If you’ve caught yourself whispering “As it was written” about any predictable experience in your life recently, then we’re willing to bet that the Dune: Awakening survival game has been designed for you. The recent movie adaptations of Frank Herbert’s Dune series have taken the world by storm, and regardless of where you stand on the evolution of Paul Atreides, we’re certain the gorgeously lethal world of Arrakis has been on your mind lately. Hoping to keep us hooked a little longer, Funcom released their Dune: Awakening game preview to show you just what was in store with the upcoming release. Shaped as an open-world survival experience that puts your resilience to the test, the Dune: Awakening gameplay details are exceptional so far.

Dune Awakening gameplay details

Image: Funcom

Sandwalking Our Way Towards the Dune: Awakening Survival Game

If you’ve only seen the movies, then you might wonder what an open-world Dune game could include considering the majority of the movies take place over vast expanses of sand. Spending 20 minutes there while the characters talk would be quite different from hours traveling across the landscape repeatedly yourself. The Dune: Awakening creators have taken the gamification of the series quite seriously so not only will you traverse the sand dunes in the game, but you will also be able to slip into the hidden spaces in between where you should find some shade and reprieve from the scorching heat. The dune landscape is not as sparse as the movie might have you believe.

Capitalizing on all the interwoven elements of Dune’s hazardous biome, you will have to fight the heat and protect yourself from the Shai-Hulud as you make your way across the landscape. The main challenges revolve around surviving sunstrokes, sandstorms, sandworms and your unfortunate need for water. The Dune: Awakening gameplay details do not attempt to downplay the gruesome nature of this particular universe to appeal to the masses either. To replenish your water reserves and continue on the path to survival, you’re free to harvest the blood of the fallen. 

You might choose to ignore this particular Dune: Awakening gameplay detail entirely if you don’t believe in drinking the blood of your enemies but surviving in the game will require you to strategize well if you want to make it. Whether you plan out your travels during the nighttime when the sun isn’t around to drain you, or you choose to replenish your stillsuit reserves through other means, balancing water and heat will likely be one of the most challenging elements of the game.

Dune Awakening release date

The shifting landscapes of Dune: Awakening (Image: Funcom)

Dune: Awakening Gameplay Details

Okay, so you protect yourself from the sun and hunt for water. Is that all the Dune: Awakening survival game is about? Well, we’re not certain about the ultimate end goal. Funcom has remained rather coy about the exact storyline during their Dune: Awakening game preview, and there is little we know about the time period the game is set. What we do know is that you don’t get to play as the Messiah as Funcom wants to “sidestep religion” this time. Many fans were somewhat outraged by the choice considering the integral role of religion in the books. Still, we understand why the company would have to downplay this particular aspect of the game. 

The Dune: Awakening game preview also avoids mention of the Fremen who are an integral part of learning the ways of the desert. Their complete absence would be quite a disappointment but it’s unlikely they will be erased from the game. Dune: Awakening Creative Director Joel Bylos indicated they would have a role later in the narrative, so you don’t have to worry too much about missing out on that dynamic when the game is out. 

If you’re among those worried about the game eventually running out of content and getting repetitive, there are multiple layers of tasks that will be available in-game. Talking to WCCFTECH, Bylos also hinted at their future plans, “When we start to run out of variety, we will start to look at other planets. We have mechanisms in place to enable that.” You can be certain the game has the potential to continue for a long, long time even after release.

Does Dune: Awakening have Character Creation?

You might be disappointed that you don’t get to play as the Lisan al-Gaib but the opportunity to design your character exactly how you’d like should make up for it. You play the game as yourself, a solo traveler on the planet of Arakkis and the character creation option will allow you to determine what you will look like. There may not necessarily be room for altering your stats and character traits as you would on Diablo, but visual customizations will be available, even if Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is the aesthetic you’re trying to match. 

The war between the Atreides and Harkonnens is very actively a part of the storyline according to Joel Bylos, so while you may not get to be one of the canonical leaders of the game, there is still opportunity for you to explore the political system to a degree. 

“As a player, you can decide which side you want to help and which side you want to join. Then you start to partake in missions for those factions, and then eventually you start to work your way up through the ranks and maybe you take on a position of power as well.”

ornithopters and drive harvesters

You won’t always be stuck running around on foot. (Image: Funcom)

Competing In Pursuit of Spice—Dune Awakening Game Preview

Let’s bring our attention back to what we do know about the Dune: Awakening survival game. Just like with some other open-world games, you have to collect resources to improve your chances of surviving in this world. We don’t know much about all the methods of collecting the spice, but we’ve learnt that spice will act as the currency for your tax payments and will fuel you through the game as well. Taxes? Yes, you’ll have to pay taxes for building a base in-game so looking at finding your own little place to call home should be another adventure you can look forward to. The game also includes the Solari currency for transactions, but we’re more interested in the spice.

Is Dune: Awakening a PVP game? 

The game will allow you to pilot ornithopters and drive harvesters to gather the spice but there should also be dungeonesque locations you can raid for resources as well. Dune: Awakening is set to be an open-world MMO, and multiple PvP opportunities will come up. According to Bylos, the multiplayer angle won’t require you to take players down ruthlessly at every opportunity. Instead, you can compete and coordinate with each other for resources across the three maps—survival map, deep desert map, and social hubs. 

You can also team up with friends and explore the world together through co-op play, saving each other from dying during combat. The “journey systems” will allow you to have unique experiences across the planet together, while the “contract systems” will allow you to take contracts at trade posts which you can execute as a team. The Dune: Awakening gameplay details also include a guild system, which is great for really building a sense of community around the game. For those who prefer to avoid the multiplayer aspect entirely like I do, there should be ways for you to brave the game entirely by yourself, even though it might make the experience more challenging.

The Question of the Hour—Do We Get To Ride The Sandworms?

Bylos’ Dune: Awakening preview impressions are very clear in stating that early game mechanisms will not involve the option to go sand surfing on the Shai-Hulud. Later iterations of the game may include it, however, so not all hope is lost. Even with sandwalking, there is no tutorial for it early in the Dune game. Eventually, you may meet the Fremen and learn the ways of the desert, but initial game mechanisms will have you testing your luck with the amount of sound you’re making to attract the desert overlords.

Dune Awakening Sandworms

The stuff of nightmares (Image: Funcom)

Keeping It Technical: Unreal Engine 5 in Dune: Awakening

Funcom—best known for their other survival title Conan Exiles—is the studio behind the Dune: Awakening survival game, and they’ve been very candid about the creative process behind the game. Working closely with Legendary Entertainment to track their own vision for the movies, Fucom has done its best to optimize the visuals and graphics of the upcoming open-world game. 

This was possible through the use of Unreal Engine 5, There is “flexibility through the blueprinting system. It allows us to handle amazing graphics through the rendering system and the lighting system such as Lumen,” according to Joel Bylos.

The Dune: Awakening survival game will arrive on PC, PS5, and Xbox, so if you’re looking forward to playing the game, there are multiple platforms for you to consider. There is no Dune: Awakening release date set yet—the studio is committed to taking its time to perfect the game before it puts anything out rather than powering towards a deadline and releasing something unpolished. The game has been put through multiple rounds of Beta testing already and this remains the plan for the next few months. 

Funcom has a near-perfect vision for the Dune: Awakening experience, and we’re okay waiting to see how that pans out. The commitment to detail and the creation of a full-scale open-world MMOG without upsetting fans who have loved the story for years is a hard task and requires a patient approach to explore every element of it. So far though, the company appears to be on the path to getting it right.