Homeworld: Cataclysm


Welcome to the RTSC Cataclysm page!

The Cataclysm page has been retired: that is, it'll always still be here, but links aren't actively maintained.

Cataclysm is the first sequel to Homeworld, and adds to the original concept but at the cost of the original's atmospheric elegance. Its more like your "typical" RTS game in structure, using Homeworld's 3D environment. This isn't an expansion: Cataclysm is a separate game entirely and creates its own install. Its much darker in tone and less "open air" than the original, using elements of horror, a hardcore beveled metal motif and a plot that seems to come from a completely different franchise. Its much more of a serious gamers' game than a free-wheeling exercise in design. The plot is set fifteen years after the original game's end, when the Kushan civilization resettle on their homeworld Hiigara, and tells of the Somtaaw faction's accidental unleashing and battle with a contagious nightmare known as The Beast. Although the original Kushan and Taiidan forces make appearances in the single player game, you only get to pick between two new forces, Somtaaw and Beast.

Strategically, Cataclysm has expanded Homeworld's scope, buts its a shame that the open blue sky feel has been compromised by barrages of screen overlays and Playstation fireworks; all the visual effects look more garish. There's a variety of new ships that add a variety of completely new functions and strategies that go well beyond the simplistic guns and armour thing.

Rollercoaster rides in Pilot View
There are some pluses though. At last some proper way pointing has been added, which includes patrolling. Another cute mode is Pilot View (keyboard shortcut: alt+P), which switches your POV to that of any selectable spaceship in the game. It makes for some pretty incredible replays! You now have complete control of your ships from the Sensors Manager, which for some strange reason is now filled with giant beveled wire frame boxes making outer space look even more enclosed and stuck inside a giant aquarium. Your units also gain experience points now. As a ship survives combat and scores kills, it accumulates experience, which is translated into improved performance. Experienced crews can coax 150% extra speed out of their vessels, or greater firepower out of their weapons. All game information like current research projects, current builds, all messages, available resources, etc. are now displayed on your screen rather than the old pop-up menu. And, a small but convenient touch, all the Build, Research and Launch (now called Systems) Managers can be reached from each other. You may find yourself spending more time flitting from one system screen to another than in outer space.

Cataclysm introduces Support Units (SU) to Homeworld. Like the Farms in Age of Empires or Supply Depots in StarCraft, you have to construct Carriers and Support Modules on all your Super-Capital ships in order to increase the number of vessels in your force. Each class of ship uses a different number of SU's, effectively capping the number of ships you can build or salvage in the game. A lot of time is spent building Support Modules just to expand your fleet. Cataclysm maps are much richer to compensate for all that extra spending.

The Somtaaw Command ship is completely modular: you have to build the right module to acquire the relevant technology to research. Armour and weapon upgrades are also available, and often units have to be upgraded (or mutated if they're Beast vessels) on the field many times, with smaller vessels coming in to dock for modifications. The tech tree, upgrades, special abilities and extendable modules are typical of the "regular" RTS game, and the two Cataclysm sides feel vaguely reminiscent of StarCraft's Terrans and Zerg.

The Beast Mothership suffers from a bad skin condition and lightning
The Beast is basically a techno-organic plague that infects ships and converts them to itself, noisily consuming the hapless crew in the process, Thing from Another World style. The process of infection only takes seconds to complete, and the Beast player can add the victim to its ranks immediately or retire it to acquire additional technologies and RU's. The Somtaaw in return has a modular and heavily armed command ship and a swag of new types of ship to play with. Mimics, Leeches, Sentinels and Ramming Frigates, plus a variety of new "spells" such as EMP blasts that stun enemy vessels and Repulsion fields that push away all vehicles in a single blast.

A number of old ship designs have been amalgamated, and some interesting new ones added. The Resource Collector, Repair Corvette and Salvage Corvette have been merged into the Worker unit, Cataclysm's Age of Empires Villager in Outer Space. Both the entire Strikecraft and Corvette lines of shipping have effectively been condensed into just two units: the Acolyte fighter and the ACV Corvette. What's cool about these two is that an ACV is actually two Acolytes docked together. You can separate ACV's into Acolytes on the field and vice versa, so you can switch between a Fighter and Corvette force with ease. Not bad. Refueling has been dropped as a concept in Cataclysm. All the old Probes and sensor units have been combined with the old Scout to become the Recon strike ship. While its very weak on armaments, its light and fast and blessed with long range detection abilities.

Tiny Leeches nibble an enemy ship to death
Another interesting vessel is the Mimic, an unarmed infiltration ship that can imitate any small unit on the field using holographic projectors. You can sneak disguised Mimics up to the enemy and if necessary, kamikaze them against the unwary. Like the Acolyte fighter, you can dock two Mimics together to form Corvette sized MCV to imitate capital class vessels. Just watch out for capital ships with a suspicious vapour trail behind them...

Probably Cataclysm's best units are found in an entirely new class of ship on the Somtaaw side: the Microship. Microships are tiny and come in two forms: the Sentinel, and my favourite, the Leech. Sentinels can combine together in spherical formation to generate large polygonal force fields around large units. This is all well and good, apart from the fact that it seems far too easy to take them out. Leeches can slip into fleets to attach themselves to the hulls of other ships to either spy, erode their hulls by "venting" their health points into space, or "leech" them by eating the enemy vessel for its resources like a tick, then returning to base to offload the RU's! Brilliant.

Beast ships have a second hand line-up of assimilated vessels from pirates, Kushan, Taiidan and Somtaaw forces, all recognizable by the monstrous skin disease proudly spotting their hulls. The Beast can infect other ships using an Infection Beam emitted only by the Mothership and Super-Capital ships, or with the rather scary Cruise Missile. Beast Cruise Missiles are actually one shot corvettes, and if one should crash into anything Frigate sized or smaller, that ship is effectively lost to the Beast. Infection beams work by weight: they'll convert a certain amount of tonnage of shipping per shot. A Frigate, or several Corvettes, or a whole squadron of Fighters.


Homeworld: Cataclysm OVERVIEW
Version & Install

1.0.0.1 Its a straight install. This first patch addresses a sizeable number of small issues, ranging from corrections to computer player bugs, a number of unit tweaks, and reintroduces ship group 0 (previously you could only group ships in batches from 1 to 9.)

Spawns

No!

Demo

Yes! A 48.7Mb download from Sierra's Cataclysm site.

FAQ's

Sierra's Cataclysm FAQ

Networks

Up to 8 players IPX or TCP/IP LAN

Up to 8 players on internet games via Won.net (shut down in 2004)

No built in direct TCP/IP games - but you can cirumvent this using a network tunnelling app like Hamachi.

Maps

Self contained 3D volumes with nice backdrops and 3D lighting - Cataclysm now has strange lightning effect.

Units

Spacecraft only.

Moderate number, about 24 ship types per side, but with more special StarCraftian "magic" abilities.

Unit limit - a little limited, but you can opt to eliminate unit capping entirely.

Units very autonomous - able to navigate and look after themselves.

Extensive use of formations and behaviour settings to suit different attack tactics and ship types. What works for one type of ship doesn't necessarily suit another.

No Heroes, although some scripted alien vessels and wreckage.

Refueling and Support shipping has been dropped entirely.

Resources

The Resource Unit (RU) - there's a lot more of them in Cataclysm than Homeworld

You can now salvage super-rich space gems to add to your haul. Be careful though, these gems are highly explosive and chain reactions offer a new strategic possibility.

RU's are finite and collected from asteroids, space dust and recycled or salvaged ships and space crystals by mobile Workers.

Support Units (SU) sets a "population limit" to the game - the bigger the ship, the more SU's it requires. e.g. you can churn out hundreds of tiny fighters but only a couple of giant Battle Cruisers. Unless unit capping is disabled, of course.

SU limit is increased by building Carriers and Support Modules on your Super-Capital shipping. Sigh.

Research

Research is free.

Research makes available new ship types and various upgrades in armour, weaponry and special abilities.

Ships often have to be upgraded (or mutated if they're Beasties) on the field to incorporate any improvements. Strike craft need to be docked to be upgraded.

Beast has to infect enemy vessels and retire them to obtain some of its relevant techs.

Beast Cruise Missiles - big problem for Somtaaw

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Cataclysm Mods & TCs On to Cataclysm Mods & TCs
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1999, 2000, Sierra On-Line, Inc. All rights reserved. Homeworld is a registered trademark and Cataclysm, Sierra, and Sierra are trademarks of Sierra On-Line, Inc.

Retired once more on Tue, May 31 2005.
Last modified Mon, May 9 2011 by Lindsay Fleay