Dune and video games are intrinsically intertwined. Not only has the Dune series inspired countless sci-fi worlds, but the entire real-time strategy (or RTS) genre owes its existence to the video game Dune II. Without Dune II, there’s no Warcraft or Starcraft and in turn no World of Warcraft, League of Legends, or Auto Chess. Now, Dune’s here to take its strategy game crown back with Dune: Spice Wars, which was revealed at The Game Awards 2021.
When is the Dune: Spice Wars release date?
Alongside the game’s reveal, we learned that Dune: Spice Wars will be released exclusively for PC in 2022. A specific release date or month for the game was not shared, and we don’t know its price yet. Spice Wars is launching at a good time, as it will fill the two-year gap between Denis Villeneuve’s two Dune movies.
Is there a Dune: Spice Wars trailer?
Yes, there is! A trailer revealed Dune: Spice Wars at The Game Awards 2021.
What is Dune: Spice Wars’ genre?
Dune: Spice Wars is described as an RTS game with 4X elements. Basically, this means that players will control a Dune faction in real-time as they explore Arrakis, expand their empire, exploit the planet’s resources like Spice, and exterminate competing factions. The closest mainstream comparisons are Sid Meier’s Civilization and Humankind, though those titles are turn-based and not RTS games.
As mentioned, Dune is tied heavily to the RTS genre. In 1992, Westwood Studios and Virgin Games released Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty for MS-DOS, and it established the modern format that most games in the RTS genre follow. Namely, it introduced features like resource gathering, base and unit construction, unique factions with special abilities, and more systems that modern RTS games can’t function without.
Some of the gaming industry’s biggest games, like World of Warcraft and League of Legends, have their roots in games and franchises that were directly inspired by Dune II. While Spice Wars certainly won’t be as revelatory to the genre, it’s fitting that a modern Dune game is paying respect to its roots.
Who is the Dune: Spice Wars developer?
Dune: Spice Wars is developed by Shiro Games, a French developer known for the Evoland RPG series as well as strategy games like Northgard and Wartales. The developer has lots of experience with strategy games, with Spice Wars being made on a proprietary game engine from Shiro Games made just for strategy titles.
The publisher is Funcom, a Tencent-owned Norweigan company known for games like Conan Exiles. Funcom struck a deal with Legendary Entertainment to make Dune video games in February 2019. Spice Wars is the first game to come from that partnership, though Funcom is also working on a AAA online multiplayer survival game set in the universe of Dune.
Is Dune: Spice Wars an early access game?
Yes. Funcom has confirmed that when Dune: Spice Wars initially launches in 2022, it will be an early access version of the game. This means it will be incomplete at first, with the developers taking feedback from the community and adding new features over time. In an FAQ provided to the press, Funcom explains the decision to launch the game in early access:
“Early access is a great way for the community to get involved in the development process, and for the developers to tailor the game specifically for the fans,” Funcom says. “Shiro Games had a great experience doing this with Northgard and are keen on following the same recipe for success with Dune: Spice Wars.”
When Spice Wars hits early access, it will just have a single-player mode where players can choose a faction and compete with the other ones to win. Future early access updates will add multiplayer, a campaign that “will allow players to write their own stories based on the characters and factions they play,” and more.
Is Dune: Spice Wars connected to the new movies?
While Director Denis Villeneuve released a critically acclaimed Dune movie in October and is currently working on a sequel, Funcom and Shiro Games make it clear that it isn’t making tie-in games. Instead, the novel is their main inspiration.
“We’ve based the game more on the original novel than on the movie,” the publisher says in an FAQ provided to the press. “But since we’re both drawing on the same intellectual property, there will be some similarities.”
Additionally, Funcom and Shiro Games frequently collaborate with Legendary Entertainment, owners of the Dune IP.
“We have a great working relationship with Legendary, who are of course keen to see the intellectual property handled with the respect and care it deserves,” Funcom says. “We discuss a lot of the visual design and the writing with them to make sure we're aligned.”
Dune: Spice Wars will be released for PC in 2022.