Serving as a prequel to the space-based Homeworld games, Deserts of Kharak features a fairly short campaign with mostly unskippable cutscenes where units carry over between missions. Limited skirmish and multiplayer modes only feature five maps for up to six players. The interface adapts the overview sensors manager, but has sluggish camera controls. The game also lacks repeating queues and tool-tips are slow to appear, although the game does indicate which enemy units are being engaged. Resources are used to produce units and unlock more advanced versions. A simple countering system is present, with strike, armored, ranged, missile, and air units each being effective against one other kind. The game does reward attacking from higher terrain and experienced units receive bonuses. While Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a potentially interesting adaptation of 3D space combat to a desert setting, the limited features, interface, and strategy prevents it from making a complete transition.