Homeworld is a sci-fi real-time strategy/simulation game created by Relic Entertainment and published by Sierra in 1999 for Windows PC.
The game concept is very straightforward: take the classic mechanics of a real-time strategy game like Age of Empires and bring them into space in a fully 3D environment. Of course, there are differences: for example, you don't have to gather different types of resources, only RU (resource units) that are extracted from asteroids. Moreover, there are no buildings to construct, only various types of spacecraft, much like in the classic Space Empires series. To build increasingly advanced ships, you'll need to research the technologies that become available over time.
Homeworld is a classic example of an "easy to learn - hard to master" game. The gameplay elements are ultimately few; there are no complex tech trees to explore or different factions to choose from, each with its own characteristics. Yet, Homeworld manages to captivate players with its immersive atmosphere.
One of the unique elements is the persistence of units. In a typical RTS, each mission starts from scratch, making it difficult to immerse yourself in a storyline. In Homeworld, everything revolves around the mothership, a massive spacecraft that contains everything that remains of your civilization and travels from mission to mission with hyperspace jumps. Even the ships you've built will travel with you, returning to the mothership before the jump. In fact, it's crucial to make the hyperspace jump after obtaining everything you can in the previous level. This vital game design choice completely changes the player's perspective and makes you a part of the story.
In addition, there's the element of 3D. It's not just a game map with different heights; it's an entirely three-dimensional universe to explore along various axes. It takes a bit of time initially to get acquainted with the controls and understand how to move your forces in space, but once you grasp the mechanics, it all becomes very intuitive.
Homeworld is not an easy game to win: you need to understand the characteristics of your ships and use them appropriately. If you think you can build ships at random and send them into battle recklessly, you won't get very far. Each ship has its strengths and weaknesses and will be more effective against some enemies and less so against others. That's why it's often helpful to pause the game and give the proper orders. In this regard, Homeworld is more akin to the Total War series than to a fast-paced RTS like Starcraft.
Relic indeed succeeded in creating an incredible game with Homeworld. There were no other reference titles for the 3D RTS genre before this masterpiece, which is still considered a milestone in the history of video games today.
Once you've tried this original version, don't forget to play Homeworld Remastered Collection on Steam.