Ever since the resurgence of Dune in the media and movies, fans have been wanting to get a game to play along with it. The recent movie has rekindled the life of Dune and brought new fans to the universe that surrounds it. Shiro Games and Funcom announced that they were making a new Real-Time Strategy game in this world. I was drooling at the idea of playing this. With all the info and the trailer, I was hoping for Dune mixed with Command and Conquer. What I got was a nice step in that direction, but there is a lot to work on. However, I am very hopeful for the final release.
Dune: Spice Wars is a four-player, RTS strategy game that comes to life on the desert planet Arrakis. With society what it is and the planet very unhospitable, Arrakis is very uninhabitable. There are 4 different factions (for now) that compete for the spice, which is the most useful and important resource in the whole universe and is extracted directly from Arrakis. The only thing in this game that I found more important than spice for gameplay is water, but I will touch on that later. Between the political and backstabbing superclass, the cost of keeping control of your part of the spice trade, and the devastating and unforgiving sandstorms there are plenty of things to keep you from surviving. That doesn’t even touch on the true rulers of Arrakis, the Sandworms. Yes, they are what they sound like, humongous worms that burrow in the ground that can and will devour whatever they hear.
Now that you have an idea of what you’re getting into, let’s jump in head first and make our own life out of this universe. You begin with deciding which of the four factions you wish to align yourself with. Each one provides both advantages and disadvantages to your playstyle; they are The Smugglers, House Atreides, The Fremen, and House Harkonnen.
For example, House Harkonnen is equipped with bonuses related to troops and subterfuges, House Atreides will be able to take possession of the villages peacefully, the Fremen will have advantages that will help them take possession of neutral villages, or that they see them more skilled in moving, and etc. The starting area is also influenced by the choice of your faction. After you have chosen your faction, you also get to decide on two advisors that will guarantee you additional bonuses in certain characteristics or mechanics.
Now the game is not just to attack and conquer other cities and farm spice. You also have to deal with the political aspects of the game. That is where I got lost since some of the decisions I wanted were not chosen due to the voting.
Then to make things more complicated, some decisions may not suit your faction and hell may even go against you or your partners. Which in return can start to derail your peace and truces and cause more ripples in the cohesiveness of your alliance.
Now when you first start, you have a base. You also have what I call a Dragonfly. I think they are actually called Ornithopters. Basically, it is a scout ship, and then just like other RTS games you use it to scout out the area around you. You can find spice fields, mineral areas, and even neighboring towns to conquest. To raid these towns, you have to make some troops which can depend on how much water you have and will decide how big your army is. Then you send your troops to the city that you wish to either raid or take over, depending on what is near it, and they will fight back and forth until either you succeed or your troops die. Once you complete the raid, then you can decide what to do with the city. If it is near a spice field then you will want to keep the city, refortify it, and build a couple of buildings, and some troops there so no one else can take it over.
Cities have limited space and slots to build the structures, and then you will have to spend resources to unlock new ones and expand the building space: this will be essential to grow and enhance strategic points on the map perhaps enriching them with defensive turrets if on the borders with the enemies, or making the less militarized and safer areas in the central territories more productive (perhaps exploiting them for the collection of water, spice and so on).
Dune: Spice Wars is not clear yet on how everything will take place and proceed in the game, but what I have played so far is a very promising game that with a slight dose of patience, can be mastered by players. If you are a lover of the Dune universe, I can say that after playing through the preview, Spice Wars manages to create the same mind space and feel as Herbert’s creation. Now is this a game that I suggest to all at this time? Absolutely not. However, if you are a fan of this world and want to jump in and help give feedback to make it the game Dune fans would love to have, then please do so, and I hope to see you all soon on planet Arrakis.
This preview was written based on an early access preview key of Dune: Spice Wars for PC provided by Shiro Games and Funcom.