Tech Briefing: Ship Systems

Subsystems

"One of the ways in which we allow the player to make a series of meaningful choices and to personalize their ships' capabilities is through the use of subsystems. Subsystems are unique ways in which a player can add abilities to a ship. They only work on Capital Ships; strike craft wait for research upgrades developed by the Mothership or a Carrier." - Dan Irish, Executive Producer

"Subsystems add an element of base building that Homeworld lacked and that forms one of the cornerstones of the RTS genre. This isn't to say that players will be building bases, but they'll have the ability to customize their Capital Ships to a degree, thereby increasing their strategic options. Where customization comes in is in subsystems modules that grant ships unique abilities like cloaking, improved firing accuracy, repair abilities and so forth." - Josh Mosquiera, Lead Designer

"The introduction of subsystems adds new and interesting tactical depth to Homeworld 2's research system. Players will be able to build key modules to customize their larger ships. Some sample subsystems include fighter production bays, fire control towers, and cloaking generators. Of course, players can target these subsystems, allowing them to perform surgical strikes on their enemy's fleet. If your opponent keeps building assault corvettes, take out his or her corvette facilities to give your bombers free rein. When the player starts a game, all of these slots will be empty, so if a player wants to build fighters, he or she will have to build a fighter subsystem. But building isn't the only thing you can do with subsystems. So if you wanted a cloak detecting sensor you can build that, but again, you have a limited number of slots so you have to be careful what you choose. If you have bunch of fighters and bombers and your enemy has a bunch of corvettes, you know they have a corvette facility. If you manage to take that out, you've essentially hamstrung their production efforts and kept them from building counters to your units." - Josh Mosquiera, Lead Designer

"Knocking out a ship's subsystems might cripple its corvette production, making it vulnerable to Fighter and Bombers. Likewise, the player must decide how to outfit their ships. Do they choose a cloaking subsystem or a fire control tower that increases its combat effectiveness? All these are interesting choices in the middle of a multiplayer match." - Dan Irish, Executive Producer

"Another very, very important evolution that Relic has made with Homeworld 2 is the addition of subsystems. And this is on all capital ships, including the Mothership. Youíre now able to have, for example on the Mothership, hardpoints that you can customize, and you have a number of choices as to do with these hardpoints; you can create research, you can create ship production facilities, you can create additional weapons systems, and because everybody has a Mothership and they have the ability to customize these any way they want, it lets you suit your ship to the style of player you are. Maybe youíre the kind of player that rushes up the tech tree, and so you want to take every available hardpoint and devote it to research, so that you can get the higher-level ships first; you might be a player that says, you know what? I don't care in the slightest about research; Iím going to mob the other player as quickly as possible. Iím going to increase my production capability, and just make lots of little ships and take him out before he finishes his research. You have the ability to attack capital ships now, and they all have subsystems: they have weapons, they have propulsion, and now youíre able to take a small group of ships that would otherwise be completely outmatched by such a ship, and you wouldnít even bother battling, because thereís no way that they could win; well, they might not be able to win now, but if you can have a small group of ships disable the weapons on a capital ship, that becomes a worthwhile exchange. And while you may be very confident about sending your capital ship into battle before against such a force, now you understand that, well, thatís all well and good, but if they cripple my propulsion, and the Marine Frigates come in, and they can capture my ship from me.  So again: more depth, more detail, and the ability to really customize the gameplay to exactly the kind of player that you are." - Alex Rodberg, Brand Manager (Sierra)

"But the best thing about the larger ships is not their fearsome firepower, but their customizability and consequent visual differentiation. Add a bay for the Bomber production to your mothership and a lovingly detailed module will be visibly constructed on the behemothís hull. Add extra firepower and the turrets are shown. Youíll have just as much fun swooping the camera low over its laser-pitted hull as you will unleashing the beast on your enemy." - Ross Atherton, PCGamer

According to IGN, there are three classes of subsystems: innate subsystems (elements of an ordinary ship that can be targeted or perhaps upgraded, such as engines), special-ability subsystems (such as cloaking or cloak-detection sensors, or hyperspace capability), and production subsystems that build ships. The data given for the Hiigaran Battlecruiser lists three types of innate subsystems: command, propulsion and weapons, and notes that each is targetable.

It's not understood exactly which ships will have what kinds of subsystems, but it does seem clear that production-capable ships such as the Mothership, Carrier and Shipyard, will have slots for production subsystems. While it is said that the Mothership will have enough slots to build all available subsystems, smaller vessels will have a limited number, so the player must choose which kind of production subsystems he wants to build and invest in. Since individual subsystems are targetable, the enemy can also focus on which of your abilities he'd like to destroy. It appears that production subsystems are represented on the ships by actual geometry, so the enemy will be able to tell at a glance which systems you have built, and which you haven't.

Here are the currently known types of buildable subsystems and their costs:
Corvette Facility (RU 500)
Advanced Research Module (RU 1000)
Platform Controller (RU 500)
Hyperspace Module (RU 500)
Hyperspace Sensors (RU 1000)
Cloak Generator (RU 3000)
Fire Control Tower (RU 1500)
Hyperspace Inhibitor
Cloak Sensors (RU 1000)
Advanced Sensors Array (RU 1000)
Anti-Cloaking Sensors (RU 1000)
Gravity Well Generator (RU 750)
Capital Ship Facility

Weapon Systems
Kinetic Weaponry
Kinetic weaponry seems to be the HW2 version of the "mass driver" or "projectile cannon" from Homeworld. Two types are known: the "Kinetic Burst Cannon" on the Assault Frigate and BC, and a "Kinetic Autogun" on the Assault Corvette. The Burst Cannon on the Assault Frigate has a visual effect that suggests a flak-type burst that does area-effect damage.

Ion Beams
Homeworld's standard anti-ship weapon. You know 'em, you love 'em, they're back. Ion Cannons have been verified on the Battlecruiser and Ion Cannon Frigate.

Plasma Bombs
Another returning weapon from Homeworld. "If you have a group of battlecruisers, you can defeat them with anti-capital ship strike craft, like plasma bomb launchers or anti-frigate corvettes." -
Dan Irish, Executive Producer

Missiles & Torpedoes
In Homeworld, missiles were primarily anti-fighter weapons. In HW2, several references have been made to "torpedoes" as anti-ship weapons. It's not known whether there are also anti-fighter missile in HW2 in addition to the torpedoes, or whether they are the same item. The Vaygr torpedoes seen striking Hiigaran frigates in various screenshots seem quite large, perhaps nearly as large as a fighter. Hiigaran missiles appear to have the ability to break up into multiple warheads. Cei Gladstone confirms that torpedoes can be intercepted by fighters.

Pulsar Beams
Listed as a weapon on the Hiigaran Battlecruiser: "A compliment of four pulsar turrets and four kinetic burst cannons enable the Battlecruiser to engage strike craft intent on disabling key command, propulsion, or weapons subsystems." Also appears to be the main weapon of the Hiigaran Pulsar Corvette.

Plasma Beams
"Consequently, the Vaygr destroyer is one of the most distinctive units, with its offset hull used for plasma beam generators." -
Dan Irish, Executive Producer
We're not sure if this is a misquote, a mistake, or a real item, since the destroyer doesn't appear to have any such weapon.

Other Weapons Systems
"There will be no mass destruction uberweapons in multiplayer games." -
Dan Irish, Executive Producer

 
Research

"In terms of research, the player will be able to choose from unlocking new Technologies and Upgrades. Technologies grant abilities like Cloaking and Hyperspace Inhibitors, while Upgrades are ship enhancements." - Josh Mosquiera, Lead Designer

"The two sides are different in terms of technology so you won't even be able to research the other's type of tech. They share basic stuff like resourcing, but that's it. Hiigarans are more well rounded with their fleets where the Vaygr are much more specialized in their uses." - Josh Mosquiera, Lead Designer

"To make for more strategic decision making, Homeworld 2 will have a more branching, tiered tech tree and motherships can be upgraded in specialized ways to give an advantage in, say, research or production." - Sam Parker, Gamespot

"Each fighter class can be upgraded; each corvette and frigate class can be upgraded; but itís really a question of what do you want to upgrade; do you want to upgrade the armor? Do you want to upgrade the strength of the weapons? Do you want to upgrade your speed? Do you want to upgrade their ability to cloak or work with a cloaking ship? Anyway, like I said before, itís a series of meaningful choices about how they can work together as a group, rather than work together just strictly as a numbers game, or whoever gets the best ship first wins." - Dan Irish, Executive Producer

"For balance reasons, weapon customization is limited. Upgrades are more possible when it comes to weapons, however. Bombers can research advanced munitions that enable them to take out subsystems with more ease, for example." - Josh Mosquiera, Lead Designer

"Individual units can upgrade, but the upgrade generally applies to an entire class of unit. There are some exceptions, but that's the general rule." - Dan Irish, Executive Producer

Known research items:

Technologies
Enhanced Battlecruiser Weapons (RU 1000)
Sensors Distortion Probe (RU 1000)
Imp. Hyperspace Drive Systems (RU 1000)
                Enhances the Hyperspace Drive Systems, reducing the Hyperspace cost by 20%
                Prerequisites: Research Module and Hyperspace Module

Imp. Hyperspace Navigation (RU 500)
Imp. Hyperspace Recovery (RU 500)
Minelaying Technology (RU 1000)
Battlecruiser Chassis (RU 1000)

Abilities
Collector Repair (RU 500)
Enhanced Scout Sensors (RU 750)
Improved Torpedoes (RU 2500)
Improved Bombs (RU 1500)
Scout Electro-Magnetic Pulse (RU 1000)
Defense Field (RU 500)

Consumables (Fuel and Ammunition)
"Fuel is not a factor in the behavior of strike craft. We have found that the micromanagement required detracts from the gameplay experience." - Dan Irish, Executive Producer

"Ammunition is unlimited in Homeworld 2. The behavior and dynamics of each weapon system is unique, so you will find that your tactics change based on how your fleet has been deployed." - Dan Irish, Executive Producer