Games of the Year

Dune: Spice Wars

Dune: Spice Wars Screenshot 1
Dune: Spice Wars Screenshot 2
Dune: Spice Wars Screenshot 3
Dune: Spice Wars Screenshot 4
Dune: Spice Wars Screenshot 5
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What the press is saying

“Overall, I'm very impressed so far with Dune: Spice Wars [...] Even in its early access form, Dune: Spice Wars is shaping up to be a triumphant return.” - IGN

“The 4X take on the war for Arrakis feels like it captures a lot of what makes the Dune stories interesting, from the warfare to the political intrigue.” - GameSpot

“This game is easily the most faithful to the Dune universe that I've played.” - CNET

“I’ve spent the bulk of my weekend playing an early access build of Dune: Spice Wars and, perhaps unsurprisingly, as someone who loves 4X strategy games, I was obsessed.” - Twinfinite

“Dune: Spice Wars is wonderful [...] Even in this unfinished state, Dune: Spice Wars is giving me the Dune video game I’ve been dreaming of for decades.” - Cinelinx

About the Game

A 4X real-time strategy game 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.

Spice is the most valuable resource in the universe. The spice extends life, expands consciousness, and makes interstellar travel possible. Found only on Arrakis, it is sought by the most influential forces in the universe. Play as one of several factions, including House Atreides, House Harkonnen, the Smugglers, and the native Fremen, and compete for power over Dune and the spice.

Scan the landscape for wormsign or risk losing your troops and spice harvesters to titanic sandworms who will burst through the dunes to swallow and devour them whole. Crush your opponents in combat, best them through political intrigue, and undermine them with your network of illusive spies.

Experience the unique Dune universe, one of the most influential sci-fi settings ever created. Lead your faction to victory with iconic characters, such as Duke Leto Atreides, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Esmar Tuek, and Liet Kynes. Stay alert as opposing factions seek to gain the upper hand and the planet itself threatens with withering deserts, huge storms, and consuming sandworms.

Balance open warfare, subterfuge, political influence, and economic supremacy to prevail and gain control over the most important planet in the universe! Use secretive agents to sabotage the plans of your opponents. Vote on political resolutions in the Landsraad to further your strategy.

Explore Dune with ornithopters to discover resources, villages, and points of interest. Expand with your troops to take control of more and more regions. Exploit the resources through buildings and spice harvesters to dominate the economy. Exterminate your enemies with a strong military but beware as outright aggression can have high political repercussions.

Take the path of honor and political power as the respected House Atreides, or choose violence and devious plots as House Harkonnen. Become master of desert survival and guerilla tactics with the native Fremen and gain influence through shady deals and infiltration as the Smugglers.

Tailor each faction’s existing strengths and weaknesses by selecting your councilors. With the Atreides’ legendary swordmaster Duncan Idaho at your side, expansion and combat prowess are improved. Gain power over people and information with the aid of Chani Kynes of the Fremen, or overwhelm with military might with Rabban of the Harkonnens.

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care...

The game will be updated and expanded with a full campaign and multiplayer, including more features and improved balance throughout Early Access, based on your crucial feedback.

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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

*FYI some of this is out of date with a recent patch, but the game pace and balance has improved and looks like more is coming*
I wanted to give a one to one response to the top review right now, because it misses the mark entirely. This is in reference to Cantore's review, which is currently in the top spot.
1) "1) The amount of spice you need to bribe the empire with always goes up. By a few hours into the game, you will have an extremely high spice tax rate that you will be forced to contribute. Failure to do so brings some really hefty consequences to one or more of your resources. And, it gets worse - it compounds each time the deadline is missed."
Spice is life. It's the most essential resource in the game, and you can't just ignore it. My guess is that the reviewer missed that you can control the slider that balances how much spice you stockpile vs how much you sell for cash to the CHOAM. As Smugglers in one game, I built my entire economy around black markets in enemy territory so 100% of my spice went into the stockpile for the Landsraad or periodic mission bribes. In another game, I took control of the Polar Cap, built a water harvester, and earned a fortune selling water and buying spice from others. You can expand your territory to find more spice fields. You can go down the research tree to build more crew on each harvester to extract more per territory, as well as build spice silo builds to produce 20% more. You can research to allow orinthopters to boost any harvester's they are over. You can search for ? items all over and assign missions to find stockpiles. You can buy spice from other factions by trading whatever resource you are specializing in. I've beat the game on normal or hard with each faction and never once missed a spice tax, but I always had to think about spice.
2)"2) Given much more major battles exist in the end game, you would think there would be some way to offset the amount of spice you need to contribute; or a way to gain independence from them. There isn't."
See above. The CHOAM/Stockpile slider is where its at. As for gaining independence and just refusing to contribute, YOU CAN DO THAT TOO! There are ways to offset the penalties for missing tax day, and keep your favor with the Landsraad. You can focus on earning Influence and Intel, then run agent missions for "Political Audits" that boost your Landsraad standing +30 each time. There's HQ buildings that let you earn +1 Landsraad every tick. So you can generate an economy that can allow you to sell every bit of spice you get.
3) "3) REALLY SEVERE debufs exist in the game, and exacerbate further when other factions start messing with your manpower and health restore on your troops. I am TOTALLY against magic debufs, and this game has a LOT of them!"
There are two types of debuffs. The direct buffs and debuffs that you can apply via agents, and the ones you can vote for/against doing the councils. To help counter agents, you can assign counter intelligence agents to catch and punish the factions that are hitting you with them. You can also vote for harsh punishments for a faction if they use one of these. You can of course run your own agents to build your own buffs and debuffs, and this is necessary. If you see that your force is being debuffed and you can't use your own agents to match... pull your forces out! Come back when you're better prepared.
4) "4) The periodic faction voting is meant to debuf another faction so you gain an upper hand on them. I hate it personally. It should be votes on actually meaningful things, not just everyone against me. I find myself putting all of my votes into stopping the worst of the consequences so I don't get debuffed to death! It's stupid and really pointless. It needs a serious overhaul!"
Here's another part of the economy you can specialize in! You can absolutely build enough influence to control these votes. In the early game, its hard to pick more than one, but some factions specialize in manipulating this. As Atredies, you can bring Lady Jessica to give you the ability to remove debuffs. Smugglers can set bounties for factions to vote a certain way against a certain faction (and man do they like to vote for the things you pay them to). Harkonnens can secretly corrupt a vote that a faction may want to have so that the winning faction loses Landsraad standing. Buildings can generate influence for votes, you can trade for the resource, etc. As you build your standing, you could become Speaker of the council and get a chance to reroll one of the three options each week.
5) "5) The units. You have soldiers, but there's a MASSIVE penalty to having them... but you need them, or you'll die quickly. The more units you have the more manpower you don't have. You have to offset this with a bunch of recruitment stations all over the place by the time the game is well underway. Even then, if the enemy messes with the manpower or your health regen - you're cooked."
Manpower and water, another resource! Of course, you could do like I did with the Smugglers and build an entire Drone army run on nothing but money and batteries. Or you can earn some manpower by placing agents in the Space guild. You can specialize in a strong militia to protect each of your locations. Harkonnens can end up with a crazy strong militia in place if you build right. Place your missile batteries in the right spot and you can cover multiple territories for the cost of very little manpower. Well placed airports let you shuttle around a defending force to assist your militia wherever you need them (or ride the free worms if you're a Fremen).
6)"6) Units don't have any specialty skills or icons. They're just a unit with more or less number values than another. It would be nice to have the military line unlock special skills that a unit can perform, or a defensive or offensive boost. As it stands now, the game is more worried about unit consumption of manpower, power, and water; all of which is of no affect during a battle."
Every unit has a unique ability, some more passive than others. Atreidies like to have a varied army because each unit benefits the others in some way and some get stronger for each unique buff they get from others. Harkonnens inflict self damage, but can run agent missions to take drugs that keep you from dying. So you're holding out at one health hoping to finish things off quickly. Fremen can bring an advisor that boosts their strength for lone soldiers (and the run speed for everyone). You can then bring the unit that deals a ton of damage on its first attack, assassinate something and RUN. Smugglers are stronger against units as they lose supply (basically stamina), particularly their snipers. Their aoe attacker damages supply. Agent missions can damage supply. So theirs lots of strategies to exploit this. Each faction also gets a drone unit that works differently. It can cross territory that soldiers would have to walk a long ways around. They don't generate vibrations to draw worms.

Review from Steam

If you want a 4x or an RTS you'll be disappointed. This is Northgard in space; the emphasis is on balancing the many different facets of your power from military to economy to diplomacy to espionage. Advancing yourself and damaging your opponents takes many different forms, and the terrain is always heavily at play.
My impression after one game is that they've done a good job of creating something complex without being overwhelming, but I'm still not sure I'll get 100's of hours out of it like Civ or Alpha Centauri. For that I'll probably need multiplayer eventually, but for the current price the game is worth it for a discerning strategy junkie.

Review from Steam

My reviews are never seen. Just know that this game is positive from me and move along

Review from Steam

The game is a good start. The developer team is great. And Dune's potential as source material is limitless.
But I would steer clear of the forums. It seems there was a actually a group of human beings living out in the desert for the past 30 years. And they have only just recently emerged from under a rock and returned to society. The only game they managed to salvage all those years was Dune II, made in 1992. And they do not understand why no one else wants that game to just be remastered in brilliant 2D color perfection with Windows 7 support (there was actually a thread about it, seriously). They keep screaming that anything else would be categorically "Not Dune" and a blasphemy to the franchise...not realizing that "Dune" was actually created in 1965 by Frank Herbert; and he died before that game ever came out.

Review from Steam

---{ Graphics }---
☐ You forget what reality is
☐ Beautiful
☑ Good
☐ Decent
☐ Bad
☐ Don‘t look too long at it
---{ Gameplay }---
☑ Very good
☐ Good
☐ It's just gameplay
☐ Mehh
☐ Watch paint dry instead
☐ Just don't
---{ Audio }---
☐ Eargasm
☑ Very good
☐ Good
☐ Not too bad
☐ Bad
☐ I'm now deaf
---{ Audience }---
☐ Kids
☑ Teens
☑ Adults
☐ Grandma
---{ PC Requirements }---
☐ Check if you can run paint
☐ Potato
☑ Decent
☐ Fast
☐ Rich boi
☐ Ask NASA if they have a spare computer
---{ Difficulty }---
☐ Just press 'W'
☐ Easy
☑ Easy to learn / Hard to master
☐ Significant brain usage
☐ Difficult
☐ Dark Souls
---{ Grind }---
☑ Nothing to grind
☐ Only if u care about leaderboards/ranks
☐ Isn't necessary to progress
☐ Average grind level
☐ Too much grind
☐ You'll need a second life for grinding
---{ Story }---
☐ No Story
☐ Some lore
☐ Average
☑ Good
☐ Lovely
☐ It'll replace your life
---{ Game Time }---
☐ Long enough for a cup of coffee
☐ Short
☐ Average
☑ Long
☐ To infinity and beyond
---{ Price }---
☐ It's free!
☑ Worth the price
☐ If it's on sale
☐ If u have some spare money left
☐ Not recommended
☐ You could also just burn your money
---{ Bugs }---
☐ Never heard of
☑ Minor bugs
☐ Can get annoying
☐ ARK: Survival Evolved
☐ The game itself is a big terrarium for bugs
---{ ? / 10 }---
☐ 1
☐ 2
☐ 3
☐ 4
☐ 5
☐ 6
☐ 7
☐ 8
☑ 9
☐ 10

Review from Steam

I played it for a few hours and in that time I encountered only one bug! And it wasn't game breaking or anything. Was I lucky? I hope not.
Also I was pleasantly surprised by the loading times, stable framerate and so on. Usually Early Access games have a lot of problems in that field.
The game itself is slow-paced, so if you want another Dune 2000 - you will be disappointed , this is an absolutely different game with its own mechanics.
Basically if Civilization had an inbred baby with the Dune movie and then added some random genes from any RTS game - this would be the final result that would crawl out of... well, you know. But it is a really interesting title, I will be following its progress, that’s for sure.
You can watch my full review and a giant sadworm eating my stuff here:
EDIT: I saw that I have made a mistype and wrote a “sadworm” instead of sandworm by accident. I’m sorry, there are no sadworms in Arrakis. They are all happy worms.
Although most of us have a sadworm in our pants.

Review from Steam

Dune: Spice Wars is a solid foundation upon which they can build a thoroughly enjoyable game. The content is a little bare bones for the price they're asking (it is early access after all) but aside from that it's worth the price for probably the most thematically faithful Dune game made so far. Though, uh, the Westwood games were about as far from the canon as you could get so that may be faint praise.
What the game excels at:
- It makes treachery, a cornerstone of Dune, a fundamental part of the game that you routinely engage with even if you don't invest heavily in it
- It makes the Landsraad and politics, including the "never quite allying" politics of Dune, where you might hate someone but you'll still trade with them in a pinch, also a significant element that you will engage in - even if you're the Fremen.
- Fremen are OP combatants as demanded by the fluff, yet are not overwhelming enough to the point where any military conflicts with them are a foregone conclusion. Fedaykin are about as strong - or stronger - than even the Landsraad elites and it shows in a really satisfying way
- The map and mechanics are often evocative of the old iconic board game, one of the best depictions of the setting outside of the books period
- It focuses on the medieval-style infantry-based warfare of the novels. I think there's still some room to expand it, militarily, but at the moment pretty much everything makes sense to some extent.
- The factions are reasonably asymmetric despite filling the same roles. Atreides focus on large organized armies, Harkonnen focus on nearly guaranteeing a victory at a pivotal moment, Smugglers try to keep out of everyone's way while making a profit and Fremen are just like "naw get off our lawn" and then murder you, either solo or as a mob.
- The game is set up in a way that several of the existing mechanics can be easily expanded to be more complex or offer more choice in the future, which is a good sign for a game that is going to be expanding its content significantly in the future
What the game doesn't excel at:
- Combat, at the moment, feels a bit lackluster. This could just be an issue with the animations, like showing units physically dying one at a time rather than all at once, but either way I suspect it will be improved over time
- Liet Kynes. Specifically, they came up with a fairly unsatisfying justification and changed Liet - a half-Caucasian, half-Arab man into a Black Woman. I don't really like to get into this sort of stuff, but it felt like a bit of a betrayal from the developers who had otherwise gone out of their way to draw inspiration from the novels, only to then say that one of the notable characters wasn't good enough as-is - particularly when so little thought was put into it that Chani, Liet's daughter, is weirdly pale (the Fremen don't resemble their Arabic roots) and so Liet sticks out like a sore thumb. Is it the apocalypse? Hardly - but it's a distracting reminder that for whatever reason they let an ideological whim hijack an otherwise faithful game.
- It's not based on the Westwood games. Please stop asking why it's not based on the Westwood games. Westwood owns/owned that IP and, no, they can't just port Ordos over without permission. Pls stahp.
- Red Spice. This is because in the novels it's described as violet and blue in its typical form, and when an aerosol mix of other gasses it looks reddish-orange. I know it's a bit of a culture shock, especially after literally every other film and game "got it wrong" - but honestly the writer himself didn't care much about the appearance of the spice (it took like four books for him to actually tell us the colour FFS) so it's not the end of the world.
- Multiplayer - in that it doesn't exist in this game. They're considering adding it throughout development (as happened with their previous game, I think) but I also know from prior experience that adding multiplayer can be an exhausting slog that consumes a ton of resources that could otherwise be used to improve the gameplay.
Overall I'd recommend the game for people who are fans of the novels, fans of 4X games (realtime or turn-based) and for people who just want something a bit unusual to scratch that strategy itch.
If you come in looking for a sequel to Dune: Battle for Arrakis, though, you're going to be disappointed. It's not that kind of game - it's doing it's own thing. Please understand that. If you want more games in that style, some old Westwood devs are still working on games sort of similar to that over with Petroglyph. They've been doing it for years, even.

Age Verification
To be able to see content under adult tag.