We tested the early access to Dune: Spice Wars, and it’s pretty promising

After more than twenty years of crossing the desert, fans of Dunes finally get something to eat! In addition to Denis Villeneuve’s eponymous film, the studio Shiro Game gives us early access to his new game at Arrakis. Dune: Spice Wars takes up the formula for success Northgard and fit it into the universe delicious dark by Frank Herbert.

As one might suspect, Dunes a complete desert planet takes place which offers very little variation. But as explained by Jérémy Vitry, the artistic director of the game, the options are not necessarily closed; Shiro Games adapted a style cartoonish to get the most out of it formability possible for the sand. This is available in different forms and nuances, which offers a broad framework that perfectly depicts the enormous danger of Arrakis. Plains and valleys meander between the rocky heights, while huge extinct volcanoes define the strategic aspect of the map. Like Villeneuve’s films, we sometimes want to let ourselves day dream in the landscape of sandy dunes!

Dune: Spice Wars is a dominance game where the faction that acquires the most of Hegemony win the game. Four factions are currently playable: Harkonnens, Atreides, Fremen and Smugglers. Shiro Games has indicated that more factions will be added, some may even have been created outside the barrel the official of the universe.

I was able to test the brutality of Harkonnenbut it is with Atreides that I won my first game. To the extent 4X in real timeSpice Wars focuses on actions that take several days (the time measurement in the game), but also micro-actions in real time. So we end up with a dynamic map that evolves as regions that one acquires (by force or negotiation) and resources. These are scattered across the map and can not be more than one per. region.

We find the following resources, whose names are sometimes in English:

  • Spicy (the famous native resource of Arrakis that sheds so much blood)
  • Solar (cash)
  • Plastbeton (basic building material)
  • Workforce (continuously feed your military and civilian units)
  • Batteries (necessary to maintain your machines)
  • Water (necessary to maintain your colonies and units)
  • Authority (necessary to maintain your colonies)
  • Hegemony (final resource to win the game, generated by buildings and actions)

Of course, Arrakis’ mastery revolves around one thing: the spice. Necessary for interstellar travel, this precious resource is rare and must be harvested by the necessary harvesters. You will need to protect them from enemy attacks, but also against sandworms that can swallow them in an instant. Its exchange rate, set by Honest Ober Merchants Company, will determine your main source of income in Solari. But even though spice is the beating heart of the empire, your local empire will also need other resources to sustain and grow; capturing regions will require investments individuals and ultimately strategic decisions based on medium-term choices. Whether it is peaceful or militant, the conquest of the card will happen step by step measures and reflect.

That diplomats is also important, but clearly lacks the finishing touch. Interactions between factions are minimaland the exchanges seem pretty shallow ; it feels like Shiro Games only has timid caress this aspect of the game without daring to embrace all the political complexity of Dunes. Note, however, the presence of Landsraad, whose proposals offer as many bonuses and penalties as goals to achieve; that being said, the frequent convictions are not conspicuous by their diversity and are not really representative of the powerful imperial council or its vast power.

From events random also shows up, sometimes offering specific quests. But again, whether in substance or form, Shiro Games only seems to scratch the surface Dunes. We want an interface more personal for the factions, as something angular and bloody for the Harkonnens. The mission or dialogue screens are beautiful, but do not radiate brutality heavy which characterizes Frank Herbert’s work. It’s a shame because options are numerous; Shiro assumes that part of his inspiration comes directly from Denis Villeneuve’s film (in Spice Wars, liet Kynes is a young black woman and not an old white man), but her touch is not felt enough. That direction artistic presented is, however flotbut would benefit from getting taken over.

Maybe it’s something we can look into campaignif release is not yet dated.

that spy system is that said very interesting. Not necessarily easy to handle, but without unnecessary complexity, it is malleable enough to adapt to the type of gameplay as you wish. Whether you are more focused on the economy, expansion peaceful Where the waryour agents will be able to infiltrate both other factions on the map and non-playable devices, such as CHOAM or the Guild spatial ; the operations that will be performed under your orders are quite varied, although we regret that we do not have more choices specific to the faction we are playing and its history.

Same story on the side of the devices: these work a lot in synergy, and have a design that is as simple as it is efficient. That said, the militant aspect of the conquest of Arrakis seems a bit relegated to the background and is unfortunately not affected by all the destructive horrors specific to Frank Herbert’s books. Maybe it will come another time, with a DLC centered on Sardaukars ?

Ultimately, Dune: Spice Wars is a game in early access ; so it must be pruned here and there, to reveal diamond that is the point. Shiro Games has created an enchanting environment where we want to immerse ourselves and conquer with the delicious complex means we have available. But the same environment would benefit from being deepened, reworked, and enlarged. The editor Funcom enjoys exclusive licensing rights, and with fans hungry for content, it would be especially fun to see Shiro fully embrace Dunes and its lore!

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