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Dune: Spice Wars Early Access date & Fremen faction revealed

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Dune: Spice Wars, a fresh video game adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction universe, will be heading into Steam Early Access on 26th April, publisher Funcom and developer Shiro Games have announced. At the same time, they’ve revealed that the Fremen will be the fourth and final playable faction within the game.

Taking players back to Arrakis, Dune: Spice Wars will have you vie for control of the spice, the most valuable and important resource in the whole universe. This game will put a unique spin on this conquest, blending together real time strategy elements with those more commonly found in grander 4X games, as you seek to expand control across the planet’s villages, sending out harvesters to gather spice, fighting to defend your settlements, and capture those of others. Oh, and there’s always the sandworms that might come and disrupt whatever it is you’re doing.

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Some of this was showcased in the first gameplay trailer released in February:

Having previously announced the Atreides, Harkonnen, and Smugglers as playable factions, the Fremen have been announced as the fourth faction in the game. Each faction comes with different strengths and weaknesses that you’ll have to play to and exploit in order to succeed.

The Fremen will have much greater ability to move across the open desert, being much less likely to attract the attentions of sandworms – which they can also ride, let’s not forget – as well as being able to travel further before exhaustion sets in. Alongside that, you can ally with hidden Siethces, expanding your area of influence more secretly than other factions can, while setting ambushes for your foes and using guerrilla tactics.

The leader of the Fremen is Liet Kynes, whose twin loyalties between being the Emperor’s planetologist and a Fremen leader puts her in a unique position. She joins Duke Leto Atreides, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and Esmar Tuek as faction leader.

When needing to rely on military forces, the Fremen have the following unique units:

  • Warriors are the bread and butter of Fremen fighters. Armed with long knives, they are experts at using Arrakis terrain to disorient their opponents.
  • Infiltrators are so used to the desert that they stay invisible and unheard until they strike with their two knives. Their surprise attacks will always find a weak spot, breaking their opponents’ will and focus.
  • Skirmishers have a large supply of grenades. They use them to ambush well armoured units and soften them for their other comrades to finish off.
  • Fedaykins are the elite of the Fremen army. Trained in the weirding way and armed with the feared crysknives, they only get stronger the more opponents they face.
  • Kulon Caravans are the holders of the clan’s water. While they can fight the invaders with maula rifles, their main function is to set up a hiereg camp. At the camp, all Fremen units will be hidden, healed and resupplied. As such, Kulon caravans are best deployed near remote villages as proxy bases for an attack.

Dune: Spice Wars follows in the footsteps of Dune II, the pioneering real time strategy that Westwood Studios created before their iconic Command & Conquer series. Of course, where Dune II laid the foundations for RTS games to come, Dune: Spice Wars gets to sample and experiment with fully formed gameplay ideas. In particular, the scope of this game is much wider, looking to take in the whole conflict for the planet, going from controlling units from a relatively close overhead angle to viewing the different areas and factions in play across the planet.

It’s an intriguing new attempt to adapt the notoriously difficult to adapt sci-fi setting, but absolutely makes sense that it does so as a strategy game, giving players control in areas that were only loosely described in the books. We look forward to being able to give it a go later this month.

Source: press release

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