Hardware: Shipbreakers preview - ex-Homeworld devs on their "ultimate vehicle fantasy" RTS

Very few hard details on Hardware have been announced. There are no in-game images at all. But for most strategy fans, only five words were required: 'From the makers of Homeworld.'

That's an RTS pedigree to be respected, even if the action has moved from space to planetside, with giant vehicles and a freeto- play free-for-all for resources. Over 300 players have already spent $99 on spec, on access to the beta due at the end of the year, and early land-naming rights on its graveyard world. So far, nothing has been named after genitals.

“Hardware: Shipbreakers is the ultimate vehicle fantasy,” executive producer Dan Irish told me. “Preservation of yourself and your equipment matters; survival is key, and so is exploration. They are your window into the riches of the planet. It's the difference between seeing a brand new touring motorbike and another with layers of dirt and all sorts of custom gear outfitted on it. You know one is new and shiny, but there's something just so alluring about the worn one that's gotten plenty of use, with stories of its own to tell.”

That's obviously a different experience to Homeworld, not least because of all the other players, though Irish does see a connection between the two games.“Stylistically and emotionally it is an epic sci-fi road trip, in the same vein as Homeworld,” he says. “This time, the backdrop is an emotional landscape of a barren planet. Our intention is that the setting gives players the same passion and emotional sense that Homeworld did.”

Both PvE and PvP content are planned, the first focusing on lore and that road trip experience, the second on combining armies for what's been dubbed 'social strategy' – though how the two will mix remains unclear. Asked whether we're looking at something more like the longform action of games like Neptune's Pride and EVE or the more session-based C&C style skirmishes, Irish simply offered that the game has 'long term plans' for all style of RTS players. “Our fantasy of prospecting on a distant planet and suffering the difficulties of exploration, combat, and weather provide compelling and new ways for players to interact. We're looking at unique and innovative ways to combine PvE and PvP elements into a co-op experience.”

Hardware: Shipbreakers absolutely isn't intended as a game purely for the hardcore, however, or just Homeworld fans. “We're thinking a lot about how to provide a safe environment for new players and introduce them gradually to more advanced player pools. Our vision is to create a game environment where hardcore and casual players find a play style and arena that supports their interests.”