Is Dune: Spice Wars, Worth Playing?
Honest Video Game Reviews received a free copy of this title for review purposes, however our opinions are our own.
Dune: Spice Wars is a return to form for Shiro Games and an assurance that the debacle of Darkburg was an exception and not the norm.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Shiro Games
Publisher: Funcom
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 26 April 2022
Supported Modes:

Lacklustre Diplomacy.

In its current form, diplomacy in Dune: Spice Wars is little more than a trade window, with some rather weak suggestions that AI may or may not follow, such as the AI making and then breaking a non-aggression treaty repeatedly with my faction every few minutes, seemingly without recompense.

While I believe players should be free to break treaties, being able to do so repeatedly with very little penalty makes treaties and diplomacy a waste of time.


Still Too Easy.

When I review a new game, I like to play on the standard difficulty to emulate the experience of a new player, who, in most cases, will press start without selecting a non-standard difficulty setting.

When I first reviewed Dune: Spice Wars in May 2022, I secured back-to-back uncontested victories when playing as the House Atreides, one of the most well-known houses from the lore and, unfortunately, one of the most unbalanced houses in Dune: Spice Wars.

While that situation has improved drastically, and in one recent game, the Fremen were able to win a hegemony victory due to a superior starting position and little interference by other AI players, it’s not a very difficult game, and If not for Sandworm and supply mechanics making long treks difficult, I could have easily overwhelmed the Freemon with House Atreides superior armed force and thriving economy.

Players can make gameplay more difficult by reducing the map’s size and increasing the game’s overall difficulty via sliders; however, artificial difficulty can only go so far, especially when the core gameplay loop is unrewarding.



Spice is a huge part of the Dune universe and is as central to Dune as the Force is to Star Wars; however, except for a single, essentially pointless mechanic (Imperial Taxation), spice serves little purpose.

In my first playthrough, except for losing an undefended far-flung province to raiders, I effortlessly maintained an ample supply of spice to pay imperial taxes from the single spice deposit right outside my starting city.

Spice should be a limited-supply commodity that forces players to fight over it rather than a limitless commodity that has next to no uses beyond paying taxes to the empire every few minutes, making the whole concept of Spice Wars superfluous at best.


Gender Swap Controversy.

Capital “G” Gamers are an embarrassment to the entire gaming community.

Once again, they have made a fool of themselves and, by extension, the wider gaming community by allowing themselves to be triggered that a minor side character (Liet Kynes) who was male in the original books (and female in the new movie) has been portrayed as a woman of colour.

Dune was written in a time when most main characters would always be white and male, and changing a few characters to represent other genders and races will not harm the narrative in any way.

This is not about “making Frodo Baggins, Jesus Christ or Adolf Hitler a woman” (yes, all three of these examples were used by those enraged by a female Liet Kynes); this is about changing and expanding upon a relatively minor character (Liet Kynes) for the sake of representation and character diversity, something that older IPs such as Dune are sorely lacking.


Pictured: Liet Kynes from the opening cinematic. 

Limited By Lore.

While the Dune Universe on paper is a contemporary of Star Trek and Star Wars, in reality, Dune is a much simpler universe, predating even Star Trek, the original series, by one year; it lacks many of the elements of science fiction we have come to expect including robots, computers and high tech weaponry.

While even the most ardent Star Trek fan will reluctantly admit that Star Trek has never been as “good” as Star Wars when it comes to large-scale engagements, compared to Dune, Star Trek battles are downright impressive, with the very best Dune has to offer made to look like a skirmish in the desert when compared to the high stakes adrenaline-filled action of Star Wars and Star Trek.

Dune is a story of political intrigue, powerful leaders, and houses making a play for even more power. While that makes for good reading, it does not make for a good strategy game, especially if that game wishes to remain faithful to the lore of the Dune Universe.

With most battles being comprised of low-tech melee troops and the occasional ranged unit, even the largest battles that Dune: Spice Wars can offer are rather bland, and I cannot help but wonder if sticking true to the Lore of Dune will ensure that the RTS community do not fully embrace Dune: Spice Wars.


Positive Lore Aspects.

While the Dune IP is overall a hindrance to Dune: Spice Wars, there are a few aspects that do add spice to what would otherwise be a very generic RTS, and while they alone are not enough to make Dune: Spice Wars a good game, they certainly help to reduce its genericness.

Landsraad Council.

In the Dune Universe, the Landsraad is a council comprised of the galaxy’s most powerful houses, whose decisions govern millions of lives.

In Dune: Spice Wars, the Landsraad votes on three measures every month that either benefit or hinder the player and npc factions; while I can understand targeted negative resolutions that hinder a specific faction or global bonuses that benefit everyone, why would anyone vote for a global debuff is beyond me, and reeks of poor game design.

What player in their right mind would vote to support a global increase in maintenance costs when margins are often razor-thin already, and they stand to not benefit in any way, instead of supporting a resolution that grants them greater power or reduced costs for only their faction at the expense of everyone else.

The presence of negative global resolutions that the AI supports more often than not reeks of bad game design, and I would hope Shiro Games comes to their senses and replaces all global debuffs with faction-specific ones or global debuffs that at least have a positive upside, such as increasing water production at the cost of higher maintenance costs for the Windtraps (a building which is used to collect water).


Sand Worms.

Many of us as children were warned that if we left toys out, someone may stand on them and break them, and the same applies to Dune: Spice Wars; leaving troops unmonitored and away from settlements often results in them being eaten by a sandworm, and the same can be said for partaking in large engagements which tend to draw local sandworms over for a snack.

Dune demilitarisation aside, sandworms serve as a way to hamper spice collection, as they will frequently target spice harvesters, forcing the player to either withdraw their harvester until the danger passes or wait for a new harvester to be built if they wait too long to stop harvesting and a hungry sandworm has an early lunch.



There are five factions in-game, each with unique passive abilities that help keep the gameplay fresh.

House Atreides: While all factions in Dune Spice Wars are comprised of humans, House Atreides are the most generic “human” faction in the game and are heavily reminiscent of the Sol or Terran factions found in many 4X titles.

House Harkannon: This is the faction of the house for players who like to blow things up and win a domination victory. House Harkannon units grow stronger as they oppress more villages, making them a formidable enemy on the battlefield and the main rival of House Atreides.

The Fremen: A flexible faction that can win either via military conquest and enlist the help of sandworms to rip apart their opponent’s empires or via diplomacy by enlisting the help of planetary natives to wreak havoc on other players.

For players who prefer peace with their neighbours, the Fremen’s increased spice production is a great way to outlast opponents and force them into bankruptcy in the late game, as taxes grow increasingly large as time goes on.

The Smugglers: While smugglers can achieve diplomatic, domination and hegemony victories, they excel at making a profit and using their wealth to influence the outcome of votes and siphon resources and research from their opponents, making them a perfect choice for players who enjoy creating and manipulating a large economy.

House Corrino: The Emperor has arrived on Dune, and his arrival will shake up gameplay with increased difficulty, unique mechanics, and a small but powerful selection of elite units. House Corrino is an excellent faction for those looking for a new challenge.

The ability to select two councillors per game is a fantastic way to make options lore-friendly while giving the player room to customise the game to their liking, such as starting the game with recruitable veteran militia units or increased Solari production.


Dune: Spice Wars FAQ

Dune: Spice Wars is a strategy video game developed by Shiro Games and published by Funcom, it was released on 26 April 2022 and retails for $29.99.

Platform Availability.

Dune: Spice Wars is available exclusively on PC.

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Is There Any Mature Content?

Dune: Spice Wars is unrated and contains the following:

  • Violence

Final Verdict.

Dune: Spice Wars is an excellent game with the potential to be even greater, and if Shiro Games continues to update it with meaningful free and paid updates, It could one-day rival Northgard, the most iconic game created by Shirio Games.

I fully recommend Dune: Spice Wars to fans of Dune and, to a lesser degree, fans of 4X RTS, as while Dune: Spice Wars is not perfect, it is one of the most unique and interesting takes on the 4X RTS genre that we have seen in some time.

Is Dune: Spice Wars Worth Playing In 2024?

Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Dune: Spice Wars" a rating of 8/10, indicating that it is a good game, that is well worth playing, and while it may have a few shortcomings, the average gamer will enjoy it.

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