Dune blended adventure with economics and military strategy, and is considered by many the most immersive Dune computer game. Loosely following the story of the novel, the game casts the player as Paul Atreides, with the ultimate goal of driving the Harkonnen from Dune, while managing spice extraction, military, and later, ecology through the native Fremen tribes. As the player progresses, his troops are equipped with weapons from "krys knives" to atomics, tap into Paul's latent psychic powers, and get acquainted with such characters from the book as Chani and Liet Kynes. Available for the Amiga and IBM compatibles, it was one of the first floppy games to be converted to CD format, which included footage of the David Lynch movie, and highly improved, 3D-rendered travelling and location screens. This version (a mix of the Amiga graphics and the extras of the PC-CD version) was also released on Sega's Mega CD format. Also worthy of mention is the audio track created by Stéphane Picq and Philip Ulrich, released by Cryo (formerly Exxos) on the now extremely rare album Dune: Spice Opera.
Dune II (1992)
Also known as:
- Dune II: The Battle for Arrakis (Mega Drive/Genesis port)
- Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty
While not the first real-time strategy game created, Dune II had a major impact on the genre, establishing the principal concepts which were followed by nearly every RTS since that time. As such, Dune II is considered to have originated the real-time strategy genre of today. Striking a balance between complexity and innovation, it was a huge success and laid the foundation for Command & Conquer (which was nicknamed Dune III by fans and detractors alike), Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and other RTS games that followed.
The player takes the role of a commander of one of three interplanetary houses, the Atreides, the Harkonnen or the Ordos, with the goal of gaining control of Arrakis from the two other houses. The basic strategy in the game is to collect spice with harvesters from sand dunes, have it brought back and refined for credits, and to build and purchase military combat units with credits in order to fend off and ultimately destroy the enemy. In addition to enemy incursions, the player must also deal with periodic appearances of the sandworm, capable of swallowing vehicles and infantry whole, as well as harsh weather conditions that can deteriorate the structures of the player's base. If enough damage is dealt to a worm (half of the visible health), it will simply disappear.
Dune 2000 (1998)
Using a game engine which resembles Westwood's Red Alert, Dune 2000 is a remake of Dune II. The story, told with animations and subtitles in the original Dune II, is now told with full motion video starring actors such as John Rhys-Davies. The game was criticized by some for not adding enough fresh content, and for an inferior interface compared to its competitors — most notably Total Annihilation. The storyline, though, improved markedly, as did the triggers in-game with excellent twists to the gameplay. The game also tidied its graphics to incorporate 16-bit graphics as well as incorporating a later patch with new units for multiplay. Despite all these enhancements, the game suffered from poor AI behaviour as well as poor waypointing which has quickly become crucial in fast online multiplayer games.
Emperor: Battle for Dune (2001)
While having an interface similar to the Command & Conquer series, Emperor: Battle for Dune added enough features — such as a 3D engine and in-battle reinforcements — to provide a change of pace. Features of note are the fairly non-linear campaign, featuring randomized events, and the fast pace relative to the earlier Dune games. The three Houses also featured new units in their ranks, with new abilities.
Criticisms of the game are not as much as that of its predecessor, Dune 2000 but it still suffered from poor AI with the computer controlled player attacking the human player with a similar strategy that can be predicted and thereafter countered effectively. Further, the game's bad AI includes a lack of combining units of different abilities as the missions cannot be won by building only a particular type of combat unit.
Like Dune 2000, the game featured all new full-motion video cutscenes, somewhat based more on the original movie. The most notable inclusions were those of the roles of the Duke Achillus of House Atreides being played by Star Trek's Michael Dorn.
Frank Herbert's Dune (2001)
Based on the Sci-Fi Channel TV miniseries, Frank Herbert's Dune was an effort to create a 3D action game in the Dune universe. The game was not a commercial or critical success, and was the last product by Cryo Interactive (the studio went bankrupt shortly after the game flopped).
As Paul, the son of the Duke Atreides's concubine and heir to the throne, you must earn the trust and respect from the natives of the planet Dune, the Fremen, to ultimately become their prophesied Messiah, Muad'Dib. You will have to free them from the desolate conditions their home planet is in. Done that, there still is the evil Lord Harkonnen, who, with covert backup from the Emperor, slaughtered your family.
The story behind each mission is accurate to the world of the novels although they took place during the Two Year span in Dune where Paul gains the Fremen's trust.
Some concepts of the gameplay were innovative. Such as the use of a Life Gauge and a Water Gauge, when the Life Gauge is empty you die but health can be restored at any point before that by drinking Water. This meant that the player had to time his drinks carefully to coincide with when he could next gain another drink. Another interesting concept was that if the player was able to stealthily sneak up on an enemy and attack him unawares, not only would he be dispatched without using any ammunition or taking any damage, but the player would also steal some of his water. Unfortunately this led to an incredibly steep learning curve which made what was already awkward gameplay almost impossible in some sections.
Dune Generations (2001, cancelled)
Cryonetworks in 2001 disclosed information about Dune Generations, an upcoming online real-time strategy game based on Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel series. The company launched an official Web site for the upcoming game that features some concept images, a brief background story and description of the persistent gameworld, and a list of frequently asked questions. Dune Generations was scheduled for release at the end of 2001.
Cryo would be the publisher behind the game; Canada-based DreamCatcher Interactive would be the distributor for North America as part of a partnertship which published a number of other Cryo games.
Dune Generations would let players assume control of a dynasty in the Dune universe. The goal of the game would be to build the dynasty into the most powerful family in the universe, by gaining control of the planet Arrakis, the source of the most precious substance in the universe: spice. Players would choose to control one of three types of dynasties — traders, soldiers, or mercenaries — and each dynasty type would provide a different playing experience.
With the closure of Cryo at the beginning of 2002, the game was canceled due to a failure to negotiate a deal with the company's creditors.
Funcom Dune games (2019-2025)
On February 26, 2019, Funcom announced that it had signed a deal with Legendary Entertainment and Herbert Properties LLC to produce at least 3 new games in the Dune franchise for PCs and consoles between 2019 - 2025. The first will be a persistent, open-world survival game with online multi-player and PvP. The other two are likely Survival, FPS or similar.
- Very large-scale, open world terrain. Multiple times the size of Conan Exiles.
- Living / Changing worlds.
- FED2k Website covering all the Dune video games.
- Dune Generations Q&A at Gamespot.com
- Dune Generations screenshots at Gamespot.com
- Dune Generations trailer at Thedune.ru (6MB)
- "2019 Third Quarter Financial Report" The Funcom Group; Funcom SE and subsidiaries (on: Investors, Funcom) - August 26, 2019
- "Funcom N.V. enters into exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment for games in the Dune universe" Investors, Funcom - February 26, 2019
- Game Dev Camp 2019, Portugal
- "2019 Second Quarter Financial Report" The Funcom Group; Funcom SE and subsidiaries (on: Investors, Funcom) - August 26, 2019