Funcom has shown off its Dune project for the first time at Gamescom. Sadly, it opted for the CG trailer approach, but we now know that it's an open world survival MMO called Dune Awakening. And that it will have giant sandworms.
The game is set on a "vast and seamless" reimagining of Arrakis, the most hostile planet in the universe, and appropriately enough Awakening is looking to combine the survival genre with the social side of a large-scale persistent MMO. Gameplay mechanics will include building shelter against the constant sandstorms, maintaining and improving your life-sustaining stillsuit, and avoiding death at the maws of the colossal sandworms.
Biomes mentioned include long-abandoned research stations and ancient sietches, though a core mechanic seems to involve gigantic sandstorms 'shifting' the landscape in certain sectors of the map. At this stage the language being used is fuzzy, but mentions "the ever-changing face of Arrakis" before a slightly more specific description of what that may mean: "Head into unmapped sectors and be the first to discover secrets and riches before the coriolis storms once again shift the sands and alter the landscape." Perhaps procedural generation will regularly remake certain sections of the mapp?
Space naturally plays a huge role—it's the whole reason that people are on Arrakis in the first place—and you'll be hunting for spice blooms and harvesting them, while of course other players and factions try to do the same. Funcom promises that you'll "soak the sand in blood as massive battles shift seamlessly from foot to vehicles and from ground to ornithopters in the sky."
This is, of course, all talk at this stage. But it's pretty big talk and Funcom certainly has the resources to throw at the project. The PR accompanying the trailer promises players will be able to tailor every aspect of their character, as well as acquiring abilities through the consumption of spice. The crafting system, meanwhile, will apparently be so in-depth that it will function as entire roles in the economy.
There's no release date yet for Dune Awakening, but game has a nifty website (opens in new tab) where scrolling increases the sand blur, which is a nice trick. You can sign up for the beta now, and the game also has a Steam page (opens in new tab).