Following the announcement at Gamescom 2022’s Opening Night Live, let’s gather what we know and some ideas about Dune: Awakening.
Presented at the opening of the Opening Night Live at Gamescom 2022, Dune: Awakening gave the idea of being a really big project, which pushes us to make a first point of the situation on this interesting game coming from Funcom. On the other hand, the Norwegian company has been releasing clues about this project for some time now, making it clear the importance it holds in the complex economy of the label in question, increasingly tending towards MMO and survival. As it happens, these two genres represent the constitutive elements of the new Dune, which seems to be in direct continuity with Conan Exiles in terms of design and structure, demonstrating a linear evolution of the game concept by Funcom, including the fact of relying to an important and well-established licensed fictional universe.
In this case, however, one almost touches a religion: handling a burning material like Dune is not an easy thing, especially for an experience that cannot be set on a fixed and preponderant narrative, but must offer a certain freedom of action and a more emerging less rigorous narrative construction.
On the other hand, the pull offered by the great comeback of the series due to the new film by Denis Villeneuve is a golden opportunity to build a big game on Dune and, in fact, the main source of inspiration is admittedly the new film more than all the expanded universe of the series books by Frank Herbert and successors. We can therefore imagine that a middle ground comes out, with the visual suggestions given by the wonderful settings of the new film and perhaps a deeper reconstruction of the social, political and economic dynamics of Arrakis that will probably have to refer to the literary material, with a mixed approach that it looks really very interesting.
Let us try to recap everything we know about Dune: Awakening.
First impact on Dune
As is now a tradition in the videogame market, the teaser trailer in computer graphics that accompanied the announcement of Dune: Awakening during the Opening Night Live of Gamescom 2022 showed practically nothing of the game, limiting itself to providing a strongly evocative, but very unclear introduction of what the actual gameplay will be.
In the video we see a character, as a kind of ideal protagonist of the story (which obviously will not be Paul Atreides, but who certainly resembles him, as a general physiognomy). In its brevity and vagueness with regard to the contents of the game, the trailer is however perfect in immediately plunging us into the reference world, starting with the Litany against the Fear of the Bene Gesserit that accompanies the video sequence (“I must not be afraid. Fear kills the mind. Fear is the little death that brings with it total annihilation “etc).
For the rest, all the ingredients expected from an adaptation of Dune: the Coriolis storm in the distance, the ornithopterans in flight, the blue-eyed protagonist from the long exposure to La Spezia, the stillsuit and, of course, the giant sand worm that appears below. the surface of the desert.
The final phase of the video also suggests the possibility of riding the worm, according to the typical initiation rite of the Fremen, which could also introduce an effective game dynamics to manage the movements on the desert open world map. Beyond the gameplay links, in any case, Funcom seems to have done a great job of reconstruction of the settings and the characteristics of the game world based on the tradition of Dune, which had already emerged with the release of the very first illustrations.
Survival MMO open world
It is difficult not to find points of contact with Conan Exiles in this Dune: Awakening, which seems to be a real evolution of the proceeding game. The genre seems to correspond, as well as the construction of the wide and open map, in this case concentrated above all on the desert biome which in any case also represented an important part in the game of the famous barbarian. The dynamics survival they perfectly associate with the most inhospitable and dangerous planet in the universe, on the other hand, which will push us to face various environmental threats, human enemies (the Harkonnen) and various creatures. Similarly, the widespread presence of a precious material such as La Spezia is in itself already a central element in the survival-management dynamic, as it also happened in the old Dune II: The Battle for Arrakis, which in fact shaped the RTS modern way back in 1992. This determines the double dynamic of the collection of resources and the management of these, to be protected also from external threats, or the basic elements of the survival sandbox, to which additional game mechanics are added.
These are also the central points highlighted by Funcom as basic elements of Dune: Awakening, at least according to the press release and materials made available in these hours. The new MMO allows players to explore the dangerous but fascinating surface of Arrakis to discover sietches, settlements, abandoned wrecks and more in an ever-changing setting that also changes according to the weather. Once you have built your own base, you need to start a spice harvest using your own harvester and trying to protect it from attacks, either by creatures or NPCs or by other players.
It is possible to develop and advance our character by acquiring new skills different, which involves the direct consumption of the spice to increase stats and special abilities in various directions. At a higher level, it will also be about emerging into the social fabric of the game and asserting one’s power within the Landsraad, which will have consequences in the shared and persistent world.
We still know very little about it but, based on first information disseminated from Funcom, Dune could really be a great foundation for a survival MMO. Putting the pieces together, the picture that is composed demonstrates how, surprisingly, the universe created by Frank Herbert already contains within it the seeds of a possible reinterpretation in this videogame key, while the setting counts on an extraordinary charm and sedimented by decades in the common imagination of science fiction. The premises are really excellent, all that remains is to see it in action: in the meantime it is possible to register on the official website of Dune: Awakening to apply to be part of the betawhich should start in the near future.
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