Dune: Spice Wars PC Review

You might work hard, but Arrakis works harder.

By Yagmur, Posted 06 Jun 2022

Dune: Spice Wars is not the first Dune strategy game, but it is undoubtedly the most complex one yet. Dune: Spice Wars masterfully employs a balance that considers every detail of the vast universe of Dune. The usual wars, spice harvests, taxes, money, politics, and voting campaigns. But there is one more aspect of this game that is inseparable from the Dune universe: The sandworms.

You have to keep track of your political influence, money, water, and spice while trying to survive as a house in this game. And on top of all of these, you have to keep in mind that there are hostile sandworms that are dedicated to eating you in this game. This sandworm mechanic seems to be quite controversial; some love it, and some hate it. But either way, it is a great way to remind the players that they are on the grounds of Arrakis, an unforgiving and cruel planet.


Dune, Spice Wars, Atreides, Arrakis, Shiro Games, Strategy


Another one of the complication is the increasing spice tax. There is a certain amount of tax that you have to pay in a month, and you have to put your priorities in order: How much are you going to keep for yourself, which means selling to CHOAM for Solaris, and how much are you going to pay as a spice tax? Both are invaluable resources, and regular payment is essential for victory.

You can start with four factions: the Atreides, Harkonnens, Smugglers, and Fremen. People acquainted with the books can guess what each faction brings pretty much from the beginning. If you choose the Atreides, you can expand your boundaries through peaceful annexation without spilling unnecessary blood. The Harkonnens, on the other hand, are capable of using “manpower,” which brings about something that is in stark contrast with the Atreides’ ability: They can use “manpower” to recruit more troops and exploit villages for more resources, which, in turn, leads into them becoming richer quickly. The Smugglers steal resources, and the Fremen can use the sandworms to their advantage. These are all pretty much by the book, and as a Dune fan, this excites me.

You have to juggle so many resources: There is “Solaris”, the currency in the game, and “Spice” that helps to regulate it. There is “manpower”, “authority”, “fuel cell”, and “plascrete” all of which are necessary for any path you might want to take. You have to set up wind traps to get water, harvesters for spice, and plascrete factories for, you guessed it, plascrete. If you are well-acquainted with the real-time strategy genre, this might not sound like much to you, but you might be a bit overwhelmed if you're new.  
 

Dune, Spice Wars, Atreides, Arrakis, Shiro Games, Strategy


While people who have more experience with strategy games may find Dune: Spice Wars easy, the others can have a bit of trouble learning, but this game is not impossible for newcomers. As a newcomer myself, I quickly found my way and grasped the concept in just a few playthroughs. I would say the game is quite beginner-friendly there, but there is still always something to learn.

Dune: Spice Wars is defined as a 4X strategy game, a mixture of turn-based and real-time strategy genres. Thus, some people advise that pausing the game and thinking about your actions like a tabletop game helps, and I agree. To get the best out of your experience, I think you have to think of this game as a tabletop strategy game, a bit like Risk.


Dune, Spice Wars, Atreides, Arrakis, Shiro Games, Strategy
 

When you think you have it all, sandworms devour your soldiers, and you quickly go from a hundred to zero. And, when you figure you need no more soldiers, raiders come and try to take over the villages back from you. You can always train to have a safety net for your villages, so raiders are not an issue, but it is an issue when these two clashes. Yes, it happens; you might get raiders and sandworms simultaneously and try to escape from them. Thus, although the game is beginner-friendly, you are constantly reminded that you are playing in a hostile environment, and there are consequences for every action you take.

The tutorial might be the worst aspect of Dune: Spice Wars. There is virtually no tutorial: There are some actions to take. There is not a voice that tells you how to regulate all the resources; there is no advice from the developers. Everything is up to you to learn. This is, once again, a controversial approach: Some people love it, and some people hate it. From my experience, I’d love it if there were more training wheels. But this does not take anything from the playthrough because the game’s interface is very simple, and it is easy enough to learn without the tutorials. What I mean is that it would take a bit less time to learn with a better set of tutorials.

 

Dune, Spice Wars, Atreides, Arrakis, Shiro Games, Strategy
 

The graphics of Dune: Spice Wars are not groundbreaking, but they look nice enough to play, the gameplay feels nice, and the atmosphere of Arrakis is grasped quite nicely. Though there are a few minor bugs here and there, it is still important to note that the game is still in early access and looks like it will be for quite some time. There is no campaign quite yet, and there is no information as to whether or not there will ever be one, but as it currently stands, Dune: Spice Wars is a game that could entertain you for a few hours until you get bored of it (or finish victoriously) and move on. Speaking of which, it would be great if the multiplayer mode was available, but I also assume that Dune: Spice Wars will not get a multiplayer mode until the early access period is over. It is a fair game, great for newcomers, and based on the Dune franchise: What more could you want?
 

Yagmur Sevinç (@yagmursevvinc)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Shiro Games, Funcom
Developer(s): Shiro Games
Genres: Real-Time Strategy
Themes: Real-Time Tactics
Release Date: 2022-04-26

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