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New Dune RTS game on the way from developer of Northgard

Dune: Spice Wars enters early access in 2022

Key art for Dune: Spice Wars shows sand running through a person’s fingers. There’s war on the sand, but it’s very small. Image: Shiro Games/Funcom

Dune: Spice Wars is a new real-time strategy game with 4X elements being developed by Shiro Games, the French studio behind the 2017 critically acclaimed strategy game Northgard. It will enter early access in 2022, and will be published by Funcom.

Frank Herbert’s Dune was the inspiration for Dune 2: The Building of a Dynasty, released in 1992 and widely considered to be the first hit RTS game — and the inspiration for classics like StarCraft. Making another RTS using the same intellectual property is a bold move for any studio, but Shiro certainly seems up to the task. The multi-award winning Northgard is among the most highly regarded RTS games of all time.

The 4X aspect of this game — which stands for explore, expand, exploit and exterminate — is perhaps the most intriguing part of this project. Early screenshots show a vast overworld map featuring named landmarks from the canonical planet Arrakis. It also shows multiple markers all over the map, which likely indicate enemy and allied units, their force composition, and relative military strength. It also clearly indicates a fog of war mechanic, with includes limited information on distant units and distant regions that have yet to be explored.

Dune: Spice Wars will include multiple asymmetrical factions and the ability to sabotage, assassinate, and spy on your opponents. Players will even be able to pull at the political strings of power by leveraging their influence among the other noble houses of the Landsraad. The final game will include a multiplayer mode and a single-player campaign, but neither will be available when the early access version initially launches.

This isn’t the only game based on the Dune franchise on the way from Funcom. An open-world multiplayer survival game was announced in 2019, and given the publisher’s success with Conan Exiles that seems like a good fit. Tencent acquired the Norwegian company in 2020 for $148 million, leading Funcom to announce that it would “increase the ambition level” of the game “with resources being allocated from other iniatives and possible additional financing.”

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