I believed he who managed the spice managed the universe, nevertheless it seems he who controls the spice largely simply pays hella taxes.
Right here I’m on Arrakis, spreading Fremen warriors to increasingly more territories so I can gather sufficient spice to rule the desert planet. And but I’ve to pay most of my haul to the Spacing Guild as a bribe? And so they need extra each month? Neglect this competitors between the Atreides, Harkonnen, Fremen, and Smugglers factions: I hope 4X technique recreation Dune: Spice Wars ultimately features a win situation that lets me inform the Spacing Guild to piss off.
Spice Wars is the primary videogame primarily based on Frank Herbert’s books in 20 years, and its real-time 4X strategy to Arrakis seems like a distant relative of the Dune 2000 RTS (principally a Command & Conquer reskin) I performed as a teen. This can be a a lot quieter recreation, with political and financial programs taking precedence over fight, however once I do get right into a struggle I can micromanage my small unit of Fremen warriors to tweak their positioning and who they’re attacking. There is a little bit of RTS DNA in there nonetheless.
With its launch into early entry this week, Spice Wars features a singlelpayer mode and a barebones tutorial that will not get you a lot additional than understanding the best way to gather spice (you construct a constructing, after which inform some guys to get harvesting). It took me until the top of my first marketing campaign—a fast three hours—to start to understand the technique behind its politics and spycraft, nevertheless it was by no means overwhelming the best way many 4X video games are.
Developer Shiro Video games, finest identified for Northgard, has plans to develop with multiplayer or a marketing campaign, relying on what gamers need most. Whichever Shiro prioritizes, I hope Spice Wars leaves early entry feeling extra like Dune than it does now.
Spice Wars is in the mean time a dry (forgive me) 4X recreation, lacking the persona that the very best of the style ship via chatty leaders, narrative occasions, or ample taste textual content. Final 12 months’s Old World was a sterling instance, with some spontaneous occasions tied on to the persona traits of your chief and different elaborate story beats primarily based on actual historical past. Spice Wars is recognizably Dune due to the desert and sandworms and ornithopters and the sharply bearded Duke Leto Atreides, nevertheless it’s lacking that additional layer of persona.
I crave a deeper occasion system that attracts from Dune lore, like political snafus involving snubbed Bene Gesserit witches or my complete civilization freaking out when the Sardaukar present as much as kick my ass.
Spice Wars is refreshingly breezy for this type of technique recreation, although: I expanded my territory, destroyed the Harkonnen base, labored my approach via two tech timber and began throwing my weight into politics all in lower than 4 hours. Spice Wars manages to really feel fast-paced and laid-back on the similar time. After I misplaced my first marketing campaign to Leto Atreides cheekily declaring himself governor—a political transfer I may’ve countered if I would been paying extra consideration to politics as a substitute of my navy—I began understanding how rather more I may’ve executed with every system at play right here. That is data I plan to take advantage of on one other run.
Because the Fremen I used to be capable of preserve my armies wholesome in harsh desert situations and summon worms to journey huge distances, however I used to be notably unpopular within the political Landsraad council, so I spent too lengthy ignoring the month-to-month votes that granted factions main benefits. I targeted on rising my navy and financial tech timber and missed out on how highly effective espionage might be, too. If I would devoted extra spies to the Atreides home, I’ll have been capable of assassinate Duke Leto earlier than he’d clinched a political victory.
I used to be not less than capable of prepare up a military of Fedaykin warriors highly effective sufficient to stomp Baron Harkonnen’s troops and destroy his closely fortified capital after an prolonged siege. I think about it a public good—no person likes that man.
That was satisfying, however you possibly can’t assume too arduous about how Spice Wars has grafted Dune onto the framework (and finances) of a primary 4X. You possibly can place buildings on a small grid inside every territory, however their location is usually meaningless. Exterior of some distinctive items and tech tree variations, the Fremen largely play just like the Atreides, who aren’t all that completely different from the Harkonnen, and so forth. Ought to the Fremen actually be conquering territories, manufacturing regardless of the heck plascrete is, and paying spice taxes to the Spacing Guild?
Early entry will give Spice Wars the chance to root itself extra deeply in Dune’s universe, however it may want a higher deal with characters, mounds of taste textual content, and extra differentiation between its factions to start feeling extra like an interpretation of Dune and fewer like a playground painted to appear like it. However I do like how compact it’s in comparison with the likes of Civilization or Complete Battle, whereas nonetheless managing to supply the identical steadiness of exploration, growth, exploitation, and extermination.
I loved zooming in on my Fremen warriors and watching them chew via Harkonnen troopers and stage up. Likewise there was an actual rigidity sending them throughout a sandy wasteland and watching their provide meters ticking down the longer they had been outdoors my territory. Single items in Complete Battle are meaningless, however I used to be heartbroken when two of my veterans had been swallowed up by a sandworm whereas operating for the rocky security of a settlement. Spice Wars is already capable of inform tales distinctive to Dune in small bursts, even when it is missing the direct storytelling of a marketing campaign.
A 12 months from now I hope Spice Wars is weaving in narration, too, and utilizing characters to provide every faction extra life. In Herbert’s unique novel, Muad’Dib says “There is no such thing as a escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.” I am not saying that quote alone is justification for Spice Wars stealing Previous World’s inheritor system and complicated relationships, however, effectively, is Dune actually Dune with out knife duels settling all the pieces from the destiny of the universe to petty grudges?