Funcom today announced an early access launch date of April 26th for Dune: Spice Wars, a new real-time strategy game set in Frank Herbert's sci-fi world of giant sandworms and winged underpants. Even aside from my enduring love of megafauna, Spice Wars is made by Shiro Games, the studio behind Wartales and Northgard, and that's enough to have my interest.
Spice War is an RTS with "4X elements" where factions fight for control of Arrakis, a desert planet where... wait! A new Dune film came out! Loads more people have heard of Dune now! I don't need to explain everything! Basically, this planet is the only source of magic drugs vital for space travel, and those drugs happen to be produced by a vast and hungry species of sandworm. And so, conflict and hazard.
Our Katharine saw a preview version earlier this year and quite liked it.
"Based on what I've seen, it looks like Shiro Games have done a fine job of translating Dune's big epic power plays into a real-time 4X strategy game, and most importantly, it doesn't look overly intimidating for first-time players to the genre, either," she said. "There's a lot to take in, for sure, but as someone who's always been a bit frightened of tackling some of the all-time 4X greats, Dune: Spice Wars definitely looks more my kind of speed - and a 3-5 hour game length isn't half bad either."
Today's announcement also brought news that the game's fourth playable faction are, unsurprisingly, the Fremen. They're joining House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and the Smugglers. See this blog post for info on Fremen units and strategies. I had half-hoped for a Bene Gesserit who played extremely different to everyone else but I suppose they might be too unconventional, and the lads in big nappies are certainly more known. Maybe later? Goodness knows those witches have patience for the long game.
Dune: Spice Wars is coming to Steam Early Access on the 26th of April. The makers expect early access will last 9-12 months while they add features including multiplayer, a new faction (Bene Gesserit, please), and a full campaign, tweaking bits in response to feedback along the way. Though as will often happen with early access, they say it could take longer.