Deserts of Kharak Coalition Faction Overview

By Rory McGuire – Lead Game Designer

This article is the first in a series of blog posts written by the team at Blackbird Interactive. In these blog posts, we want to provide information to our players on the factions of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and offer design intentions for how we expect them to play. Our first article will take us through several of the units on the Coalition faction, but first, we want to talk about a number of high level design decisions we made when designing our units.

The two factions have been designed with separate tunings, abilities, and themes to give the player a refreshing experience both fighting with and against these units. This breaks from Homeworld tradition – but we feel it makes the game more compelling.

It wasn’t enough to have several units image10different between the factions – we also wanted to create different gameplay styles between the factions. A small amount of prescribed behavior to the player can give the faction a unique identity and play-style. If the Coalition are a sword and shield, we wanted the Gaalsien to feel like a pair of scimitars.

It was important to connect to narrative themes. The narrative of Deserts of Kharak is grounded in almost 20 years of storytelling and background. We wanted the factions to feel like they belonged on the planet and that they fit within this time-frame of Homeworld backstory. This homage and conceit helped guide the faction identities. For the Gaalsien to live in the deep desert, they would need a unique form of locomotion. Their hover technology not only served to ground them in the lore, it also became a wellspring for game design inspiration when creating their faction.



  • – Ability to secure areas of the battlefield with deployables or highly defensive units
  • – Heavily armored and tough units require commitment to an engagement to win it
  • – Vehicles are generalized and can synergize well with other unit types in the faction


  • image03Coalition units are ruggedly designed, over-engineered and heavily tested. Their armor plating and treads allow them to fight in a number of environments with protection against a wide variety of weaponry. These generalized units must commit to an engagement for victory. Coalition vehicles are not as fast and are designed for general purpose, not a specialized role.

Coalition have several methods to take and image09secure map control from their opponents. Their gameplay is inspired by Cold War period vehicle tactics and Greek phalanx forces – both of which rely on committing completely to the battlefield.

We’ve included three examples below of Coalition units that fulfill these themes and gameplay patterns.

Baserunner and Deployables

image02The Naabal Baserunner is the backbone of Coalition forces – the Baserunner can act as a logistics
vehicle, a defensive unit or can be retro-fitted into a science vessel.

The Coalition Baserunner features several deployables that allow the Coalition to commit and control the map – there are no equivalents on the Gaalsien side. Most noteworthy:

Cannon Turret and Anti-air Turret

These two turret types allow for a substantial amount of defensive control in an area. The anti-air capabilities on the Baserunner turrets are some of the best in the game.

Other abilities

image05The Baserunner features a few other abilities, most notable is a small probe drone that allows the Baserunner to get recon on distant enemies.




Armored Assault Vehicle

image01The Sobanii Armored Assault Vehicle (AAV) is a remarkably tough unit capable of dishing out lower calibre rounds at a very high rate of fire. The Armored Assault Vehicle excels against strike craft, particularly Light Attack Vehicles and Sandskimmers.

There are a few key features that separate the Armored Assault Vehicle from other units:

Suppressive Fire

The sheer amount of rounds that the AAV can output can disrupt an opposing vehicle’s locomotion. Smaller strike craft will find themselves slowed slightly when facing the barrage of the AAV. Tactically, this allows the AAV to catch highly mobile, quicker strike craft and pin them down.


image06The substantial armor and weaponry of the AAV allows it to deal with smaller targets, but against larger targets it has a single tool for mitigation – smokescreen. Players can select and place a smokescreen within roughly 500 meters of an AAV’s position. This smokescreen will block line of fire for hostile units allowing the AAV to advance on emplaced positions, disengage from a conflict or support and protect allied vehicles.


image04There are few things as menacing on Kharak as the advance of the Coalition Battlecruiser. Heavily armed, heavily armored and tough as titanium – the Coalition Battlecruiser is the most dangerous vanguard unit on the planet.

The Battlecruiser, while incredibly deadly at medium range, is slow and requires a heavy level of commitment to the battlefield to be useful – if the Battlecruiser isn’t advancing on the enemy and cutting them off, it will likely fail to perform it’s job.

image07Additionally, because of the Battlecruiser’s speed, it must use terrain intelligently to advance on long range, high damage enemies.

That’s everything for today’s post! We hope this overview gives you a taste of the thinking that went into designing the Coalition.

If you want to learn more about the Gaalsien faction, you might want to check out this article.