DEFCON - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC strategy games ever made, now freshened up to include everything from 2017 and 2018. From intricate, global-scale wargames to the tight thrills of guerrilla squads, the broad expanse of the genre contains something for everyone, and we’ve gathered the best of the best.

The vast majority are available to buy digitally, a few are free to download and play forever. They’re all brilliant.

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Company of Heroes 2

It’s uncommon these days to see an RTS released that doesn’t have competitive intentions. From larger titles like Halo Wars 2 or Dawn of War III to smaller ones like Empires Apart, a lot of work in real-time strategy games typically goes into the multiplayer experience. However recently, with games like They Are Billions or Frostpunk, we are seeing some leanings back toward a singleplayer focus.

Let's celebrate the qualities of a great singleplayer real-time strategy campaigns by picking out some of the best ever made. In so doing, it’s very difficult to avoid a retread some of the common giants in this space: Relic, Blizzard, and Westwood’s games have all taken world-building and storytelling very seriously and that shows in the quality of their campaigns. Alongside these, I’m going to place some titles that perhaps haven’t gotten quite as much attention before, or that might’ve slipped by unnoticed by some people. 

This isn’t an ordered list; I started out trying to put them in a countdown, but these games are often good for such different reasons it seems silly to rank them. Let’s get cracking. Note, there are a few spoilers for the older games in the list.

Battle Realms

Often when we discuss advanced combat systems in RTS, games like Dawn of War, Men of War, Company of Heroes, or WarCraft 3 come up. Liquid Entertainment’s 2001 RTS Battle Realms deserves a prominent seat at this table. Released about a year before WarCraft 3, Battle Realms features a number of fun systemic twists. You could level up peasants to any combat unit, spend one resource (water) to replenish another (rice), dynamically switch units between ranged and melee combat, and upgrade systems using a novel Yin/Yang system.

The campaign itself isn’t as polished as some of the others in this list: all cutscenes are rendered in-game, which looks pretty dated these days. But the core formula still feels fresh in 2018. Taking the mantle of either the Serpent Clan, or the stalwart Dragons, you must shadow the exiled hero Kenji as he strives to re-establish the dominance of his chosen clan. I put a lot of weight on choice in campaigns, and Battle Realms does a good job of this, giving you choice over the territory and scenario you take on next. Winning battles can provide bonuses in future missions, which adds a note of persistence across missions.

Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault

Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault tells the story of the Battle of the Bulge through the eyes of four commanders (three of which are playable). Each has their own backstory and personality, which you see reflected in the forces of the three playable leaders. The armies are interesting, but it's the surprising depth and uncompromising difficulty of the Ardennes Assault meta-layer map that really sets it apart. 

One thing I kind of like about several of the RTS on this list is that they don’t try to emulate the political layer of Total War games and instead let battles take front and center. Ardennes Assault does this by using reinforcements to create rewards and consequences. defeated enemies can retreat to reinforce territory you haven’t taken yet, making subsequent missions harder than they otherwise would have been. You can cut off these retreating enemies by maneuvering your companies on the map, but doing so means you might miss out on time-critical missions. There’s a lot of nuance in the system, and honestly this campaign style is one I’d love to see ripped off time and again. 

Mission design is relatively varied, from holding a defensive line to standard Control Point capture, and the finale is memorable without being over-the-top ridiculous like some final missions can be (It’s coming up next, but Battle for Dune could fit here) easily.

Emperor: Battle for Dune

Some titles on this list are here because of the presentation of their story, and how memorable their characters are. Some titles are on this list due to the replayability and depth of their systems. Emperor: Battle for Dune is here because of all of these things.

Westwood adapted the Command & Conquer formula and dressed it in the campiness of the 1984 Dune movie. The campaign gives you a Risk-style territory map where you must battle two AI Houses for control of the planet Arrakis.  

The game throws in story-progression missions every couple of levels to give you a break from the unrelenting desert—some missions take place on Spacing Guild Heighlighers or other planets like Caladan. You can also ally with (or fight) the Minor Houses, which creates some variation across playthroughs. Along with Ardennes Assault, Emperor: Battle for Dune remains the gold standard for an enjoyable meta-campaign. And, along with Red Alert 2, Emperor stands strong as one of the best examples of enjoyable campiness in real-time strategy gaming.

Dawn of War: Dark Crusade

Dark Crusade introduced two of the most interesting and fun factions in all of RTS gaming: the Necrons and the Tau. These factions are interesting in and of themselves as members of the Warhammer 40,000 lineup, but in the context of RTS, they’re quite a pair.

Other games in this list, like Ardennes Assault and Emperor: Battle for Dune, have meta-layer strategic campaigns, and darn good ones. Dark Crusade’s iteration stands out amongst them for a number of reasons. Territories give you access to unique customizations that can change how you approach the game. Given the start locations of each faction, you can acquire these customizations in different orders. Also, as you progress you’re able to apply wargear to your chosen leader, further customizing them and giving you a fun sense of progression and growth even without much of a story to go on beyond Warhammer-generic Endless War.

There are other nice touches too. The campaign preserves a your base after you have won a province (something I really would like to see happen more in RTS—it feels right to come back to somewhere you’ve already battled and see your progress in that area preserved). The Honor Guard for faction leaders are another neat persistent element.

Homeworld

Relic’s Homeworld remains one of the most compelling real time strategy games ever made. It's rare for a real-time strategy game to create a universe of such scale and poignancy. Karan S’Jet and the Mothership have become iconic characters, and the game has an emotional weight I haven't experienced in another RTS game.

I tend to view campaigns that offer some choice to be superior to linear ones, partially because I value replayability in singleplayer, but also partly because such choices can provide powerful feelings of agency to the player. Homeworld's linear campaign is an exception, however. Your forces carry over from mission to mission, which creates consequences and captures the tone of a fleet scrabbling to survive.

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

I was skeptical of Deserts of Kharak. I didn’t think that a game based on Homeworld’s DNA could work properly on the surface of a planet, but it does this surprisingly well, and terrain encourages a lot of play over features like the ridges of dunes. It also has a decent linear campaign that borrows the right elements from the original Homeworld games.

On the default campaign setting you bring units across from mission to mission, and the missions are well paced to allow you a breather after finishing a particularly tough battle. You can turn this off at any time, to swap out a broken force for a pre-set loadout for the mission—This saved me a couple of times later in the campaign when I suffered massive losses at a critical moment. 

Like the core Homeworld games, the game is deeply atmospheric, and there were times when the desert around my little fleet of vehicles felt vast in a way that, for instance, I never felt in a game like Battle for Dune. The tone is sometimes interrupted by vehicles doing awkward dances trying to navigate lumpy deserts, but Blackbird did a phenomenal job of giving the world a sense of scale. Also in the spirit of its predecessors, the cadence of the story ratchets up at just the right times, increasing the stakes and providing twists that elevate the game far above standard RTS fare. 

The Gaalsien and their leader, the K’had Sajuuk, are wonderful villains, almost akin to the Brotherhood of Nod from Command and Conquer. Or perhaps like the fremen from Dune. While the story differs from previous Homeworld canon, the overall quality of Deserts of Kharak’s storytelling make it one of the very best RTS campaigns released in the modern era.

Red Alert 2

I praised Emperor: Battle for Dune for its campiness, and Westwood always did this well. But nowhere did it strike the perfect tone, in unit design and cutscenes, as in Red Alert 2. Like most of Westwood’s campaigns, Red Alert 2 features separate stories for both the Allies and the Soviets—for my money, both are pretty darn good, but the Soviet campaign is more enjoyable overall. You really just play through the pre-defined story with no real choices or branching in the plot, but everything is so over-the-top it’s really hard to mind.

Nuclear Missiles, Psychic Beacons, Yuri’s thousand-yard-stare, Einstein and the Chronosphere, turning the Eiffel Tower into a giant Tesla weapon, the Soviet Premier being apprehended in his underwear—there are so many hilarious moments in the game, accented by suitably ridiculous FMV. Like WarCraft 3, this is linear storytelling done right: original, entertaining, and memorable.  Also, I need to give them props for the detailed environments: Westwood typically does a good job of giving you a sense of place: making cities actually kind of look like, well, cities. It’s all too common in RTS to be fighting in anonymous hinterlands, and Red Alert 2, especially for its time, went a step above.

StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty

This one might have to come with some caveats. StarCraft and its expansion, Brood War, are iconic games in their own right. But from an execution perspective, StarCraft 2 is simply more enjoyable. Blizzard has had a long time to hone its craft, and while the game may not have done proper justice to the story set up in the series’ first installment, there’s no doubt that the actual mission design and entire between-mission interface ranks among the very best the genre has to offer.

Every mission has a twist. In one mission you visit corpse of the Overmind, in another you have to flee from a huge wall wall of fire. Side missions matter, helping you to specialize your units and tech outside of combat, and you have some choice in how to proceed between missions. You can talk to and interact with the cast of characters growing around you, and the cantina even has a phenomenal little arcade game.

There’s a bit of persistence to your choices, though not to the point where (as in Homeworld or Ardennes Assault) it can actively interfere with your ability to complete the game. Unconstrained by the need for multiplayer balance, the campaign lets you upgrade units into powerful variants and customise your overall force. The standalone expansions, Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void, also offer splendid campaigns that thoroughly explore the Zerg and Protoss factions.

WarCraft 3

WarCraft 3 might be the pinnacle of Blizzard's storytelling. The quaternate storyline of Medivh, Thrall, Arthas, Kel’Thuzad Jaina Proudmoore, Tyrande, Illidan, Mannoroth and the battle against Archimonde is cinematic, epic, and tied together with some of the best cutscenes in the genre (still). Mission design is varied, and each faction is given its time in the sun.

The turning of Arthas is perhaps my favorite moment in all of RTS gaming. Seeing his rising despair and frustration with the limitations of being good, committing genocide at Stratholm, killing plagued villagers, accepting a demonic weapon in order to defeat the Dreadlord Mal’Ganis, killing his father, and then starring again in the Undead campaign: it’s wonderful.

World in Conflict

In the list above, I’ve gushed over story presentation, mission design, choice and flexibility in how to proceed through the game, replay value, and frivolous campiness. I’ve also lauded making the player feel a part of a larger world (something too many RTS are incredibly bad at). This last is where World in Conflict shines.

In this campaign the onus is on you to assist your AI-controlled team, trying to complete their objectives in coordination with the larger war effort. This is reinforced by stunning narration (I could listen to Alec Baldwin read the phone book, to be fair) and a well-written story that ends up being surprisingly powerful.

Technically, I’d consider World in Conflict to be a real-time tactics game rather than an RTS: there’s no real base building or economic progression, and the entire emphasis in the game is on controlling ground and using your units effectively. While some RTTs can feel like an RTS with half of the game stripped out, World in Conflict is prominent among the RTT that stand strong on their own merits. The campaign is a great showcase of WiC's particular take on the genre.

Homeworld Remastered Collection - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jamie Wallace)

Dream Daddy

Not only does Humble currently have its second ‘Very Positive’ bundle going on right now, the site is now listing a separate sale, appropriately titled the ‘Very Positive Sale’. As with the bundle, the sale features a bunch of games all with ‘Very Positive’ or higher ratings on Steam right now, with discounts of up to 80%.

Before you ask, yes, that means you can get Dream Daddy for 9.89 / $13.49. Also featured are things like lovely retro Metroid-like Axiom Verge, perpetual Early Access feudal RPG Kenshi, the Homeworld Remastered Collection, Sniper Elite 4 and more.

We covered the strange adventure possible in Kenshi quite recently. In a year that gave us Divinity: Original Sin 2’s hungry elves and face-stealing undead, it’s astonishing to realise that Kenshi has weirder cannibalistic possibilities than Larian’s latest masterpiece.

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EVE Online

Survival horror, simulation, strategy, FPS, and many more genres feature in this, our roundup of the best space games you can play on PC right now. Whether you're hunting pirates, building a colony on Mars, or fleeing in terror from a hungry alien on a stricken space station, these galactic games will appeal to anyone who's ever dreamed of leaving boring old Earth behind.

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Year 2015Developer Relic/Gearbox SoftwareLink Official siteOne of the best singleplayer RTS campaigns ever made, and beautifully remastered by Gearbox. The sight of thousands of your ships streaking across the game’s vividly colourful space-scapes is hugely dramatic. And battles are tense and tactical, with many types of ship to command, including colossal battleships. The Remastered Collection looks great on modern PCs and comes complete with the original Homeworld and its sequel. Read more Homeworld Remastered Collection review

Surviving Mars

Year 2018Developer Haemimont GamesLink SteamLeaving Earth behind, humanity heads to Mars to start a new colony: and you're in charge of it. Your new civilisation will grow from one small dome in the Martian desert to a bustling, sprawling off-world metropolis. But just make sure you don't run out of oxygen or power, because on this ruthless planet it's a death sentence for every citizen under your control. Read more Surviving Mars review

Tacoma

Year 2017Developer FullbrightLink Official siteThe crew has mysteriously abandoned the Tacoma lunar transfer station, and you’ve been sent to investigate and recover its precious AI, Odin. This atmospheric sci-fi mystery from the makers of Gone Home is wonderfully written, with a cast of rich, nuanced characters telling a compelling story through interactive AR recordings. Exploring the hyper-detailed station is a delight thanks to the game’s extraordinary attention to detail, and the more you learn about Tacoma, the deeper the mystery gets. Read more Tacoma review

Elite Dangerous

Year 2014Developer Frontier DevelopmentsLink Official siteAn entire galaxy is your playground in this space sim. Starting with a basic ship and a handful of credits, you shape your own destiny. Do you become a fearsome pirate? A master trader? An explorer? The beauty of Elite is being able to play in a way that suits you. From thrilling dogfights to gentle exploration, there’s something for everyone. And its ships are all an absolute dream to fly, whether it's a nimble fighter or a heavy duty cargo hauler. Read more Visiting NASA's latest discovery in Elite Dangerous

EVE Online

Year 2003Developer CCP GamesLink Official siteLive another life—in space! There’s nothing else like EVE Online on PC, a massively multiplayer RPG where everything is controlled by players. It’s a living galaxy in which thousands of capsuleers fight, trade, mine, and explore together. Break away from the relative safety of your police-patrolled starting system and you’ll find a ruthless, cosmic Wild West, where piracy, espionage and scamming are rife. Whether you’re fighting in a massive space war, where thousands of real-world dollars hang in the balance, or just exploring New Eden on your own, EVE is an unforgettable experience.Read more EVE Online's biggest scammer tells us his secrets

Everspace

Year 2017Developer Rockfish GamesLink SteamWhen you die in roguelike Everspace, you’re dead. But money earned carries over and can be spent on upgrades, which means you’ll be more powerful for your next run through the cosmic gauntlet. And these perks keep adding up, allowing you to travel deeper into space, and more boldly, with every successive attempt. It’s a compelling loop, and when you die you're never frustrated: just excited to start again, wondering how far you'll make it this time.Read more Death is the road to glory in Everspace

Star Wars: Empire at War

Year 2006Developer PetroglyphLink GOGDeveloped by Petroglyph, a studio founded by Westwood veterans, this real-time strategy is one of the best Star Wars games on PC. The streamlined interface and accessible systems might turn off some hardcore strategy fans, but in the thick of its chaotic, thrilling land and space battles the game is irresistible—especially if you’re a Star Wars fan. And hero units like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker only add to the excitement.Read more Pitting Star Wars against Star Trek in Star Wars: Empire at War

Heat Signature

Year 2017Developer Suspicious DevelopmentsLink SteamIn this top-down sci-fi action game you board spaceships and use an array of weapons and gadgets to take out the crew. The genius lies in how much creativity you're given to play your own way, inspired by the best immersive sims. And how you react to the chaos that erupts when your presence on the ship becomes known makes Heat Signature a powerful anecdote generator. Things might not always go to plan, but that's just part of the fun.Read more 8 sadistic ways to take out guards in Heat Signature

Duskers

Year 2016Developer Misfits AtticLink Official siteDespite being viewed entirely through a retro-futuristic computer interface, Duskers is one of the scariest, most tense sci-fi horror games on PC. In it you pilot a fleet of drones searching derelict spaceships for fuel, upgrades, and clues about why the galaxy is so mysteriously devoid of life. The ships you board are crawling with strange creatures, which makes looking for clues in those narrow, dark corridors an especially nerve-racking experience.Read more Duskers review

Destiny 2

Year 2017Developer BungieLink Official siteBungie's addictive FPS/MMO hybrid features some of the prettiest alien landscapes on PC. From the forested ruins of Earth and the vast seas of Titan, to the red jungles of Nessus and the volcanic Io, every location is a pleasure to loot-and-shoot in. The endgame doesn't have the iron grip it perhaps should, but sci-fi fans will get a kick out of this vivid, colourful setting.Read more Bungie outlines how it plans to fix Destiny 2 in 2018

The Dig

Year 1995Developer LucasArtsLink GOGA mission to divert an asteroid heading for Earth goes awry, sending a group of astronauts to a distant, seemingly abandoned world. Some of the puzzles are maddeningly obscure, even for a LucasArts point-and-click adventure, but the colourful, bizarre planet feels genuinely alien. Great voice acting too, with X-Files star Robert Patrick playing the lead character.Read more Reinstall: The Dig

Universe Sandbox 2

Year 2014Developer Giant ArmyLink Official siteThis space simulator lets you become an all-powerful cosmic deity, manipulating replicas of real galaxies and solar systems and witnessing the (often catastrophic) results of your meddling. Increase the mass of Jupiter and you’ll see the rest of our solar system being sucked into it, or delete the Sun and watch Earth and the other planets drift away confused.

Event[0]

Year 2016Developer Ocelot SocietyLink SteamStranded alone somewhere near Jupiter on an old luxury starship, your only hope of returning home is an AI that has serious emotional problems. You interact with Kaizen using your keyboard, and sometimes it'll be willing to help you. But then it'll change its mind and decide the best thing to do is close the airlock and trap you outside the ship until you run out of air. A clever adventure with the understated mood of a '70s sci-fi film.Read more Event[0] review

Mass Effect 2

Year 2010Developer BioWareLink SteamIf you’ve ever fantasised about being Captain Picard, in command of your own starship, exploring the galaxy, meeting weird aliens, being confronted with cosmic dilemmas, then Mass Effect 2 is that in game form. It’s part Star Wars space opera, part brilliant Star Trek episode, and one of the best sci-fi games on PC. It doesn’t have the freedom of Elite and is largely a linear experience, but it takes you on an unforgettable journey around the galaxy, visiting bizarre planets and getting involved in the lives of the aliens who live on them. We love the whole series, but we all agree that this is our favourite.Read more The Mass Effect games ranked from worst to best

Stellaris

Year 2016Developer ParadoxLink Official siteDeveloped by Paradox, of Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis fame, this sci-fi epic puts the ‘grand’ in grand strategy. Explore the universe, form alliances with alien factions, and engage in the odd large-scale space battle. The multitude of systems makes Stellaris a powerful story generator, and you never know what strange beings you’ll meet among the stars.Read more Stellaris: Utopia review

Alien: Isolation

Year 2014Developer Creative AssemblyLink Official siteAmanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen, is hunted through a dilapidated space station by a xenomorph in this incredible survival horror. Taking its cues from Ridley Scott's original 1979 film, it's a masterpiece of slow-burning tension. And the station itself, Sevastopol, is a great example of lo-fi sci-fi, with chunky retro-futuristic tech and eerie flickering lights. One of the most faithful movie adaptations ever, and a great horror game in its own right.Read more What Alien: Isolation gets right that Alien: Covenant gets wrong

No Man's Sky

Year 2016Developer Hello GamesLink Official siteThis is one of the most dazzlingly colourful sci-fi universes on PC, and being able to seamlessly transition from space to the surface of a planet is an impressive technical feat. The addition of features like base-building and a mission system in recent updates give you a lot more to actually do when you touch down on these worlds, and the procedural generation algorithm has been tweaked to make for weirder, prettier planet surfaces.Read more The best No Man's Sky mods

Star Wars: TIE Fighter

Year 1994Developer Totally GamesLink GOGA rare opportunity to be the bad guy in George Lucas’s beloved space opera. With a variety of Empire-themed missions—dogfights, escorts, attacking capital ships—and a story to follow, it’s one of the best Star Wars games LucasArts ever published. Of course, you can replace this entry with Star Wars: X-Wing if you’d prefer to play as the boring old Rebel Alliance.Read more The best Star Wars games on PC

FTL: Faster Than Light

Year 2012Developer Subset GamesLink SteamFTL mixes turn-based and real-time strategy together to capture the experience of captaining a Star Trek-style spacecraft. It’s a strong roguelike, too, with a backdrop of a familiar yet fun sci-fi universe that comes with its own semi-humorous lore and a neat set of narrative beats that make the journey to its finale endlessly exciting. Being able to name your ship and crew makes it all the more heartbreaking when they die together in enemy space.Read more The writing in FTL

Wing Commander: Privateer

Year 1993Developer Origin SystemsLink GOGFans of the series will argue endlessly about which Wing Commander is the best, but we love Privateer’s darker feel. It’s a rich sandbox in which you can be a mercenary, a pirate, a merchant, or a mix of all three. You jump between systems looking for bounties to hunt and ships to rob, and the first-person dogfights are a thrill. There’s a linear story, but the real joy lies in doing your own thing and carving your own path through the stars.

 EVE: Valkyrie

Year 2016Developer CCP GamesLink Official siteIf you have a VR headset, this is the game to play on it. In Valkyrie you get to experience EVE Online’s famous space battles from the more intimate perspective of an individual fighter pilot. The feeling of being strapped into a cockpit, hurtling through space at immense speeds, is a visceral one. And the combat has been tuned specifically for virtual reality.Read more EVE: Valkyrie review

Kerbal Space Program

Year 2015Developer SquadLink Official siteWrestle with gravity and the laws of physics as you build your own spacecraft and attempt to explore the cosmos. A robust, compelling sandbox of possibilities that’s as funny as it is clever. Escaping Kerbin’s atmosphere and landing on the Mun (without exploding) for the first time with a ship you’ve built yourself is about as satisfying as PC gaming gets.Read more Kerbal Space Program: Making History review

Take On Mars

Year 2013Developer Bohemia InteractiveLink Official siteIf you like your space games a little more grounded, try Arma developer Bohemia’s Take On Mars. It’s a space exploration and colonisation simulator largely based on real astro-science. You can build a Curiosity-style rover and explore the surface of the red planet or construct your own Martian colony. A game for folk who want the sci without too much of the fi.Read more Building a mighty space base in Take On Mars

 Sins of a Solar Empire

Year 2008Developer Ironclad GamesLink Official siteMixing real-time strategy with 4X elements, Sins is a game of galactic conquest. Choose a faction, gather resources and become a mighty space-lord. Commanding its real-time wars is thrilling, but combat isn’t always the answer: you can use diplomacy to conquer systems too. A refreshingly slow-paced RTS with some truly massive space battles to stare slack-jawed at.

Space Engineers

Year 2013Developer Keen Software HouseLink Official site

Harvest asteroids for building materials then craft them into floating bases, flyable spaceships, and more besides. You can hover around the map with a jetpack or build a gravity generator to walk safely on the surface of bigger asteroids. One of the best co-op build-’em-ups on PC.Read more An erratic journey to the Moon in Space Engineers

Starbound

Year 2013Developer Chucklefish GamesLink Official siteTerraria-esque survival with a science fiction twist. Hop between randomly generated planets on a starship, hunt alien creatures for food, build colonies and underground bases, and try not to die in the process. A brilliant sci-fi sandbox with a charming art style. Playable races include robots, beings made of solar energy, ape-like creatures, and colourful wingless birds.Read more Starbound review

SpaceEngine

Year 2010Developer Vladimir RomanyukLink Official site

Do you like feeling small and insignificant? Then play SpaceEngine, which features, incredibly, the entire universe. Or at least the bit we know about. Focus on Earth, then pull back at top speed, and you suddenly become aware of how you’re on a tiny speck of dust hurtling through an endless void. The tech is remarkable, allowing you to travel effortlessly between galaxies and land on planets. But besides exploring, there isn’t much else to it.

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Homeworld: Cataclysm, the standalone expansion to the magnificent trans-galactic RTS Homeworld, was not included with the Homeworld Remastered Collection released by Gearbox in 2015. The reasons still aren't entirely clear, although Fists of Heaven does a good job of summarizing the confusion and conflict over ownership rights, missing source code, and whether or not the code was really needed in the first place. The bottom line, though, was that Cataclysm was not coming back. 

But now it has come back, though not remastered and with a slightly different name—Homeworld: Emergence—but playable out of the box (in the digital sense) and exactly as it was when it was new. Set 15 years after the story told in Homeworld, Emergence follows a minor mining clan called Kiith Somtaaw, which stumbles upon a deadly nanobot infestation that threatens to overwhelm the galaxy. It features the same basic gameplay as its predecessor, expanded with new ship and technologies, and "enhanced fleet management" that makes corralling your forces in real-time 3D space a little bit easier. 

"The source code is in fact lost, but we didn’t need it to work on the game and make it compatible with modern OSes," a GOG rep explained. "We worked closely with Gearbox Software and used the builds we had in-house." As for the new title, that's a precautionary move. "'Cataclysm' is now a registered trademark of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., and the game has been renamed to avoid confusion," GOG said.   

Homeworld: Emergence is available now for ten percent off its regular $10 price until June 29. GOG has also picked up the newer, ground-based prequel RTS Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, which is 66 percent off ($17) until June 29, and has the Homeworld Remastered Collection on sale too for $12. 

PC Gamer

We last talked about Homeworld 2's Complex mod back in 2012, and the ambitious enterprise has jumped up two whole numbers since then. Now a modification for Homeworld Remastered rather than the original Homeworld 2, Complex adds many more intricacies to the business of multiplayer space battling, while finding room to include a new co-op campaign, lots of fresh assets, and other additions and tweaks to the Homeworld formula.

Creator Bocchi started a successful Patreon campaign for Complex 10 around a year ago, and it was released just before the end of 2016, adding, among other things, playable Hiigaran and Vaygr factions and a "new multiplayer environment". You can download it here, although the file is listed as "archived" for some reason, so I'm guessing there's an update in the pipeline.

YouTuber Dinky has a video series detailing Complex 10. I've put the first episode below.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC strategy games ever made, now brought up to date with the riches of the last two years. From intricate wargames to soothing peacegames, the broad expanse of the genre contains something for everyone, and we’ve gathered the best of the best. The vast majority are available to buy digitally, a few are free to download and play forever. They’re all brilliant.

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - [GBX] JoeK
General

- Resolved a memory fragmentation error which could lead to crashes.
- Homeworld 2 classic properly responds to -locale command line
- Fixed a crash when a missing mad state was called.
- Fixed exploit where hyperspacing mothership would allow autocapture of ships already headed toward it
- Frigates and Corvettes now attack more consistently. (With Balance tweaks to account for this)
- Fixed issue when loading old campaign persist files (ships missing when in legacy strikegroups)
- Fixed weird cursor skin issue when hovering over certain buttons
- Ships no longer overshoot kushan carrier docking bays
- Fixed mouse speed issues on giant multiscreen display setups and added command lines to future proof it a bit. -CameraDragX -CameraDragY. (Multiplier)
- Fixed issue where a few ships had missing geometry, textures, odd normals, etc.
- Tweaks to primary ship shaders for improved visual fidelity, speed.
- Cryotray and transports can be sphere guarded now.
- Vaygr resource collectors no longer aspire to be archeologists.
- Mods - added traceHOD command line to ease tracking down corrupt or invalid files.
- Mods - ConfigFilter.lua - BasePath string allows specification of Player profile path for Mod data.
- facetAutoFOV - Command line property for use with facetCount to limit total horizontal FOV.
PC Gamer

Today is June 7 and that means the Homeworld Remastered 2.0 update is live, and the full list of patch notes is now available to the public. The complete list of changes can be seen here, but highlights include a rebalancing of the entire game both single and multiplayer and a complete overhaul of the formations system to better support Homeworld 1 formations.

Formations will break on combat into combat groups based on the ships that are part of the formation. This is to more closely emulate HW1 and to make sure that ships perform as optimally as you would expect, the patch notes state. Formations have a unit cap depending on the ships and formation used. This is to ensure formations are as effective in combat as possible and so that the game performs at a reasonable speed.

All ships in the game have been rebalanced to work more effectively in the new formations, and have also had their flight dynamics and engagement behaviors improved. Weapons may now use ballistic rules rather than RNG to determine hits, and tactical settings have been split into separate Rules of Engagement and Stances, to simultaneously emulate Homeworld 1 and 2 gameplay.

One important thing to be aware of is that pre-2.0 saves will not be valid after the patch is installed. Campaign progression will remain in place so you won't need to start over from the beginning, but mid-mission saves are out.

Homeworld Remastered also debuted on GOG today, and is currently available for half-price.

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