Dune: Awakening Preview | PAX East 2024


At PAX East 2024, I got the chance to look at a Dune: Awakening preview where I was shown gameplay, the crafting mechanics, and giant sandworms. If I wasn’t already excited for the upcoming Dune MMO, what I saw would have put any reservations to rest about the ambitious project. 

Dune: Awakening Preview – Make Your Own Story on Arrakis 

Dune: Awakening has a core narrative that aligns with the books and films for you to follow, but how you approach the world and its characters is completely up to you. A robust character creator lets you customize every minute detail, from pupil and iris size to an abundance of tattoo and makeup options. 

The opening scene has you conversing with the Reverend Mother where you get to tell her about your character’s background, making decisions that will affect your starting skill tree and how NPCs will react to you. 

Once these choices are made, a short but useful tutorial area will lay out the basic controls and mechanics. You’ll also pick up a Fremen kit (basically a backpack) before you step out onto the hot desert sand of Arrakis. 

Just like in the Frank Herbert novels, the setting of Arrakis is as much a character as any of the iconic protagonists, and players must learn to effectively navigate the unforgiving sands if they hope to survive. 

Sandstorm brewing in Dune Awakening

Dune Online – Arrakis Feels Terrifying And Alive 

While the recent Dune films show Arrakis as an arid, sandy desert with little vegetation, Dune: Awakening is staying truer to how Herbert described it in the novels, with rocky formations, cacti, and other plants that can be helpful for survival. 

A free-climbing mechanic makes Arrakis as accessible as you want it to be, but be careful: Staying out in the sun for too long give you a sunstroke effect. When a player reaches heat exhaustion, their precious water stores will evaporate more quickly.

The best way to avoid heat exhaustion in the early game is to do as much travel as possible between shadows or wait until nightfall. The very first goal, and the most important rule of surviving on Arrakis, will be to find water.

You can collect dew from plants for a small water refill or search farther for a more reliable source of H2O. Having a stillsuit that will recycle your body’s moisture into drinkable water will be extremely helpful. 

The starter stillsuit is fairly basic, but players will be able to find stillsuits with better water conservation properties and even craft their own. Having an efficient stillsuit and ample supply of water will be key to gathering resources and building your home on Arrakis. 

Building a settlement in Dune Awakening

Dune MMO Preview  – The Basics of Building & Battling

Dune: Awakening has an impressive crafting and building system. Collect resources and raid NPC bases for materials to build new weapons, gear, and construct buildings. Multiplayer cooperation is encouraged, so you can trade and purchase materials from other players. 

When playing with others, one person can get the construction of a building started and others can contribute their materials to it. Want to become an in-game architect? You can design a structure to the exact specifications you like and then put it up for sale in the in-game store. 

When it comes to fighting, you can craft various weapons or use vehicles to attack both NPCs and other players. Water is always going to be your most precious resource, so it’s wise to use an exsanguination tool to collect the moisture of the enemies you kill. 

Don’t drink your enemies’ blood outright though, not unless you’re desperate: the blood will give you moisture but at the expense of a health debuff. Instead, bring the enemies’ blood back to your base to purify it for water. 

As for getting back to base, there are alternatives to walking. 

Ornithopters battling each other in Dune Awakening

Dune: Awakening Preview – Vehicles, Spice & Sandworms 

There are many vehicles available to you through the Dune: Awakening story, including sand crawlers, harvesters, and, of course, ornithopters. Whether you’re walking or driving across the sands of Arrakis, deadly sandworms are always a threat. 

Building an ornithopter and flying it to your destination can be safe and fast, but if you’re mining a spice field, you’ll want to bring a harvester along. Thankfully, ornithopters can pick up harvesters like cargo and fly them to their destination. 

Spice is an incredibly valuable resource, and something the developers expect players to fight over. We were shown a harvester collecting spice while an ornithopter circled overhead to watch out for oncoming threats. 

A sandworm in Dune Awakening
Threats are bigger and closer than they appear. 

Wormsign is a classic signal that a giant desert worm is approaching, and it’s advisable to evacuate quickly if you see that, as worms can move unbelievably fast. Another threat is giant sandstorms that can quickly destroy vehicles and kill players. 

Even if you’re safe from sandworms and sandstorms, you can still fall under attack from other players while collecting spice. Alternatively, you can always be the one doing the attacking. If you’re skilled with the ornithopter, it’s possible to steal another team’s harvester with the pilot still inside and fly away. 

Vehicles navigating the desert in Dune Awakening

Dune: Awakening Preview – Final Thoughts 

As much as we got to see during our PAX East Dune: Awakening preview, there’s still much to be revealed. During our press Q&A, we learned that eventually, players will be able to ride the sandworms, but this ability will not be available at launch. 

Many characters from the books will make an appearance throughout Dune: Awakening, and one of the largest, most volatile areas is the Deep Desert. In the Deep Desert, huge Coriolis storms will regularly change the landscape, taking down shields, wiping away structures, and revealing new points of interest. 

The Deep Desert is also a massive PVP area with many threats to watch out for. Though this preview didn’t include any hands-on Dune: Awakening gameplay, it was exciting to see just how far along in development this MMO is. 

The Dune: Awakening release date hasn’t been confirmed yet, but Funcom told TechRaptor they’re focused on smoothing out all the bugs and not releasing until it’s fully ready. From what we saw though, there’s much to look forward to in this Dune MMO.


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