One of the best new features of Homeworld 2 is the introduction of the Subsystem. A Subsystem is a modular add-on to any Capital and Mothership that lets it manufacture other shipping and extend its capabilities. Subsystems are prominently visible from space, have their own health bars and can be targeted and camera tracked like any regular unit. Instead of just blasting an entire Capital Ship to bits, you can surgically amputate all its vitals instead. Shooting out the Engines of a ship stops it dead in its tracks; blowing its Hyperspace Module can prevent it escaping; nailing the Research Modules on a Mothership can chop down an entire build tree and seriously stop an opponent reinforcing until they replace the lost modules.

Simply put, any Capital ship that rolls off the production floor is little more than empty hull and an engine, capable of docking ships or receiving resources, but nothing more. You build up your Capital shipping with these modules to unlock your fleet's hull classes and to research and upgrade all your units and production. All of Homeworld 2's research and building are intimately tied to Subsystems. They act as the Factories, Barracks, research and radar buildings found in your regular RTS.

There isn't any linear build tree here: you aren't forced to start with simple basic units and then work your way through progressively bigger and more powerful units. The idea behind Homeworld 2's tech tree is to opt for particular units and then embellish your decision with specific upgrades for them. You don't need to build every type of ship in your fleet to achieve balance, and you can completely bypass entire lines of shipping if you think you can get away with it. For example, you might just stick to Capital Craft and Fighters, or, say, just use Frigates covered by Corvettes. You only get so many Subsystem slots on your Capital shipping, and deciding on what function a Carrier is going to have is all part of the Paper-Scissor-Rock philosophy that drives every aspect of the game.

While you can extract some great tactical advantages with this, it does leave holes in your defences that can be countered in turn. Some builds trump others - but only in the right situation. Like the ships themselves, time and place can change everything, and a building strategy that wins you the game in one situation can backfire in another.

This generally holds true on the smaller, Deathmatch maps shipped with the game. The important thing to realize is that you won't have the resources to build everything you want in the time you want it. You are forced to go down a particular path and embellish it, and if your decision and tactics hold true, you can win the game. However, it all changes on larger and richer maps. The strategic possibilities widen considerably, and you are more likely to get to everything eventually. Easily the most varied games in Homeworld 2 tend to be on larger maps with more than two players. Small two player skirmishes tend to be resolved very quickly, sometimes within ten or fifteen minutes.

Retire icon

Subsystems can be retired by Retiring them (CTRL+SHIFT+X). You get back about half the value in RU's. Sometimes its just better to salvage what you can before you lose it in a fight...

Type Examples Notes


Resource Drop-Off

Ion Beam Turret (Hiigaran)

Heavy Missile Battery (Vaygr)

Innate Subsystems come with a freshly minted Capital vessel by default when it's first built. You have no control over the creation or repairing of these components - they auto-repair themselves if they become destroyed.

Most Subsystems have about 20,000 health points each.

The main weapons of Battlecruisers are Innate Modules, which means they can be temporarily disabled by some judicious shooting before eventually repairing themselves. I think these heavy weapons have 55,000 hit points.


Fighter Facility

Corvette Facility

Frigate Facility

Capital Class Facility

Production Subsystems are pretty self-explanatory, and they get grouped in their own special class when describing any Carrier or Mothership class vessel. Each one unlocks its own class of shipping.

Hiigaran Carriers have three Production Subsystems.

But Vaygr Carriers only get one.

Motherships and Shipyards get all four.


Adv. Sensors Array

Anti-Cloaking Sensors

Hyperspace Sensors

Sensor Subsystems are also pretty straightforward, and are given their own classification like Production Subsystems. All Capital Class vessels can only mount one type of Sensor. Choose wisely!

Advanced Sensors simply extend your basic sensor coverage.

Anti-Cloaking can spot cloaked units, but are only available to the Hiigarans.

Hyperspace Sensors can only spot hyperspacing ships in transit from anywhere on the map.

Sensor Modules have about 10,000 health points each.


Research Module

Advanced Research Module

Platform Facility

Hyperspace Module

Gravwell Generator

Cloak Generator

Fire Control Tower

Module Subsystems are the "everything else" type of Subsystem. These include Research, Hyperspacing, Platform construction, and other funky systems such as Cloaking systems and various counter-measures to the above.

More details, below.

Modules are the most common Subsystems you work with in the game. Research and Production Subsystems unlock nearly all your units and the tech trees to go with them. Most other Modules have an operating radius that affects not just the ship carrying the Subsystem, but all friendly ships within its operating range.

Research is shared amongst the production ships in a global menu. You can only research one thing at a time in the game; and the cheaper the tech, the faster it takes to study. You can decrease research times by building more Research Modules, but this is a waste of precious RU's and Subsystem slots. The presence of one Research Module unlocks its techs and hull types right across the fleet, so losing the ship with that "keystone" module can hamstring your entire production. Putting your vulnerable systems on a Carrier and then flying it off to a remote asteroid patch in a distant corner of the map is just asking for trouble.

The Hiigarans have a second subsystem: the Advanced Research Module, which they need to unlock their uppermost tier of units. The Vaygr are untroubled by such necessities.

Platform Facilities sit somewhere between a Production Facility and a Module. A Capital Ship with one of these can churn out Platform turrets to their heart's content. They have their own build menu, queue and unit cap, but don't use the Production Subsystem slots.

Hyperspace Modules lets the ship to leapfrog across the map (see Hyperspacing). If there happen to be any Frigate sized ship or larger within the Module's range, they will be hyperspaced as well, riding in the Hyperspace Module's "backwash".

Hyperspacing is rendered inoperable to any ship caught within the operating range of a Gravwell Generator, or attempting to land within one.

Jumping ships are also severely damaged if they somehow run into one.

Gravwell Generators block all enemy hyperspacing within its operating range. Don't confuse these with the old Gravity Well Generators from the first Homeworld that you could use to freeze Strikecraft in their tracks: Homeworld 2's Gravwell Generator is actually a Hyperspace Inhibitor. I've had reports that Hyperspacing ships that crash into a Inhibitor field get badly damaged, but I've yet to experience this myself. Gravwell Generators have the biggest operating range in the game. They can trap ships from escaping, or prevent attackers from materialising too close to your precious production ships.

If you really don't like the idea of an enemy Battlecruiser suddenly dropping in for morning tea with your Mothership, then you would be well advised to consider these. The game AI's are especially fond of Earl Grey and buttered scones.

Cloak Generators allow all friendly shipping to disappear from sight and radar within their operating radius. If you see an entire taskforce vanish before your startled eyes, you'll know you're dealing with a Cloak. It doesn't matter if you're sitting right on top of them, either. Once invisible, cloaked units can not be targeted, although they can certainly fire back. They have to be activated to work (key shortcut: C) and have a battery life that requires recharging afterwards.

They can be undone by Scouts, Proximity Probes and Anti-Cloak Sensors.

Fire Control Towers improve the accuracy and effectiveness of all friendly ships within their operating radius. There are no caveats to a Tower other than its operational range and finding a free slot. Even better, the bonuses stack when your ships operate in overlapping Fire Control zones.

The Vaygr even get a mobile version: the Command Corvette.

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Last modified Sat, 14 Nov 2009 by Lindsay Fleay.