Dune Spice Wars, brought to us by Shiro Games, is currently in early access and boasts one of the bigger fictional Sci-Fi Universes. It’s important to note that Dune can be a very niche interest. The dune franchise, which stemmed from a book, has developed into movies and games over time. However, it hasn’t been in game form since 2001, except for a mod developed for Sid Meier’s Civilization 6. As a result of this, fans are ecstatic which puts increasing pressure on the title to get it right. The game boasts an RTS playstyle with elements of diplomacy, skill building, and aggressive skirmish battles. Join us at VIBE as we check it out and see if it lives up to the hype of a new generation Dune game.
Picking A House
The introduction of two new playable houses to the Dune game franchise brought an interesting and fresh perspective. The Fremen and The smugglers were not in the previous installments and each have intriguing backstories. The Fremens are native to Arrakis and intend to defend the planet from any greedy off worlders who don’t plan to treat it right. On the other hand, the smugglers are not yet a vast and established house; they are working in the planets’ underbelly to ensure power and control.
House Atreides and House Harkonnen are two main houses the story has always featured, and with a new game comes new and exciting results. Atreides set the scene as a noble, very politically charged, and politically focused group. Harkonnen is similar to this, but they are often described as merciless and cunning.
I decided to go with the Fremen house which turned out to be a really good decision. The Fremen are native to the land and, naturally, understand the harsh climate and battle ahead of them.
As with most great political leaders or monarchy, there are often councilors who provide extra guidance. In Dune Spice Wars, the two councilors you pick at the start of your playthrough determined buffs for the rest of the game. For example, as pictured above I had selected Otheym who allows for more military power and buffs for combat.
Diving Right In, Sand Worms And All
The tutorial featured was sporadic pop ups. The game does not hand hold and a lot is left for the player to explore and figure out on their own. Although, this is often not a bad thing for a game, that has been non existent for two decades. It’s important that new players have time to digest the complex procedures of things like diplomacy, skills, and battling.
Importance of Resource Control
It really does matter if you control the spice collection. Spice is the main driving force behind most of the planet woes. There are other resources such as plascrete, water, intel, the currency (solaris), and intellect, but spice is the one all the other houses are after. Blood is spilled for spice. Early on, it teaches the player in that sporadic pop up setting to find the nearest spice field and begin the harvesting process. It’s simple once you learn what building you need to use and acquire a settlement in the right area of a spice field.
Despite, the combat being in the form of skirmishes and not much chance of a high volume battle, it has shaped up to be very fun! The skirmishes are usually used in the form of drawing out enemy forces from the settlements so you can pillage or occupy them, or you defend your own settlements from destruction. There are a variety of units to choose from: skirmishers, warriors, and infiltrators to name a few. The combat runs smoothly even though there can be up to five bands of units on the screen. So far, I have experienced little to no jitteriness that can be expected from combat in early access.
Everyone’s Favorite Environmental Hazard
Sandworms are the common thought when you discuss Dune with other players or fans. These crafty creatures add a unique environmental hazard. Sandworms often appear to eat your units when you really need them to survive! However, I wouldn’t change them for the world. Especially, as you can now add thumpers which allow any attacking units to be swallowed up by the sandworm. This power is extremely satisfying and helps us pay homage to the Sandworms Kings and Queens of Arrakis.
Additionally, the skill tree provides some interesting and enriching buffs when utilized properly. Depending on how your settlements and campaign is running, it’s important to have a look at the skills. The skills are laid out in tree fashion and focus on intelligence, survival, communication, and resources. I focused a lot on the resource section of the tree as it allowed me to have my resources at a comfortable level. As a result of this, it made unit production, conquests, and trading a lot less difficult.
Being A Sneaky Sneakerson
Espionage was an increasingly interesting element to Dune Spice Wars. Espionage allowed for the player to send agents to investigate the other houses and acquire buffs, such as increased resource production. Missions cost intel, but it could generate more intellect for votes. The level of resource management is difficult, but it really adds an enjoyability factor.
The Right To Vote
Last but not least is the voting system in Dune Spice wars. Named the Landsraad, this is where houses will vote to apply buffs and debuffs. It’s a proper election process and depends on how much of the intellect resource the house holds. Players with more intellect can place more votes and this can lead to them acquiring all the buffs and dishing out all the debuffs. For a game with such a strong political message like Dune, this is a perfect system. Fun with politics? Who knew.
Thank you for joining me lilacmage on another review for VIBE. Dune is a franchise I hold close to my heart and I’m glad they have delivered. Due to it being early access, I am excited to see what the future holds for this game. It can be currently purchased on Steam at: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1605220/Dune_Spice_Wars/ and have a look at the trailer below to see more.
25, Scottish, Gaming, writing and cooking 🧑🍳 🎮