are themselves drones as well. In fact, the only working Progenitor ships that are not drones are the two dreadnaughts and Sajuuk. All other working Progenitor ships are simply drones designed to maintain (Movers) or defend (Keepers and their fighter drones) the massive derelict Progenitor ship that you retrieve your Dreadnaught from.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: There's a number of combat formations for your ships. Most of the formations have a practical purpose, and the manual explains that some of the formations are simply there because it makes grouping and keeping track of your forces easier.
  • Bag of Spilling: Over the course of Cataclysm, the Somtaaw receive some very useful technology and applied it to several units, but in HW2 there is no evidence that these technologies were ever retained and improved—but this could be due to the Somtaaw hoarding their discoveries.
    • The manual for Cataclysm even mentions that Kiith Somtaaw isn't using most of the awesome technology the Hiigarans gained in the first game because they can't afford the licensing fees for it.
    • In Homeworld 2 there's really no good reason for you not to be able to build everything in the fleet from the first mission, they apparently just forgot to put the plans for their ships on the flagship that's supposed to build them. Unlike the previous games these are not new technologies, you just can't have them.
  • The Battlestar: Battlecruisers from HW2. While they can't manufacture strike craft on their own, they can repair them and keep your fighter wings in the fight for that much longer.
    • There's also the Turanic Battle Carrier of HW1, which, on top of possessing the production and launching capabilities of regular carriers, also mounts heavy armor and two Ion Cannons.
    • The Kuun-Lan of Cataclysm is initially a downplayed example, as she's noticeably better armed than the Mothership from the previous game but not really capable of fighting enemy capital ships gun to gun without getting badly chewed up. But once you obtain the Siege Cannon, potentially you can wipe out entire squadrons of frigates with one well-placed shot... if you can aim well enough.
    • The Somtaaw carriers generally lack the firepower and armor of the heavier ships in your fleet, but if you protect them with a dozen Sentinels each, they can laugh off almost any attack in the game while supporting your fighter wings.
    • Somtaaw Hive Frigates, per their name, will carry, launch and maintain a squadron of Swarmer attack drones against foes well outside conventional weapons ranges. Assuming they're helpless without their drones is quite foolish, though, as with their heavy armor and powerful mass drivers, they're really more of a warship that can also launch fighters.
  • Beam Spam: Masses of ion frigates, and especially Cataclysm's Multi-Beam Frigates: take a cannon that normally has a whole ship built around it, reduce its power a little bit... and multiply the number of firing points (that can fire simultaneously) by five. Not to mention they're about as hard to herd as a horde of kittens.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Almost all of the ships developed and built during HW1 are based on the opponent's weapons and engines technology, either reverse-engineered from capture or analysis or traded for with the Bentusi. Furthermore, almost every enemy ship can be captured and added to the fleet.
    • ... And then, the Beast comes along in Cataclysm and starts subverting the Somtaaw's best ships, meaning it's stealing what they stole. (Of course, that's what the Beast does.)
  • Big Dumb Object: Chunks of what appears to be a Dyson Sphere or a ringworld appear in the background of the Karos Graveyard missions from both games. No explanation is ever given.
  • Bottomless Magazines: For mass driver weapons.
  • Checkpoint: HW1 automatically saves at the beginning of each level. HW2 auto-saves almost every time something interesting happens.
  • Collision Damage: Ships will take damage if they collide with each other or with asteroids. It may also be a One-Hit Kill in certain situations; see Asteroid Thicket and Ramming Always Works. This is even done as a valid tactic both by the computer and by players.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: The player is the commander of a military fleet whose centerpiece is a massive construction ship.
  • Competitive Balance: All of the games have this in some form or other: generally, fighters are swatted by corvettes, corvettes are beaten by frigates, frigates get eaten for breakfast by destroyers, destroyers get owned by heavy cruisers, and heavy cruisers get swarmed by strike craft. Homeworld 2 takes this several steps further, with certain ship types getting bonus damage against others (for instance, bomber squadrons doing bonus damage against battlecruisers).
    • Some vessels invert this progression, as well: Bombers and Minelayers are typically effective against any capital vessel that does not specialise against strike craft (and as such is Point Defenseless); Ion Cannon Frigates are artillery units capable of melting through destroyer, cruiser and even mothership armour at a frightening pace and the Missile Destroyer, while less adept at destroying frigates, devours entire wings of strike craft in record time, with only Scouts deploying afterburners able to outrun its missiles.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: In HW1, most capital ships lack point defense systems, leaving them especially vulnerable to strike craft. The Kushani in particular lack designs capable of effectively covering themselves.
    • Roles flip in HW2, where the Vaygr (who perform a lot of pillaging of ship designs and technologies) have the highly-specialized units, while the Hiigarans have worked on integrating their acquired technologies into units capable of fulfilling multiple roles.
  • Critical Existence Failure: A ship in HW1 will start smoking and flaring when sufficiently damaged, but will still work just fine until that last hit point goes and it suddenly explodes.
    • In Cataclysm, ships decrease in effectiveness, especially movement speed, as more and more damage is taken. This can be especially harmful to fighter squadrons, which stubbornly refuse to leave any of their members behind unless expressly told to do so, and thus one damaged strike craft makes all of its wingmen vulnerable.
    • In HW2, it is possible to target "subsystems" (such as the engines or missile launchers) on some ships, allowing you to disable that ship without destroying it. However, any weapons or systems that don't have a subsystem available will still work perfectly until the ship explodes, massive chunks of blasted hull and plumes of flame and gas aside. This mechanic is carried over into the remastered version of the first game, which becomes useful, when, for example, it's necessary to stop an enemy carrier from retreating. Just destroy its engines, and it stops dead. Then you can blow it up at your leisure.
  • Danger Deadpan: Just listen to the battle chatter sometimes. Pilots and crews rarely lose their cool.
    Hiigaran Frigate Captain: [calmly and coolly] "Hull breach. Hull breach. Cabin pressure dropping."
  • Death World: From the descriptions of Kharak's wildlife, one gets the impression the vast, planet-wide deserts were the least deadly thing aspect of it. Small wonder most Kushan reporting names for the deadliest Taiidan warships are based on such beasts. Of particular note are the Skaal, ferocious apex predators that seem best described as an armored tiger the size of a bus. Males (skaal-tel) are roaming hunters that use their lightning speed and blinding venom to lethal effect, while females (skaal-fa) fight to defend their cubs using spikes that they can launch with alarming range and accuracy.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • In both HW1 and Cataclysm, it is possible to use your salvage units to pick up enemy ships, often ones that you can't build until later or that you can't obtain at all.
    • In HW1, it is possible to hijack an Imperial Carrier and two Destroyers before the end of the fifth mission, and Kadeshi Multi-Beam Frigates soon after. And while there is an Arbitrary Headcount Limit on constructing new ships, you can capture as many as you like; a well managed squadron of salvage corvettes can result in exceeding the various ship caps five or six times over by the endgame. You can even exceed the limit on Heavy Cruisers before you are allowed to build any of your own.
    • This can be taken to ludicrous extremes in Cataclysm. In the sixth mission, you are ordered to destroy a Taiidani Heavy Cruiser using Leech drones, since you don't have the ability to construct anything that can take it down in a head-on fight. You could also capture it instead, and then alert the nearby security station of your presence, causing them to send a fleet of Frigates and two Destroyers at you... all of which you can capture as well. And you can't even construct any of your own Destroyers until mission 11. However, this can seriously bite you if you keep them past the midgame; unlike Somtaaw ships these vessels can't be upgraded, which means a single shot from a Beast conversion beam can turn whole formations of them right back at you.
  • Dissonant Serenity:
    • Both the female fleet command and the male tactical advisor keep their voices level at all times. This becomes quite chilling in, say, the third mission in HW1 where fleet command narrates the destruction of Kharak, and at the end of this mission the advisor tells you the information they got from a crew member one of the attacking ships you captured during this mission. He concludes with "The subject did not survive interrogation."
    • The command team in Cataclysm, on the other hand, are clearly just a group of miners way in over their heads.
  • Distant Sequel: Homeworld 1, 2 and 3 are each seperated by an interim of one-hundred years.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: HW1 has a persistent fleet; therefore, doing well early on makes it much easier later, while doing poorly makes it much harder... but it's possible that doing extremely well can make the later missions virtually impossible—one common trap is stealing too many Ion Frigates in the "Holy Sajuuk! that's a lot of Ion Frigates!" level. Fortunately, the game is so ridiculously difficult that it is almost impossible to do well enough to meet that eventuality.
    • HW2 is very very bad about this, especially in the later missions, because of the Dynamic Difficulty. One mission involves the defense of several (relatively tough) subsystems. If the Hiigarans have next to no ships, few enemy ships will attack the subsystems. If the Hiigarans enter the mission zone with a full fleet instead, the enemy will have no less than a dozen frigates for each subsystem, blasting away as fast as possible. In all likelihood, two of the three will be destroyed by the time you get close enough to defend them, and the third will quite literally be on its last bits of health. It's possible to win, just absurdly difficult. The next mission allows the enemy fleet to surpass the limit of ships allowed to the Hiigarans—meaning that where the player can only have two battlecruisers, the enemy will have seven.
    • Then, to top things off, the missions where you face Keepers are instead best served entering with as large a fleet as possible. Each Keeper is a Nigh-Invulnerable Lightning Bruiser, and the missions involving them rely on you surviving their attacks and accomplishing other objectives before they wipe you out. More ships means more capacity to accomplish said objectives.
  • Earth That Was: Hiigara, the eponymous homeworld. The plot of the first game is all about getting back to Hiigara, which is found in more-or-less pristine condition. Cataclysm and HW2 are all about protecting Hiigara after it's been reclaimed.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Several, such as the fully repaired Progenitor Dreadnought (and eventually Sajuuk) in HW2, and the Super Acolytes in Cataclysm.
  • Enemy Chatter: Well, ally chatter; your units will (rarely) comment on how the battle seems to be going. There's even a setting for chatter frequency.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Imperial Civil War. The impetus for the conflict was the destruction of Kharak, and the rebels even aid the exiles in the last stage in return for rescuing their leader. This is played further in Cataclysm where the Taiidan Republic is allied to the Hiigarans, but the Taiidan Empire is continuing to look for a way to regain their power.
  • Everything Fades: Destroyed vessels will simply disappear, despite debris fields from other vessels featuring quite prominently in several places. Larger ships may leave some reclaimable wreckage though.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon:
    • The Ion Cannon Frigate and Vaygr Battlecruiser. Tactically very important, as both ships have limited turn speed.
    • The Vaygr's use of vertically-launched missiles/torpedoes (see their Destroyer and Battlecruiser).
    • The Hiigaran Destroyer's forward torpedo tubes.
  • Flavor Text: Descriptions for all of its units in the manual of the game.
  • Defictionalisation: There's a program that allows you to convert ship files into paper cutouts for 3D models.
  • Future Imperfect: The Kushan religion states that their deity Sajuuk put them on Kharak as punishment, and attempting to leave it would result in Sajuuk's wrath destroying the planet. This has a basis in fact. The Kushan actually used to be the leaders of an Evil Empire and were defeated. They signed a treaty with the Taiidan (who overthrew them) forbidding the development of hyperspace technology and were then exiled to Kharak. The terms of the treaty stated that violation of it would result in the destruction of Kharak by the Taiidan, who had grown corrupt and formed their own Evil Empire over the millenia. This ends up happening in the 3rd mission. This is a major plot point in the prequel, where Kiith Gaalsien believes this so devoutly that they've launched a major attack at the Northern Coalition in order to stop the expedition to the Primary Anomaly. The problem is, Kharak is getting less hospitable every year, with the (already huge) desert region constantly expanding into the more temperate poles, so the members of the Coalition have no choice but to seek salvation off-world.
  • Gunship Rescue:
    • The arrival of the rebel reinforcements in the final mission of HW1.
    • In a certain mission, the player themselves do this for a stricken Bentusi vessel.
    • Early on in HW2, Captain Soban (of Kiith Soban) drops by with a small frigate battlegroup to aid in the defense of the Mothership crew transports, just as the Vaygr attacks intensify. You get to return the favour later on.
    • In the final mission of HW2, it's this and The Cavalry when The Mothership/Sajuuk fleet jumps back to Hiigara, with the Sajuuk and its main cannon as the centerpiece of the fleet.
    • The very first mission of Cataclysm is focused on the Kuun-Lan arriving to help turn the tide against a Taiidan Imperialist raiders.
  • Handwave: The sudden lack of need to refuel strike craft after the first game. The manual states that the Bentusi let you "borrow" the advanced reactor found in the Acolyte fighter (not to mention the design for the ship itself). The need to refuel is promptly forgotten in the remastered version of HW 1.
  • High Fantasy/The Epic: Even though the setting is a pretty standard Space Opera, the story is told in a very mythical way, more similar to an ancient folk legend passed on via oral storytelling.
  • Hufflepuff House: There are six major Kiith in HW1, but only S'jet is mentioned in game.
    • Somtaaw, the house you work for in Cataclysm, is mentioned only once, offhand, in the manual to the first game. The manual for Cataclysm establishes that they were in fact hugely important to the Homeworld campaign: they were piloting the resource collectors, and the Deserts of Kharak Expedition Guide explains that Somtaaw designed and operates the terrestrial collectors as well. In the early stages of Cataclysm you're still this, providing minor assistance in a battle way above your power level and then being subcontracted to repair a damaged destroyer.
  • Human Aliens: Practically all the races. Possibly due to being Transplanted Humans.
    • The Turanic Raiders are said to breathe some kind of liquid in Cataclysm, though they may just be humans who evolved or were genetically altered to live underwater, which would fit with their pirate theme.
  • Invisible Wall Attempting to wander off from the map is quite impossible.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: The Kushan ships of HW1 are very thick and boxy in design (even with their strike craft!). Their default colors are gunmetal gray with white detailing. The Taiidan aren't much better, but favour yellow with red markings instead. The Hiigarans continue the tradition in HW2, though they paint their ships blue, and the ships are more sleek in design.
  • Long Lost Sibling:
    • The Kadeshi are the descendants of the same people as the Kushan. Which you learn only after you wipe them (or most of them) out.
    • It is suggested that every single one of the current factions/races are descended from the vast, scattered crew of the massive Progenitor craft which also contained the Oracle and the two Gatekeepers.
  • Loose Canon: Homeworld 2 never directly contradicts the events of Cataclysm, but the events are never referenced either and the Hiigaran fleet lacks useful technologies the Somtaaw developed there. Even 1 and 2 require a bit of Broad Strokes to fit together into a cohesive timeline.
  • Machine Monotone: Karan S'jet shows little emotion, which wavers between creepy or reassuring depending on the situation. In retrospect, her voice is actually quite helpful in keeping the player calm in intense situations.
  • Made of Indestructium: The Far Jumper drive core can emerge from a completely destroyed ship without a single scratch.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Standard operating procedure for the various Missile Destroyers. The first game even has a special command to fire all the stored missiles in one massive salvo, if you wish, accompanied by the ships' commanders chattering "Missile dump, missile dump, empty the bins!"
    • And a frighteningly effective tactic for Cataclysm's acolyte fighter squadrons, albeit one that can only be used once per docking run.
    • And let's not get started on the entire culture of the Vaygr, which revolves around throwing as many missiles as they can to the opposition—and they use fusion missiles designed to take down frigate class and upwards. A Zerg Rush made up of Vaygr missile frigates puts the "massacre" in Macross Missile Massacre.
  • Meaningful Name: All the Somtaaw command ships are named for temples on Kharak. The Kuun-Lan, your main ship in Cataclysm, means “Purifying Flame” while the Clee-San, whose infection kicks off the Beast threat, means "Truth Seeker".
    • All of the Kushan reporting names for Taiidan vessels have very specific meanings and cultural connotations, laid out in the background material. From the "Raachok" light corvette, named for visually resembling an ancient Kushan javelin, to the "Qwaar-Jet" heavy cruiser, named after the Kushan god of pain and slavery thanks to what it symbolizes to the survivors.
  • The Mothership: The core ship in all of the player's fleets (Carriers can sometimes stand in for Motherships in multiplayer games), most notably the Hiigaran Mothership. The alternate Mothership stands in as the Imperial Flagship in the first game.
  • No Fair Cheating: The games detect cheating in multiplayer and label the offending player.
  • Non-Entity General: The manual for 1 makes it clear that you represent the entire Mothership command staff besides Karan and Fleet Intelligence. You could easily see it as playing as Karan if she didn't spend the last mission unconscious, and she is definitely your boss. In Cataclysm and 2 it isn't really stated one way or another if you are playing Fleet Command/Karan or their subordinates.
  • Nonindicative Name: The names of the various warship classes have almost no relation to their role in the fleet. Frigates are the smallest capital ships, Destroyers are very large and heavily armed, Interceptors fill a space superiority role, etc. Battlecruisers are borderline, since in real navies the term is used to distinguish them as a halfway point between slower and more heavily-armored Battleships and faster but lightly armored Cruisers which don't actually exist in the setting beyond the functionally identical Heavy Cruiser.
  • One World Order: The discovery of the Guidestone and subsequent construction of the Mothership united the clans of Kharak. It's also mentioned however that the clans still exist after they "returned" to Hiigara. The Deserts of Kharak prequel reveals that it wasn't a smooth road to unity. Just getting to the "Prime Anomaly" required fighting through the technologically-superior and fanatical Gaalsien nomads, as well as dealing with Kiith Siidim treachery.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Pretty much any time Karan S'Jet or Fleet Intelligence show any kind of emotion.
  • Portal Network: The Eye of Aarran, a network of hyperspace gates. An unusual instance, in that it wasn't a gameplay element, but rather, was apparently the crowning glory of the Age of S'jet, discovered by Karan during HW2 ending and opening up free trade and communication with every corner of the galaxy.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Captured vessels are able to be crewed and operated less than a minute after capturing, even if there are thousands of years of disparity between the two forces.
    • Handwaved in the case of the Gatekeeper Dreadnaught in HW2, which is specifically stated to be compatible with Hiigaran control systems and crew training. This might be due to a (hinted-at) species-wide Luke, I Am Your Father between the Progenitors and the Hiigarans.
  • Protection Mission: Done in several missions of HW1 with the Mothership, and again in HW2 with various allied targets.
  • Ramming Always Works: In HW1, a common multiplayer tactic involved ramming the enemy mothership with one's own mothership. Certain ships are even designed to exploit Collision Damage with a "kamikaze" attack mode—the small portion of the rebels in the last mission of the game, for example, will head directly for the Imperial Flagship and ram it in order to help take down its monstrously high health bar.
    • In Cataclysm, two ships in particular are only able to attack kamikaze-style, most notably the Somtaaw Ramming Frigate, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Having said that, the point of the Ramming Frigate is to push its target out of battle; any damage done by the collision is almost incidental.
    • HW2: When Makaan's flagship in the second to last mission is heavily damaged, it will launch waves of fighters which will smash themselves into your ships. This is unusual since Homeworld 2 doesn't allow for kamikaze attacks in normal gameplay, unlike the first Homeworld. In any case the kamikaze fighters can do a lot of damage, but usually when you get to this point you'll have swarms of friendly fighters that can shoot them down without much trouble.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Karan S'jet is Fleet Command in both games, yet the games are separated by a century. While we don't know the expected lifespan of a Hiigaran, from our viewpoint, Karan is at least a hundred years old and still kicking.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Being able to construct a colossal, fully-stocked warship from scratch within minutes is impressive. The fluff regarding missile destroyers even points out the impracticality of such a ship without the ability to construct missiles onboard extremely fast (like 1 missile every 3 seconds).
    • To put things into perspective; the two Explorer-class Command Ships seen in Cataclysm took only 35 days to be built by the upgraded Mothership shipyard.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: The discovery of the Khar-Toba, the massive ruined spaceship in the middle of the desert, and the hyperspace core and the galactic map within are what starts the plot of the series.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Ship weights in "tons" range from vaguely plausible to light enough to function as a zeppelin.
  • See the Whites of Their Eyes: Despite being able to travel hundreds of thousands of light years, combat is mostly restricted to several dozen kilometers of space. The "fluff" in the game manual explains that the Mothership with its cobbled-together hyperspace technology is all but blind unless it's in real space. It can tell if "something big enough to be interesting" is present as it goes by, but has to drop out of hyperspace to actually look.
    • The Turanic Missile Corvette, which can be captured with some slick salvage tactics, is one of the exceptions. Its volley attack, similar to the Missile Destroyer's, can hit targets well beyond visual range provided another ship acts as a spotter.
    • Also, the Siege Cannon in Cataclysm pretty much has to be fired beyond visual range, or the Command Ship might blow itself up.
      • If the player on the receiving end of the shot has a repulsor, they can swat it right back from just as far away.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Each ship in the first game and Cataclysm have an option to do this. This is normally done to either deny the ship to the enemy in the event of a capture attempt, and in the case of Cataclysm, if you're fast enough on the button, to keep them from being assimilated by the Beast.
  • Sensor Suspense: Playing the game entirely in sensor mode is like this.
  • Sequence Breaking
    • It's possible on some maps to avoid triggering certain events (like an attack that begins when an NPC ship is sufficiently repaired) and harvest the map's resources, both giving you a chance to reinforce your fleet and denying those resources to the enemy.
  • Signature Sound Effect : The one which plays when ships enter/leave hyperspace.
  • Space Clouds: The games have mission areas which take place inside nebulae, often used story-wise as cover against detection (though visibility is usually not significantly reduced while in one). Areas inside nebulae often contain wisp-like strands of stellar gas that function as harvestable resources, but these areas are otherwise like open space missions.
  • Stealth in Space: There's the Spectre cloaked fighter and the Cloak generator in the first game, and the sensor distortion probe in the second.
  • Take Your Time: Most missions have no time limit, or won't even trigger the next event unless a certain action is taken.
  • Units Not to Scale: Large ships and motherships are not large enough, while small ships like fighters are too large. This is necessary for gameplay purposes, because if ships were shown at their true scale it would be impossible to control capital ships and fighters at the same time. It's possible to disable the scaling for a more realistic picture.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Only one of the cryotrays need to be saved after Kharak is destroyed, but letting hundreds of thousands of helpless people die is not an option.
    • One of the six trays is more or less expected to be destroyed, as you're forced into an in-engine cutscene shortly after the mission starts and the tray is under attack the whole time. Act fast enough, though, and you can have your fleet engage (or capture) the enemy forces even as the cutscene plays.
      • It is possible to save that 6th tray if you are quick enough and get repair units on it immediately. You get a graphic glitch when the 6th tray is loaded into the mothership though, as it is "expected" to be destroyed.
    • Similarily, in Cataclysm you only need to save one transport from viral missiles. That is if you don't mind tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people dying horribly.
    • In the final mission of Homeworld 2 it's once again up to you how many atmosphere-deprivation missiles you allow to hit Higara. Just as long as there's someone left to celebrate your victory.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Cataclysm's Siege Cannon, which has ungodly range, one-shots most ships over a wide area-of-effect, is spinal mounted to the Command Ship, and capable of devastating one's own fleet if not carefully used. (Yes, you can accidentally blow up your own fleet if one of your ships is in the projectile's line of fire, it's difficult but possible.)
    • And then Homeworld 2 rolls in with the Progenitor Dreadnaught, Sajuuk, and the Vaygr Battlecruiser, which remarkably does resemble Yamato from Space Battleship Yamato.
    • Honorable mention goes to the ion cannon, the primary anti-capital weapon. The smallest ship that can carry it is a frigate, and in that case the entire ship is built around it. Cataclysm's multi-beam frigate, well... those are something else entirely.
  • Wet Ware CPU: The Mothership and Bentusi tradeships are effectively city-ships run by people/a person (such as Karan S'jet) plugged in, with such ships often being described as extensions of/replacements for one's own body. The Bentusi seem to consider this a stage in a civilisation's development and collectively refer to races that have achieved this feat as "The Unbound".
  • What the Hell, Player?: Radio chatter coming from strike craft pilots and capital ship captains has a hint of hesitation or refusal to obey a friendly fire order. The three quotes below are taken from Homeworld 1 and have variations in tone and form, but they are the essential three.
    "Uh... target confirmed."
    "It's your call... target acquired."
    "Friendly target... please check."
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: To build ships you need to mine resources from asteroids or whatever else is minable, often fighting with your enemy to do so. Played fairly straight in HW1, where resources were fairly rare even though you could spend forever mining every last drop at the end of the level.
    • In the campaign in HW2 the game simply gives all the resources in the area to you at the end of the level regardless of circumstance. It's rather likely you'll have more money than you'll ever be able to spend by about halfway through the game.

  • After the End: The player's fleet continues on to Hiigara mainly because The Empire eradicated Kharak, their homeworld-in-exile, on the basis of a treaty banning the Kharaki from possessing hyperdrive technology.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: For constructed vessels, but significantly not for captured ones, in the first game at least. The Remastered version counts captured vessels against the construction limit, but it still won't stop you from breaking the limit with additional captives.
  • The Artifact: In Homeworld Remastered, strike craft and corvettes do not require fuel. However, Kadeshi swarmers are artificially beholden to fuel mechanics to retain their in-universe Achilles' Heel.
  • Artificial Stupidity: When healing units via the Support command, the AI will never change focus unless the currently selected healing target has been completely restored - even if there is a critically damaged vessel in direct proximity, and the healing target is in the green again.
  • Asshole Victim: (Background story indicates that the Ancient Hiigaran Empire was just as bad as the Taiidan Empire. The Hiigarans simply ended up being the losers.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Diamond Shoals mission has a thicket of asteroids must be cleared in order to advance into a nebula. If any one of the asteroids collides with the mothership (or any of the ships in the fleet), they will cause an incredible amount of damage (and very likely a One-Hit Kill).
  • Back from the Brink: The game averts this—the grand evil empire won thousands of years ago. The forces fought in the first few missions are either petty space pirates or the fringe fleets of the empire who just happened to be in the area. The Mothership intelligence officer even makes it rather obvious that the chosen flight route is designed to avoid having to deal with the bulk of enemy forces.
    • The strategy guide for the second game revealed that no, the grand evil empire lost thousands of years ago. It's just that the exiles lost track of their history and technology and stopped being The Remnant, while the victors gradually became more corrupt and oppressive.
  • Binding Ancient Treaty: Subverted. The Taiidani attack is justified by the Kushan violating a long-forgotten 4000 year old treaty banning them from developing hyperspace engines. When this reason is made known to the Taiidan fleet and general population, they are so disgusted that it triggers a rebellion. It also leads the Bentusi and the rest of the Council to side with the Exiles.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A defining example of this trope, and played depressingly straight through the Bentusi's mournful narration. The Kushan have prevailed in their struggle against the Taiidan, killing the mad Emperor and finally reclaiming their long-lost world, with the blessing of most of the galaxy. However, three hundred million people back on Kharak never got to savor this accomplishment to which they had dedicated their entire existence, all of them wiped out by the Emperor in a brutal genocide. The Kushan must rebuild their civilization from the ground up, with less than a million having made landfall from aboard the Mothership, and as later material explains those colonists who woke up to learn that their loved ones all died on Kharak did not take well to the news at all. However, the millions who were lost in the war to see this dream realized ultimately did not die in vain.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Several missions park a heavy cruiser or three right in front of the mission target. If said cruisers have support frigate backup, you can quickly find yourself in trouble.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: The Mothership fleet was away on its maiden voyage while The Empire burned Kharak, turning the crew and some rescued cryogenic trays into the last remnants of their entire culture.
  • The Caligula: Emperor Riesstiu IV the Second, a clone that was just as mad as the Emperor he was cloned from if not worse. He orders purges at will, gruesome punishments of any dissenters, and kickstarts the plot of the game by ordering the destruction of the Kushan. Even when the Taiidan's Assembly of Lords confined him to a life support chamber he still had enormous power, and it wasn't until the Kushan attacked Hiigara that he was finally killed along with all of the clones of him and the facilities required to make new ones.
  • Colony Drop: in a non-planetary example, the second-to-last mission has you defend the Mothership from a huge Mothership-sized asteroid that The Empire toss at you. The only reason this works gameplay-wise is because the first game's Mothership can't move. The second game's Mothership would've easily moved out of the way.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Both playable sides are almost identical except for having two unique ships each, with the main difference being the location of turrets (usually not an issue, but Taiidan Gunships and Kushan Destroyers have better gun placement than those of the opposing side). In the later games, much more diversity is in place.
  • Cutscene: HW1 has both in-engine cutscenes during the missions and hand-drawn animations between each mission. The original has a sketchy, comic-like art style, while the Remaster uses a more refined, painted look.
  • Deflector Shields: The Taiidan get a Defense Field Frigate and Defense Fighter which can nullify enemy mass driver weapons and missiles, but not ion beams, and only as long as they have enough energy.
  • Developer's Foresight
    • If you dock strike craft to a support frigate, then tell it to hyperspace, it will take the strikecraft along with it, turning the frigate into a jeep carrier. This is not mentioned anywhere in official documentation.
    • In mission 8, upon destroying two out of three Kadeshi Needleship, the last one retreats to the inner sanctum containing the Khar-Toba's sister ship and approaching it to destroy it and end the mission triggers a cutscene where Fleet Intelligence identifies the ship and drops the bombshell of its meaning on the player. If the player manages to take out the third Needleship before it can retreat (done by attacking the last two simultaneously, or modding the game and salvaging them), the mission is completed right then and there - but if the player enters the inner sanctum anyway, it triggers a slightly different dialogue where Karan is the one who recognizes the derelict and Fleet Intelligence chimes in to confirm, but does not say what it means.
      • If the derelict is spotted first:
      Fleet Intelligence: It's the Khar-Toba. Metallurgy and structural composition are identical to the Khar-Toba wreckage on Kharak. Our origins are the same.
      • If the Needleship is destroyed first:
      Karan: That looks just like the Khar-Toba.
      Fleet Intelligence: In fact, metallurgy and structural composition are identical to the Khar-Toba.
  • Doomed Hometown: Your home planet (along with about 300 million people) is destroyed right at the beginning.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The gauntlet of powerful turrets and the Junkyard Dog at the Karos Graveyard can be completely ignored if you send a few scouts on a wide enough path to the objective; they only cover the most direct route.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Kushan lost their home, were wiped almost to extinction, forced to flee across literally half the galaxy pursued by an interstellar empire, and were nearly obliterated many times, but in the end managed to find their Homeworld.
  • Epic Launch Sequence: The Mothership represents the culmination of a complete shift in the Kushan peoples' perspective and culture, and a century of dedicated development. It does not disappoint.
  • Evil is Petty: The Taiidan's reason for the near genocide of the Kushan? Violating a treaty that the Kushan had no way of knowing about, having forgotten or lost almost everything after landing on Kharak. The Cataclysm manual suggests it's not so much out of pettiness as a deliberate Genghis Gambit to unite the increasingly fractious empire against a common enemy, one which ended up backfiring very badly.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite its massive engines and ability to hyperspace jump, the Mothership cannot be ordered to move in the single-player campaign. It can, however, move in multiplayer gameplay and during campaign cutscenes, and in HW2 its propulsion systems are fully operational.
  • General Failure: Everything Riesstiu IV the Second does only serves to hasten the fall of his empire, one that has become so brutally corrupt that his own people have sought to aid the Kushan in their quest to find their homeworld.
  • Glass Cannon: Frigates pack a lot of punch but are easily destroyed, and the enemy really likes to pick on them. This is especially true of the Kadeshi Multi-Beam Frigate, which boasts as much firepower as a Heavy Cruiser, if not more, but is just as easily destroyed as any frigate. Frigates got a hitpoint reduction in the Remastered release as well, to the point that heavier ships can take them out with one shot.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Mission 12 is eventually revealed to be this happening to the Taiidan: they had ambushed the last high-ranking officer supporting the Taiidan Rebellion and blocked him with an array of gravity field projectors that would keep him from jumping away as well as dragging out of hyperspace and out of position any Rebel trying to save him... Unfortunately, the trap also catches the far more powerful Mothership Fleet, which proceeds to smash the jammers, and the Rebel leader escapes with them.
  • Gut Punch: "Kharak is burning"
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Captain Elson and his rebel allies are willing to ram the Imperial Flagship just to ensure it goes down.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: The Mothership was meant to be a colony ship before the Kushan even were aware of the threat to their existence, but when the Taiidan incinerated Kharak's atmosphere it became necessary to their survival as a species. The prequel establishes that the planet had been slowly dying through their entire history and was on the brink of total environmental collapse, which is why they poured all of their resources into the project in the first place.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: After one of the ships that destroyed Kharak is captured and the crew interrogated: "The subject did not survive interrogation."
  • Justified Tutorial: Through the guise of testing and calibrating the various Mothership systems as they boot up.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The Turanic Raiders. First time you meet they are pushovers who launch a few weak fighters at you from their poor man's mothership and call it a day, but the second time they show up they have broken out their ion array frigates (that have the firepower to kill your mothership), seven of which will appear near the mothership, and their carrier is actually a Battlestar with two ion cannons and a lot of hit points.
  • Letter Motif: Kharak. Kushan. Karan. Kadeshi.
  • More Dakka: Multi-Gun corvettes. Designed to chew up bombers and fighters. Six rapid-firing turreted railguns.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Ironically, the Taiidan's near-genocide of the Kushan in Homeworld was meant to ensure the survival of the Imperial regime in case the now hyperspace-capable Exiles grew to become a major threat to the Emperor's reign. Instead, this triggered a violent rebellion from within the Empire that had grown fed up with the Empire's tyranny, while also prompting the Bentusi to aid the surviving Kushan, both of which would ensure the Empire's eventual fall as the Kushan steadily grew out of genocide into a fierce warrior race.
  • Oh, Crap!: The entire second mission, after the wreck of the Khar Selim is located and its black box is recovered and replayed.
    "What do you mean "they're not ours"? Well, if they're not ours, then who the hell are they?"
  • Psychic Powers: The Taidan Emperor uses these to knock Karan out of commission just before the last battle. Since this is the first and only appearance of such powers in the game, Fleet Intelligence is suitabily freaked out. Makaan was able to communicate with Karan telepathically in 2, but that was explicitly an ability granted by being bonded to a Long Jump core.
    • May or may not actually be a case of Electronic Telepathy, since, notably, both Karan and the Taiidan Emperor are cyborgs connected to their starships. The "psychic attack" might, in effect, have been a cyberattack aimed at Karan's wired brain.
  • Sad Battle Music: Mission 3 makes beautiful use of Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings"; the same plays during the final battle for Hiigara.
  • Scenery Porn: Arguably the first game to successfully bring this IN SPACE!.
    • All the backgrounds were just gradients between low-resolution grid points. Somehow they managed the most beautiful sky(space?)boxes as of yet seen while having an extremely limited method of creating them. Even the mission that took place inside a partially constructed Dyson Sphere was made the same way.
    • The Karos Graveyard (pictured in the Image Links tab) features mind-bogglingly huge pieces of hull drifting in the background. The size of the ships, stations or even Dyson spheres these would have been attached to are almost impossible to imagine.
    • The Remastered versions take this up to eleven with all of the visual enhancements.
  • Sequence Breaking The remastered version has a greater viewing distance, allowing players to "discover" the Kadeshi counterpart of the Khar-Toba in the The Cathedral of Kadesh at the beginning of the level. note 
  • Shout-Out
    • A Corellian Corvette can be found in the Karos Graveyard level.
    • Not to mention, the aftermath of a fleet battle, rendered in cutscene form, shows the shuttle from Alien briefly.
    • The art design of the Homeworld series was molded after Peter Elson's artwork for the Terran Trade Authority series. The leader of the Rebellion in Homeworld is named Captain Elson in his honor.
    • Besides Elson, some of the ship designs were apparently also inspired by the art style typical for Chris Foss.
    • Several of the missions in the first game bear resemblance to scenes from Homer's The Odyssey, including one where the Kharaki have to explore a graveyard of dead ships to find a blind oracle, protected by a dog. Another features a spaceship that enslaves all those who come near enough to hear its song.
    • Mission 11 is called / takes place at the Tenhauser Gate.
  • Sleeper Starship: In the second full mission, the Mothership recovers cryotrays holding a total of up to 600,000 colonists, all that is left of their people.
  • Space Mines: The game has Minelaying Corvettes. The mines themselves are proximity-triggered homing mines.
  • Suicide Attack: You can even use the 'Kamikaze' option with strike craft to order your pilots to collide directly into their targets.
  • That's No Moon: The appearance of the Headshot Asteroid in "Chapel Perilous".
  • Wham Episode: Mission 3, it's title says it all. Kharak is burning.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The game can be seen as one huge Shout-Out to Battlestar Galactica, with you being the last survivors of a species using one big ship and a fleet of smaller ships to make your way across the galaxy to a world seen only in prophecy. Notably, as covered in the Trivia page, Homeworld was originally intended to be a tie-in to Battlestar Galactica, and pre-dates BG's proper Darker and Edgier reimagining by half a decade.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The game is all about going to the the original home, but the third mission kicks off with your exiled home being obliterated, meaning it's now Hiigara or bust.

  • Almighty Janitor: The Somtaaw are merely a clan of peaceful miners... who happen to be the Player Characters, so obviously they start ramping up like mad. By the end, they have earned the respect of the rest of the Hiigaran population.
  • The Assimilator: The Naggarok puts it simply: "You are what all life is to us: FOOD!". This is also uttered the moment the hapless Taidani start having second thoughts about their "ally".
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Arguably the Missile upgrade for the Acolytes is this. It lets them do a good amount of burst damage, but they only get 2 missiles before needing to dock to reload them and, if you use Acolytes in large groups, there's a good chance the missiles will hit other Acolytes as they're being launched.
    • The Repulsor upgrade for the Somtaaw Dreadnought is arguably this. While it allows the ship to push away enemies that get too close to it, the dome of the Repulsor module also gets in the way of one of the Dreadnought's Ion Cannons, meaning it can't fire both of them at a target that's directly in front of it. As such, during the campaign, the upgrade is often skipped because of the drawback.
    • The Siege Cannon is easily the most destructive weapon Kiith Somtaaw has at their disposal, capable of dealing massive damage in a huge area. However, it takes a long time for the lumbering Kuun-Lan to get a proper angle, requires a charge-up, and cannot be used up close without catching the Kuun-Lan in the blast. Adding onto this is that if the projectile collides with anything, such as a fighter or Sentinel, it'll explode prematurely and will likely destroy the command ship. The first time the Kuun-Lan fires it, it fries the cannon's power conduits (and doesn't even destroy the Beast Mothership), requiring Kiith Somtaaw to get help from the Bentusi to fix it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Kiith Somtaaw wished to gain respect and political power. They do...after unleashing a techno-organic viral monster and subsequently hunting down said monster after it's already assimilated thousands of starships and wreaked havoc across the galaxy.
  • Big "NO!": When the Beast Naggarok is destroyed it lets off a whopping 30 second "Nooooooo!" in the Voice of the Legion, which continues long after the ship finishes exploding.
  • Blatant Lies: The Beast incorporates deception into its overall strategy of eating everything, including strategic lies to win over potential threats like the Imperialist Taiidani. It's not a terribly good liar, though, as the Beast's seething malice almost instantly shines through. At its most desperate the Beast will bait its victims emotionally; in the final battle, when the tide turns against the Beast the Naggarok will claim it can reconstitute the people it has consumed. Somtaaw Fleet Command doesn't even dignify the offer with a response.
  • Book Ends: The first mission opens with the Kuun-Lan jumping into a battlefield, emphasising that they are merely a mining vessel, and that they'd prefer to avoid the main battle. The final mission opens with the Kuun-Lan jumping into a battlefield, announcing themselves as a warship.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Fleet Command finally calls out the Bentusi for screwing them over and ignoring them, this happens.
  • Cassandra Truth: During the mission that introduces the Beast, a group of Turanic Raiders arrive to capture the infected Clee-San as the captain of the Kuun-Lan desperately tries to warn them to stay away. They don't listen and are predictably infected and subjected to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Civil Warcraft: The Beast captures and converts many of the Somtaaw's own ships, then sends them into battle against their former brethren. This leads to near disaster later on when the Somtaaw meets an allied fleet while the Beast attacks them with their own converted ships—the allied fleet assumes all of the Somtaaw have been absorbed by the Beast, and treats them as hostile until proven otherwise.
  • Cold Equation:
    • When the Kuun-Lann is being overtaken by the yet-unidentified Beast, the captain quickly accepts the dying research directior's pleading to jettison the infected modules from the mothership, dooming everyone down there but saving the Kuun-Lann. The player is treated to the continuing screams of the crew as the modules careen into the void.
    • Unlike other Homeworld titles, the player may manually launch the hyperdrive to immediately depart with the mothership and all other hyperspace-capable craft, which will leave behind every ship that couldn't get to a hangar in time. More than once, the Kuun-Lann will be threatened by an insurmountable enemy assault when the order is given to enter hyperspace, forcing the player to choose between escaping quickly or risking the mothership's safety by waiting for everyone to regroup.
  • Composite Character: Somtaaw "Deacon" destroyers are a hybrid of the first game's twin types of destroyers, featuring both ion cannons and missile launchers for an excellent all around combat vessel.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Cataclysm plays it straight with support modules, although it's more of a nuisance, as you only build them once, and you have more than enough money to max them out and forget about them for the rest of the game. The support modules are explained as containing the supplies, equipment and personnel necessary to coordinate a larger battlefleet. Unlike the Mothership, which had such systems from the start, the Kuun-lan is a mining ship pressed into service as a fleet carrier, so the Somtaaw are forced to improvise. There is no such excuse for The Beast needing to construct them though, apart from game balance.
  • Death In All Directions: The basic design philosophy behind the Somtaaw's Multi-Beam Frigate, which mounts four small but rapid firing ion cannon turrets. Each is capable of independently tracking a unique target, two of which can be on either flank of the frigate. Sending three or four of them barreling into a fleet is a magnificent spectacle.
  • Deflector Shields: Sentinel strike craft are slow and have very little firepower, but a group of them can link together to form a shield, and can be ordered to escort one of your units and project this shield in front of them. Group enough of them together, and you can create a shield that completely surrounds a unit. The initial shield only protects against mass drivers. The next level shield also protects against missiles. The top-tier shield protects against all that plus ion beams. The Sentinels themselves are unshielded, though, and can be targeted in order to disrupt the shield.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Somtaaw race to rescue a Bentusi tradeship under attack by the Beast. When their vessel succumbs to the monster, they vow they will "not be bound", and self-destruct themselves rather than be forced to aid the Beast.
    • This is the fate of anyone infected by the Beast, as while the infection grows on inorganic material, it mutates organic material into living bio-machinery meant to control it. Any time a ship is taken you can hear the occupants screaming as they're melted into what the Beast needs them to be. This goes double for the Bentusi as due to their already being cybernetically bound to their ships, Beast infection affects them twofold. Also, it's not clear if non-Bentusi retain their awareness of their horrifying situation, but the Bentusi certainly do.
  • Foreshadowing: The manual notes that the Somtaaw acolyte fighters are based on tech the Bentusi gave them, though they had to replace the weapon systems. [In the last mission, you receive the complete original specs. Turns out they were supposed to mount Ion Cannons.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Well, the Taiidan imperials think so.
    Kuun-Lan: How can you be helping this thing?
    Taiidan flagship: What choice do we have, Hiigaran? Your mad quest shattered our imperial sphere. You took the life of our immortal emperor. Whatever we have been driven to now is your fault.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: All over the place in Cataclysm. Some are reasonable, some are quite grating. "Join the kiith!" is used at one point by Kuun-Lan's Fleet Command to express (disparaging) sympathy toward the Bentusi when the latter says they're afraid, in place of "join the club."
  • Infinity -1 Sword: While capturing enemy Heavy Cruisers and Destroyers will result in a Disc-One Nuke, they become essentially obsolete when you gain the ability to build your own Destroyers and Dreadnoughts. While the older capital ships can field more raw firepower than the ones you can build, they also lack the capability to be upgraded... meaning that they lose their firepower advantage over time, they do not have the ability to self-repair, and they can be turned against you with infection beams.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Thanks to its alien Reactionless Drive the Naggarok can "slide" through space with the speed and agility of a fighter-sized craft despite being the size of the Kuun-Lan. This makes it a bitch to score a hit on with the Kuun-lan's slow-charging, slow-firing, but super-powerful Siege Cannon; fortunately, the drive can be temporarily disabled using the ACV's electrical discharge ability.
  • Living Ship: The Beast a biomechanical virus that turns living matter into neural control networks, takes this to the next level by being a living fleet. The Beast tactical advisor in multiplayer even refers to its ships as "selves".
  • Locked Out of the Fight: The main role of the Ramming Frigate is to push out the enemy ships out of the battle, buying time for the Somtaaw fleet to eliminate the rest of opposition before the rammed enemy ships can rejoin.
  • Meat Moss: Ships infected by the Beast are visibly covered in random parts of their hulls. It's all made from the ship's materials and the crew's living tissue. All of that is used to make a connection and interact with the assimilated ship's functional abilities.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Beast infection was unleashed by Kiith Somtaaw, who then spend the rest of the game taking level-after-level in badass in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • No-Respect Guy: Kiith Somtaaw spend the first few missions getting brushed off or ignored by their supposed comrades due to being miners and industrialists rather than warriors or statesmen. The Kuun-Lan's captain even grimly jokes he's sure the other Kiith will forget to thank them after the first mission... which they actually do: Kiith Nabaal only thanks Kiiths Manaan, S'jet and Kaalel for their aid during the battle. Which makes the entirety of Hiigara hailing them as heroes for going through seven kinds of hell to defeat the Beast all the sweeter.
  • Organic Technology: The Beast converts its victims into this.
  • Patient Zero: The Beast infection started when an alien vessal named the Naggarok picked it up and was infected in hyperspace then dropped out of hyperspace in the Homeworld galaxy. A late mission involves sending a stealthy scout to acquire a sample of the Naggarok's biomass, so it can be analyzed and used to perfect Somtaaw's anti-Beast energy weapon.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The first contact with The Beast is made by the Somtaaw, who pick up a pod drifting in space, "A pod that contained a tiny portion of The Beast...".
  • Sequence Breaking
    • A very minor one, but during one level, you are required to send several fighters to escort a science vessel while it explores the remnants of the lower half of your original ship. Shortly after they arrive, the beast takes over the science vessel along with your fighters in a cutscene. However, you can "cheat" this part by keeping your fighters selected, and have them escort the vessel like normal. Then, right before the cutscene takes over, order your fighters to dock. They will leave the area, thereby making the science vessel the only victim of of the beast, and resulting in fewer enemy forces to fight against.
    • You actually can defeat the Bentusi attack by exploiting their AI and slow turning speed (a trick the Beast actually uses against them in an earlier mission if you don't intervene). The level scripting can glitch out entirely if you do this, though.
  • Shout-Out: The final cutscene which bears strong similarities to a famous finale.
    • The story is almost a Whole-Plot Reference to Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep. The Beast is incredibly similar to the Blight in that both are superintelligent, viral Eldritch Abominations that assimilate technology and organic life with equal aplomb. Kiith-Somtaaw stands in for the Straumers in being a minor power trying to climb the ladder. They find an ancient artifact, activate it, and let loose a terror out of the distant past that promptly starts assimilating everything in sight. Like the Blight, the Beast transmits itself via infectious signals and ships. They both even have their own sleeper agents: In the case of the Beast, the Taiidan remnants. And both go after higher powers as well: The Blight goes after and assimilates Old One, and the Beast goes after the Bentusi, assimilating one of their tradeships and sending the rest fleeing in terror. Both even center around a non-military ship trying to defeat the monstrous force: The Out of Band II for the Blight, the Kuun-Lan for the Beast.
  • Speaks In Shoutouts: The Beast, which "steals" the voices from its victims and uses snippets of radio com chatter.
  • Sphere of Destruction: The Siege Cannon in Cataclysm wipes out every non-capital ship in an about 500 meter wide sphere, badly damaging everything that survives.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option
    • Prime example is where you must to send your science vessel to investigate the jettisoned part of your ship, but are not allowed to do it without sending a specific (large) number of fighter escorts. Once you do, the science vessel and all those escorts are immediately infected and attack you, unless you immediately hit "dock" for your fighters as the cutscene begins, allowing you to keep your fighters.
    • Later, during a fight with the Turanic Raiders, a friendly ship appears out of nowhere and contacts the Kuun-Lan with this message: "Attention Kuun-Lan. This is the... Caal-Shto. We have arrived with reinforcements from Hiigara... Come to us." The odd hesitation and clearly sinister tone in that last sentence is dripping with the potential for horror, but Fleet Command doesn't catch on until the Raiders send a group to investigate the 'reinforcements' and get themselves assimilated. Fortunately, this is only an in-story case of the trope, and you're allowed to keep your fleet right where they are until you have a plan for dealing with the Beast's arrival.
  • Suicide Attack: The Mimics are this, with a research option even allowing you to upgrade their explosive bombs.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Many strategies in [HW1] multiplayer revolved around attempting to cripple hostile resource harvesting via immediate swarms of strike craft or salvage corvettes. Cataclysm responded by making salvaging much harder to pull off and by giving Processors a suite of very powerful point defense guns, to the point they can seriously give frigates a run for their money. While this succeeded in making resource denial an almost impossible strategy, it also resulted in the ridiculous sight of Processors (ostensibly big mobile refineries staffed with civilians) being used as slightly expensive ships of the line. Which explains why Somtaaw engineers took the "strap bigger guns to a Processor" route when designing their version of a Destroyer.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Kuun-Lan starts off as a lowly mining vessel, with a large portion of it being nothing but cargo space for ore. By the final mission, it's bristling with an impressive array of weaponry, and acting as the flagship for an entire fleet, even the enemy is impressed.
    • The Somtaaw Acolyte fighters start off as roughly analogous to every other interceptor in the game. By about the middle of the campaign they have vastly more armor, carry two capital ship killing torpedoes in fighter mode and an EMP weapon in linked mode, and their main gun has been upgraded to what assault frigates carry.
  • Uniqueness Rule: The huge cannon you weld to your mining-vessel-turned-mothership has the problem of only working once before requiring major repair. The ship it's attached to is initially civilian, and energy conductors and heatsink systems suitable to power a cannon about a third of its entire size were not included in the original designs. Searching for them is a major plot point taking up several missions — though it does, eventually, give you a cannon whose reload rate doesn't include an inter-mission cinematic.
  • The Virus: A sentient bio-mechanical Grey Goo-like organism capable of consuming and converting both people and technology into extensions of itself. According to in-game lore, it is apparently an extra-galactic creature that exists in hyperspace and infected the Naggarok as it passed through a patch of it at random.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Beast ships; especially prevalent in the case of the Naggarok, constantly switching between a feminine voice and a deep masculine voice, often several times in a single sentence.
    • Fittingly enough, the dying screams coming from assimilated ships gives off this impression as well.
  • Wham Episode: Mission 4, something infects your research module, and you're forced to jettison it. When you go and examine said research module...say hello to The Beast.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A very dramatic scene done by the Somtaaw.
  • You No Take Candle: Most Beast ships that try to talk speak this way, though how they can send a voiced radio transmission startled Kuun-Lan bridge officers at first; it assembles its lines from the ship's log recordings and victim memories. The Naggarok however can speak perfectly albeit in a very weird voice.
    Beast Command Ship: Kuun-Lan parts! We want beacon brain! Give us data or we take data with your parts!
    Fleet Command: What?! How can it be talking to us?
    • And later:
      Beast Command Ship: Parts! Do not flee. Come to us. We require knowledge of birthself!
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Beast is much like a Zombie infection Recycled In Space, except that the horde has an intelligent Hive Mind.

    Homeworld 2 
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Every unit has a cap, and if you try to capture a unit that would make it go over your cap, the capture is cancelled, usually without any warning. However, one unit is not bound by the cap: any "Mothership"-type unit. It is perfectly legal for you to capture every opposing player's motherships/flagships, and the result of having up to 6 motherships in your inventory is downright hilarious.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Take a look at "Tactical Rock Paper Scissors" below. HW2 has it such that certain units are good against other units. However the AI is pretty keen on using bombers to tangle with your fighters, sending flak frigates up against destroyers, or attempting to respond to a corvette raid with a battlecruiser. Also the AI will send units charging into a vastly superior force and doesn't know the meaning of retreat.
  • Boarding Party: Assault parties can board enemy ships via beaming and hull-breaching infiltrator pods.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Really bad in Homeworld 2. Let us count the ways:
    • Dynamic Difficulty: The computer's forces are dynamically spawned based on your own, and will always be numerically superior, usually to a rather unfair degree. Even worse, this is in real time; programming scales enemy forces according to how many ships the player's fleet has. Editing a savegame file to increase the amount of ships owned by the player's fleet will correspondingly add to the enemy's as well. This leads into...
    • Do Well, But Not Perfect: If you max out your fleet, you've almost guaranteed that you will lose certain missions. If the mission requires you to protect anything but yourself, you've basically failed. It is possible to win, but unlikely as hell. This is because...
    • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: You have a limit to how many of each type of ship you can have. The computer does not. Good luck shooting down seven battlecruisers (you can have two max) without losing a fair chunk of your fleet.
    • Not Playing Fair With Resources: In the third mission, the Vaygr have unlimited money and are not relying on a resourcing operation, since you can (by manipulating map triggers) bust it up long before the enemy actually arrives, and still not dent their infinite stream of attacks. To a lesser extent, the Vaygr in any given mission do not actually seem to need their resourcing operations, but in the interest of fair play they will not build more ships if you stifle it. Instead they will build wave after wave of resource collectors to act like they're playing nice.
  • Converging-Stream Weapon: The Progenitor Phased Cannon Array (as well as its bigger brother, the Sajuuk Main Gun), possibly works this way: it is seen firing a number of normal-power ion beams from the dozen muzzles in its bow, which quickly combine into a single, insanely powerful blast.
  • Easy Level Trick: Mission 6 becomes boringly easy once you realize the Movers prioritize targeting your corvettes and fighters, and that new Movers only spawn to replace destroyed ones. Since corvettes and fighters outrun Movers, you can just lead the Movers on a wild goose chase around the map and they won't bother the rest of your fleet.
  • Glass Cannon: Sajuuk has a powerful main cannon with an absurdly long range, along with potent point-defense turrets. Unfortunately it has nowhere near as many hitpoints as one would expect a ship of that size to have, and can quickly be destroyed if caught at close range.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bentus, Last of the Bentusi, self-destructs in order to take out the Keepers of Abassid.
  • Mobile Factory: The mothership, shipyard, and carrier classes are able to manufacture smaller vessels, and battlecruisers can repair fighters. There are also mobile refineries, which convert matter into energy.
  • Monster Threat Expiration: The second time you face the Keepers, they dish out one fourth as much damage as before. They do have twice the hitpoints, but this isn't quite so clear-cut since they're not as persistent in attacking your ships and will hyperspace away long before you burn through their health bars. The smaller drones they launch are also weaker, dealing out about half the amount of damage and having one quarter the amount of hitpoints as before.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's subtly implied in the backstory to HW2 that the only thing keeping the Vaygr from sweeping across the galaxy like a horde of locusts like they do in HW2 was the Taiidan Empire...
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In the last mission, the Vaygr unleash several planet-bombing ships that are completely invulnerable to all conventional weapons, and even the Progenitor Dreadnought's Wave-Motion Gun. In the penultimate mission, you kicked the Vaygr Big Bad's ass in his flagship and took his Hyperspace Core. Which was the last one you needed to use the Sajuuk, which has an even bigger Wave-Motion Gun and actually can damage the planet bombers. If the Big Bad had just transferred himself and his Hyperspace Core to one of those planet-bombers instead of hanging around the Sajuuk until you showed up, he'd have been undefeatable.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Featured in the battle theme that plays during the encounters with the Progenitor Keepers.
  • Optional Stealth: You can choose to develop cloaking technology, which can be highly effective against opponents who don't plan for you developing it, but it isn't a necessity. In general a winning strategy requires developing a mix of forces that allow units to defend each other and win the resourcing battle, regardless of your actual combat tactics.
  • Permanently Missable Content: When you switch from the Mothership to Sajuuk in the final level, you lose the ability to build Movers. If you don't have any, or you lose any, you can't make more. It's not a terribly big deal, however, as the Movers aren't particularly great combat ships.
  • Retcon: The role of the hyperspace core found in the Khar-Toba changes significantly between HW1 and HW2. In HW1, the Hiigarans explicitly copied the core they found in the Khar-Toba wreckage and specifically made it bigger to fit the Mothership. The original was left on Kharak, presumably burned along with the rest of the world. In HW2, it is explicitly not copied or modified; it was taken directly from the Khar-Toba wreck and put into the Mothership. It also became one of only three known Mac Guffins capable of traveling across the galaxy in one jump.
  • Shadow Archetype: The Vagyr compared to the Hiigarans. Like them they were a group that crossed the galaxy with a fleet of ships, but unlike the Hiigarans they conquered every planet in their way, and have nothing less on their minds but complete galactic domination through the power of Sajuuk and the Hyperspace Cores.
  • Shout-Out
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Certain units will get bonuses attacking certain unit types; bombers inflict bonus damage against capital ships, flak shells do minimal damage against frigates but devastate fighter and gunship squadrons, and so on.
    • Unlike the first game, where most units except a few are simply pallette swaps or reskins of each other, the Vaygr have their own tactical rock-paper-scissors mechanics in their fleet makeup. While Hiigarans operate on the understandable assumption of "bigger ships usually outgun smaller ones" (such as making Corvettes and Frigates good against Fighters), the Vaygr inverts this by having dedicated Corvette-killer Fighters, and even Anti Capital-Ship Corvettes.
  • The Time of Myths/Shrouded in Myth : The game opens with the following words:
    "In the First Time, the great hyperspace core was found. With it came the gift of interstellar travel and the outer rim trade routes were established, uniting the galaxy in peace."
  • Zerg Rush: In one mission, you have to rescue a guy from a space station. If you have a decent or full-sized fleet, expect to see a wave of fighters so huge that it probably outnumbers every fighter you've built in the game combined.

    Homeworld 3 
  • Big Dumb Object: The megaliths (huge map structures and background wrecks) return once again.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Hiigaran fleet carrier model is named in honor of T'saan Soban of the second game.
    • The friendly Hiigaran ships present in the tutorial belong to Kiith Somtaaw, and use the modified "beast slayer" emblem from the ending of Cataclysm.
  • Cool Starship: All the Hiigaran ships seem to be even sleeker than the ones in Homeworld 2, but the new Mothership Khar-Kushan takes the cake, assuming the shape of a gigantic horizontal wing/blade.
  • Dawn of an Era: The (re)opening of the Eye of Arran has launched a new era of space exploration.
  • Famous Ancestor: Karan S'Jet to Imogen S'Jet, the game's protagonist.
  • Missing Mom: Karan S'Jet vanishes while leading a fleet investigating the Anomaly, leaving Imogen S'Jet as her successor.
  • Portal Network: The Eye of Arran network is now online and actively used by the Hiigarans. Unfortunately, a growing region of dead portals called the Anomaly has overtaken part of the galaxy and cut off hundreds of worlds inside, so the player is stuck travelling by old fashioned hyperspace jumps during the expedition.
  • Roguelike: The "War Games" mode, where up to three players can fight through randomized challenges with persistent fleets, amassing resources, ships, tech and special upgrades.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: the gameplay trailer underlines this by having a named pilot in charge of the Mothership's Interceptor squadron; he is eventually forced to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to Hold the Line in defense of Worker Units.

Alternative Title(s): Homeworld Cataclysm, Homeworld 2, Homeworld 3