Dune and a great classic of science fiction. We can safely say he invented a genre and inspired countless works. Playing a game on a historical saga (the first librò came out in 1965) and with an extremely passionate fanbase is always a bit like handling gunpowder. You can have great fireworks displays there, but it could explode in your hand. Shiro Games, in our opinion, can do it well. The game is still in early access on Steam and many things could still happen, so it’s best not to overreact. But let’s see what kind of fireworks Dune: Spice Wars is preparing for us with this review.
Dune: Spice Wars is a game of real-time strategy (RTS), where we are called to manage resources and fight battles to grow our empire. In particular, this game is part of the subcategory which is called 4Xnamely Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate). In this genre of games there is an emphasis on the management of economic and technological development aspects. More briefly, to win we must occupy the whole territory and exterminate our enemies by crushing them not only from a military point of view but also from an economic and commercial point of view. Done: Spice Wars, so as not to make our life too easy, it also adds the management of political dynamics.
Inside the game we have four factions at our disposal to choose from. Each faction has specific bonuses that make it unique. In fact, we have at our disposal: the family of Atreidesthe house of Harkonneni smugglers e i Fremen natives of the planet.
The characteristics of the factions translate into bonuses on trade rather than on political choices or in having special actions available. Smugglers, for example, can set up a headquarters in a settlement controlled by other players.
Once we have chosen a faction, we will have the option of select two agents, also with specific abilities. These agents can be sent on missions throughout the game to secure additional resources or political power.
The mechanics adopted in Dune: Spice Wars draw from many other classics of the genre, however contextualizing them in the Frank Herbert universe and adding the resource management characteristic of the series.
In fact, we have to expand our domain starting from a capital. We use ornithopter to explore the areas adjacent to those we already check to identify villages, sources of resources and points of interest. In any settlement it is possible generate new troops to be used to assault villages which can then be annexed or plundered. If we annex a village, this will allow us to create structures to collect resources, such as refineries for La Spezia or wind traps to collect water.
The resources collected can be used for support an army bigger and bigger, however to trade and for do research in order to raise our technological level. Upgrading the army is useful in conquering new territories and so on until the whole map becomes ours.
In the meantime, we can decide to send our agents on missions to get information from the enemy, influence other factions or simply procure additional resources.
While we conquer the entire game map we are also subject to asynchronous events. In fact they show up political interactions, commercial offers, imperial tax collections, and natural events. This, not to mention that on the pitch there are also three other players managed by an artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence, as far as we have been able to observe, it seems solid enough. But we also know that, given all the variables involved, it will be very difficult to balance. Therefore, we prefer to stay at the window to see her on the final product.
If we really have to make a criticism of the design, then we could simply say that Dune: Spice Wars is a very challenging game. There are a lot of events we need to keep track of and the simulation comes at a very fine level of detail. The game, in fact, it engages us simultaneously on several levels: the military, the economic and the political. All equally decisive.
We do not feel like saying that it is a game only for professionals, but it certainly has a very specific target and is of medium accessibility if you are not already experts or at least passionate about the genre.
We played it and, we have to say, unfortunately some elements are still missing. There is no online multiplayer and a story is missing during the single-game campaign. Right now we are simply being sent to the battlefield. And, if you want, considering Dune’s well-known and established history, at this stage it can be fine as well.
What is present, however, we do not feel like defining it as truly early access. Usually, when we are dealing with a game in non-final form, we know that something can go wrong. In this case, however, theexperience was overall positive. The game has never crashed, the graphics are very accurate and give the impression of being the final one, and we have not seen any glitches.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get excited about the interaction model, due to the interface for now not always very clear to navigate and the fighting still a bit mild. Even the settlements, where the positioning of the structures is not relevant, left us a little perplexed; but only because we made a comparison with previous episodes.
There are therefore some aspects that can be improved, but we would like to say that most of the important pieces are ready.
Dune: Spice Wars is an early access game on steam that we think has great potential. It is one real-time strategy of the 4X type. We don’t classify it as hard-core, but definitely demanding.
In quanto early access some aspects have yet to be completed, but all the material present is of excellent qualityso the gaming experience can also be interesting for an enthusiast.
We don’t feel like recommending it to a friend only and solely because he is passionate about Dune. However, if this friend, besides Dune, also enjoys challenging management and strategy games, then it’s a title he must try.
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