As you begin each game of, the golden expanse of Arrakis’ desert is covered by thick clouds. Your main base and sole ornithopter lie isolated in a sea of the unknown, driving home the point that you are very much out of your element.
These are humble beginnings, but it only takes two clicks to set the wings of the ornithopter in motion, push back the clouds, and uncover the riches and dangers the planet has in store.
Early on, you’ll want to secure at least one territory that houses spice, to set up production and pay the ever-increasing Imperial Tax or Space Guild bribe.
Soon after, you’ll start eyeing zones whose villages govern deposits that boost the production of other resources.
They are required to construct buildings that bolster your economy and allow you to defend and expand your forces and territory.
Windtraps yield water required to both keep soldiers in the fight and conquer villages, expanding your faction’s reach. Missile batteries, hired local militia, and your regular army all act as an efficient deterrent against anyone eyeing your valuable assets.
Periodically, each faction gets to vote on Landsraad resolutions that are either general or target specific factions. These can be a blessing or a curse, as the boons and debuffs they apply might make a planned attack inopportune.
Espionage nets you additional resources and grants access to missions that let you sabotage enemy operations, bolster your own, or – towards the late game – assassinate enemy leaders. There’s also a research tree that behaves just as you’d expect.
In my brief time with Dune: Spice Wars’ early access version, I played as bothand the . As the former, I had to always be on the lookout for Wormsign, manually pulling units and spice harvesters out of targeted areas, and could take over neutral villages without bloodshed.
As the latter, I could worry less about my units dying when traversing neutral or enemy territory, falling prey to sandworms, and could also ride the beasts to quickly cross long distances.
Outside of some visual clutter when attacking villages, Dune: Spice Wars looks and sounds great. There are some tangible flavor differences between its factions, but the slower pace takes a little while to get used to.
Combat is rather simplistic, with five units per faction and micromanagement mostly focusing on keeping enemy ranged units busy while pulling back those close to death.
There is a sturdy foundation and a good amount ofinterwoven in its RTS core, but there are also times when things also feel a little too slow or repetitive.
These noticeable lulls in the race to the top are not uncommon in early access titles and, hopefully, developer Shiro Games can address them in the months to come. Dune: Spice Wars enters early access on April 26.
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