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Homeworld 3 devs are working on another space game, but it’s definitely not an RTS

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a sandbox space sim headed to early access

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The team behind Homeworld 3, Blackbird Interactive, has a second game coming to early access this summer. Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a campy, first-person exploration of the spacefaring genre that puts players in the role of a “cutter,” tasked with chopping up old starships for scrap. You can watch the game’s first trailer on YouTube, and embedded above. There’s more information on the way tomorrow via Twitch at 11:00 a.m. ET.

But that name should sound familiar. Blackbird used something very similar as the original title for a very different video game. It was a game that ultimately led to the studio’s return to its roots in the Homeworld franchise.

In 2013 Blackbird announced Hardware: Shipbreakers with an interview at Rock, Paper Shotgun, calling it a game “all about massive trucks rolling around in a huge desert” destined for Facebook. Ten days later a new trailer emerged. Shipbreakers was now a “standalone” title, free of its social media hooks, that was directly inspired by the Homeworld franchise. It would also be free to play.

Just a few months later, Gearbox — which has bought the Homeworld intellectual property at auction during the same time period — stepped in to help Blackbird complete the game, and grant them access to the science fiction license itself. By 2015, Hardware: Shipbreakers was retitled Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. Now a proper real-time strategy game, it would go on to become one of the best examples of the genre made in the last decade.

The new Shipbreakers is quite the departure from that original “social strategy” game announced for Facebook. It’s first-person, for one, but it’s also over-the-top. The player works for a company called Lynx, and seems to have voluntarily entered a kind of indentured servitude in order to visit outer space. It’s about the furthest you could get from the high-stakes, operatic epic of the Homeworld franchise. Hopefully it gives the team at Blackbird a nice outlet for their creative energies — and somewhere to put all that old concept art from 2013.

Homeworld 3 is in development thanks in part to a crowdfunding campaign on the Fig platform. Delivery of backer rewards, including copies of the game, are listed for the fourth quarter of 2022.

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