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Dune: Spice Wars: Release Date, Trailer And Gameplay - What We Know So Far

There were a lot of big announcements at the 2021 Game Awards, including several new trailers showcasing upcoming games. Many were surprised and excited to hear that they were finally getting an "Alan Wake 2" and Quantic Dream's "Star Wars: Eclipse" showed viewers what looked to be a fresh take on that galaxy far, far away (although that one may still be a ways off). "Star Wars" wasn't the only epic Sci-Fi franchise to get some attention, though. There's going to be a new "Dune" game as well.

It makes sense that the studio would make this announcement now, in the wake of the massively successful 2021 "Dune" movie created by sci-fi legend Denis Villeneuve. The novel by Frank Herbert that the franchise was based on was written all the way back in 1965, but in many ways, the IP has never been more popular than it is now. The new game is called "Dune: Spice Wars" and it's set to be made by Shiro Games, creators of "Northguard" which is considered one of the best city-building games on PC right now. Here's everything we know so far.

What is the release date for Dune: Spice Wars?

One of the first things players want to know when they hear there's going to be a new "Dune" game is when it's coming out. Unfortunately, a hard date hasn't been set as of yet. In fact, it looks like it might be a while before prospective players get to enjoy the whole game. The Steam page simply says that "Dune: Spice Wars" has a planned release date for 2022, but there is another section stating that the game will be released in early access, with notes from the developer explaining that a pre-release play period will help by "ensuring accessibility while staying true to the essence of Frank Herbert's work and making a unique game where the very interesting features of the Dune universe are translated into a compelling gameplay experience."

The note goes on to speculate about how long the developers believe the game will remain in early access: "Our current estimation is 9 to 12 months depending on how quickly we are able to reach our milestones and implement all of our planned features and content. But there's no rush." So, while players may be able to visit Arrakis as soon as next year, it's likely that the game will not be completed until 2023.

Is there a trailer for Dune: Spice Wars?

The announcement was made by way of a brief reveal trailer, which is just over a minute long. The camera opens on the Arrakis, the capital city of Arrakeen. As the camera slowly pans away, viewers can see several large explosions detonate within the city walls as the ships of invaders approach. As the camera gets further away, a sandworm can be seen breaching the desert before diving back into the sand. Then the camera backs further away, revealing the world to be piled into a dis-embodied hand in space as sand and Spice slip between its fingers. The hand then closes, destroying the world in a puff of sand as the title comes into view.

The trailer is dubbed with several prominent lines from the book. The first is presumably Baron Harkonnen, stating "There it is. The biggest death trap in all of history, and the Duke is headed into its jaws." More quotes from the franchise begin to be layered on top of each other until they are difficult to understand. Then in the final moments, as the hand closes, all of the characters state at the same time, "This is my Dune."

It tells very little about what players will be able to expect in the game, but does an excellent job establishing the general theme.

What is the gameplay like for Dune: Spice Wars?

There is no gameplay footage for "Dune: Spice Wars" yet, but there's a lot of information about what kind of game it's going to be. According to the Steam page, it's "a real-time strategy game with 4X elements." That means players will need to explore, expand, exploit and exterminate in order to "battle for control and dominance over the harsh desert planet of Arrakis."

Players will get to choose one of several factions including House Atreides which is led by Duke Leto and House Harkonnen which is led by Baron Vladimir. No other factions have been announced as of yet, but the Fremon and the Imperial Sardaukar seem like natural choices if Shiro Games is intending to limit itself to the factions that presented themselves in the first book.

The images of the game seem to suggest that "Dune: Spice Wars" will function similarly to "Northguard" and most other RTS conquest games. Players will be able to build cities, control exploration and military units, trade resources, utilize spy networks, build defenses and launch invasions. One unique feature about Arrakis is the danger of sandworms. According to the Steam description, players will need to "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." It's unclear what specific role the spice will play in the game's mechanics, but it will undoubtedly be vital to controlling the desert planet.