In context: It's been a while since a new sci-fi franchise took the world by storm, but 2021's Dune reboot certainly hit that mark. After earning more than $400 million at the box office (with a budget of just $165 million), Dune has spread its influence to the gaming industry, courtesy of developer Funcom's exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment.
While movie-licensed games don't have the best reputation in the gaming industry (historically speaking) Funcom has proven they know what they're doing with Dune: Spice Wars. Spice Wars first launched into Early Access in April as a 4X strategy title set in, you guessed it, the Dune universe. The iconic planet of Arrakis, to be specific. In Spice Wars, players take control of one of Arrakis' four factions – House Atreides, House Harkonnen, The Smugglers, and the Fremen – in a vicious battle for supremacy.
If strategy games aren't your cup of tea, though, don't give up hope on the gaming side of the Dune franchise. Funcom announced an entirely new project at Gamescom yesterday: Dune: Awakening. Like Spice Wars, Awakening will take place on Arrakis, but unlike Spice Wars, the game will be an open-world survival MMO.
The project sounds ambitious, to say the least. The official steam page promises to offer a vast, seamless version of Arrakis shared by "thousands of players," though it doesn't specify whether those players will be split across multiple servers or not.
The Steam store page also hints at camp and "fortress" construction, some sort of stillsuit maintenance feature, sandworm attacks, and the ability to deploy your own harvester to gather Dune's spice. You'll battle it out with other players on foot, in vehicles, or take to the sky in Dune's iconic hummingbird-like ornithopters. Apparently, you can even make your own faction and unlock "powerful abilities" through the consumption of spice.
Like we said, Dune: Awakening sounds pretty ambitious – and, if the average MMO launch is anything to go by, perhaps an impossible game to make on launch. It's not uncommon for epic-scale survival games, or MMOs in general, to release in a feature-light state and then improve over time. We aren't saying that will be the case here, but some skepticism is always warranted with games that make big promises pre-release.
Funcom hasn't announced a release date yet, or revealed any gameplay footage. So far, we just have a thematic trailer in which a stillsuit-equipped man (and fan of spice, judging by his eye color) leaps toward an emerging sandworm and a website with a couple pieces of concept art.
You can sign up for Dune: Awakening's beta on the Dune Games website, if you wish. Hopefully we'll all learn more about Awakening sometime next year, at the latest.