Dune: Awakening Gameplay Reveal Shows An Unforgiving Arrakis (And Lots Of Sandworms)

Dune: Awakening Gameplay Reveal Shows An Unforgiving Arrakis (And Lots Of Sandworms)

Saddle up for your one way ticket to Arrakis, Dune: Awakening is coming. Funcom (the developers behind Conan Exiles) are bringing the world of Dune to life in their upcoming open world survival MMO, which scored a new trailer and deep dive during the direct livestream today.

Dune: Awakening sees you on the harsh planet of Arrakis, contending against deadly sandworms and the ever-present threat of dwindling precious water supplies. Funcom describes the game as a combination of the “grit and creativity of sandbox survival games with the social interactivity of a large, persistent multiplayer game.” The hybrid of the genres sounds like a massive undertaking, particularly with such a revered source material as its core. 

The game plays heavily into the typical survival genre features, with your player character dropped onto the planet with nothing and having to work your way up and avoid dying. Water is life in the arid world of Arrakis, and you’ll have to fight tooth and nail to stay hydrated – whether that’s by drinking the blood of your enemies, exploring dew fields, or eating plant fibre for the meagre amounts of hydration it brings. Dune: Awakening creative director Joel Bylos detailed the difficulty of survival in-game during the direct, describing an unforgiving landscape where survival won’t come easy.

Sandworms also feature heavily in-game, although you won’t be able to kill the Shai-Hulud – but you can attract them towards enemies or friends (if fucking with your mates is something you enjoy). You’ll have to stick to rocky areas to avoid being swallowed into the abyss. The Direct and trailer didn’t mention whether sandwalking would come into play, but as we near release it’s likely we’ll hear more details on how to avoid certain death by the leviathan creatures lurking just under the surface of Arrakis.

Of course, while the heat and lack of water play a big part in surviving Dune: Awakening, there’s also space for your character to thrive. The game expands on Conan Exiles’ base-building system, with players able to place holograms and have their friends contribute materials to the build (in a similar vein to the Nightingale building system). Players will also be able to share or sell blueprints for different builds between other players. Byblos said the inspiration for this came from seeing intricate base builds in Conan and wanting other players to be able to use those schematics for their own bases.

It wouldn’t be a Dune-inspired game without political intrigue, and Dune: Awakening will have that in droves. Bylos says players will be able to learn from the “great schools of the universe” in their travels. Players can become a Bene Gesserit, learn from Mentats, and master being able to “compel enemies to come closer so you can stab them with a knife.” If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at harnessing the voice, it looks like you’ll be able to do so. You’ll also have the chance to align with iconic great houses and factions in a more story-focused side of the title.

Funcom has been running beta testing for Dune: Awakening for a few months now, with players able to sign up for a closed beta via the official website. Bylos says the developer doesn’t want to “[rush] it out the door,” and is taking their time to get it right and do right by the player community. The game was first announced in 2022, but we’re unlikely to see a concrete release date for some time based on the creative director’s comments. What we do know for now is that the title is set to launch on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.

Dune: Awakening Dune 2
Image: Funcom

All in all, Dune: Awakening looks like an ambitious project. Capturing the world of Frank Herbert’s books and Denis Villeneuve’s movies is no easy feat, especially with a dedicated fanbase. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one – getting to zoom around in an ornithopter and gather spice sounds like a damn good time.

Image: Funcom

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