Dune's coming home where it belongs: the strategy genre. Westwood Studios' Dune 2, released back in the early '90s and more or less established the real-time strategy genre, paving the way for Command & Conquer and Blizzard's Warcraft. Westwood revisited Arrakis in 1998 with a remake, Dune 2000, and a follow-up, Emperor: Battle For Dune, in 2001. That was it for Dune and strategy until now: at The Game Awards, Funcom debuted a trailer for Dune: Spice Wars, a 4X coming next year.
Spice Wars already has a Steam page (opens in new tab), which gives us some insight into what to expect here. And a good thing, too, because the trailer above is just setting the mood with familiar bits of Dune dialogue. Here's what the Steam page has to say:
"A real-time strategy game with 4X elements, from the developers of the critically acclaimed Northgard. Set in Frank Herbert’s groundbreaking Dune universe, you must lead your faction and battle for control and dominance over the harsh desert planet of Arrakis...
"Scan the landscape for wormsign or risk losing your troops and spice harvesters to titanic sandworms who will burst through the sand dunes to swallow and devour them whole. Best your opponents through political intrigue, crush them in combat, and undermine them with your network of illusive spies."
Funcom plans to launch Dune: Spice Wars in Early Access, and it looks like two houses will be available to play at launch—House Atreides and House Harkonnen. Not exactly a shock, there.
As you'd hope for a 4X game, Spice Wars promises you'll be able to "choose between subterfuge, political influence, economic supremacy, or open warfare to prevail." You'll be able to use secret agents to sabotage other houses and do some politicking within the Imperium's Landsraad. A 4X seems like a great fit for Dune, if Funcom can stick the landing.
This isn't actually Funcom's only Dune project in the pipe. It's also making a multiplayer survival game, which we have some ideas for (opens in new tab).
If Spice Wars put you in the mood for more desert power, check out our overview of the best Dune games (opens in new tab).
Correction: This article originally stated the last Dune RTS was Westwood's Dune 2000, and not its sequel, Emperor: Battle for Dune.