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New Dune: Spice Wars gameplay shows isometric, open world full of fighting

‘First, you’ll need to survive, then try to understand the land.’

Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Dune: Spice Wars was announced last year at the 2021 Game Awards, and developer Shiro Games is now giving players a better look at its hybrid of 4X and real-time strategy (RTS) gameplay. Dune: Spice Wars is expected to launch in early access in 2022, published by Funcom.

In the new gameplay trailer released Tuesday, Shiro Games showcased exactly how it looks to battle on Arrakis. It looks sort of like a sandbox RTS game — the sandbox being the exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating that 4X games call for. Unlike in over RTS games, Dune: Spice Wars has players battling on one big map, rather than multiple smaller sites. It looks like players, developing their infrastructure and communities, live and battle in the inhabitable world.

There are a few different paths players can take, according to the trailer: subterfuge, political influence, economic supremacy, or open warfare. Of course, beyond all that, there’s Dune’s big old worms to watch out for, too.

Dune: Spice Wars will launch with four factions, including Houses Harkonnen and Atreides. A fifth faction will be added in early access, with “more later,” Shiro Games said in an FAQ released in January. Multiplayer and a single-player campaign are both expected to launch later in the early access period.

Publisher Funcom is also working on an open-world survival game based off the Dune franchise.

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