For fans of Dune by Frank Herbert Dune: Awakening An online multiplayer game with a confusing premise.

What if Paul Atreides, the anti-hero destined to lead a jihad across the galaxy, had never been born? In Herbert’s story, young Atreides was born male because his mother, out of love, bore a son to her Duke Leto Atreides. The Bene Gesserit sect relied on a daughter as part of their Messiah-rearing program. This decision led to a series of betrayals and conspiracies and set Paul on a path of revenge.

But as you can see from the trailer, the story of the MMO is the story of an alternate world playing out a different destiny — one where game players don’t have to play through plot details they already know. In a Funcom game, the fate of Dune is not written.

In Dune: Awakening, Lady Jessica gives birth to a daughter.

As I said, this is a confusing plot, and a wise one considering that the developer wants to exploit the popularity of director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune films (Legendary entertainment) as well as Herbert’s novels – which, thanks to additions from his son Brian Herbert and science fiction writer Kevin Anderson, now number about 25. I’ve read a lot of it, but not all of it, and I’ve re-read the original Dune several times, which is a complex, multi-layered story with a lot of political intrigue.

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I love the universe Herbert has built, but I don’t want to play a game for dozens of hours where I already know the ending. I think a lot of sci-fi fans who also play games might feel the same way.

Dune: Live Awakening

Ambush in the Dunes: Awakening.

Today, Norway-based Funcom, which is owned by Tencent, is revealing a lot of details about the MMO at its Dune: Awakening Direct event. But I did get a demo of Dune: Awakening, an open-world survival MMO set on Arrakis, at the Summer Game Fest Play Days event. I got my first demo of the game from Jean-François Janney, Global Director, and Matt Woodward, Social and Economic Director, both from Funcom.

The show offers 30 minutes of in-depth interviews and gameplay footage detailing how characters are created, the MMO-like server structure, the narrative implications of a world where Paul Atreides was never born, and the spiritual journey the player will go on in the game, following in the footsteps of the Fremen.

There is a lot at stake here. MMOs take a long time to make, but they can be a goldmine. World of Warcraft was released 18 years ago and has generated nearly $10 billion for Blizzard Entertainment, which is now part of Activision Blizzard, which is part of Microsoft. Now consider that Dune has sold tens of millions of books.

Wilderness map in Dune: Awakening.

Dune: Awakening, which recently surpassed one million wishlists on Steam, builds on the visual and audio identity created by Denis Villeneuve and recent Legendary blockbusters, and is deeply rooted in Herbert’s original masterpiece.

The game unleashes you on vast, open, war-torn Arrakis, where you must survive and strive to control the spice alongside hundreds of other players. The absence of Paul Atreides has created a huge power vacuum that players will venture into and create their own story.

Expression and customization are one of the cornerstones of Dune: Awakening. To showcase some of that, the developers showed off the powerful in-game character creation tool. You can choose every detail of your appearance, then your home planet, and even your mentor’s specialty, such as Mentat, Swordmaster, or Bene Gesserit, which determines your elemental abilities.

Harkonnen Village in the Dunes: Awakening.

Creative Director Joel Baylos also delved into the server architecture and Overland Map, which connects several massive sandbox maps, allowing for a greater number of players in each, both of which set Dune: Awakening apart from many other survival games.

“Making the world feel fluid and connected was always one of our goals for Dune: Awakening,” Bellos said. “We built this structure with the idea of ​​making the game expandable, which is difficult with a single map. The idea with the wild map is that it allows us to continue building the world and give players new spaces to explore. Who knows what it will look like 5 years from now?

Dune: Awakening recently entered its ongoing closed beta, offering access to the full scope of the game, from the starting area of ​​Hagga Basin to the endgame of Deep Desert. You can register for the opportunity to join on the official website, and put the game in your wishlist on Steam. More to come at Gamescom in August.


Harkonnen Attack in Dune: Awakening.

In my demo, we started at a place in Arrakis called Environmental Test Site 197. It was probably 40 hours into the game. Since Mrs. Jessica gave birth to a daughter, the events of the novel did not take place. The traitor Dr. Yueh is exposed, the Atreides armor is retained, and the Harkonnen invaders are repulsed. War has come to Dune, but the factions remain in place.

The sand animation is good, which is important on a desert planet. The Freemans are scavengers on the planet, and you can wander around the planet in dragonfly-like ornithopters or cruise around the sand in a buggy. But wherever you go, you have to watch out for giant sandworms.

Ornithopter in the deep desert in the sand dunes: Awakening.
Ornithopter in the deep desert in the sand dunes: Awakening.

There is a city of Arrakeen in the game, but the desert has more character than just the endless sand and occasional rock formations. There are a lot of structures, buildings and shipwrecks. The goal was to avoid boring landscapes, which is one of the logical creative freedoms. There are treacherous traps in the desert such as drum sand, which can begin to move and cause an avalanche that can attract the worm. You can also see spices on the sand that you can harvest to gain untold riches.

There is a wide range of shooting type weapons that you can use in the game. Again, this is a departure from the novels, perhaps in the name of fun.

Structures have a lot of vertical space that you can measure using things like a grappling hook. You can find crystals to harvest. Funcom said the area of ​​the game scene we saw was large, about 450 square kilometers, which is normal for the size of a survival game. We were in an area close to the shield wall. It was beautiful, like the movie, but we didn’t get much of a sense of the whole world.

Overall, it’s not a bad place to build sandcastles. Looking forward to seeing more.

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