Dune 2 - History and Remakes

Good afternoon gamers, hope everyone is having a good day so far! Got a nice treat for you today it's a bit of history on Dune 2 and some damn fine remakes, be prepared for a big read so sit back and enjoy this nostalgic trip.

I'm sure many of us remember Dune II, one of the greatest RTS games of our time, an all time classic and also developed by one of the greatest developers Westwood which was destroyed by EA. Dune II or the proper title Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty (retitled Dune II: Battle for Arrakis was released for DOS in 92 and Amiga in 93. It also appeared on consoles with the game being released on the Genesis/Megadrive in 93.

This game also established the format that would be followed for years to come. Striking a balance between complexity and innovation, it was a huge success and laid the foundation for such games as Command and Conquer, Warcraft and *hold your breath* STARCRAFT! But what about the story?

Emperor Frederick IV of House Corrino is desperate for the harvesting of a resource called "Spice" which is also known as melange which is only found on one planet, Arrakis.  The reason for this is he has to pay off a massive debt incurred on internecine wars with family members. The offer goes out to all the current houses, that whoever delivers the most spice will have sole governorship of the entire planet. However because of this, it turns into an all out war between all the houses which are (Atreides, Harkonnen, and Ordos)

Each house has a biography at the start so you can get the feel of the type of house you will be a part of, for me it was always the Harkonnen simply because they were so damn Evil! You play as  a military commander from a House of his choice and thus In the first few missions the objectives are to establish successfully a base on an unoccupied territory of Arrakis, to harvest spice and to defeat intruders. As the game progresses you end up taking over other territories via a huge world map, each colour donating what house has what area of control. When the player dominates Arrakis on the world map, the two other enemy factions ally against their common enemy

Next up is also the most important, gameplay. As you may have read already, Dune II is an RTS title based on the planet Arrakis. You start with a small base depending on the mission at hand and your objective is usually to harvest as much Spice as you can and attack other bases. The viewpoint in the main game screen is usually surrounded by a Fog Of War which in this game is complete darkness, as the units explore the map, the darkness is removed. Unlike later games such as Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, the fog of war is lifted forever with initial exploration, it does not become dark once more when units leave the area.

You also start the game with a Harvester which when used ,travels to the nearest spice zone, (donated by orange shading) gathers the spice and then heads back to the spice refinery and the credits increase. This gameplay style also appeared in other Westwood titles including Command and Conquer in which you harvest Tiberium. But be careful as in this game, there are not only other enemy units from other houses but massive Sand Worms, these giant beasts native to the planet will come up from the sands and devour anything currently trundling across the landscape. They cannot come up through rocks, so quickly get your units to safe ground! While we are on the subject of SandWorms can any anyone else reading this article name a similar creature which appears in what movie?

The Dune II interface is also the basis for later real-time strategy games, being the first to use the mouse for unit control, but is inconvenient when compared, for example, to Command & Conquer. Dune II did not have unit grouping or context sensitive cursors, as they were not used in RTS games until C&C and unlike later games, clicking on a piece of land or enemy will not result in movement or attack actions. To do so requires clicking on the "Move" or "Attack" buttons (or pressing of a hotkey), and then selecting the target. I wasn't keen on this method but preferred the C&C style of mouse actions

Regarding the construction of buildings, The player can only build on rocky terrain, but must build concrete foundations before hand to avoid the decay of the structures due to the harsh weather conditions. Although even when you do this, structures will still gradually decay over time regardless of the presence of those concrete slabs due to the weather conditions. It probably only needs a lick of paint ;)

Completing higher missions gives you the ability and authorization to use improved technology and higher-order weaponry unique to each House. House Harkonnen may be able to construct their Devastator tanks but cannot build the similarly impressive Atreides Sonic Tank. The Ordos can use the Deviator - a specialized tank firing a nerve gas that switches the allegiance of targeted units to Ordos for a limited period of time. Think of it as a brainwashing gas device!

The three Houses also are restricted in their production capabilities—House Ordos cannot build Atreides-style trikes, instead making the faster "Raider" trikes, while House Harkonnen constructs heavier but more expensive quad bikes. Also another neat idea is, if you capture another houses building you can use the weaponry of that house, so if you want special units not available in your house go and take over a factory.

The best and final ability in the game is the building of the House Palace from where super weapons may be unleashed on opponents in the final closing chapters of the game. The House Harkonnen super weapon is a long-range powerful missile called the Death Hand, whereas House Atreides may call upon the local native planet dwellers Fremen infantry warriors, over which the player has no control, to engage enemy targets. House Ordos may unleash a fast-moving Saboteur whose main purpose is the destruction of buildings.

Dune 2 also had some great music for it's time, Westwood was renowned for making very good sound tracks although they did kind of sound the same in the early days, for example listen to Dune II then go and listen to Lands of Lore ( RPG ). Most likely this was due to the hardware used in the 90's such as Roland MT-32 and Sound Blaster. I for one had a Sound Blaster 16 and the type of sound files used tended to be MIDI files.

Two years after Dune II a special version was created by the fans and not Westwood, this was titled Super Dune II. Which substitutes the original 3 Houses in the game for the Mercenary, Sardaukar, and Fremen, each with unique attributes (e.g. the Mercenary is invisible to radar, but cannot create any 4-block structures). The original Houses also do not disappear, but will show up to fight you from time to time. Super Dune 2 is for experienced players who want the full effect of Dune 2, so play the original first. You can also grab the latest Super Dune 2 Classic modification from a number of sites ( here and here ). Super Dune II Classic is designed for a stand-alone installation, but you will still need certain original Dune II files to play. 
The Classic edition fixes as many glitches and bugs in Super Dune 2 as possible, while keeping the original feel and all features of the modification intact.

Another version that may be of interest for Super Dune II fans is Dune 2 eXtended which
is a spin-off from Super Dune II. The mod is aimed at providing lots of new content from new graphics to a completely new storyline stretching across 3 campaigns. The ultimate goal of the project is to fully exploit the abilities of Dune II, and make a game that is enjoyable and challenging to play. The entire to-do list includes:
  • new menu graphics
  • new animated Mentat screens
  • new briefings and Mentat information
  • new campaigns with various missions
  • scenario, AI and other fixes
Currently, the following features are completed:
  • main menu title screen
  • side selection screen
  • "Do you want to join side X?" dialogue
  • faction profile/introduction text
  • new player ranking system that uses the actual rank names from the book, instead of all those "desert mongooses" and the like
  • fully animated Fremen and Sardaukar Mentat screens ("recycled" images from Cryo's Dune)
  • new planet/herald images for all new sides
  • a fully playable Demo campaign
  • modified tech trees and new units
  • a more powerful AI
  • new briefings and Mentat descriptions (in progress)

If anymore mods, extensions or complete remakes appear don't forget to check this forum first, which is a great resource for DUNE fans.

Since the original Dune 2 we've had a number of newer versions namely Dune 2000 which was released in 1998 and Emperor: Battle for Dune released by Westwood Studios in 2001. Dune 2000 uses a similar game engine to Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Although Dune 2000 was originally intended to be a remake of Dune II, the plot line differs completely and makes a reference to the execution of Mentat Amon of House Ordos. The graphics were completely overhauled over Dune 2 with a much better looking UI and even contained full FMV's.

When it comes to Emperor: Battle for Dune released in 2001 this game was a direct sequel to the previous games. In particular, it is a sequel to Dune 2000, carrying on from where it left off, with several of the characters and actors returning. Once again it had massively improved graphics and FMV quality videos, although for Nostalgic reasons I prefer the older titles. Also unlike the previous versions with you taking control of a planet to help pay of a debt in this title The Spacing Guild has presented the three remaining Houses with a unique challenge: a war of assassins on the planet Arrakis. Whichever House wins the war will become the new leader of the Landsraad, and its leader the new Padishah Emperor, Emperor of the Known Universe.

So from a Governor of one planet to the Emperor of the known universe, I know which one I'd prefer. Regarding the game itself it featured three campaigns, one for each house. Emperor expands upon the territory take over style gameplay between missions from its older games. In previous games, the territory chosen from the map screen simply determined the shape of the map to be played on. However, in Emperor, the choice of territory can affect mission objectives and alliances. The player is also given "reinforcement" units to move around the world map which can affect the in-game missions. The AI is also much improved and will try to retake back a territory, however according to some this can get very boring.

The graphics in this title are hugely different to previous titles, with a complete graphical overhaul and UI interface, the FMV's are also much longer. Instead of a more flat looking landscape, the game landscape has a higher 3D effect giving much more depth to the screen in front of you also including far better weapon effects. Again as for myself I prefer the originals because of nostalgic reasons.

All of these games were developed by Westwood with EA later having an Influence and its EA we must thank for the death of a great company and pretty much most other great companies and it's also why I have an utter detest of EA as a games nostalgic journalist.
 In August 1998, Westwood was acquired by Electronic Arts for $122.5 million in cash. At the time, Westwood had 5% to 6% of the PC game market.In response to EA's buyout, many long-time Westwood employees quit and left Westwood Studios. Because of this and EA's newly imposed demands, games being developed by Westwood Studios at the time were rushed and left unfinished upon their release.All the subsequent games developed by Westwood were also heavily subjected to increased control by Electronic Arts, with some of them being cancelled. Westwood Studios (along with EA Pacific) was liquidated by EA, and all willing staff were assimilated into EA Los Angeles
Unrelated to games but Dune did have a TV mini series called DUNE which aired in 2000 
which was a three-part miniseries on politics, betrayal, lust, greed and the coming of a Messiah. Based on Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel. There was also a Dune movie which came out in 1984.

Now that's out of the way, it's time for the REMAKES

Dune II The Maker 

Dune II – The Maker aims to be a clone of the good old Dune II by Westwoord Studios. Main goals are to give it the same look and feel as dune 2, using a bit enhanced graphics (not too much!). It should be playable on multiple platforms (though main platform is Windows), and be enhanced in several ways. Currently the project’s latest stable version is DEMO 4. Since then major rewrites and refactorings are taking place, which will eventually lead to a new version. Dune II – The Maker is open source


DUNE IV, in comparison with DUNE III, has lots of improvements, such as: high resolution, advanced game control, improved artificial intelligence and many other features. Game package also contains video and MP3-music. 
      From the very first missions you'll have to find the way to survive on planet Arrakis (Dune), learn how to mine resources (the basic wealth of this planet is spice), build bases (cities) and army. 
      It gets worse and worse as it goes on... Don't expect it to be a piece of cake, as your opponent won't leave you and your base alone for a minute (well, probably you'll be given a one-minute-break). There are missions where a couple of alliances will unite against you and in others everyone's going to struggle against everyone (what an excellent show!). Some missions are time-limited, some need player to show his quick wit and dexterity to accomplish the mission. 
      This time the opponent (AI) has grown wiser and will be searching for the weak sides of your defense. Forget about the times when player could with impunity attack opponent's harvesters. Those old fine days when player presumed to forget carelessly about own harvesters have sunk into oblivion. The opponent won't forgive it, do not underestimate him.


a Dune II "imitation"  written in Java. Single player


Dune Legacy

Lead one of three interplanetary houses, Atreides, Harkonnen or Ordos, in an attempt to harvest the largest amount of spice from the sand dunes. Exchange your spice stockpiles for credits through refinement and build an army capable of thwarting attempts of the other houses to stop your harvesting!

Dune Legacy is an effort by a handful of developers to revitalize the first-ever real-time strategy game with updated high-resolution graphics, currently aimed at recreating Dune II as close to the original as possible. The original game was the basis for the hugely successful Command and Conquer series, and the gameplay has been replicated an extended to a wide variety of storylines and series. There are currently two different branches of Dune Legacy.

Dune 2 : The Golden Path
(previously known as Dune 2: The Sleeper Has Awakened) by Drackbolt: a Dune II remake with various improvements, originally focused on multi player but now also featuring the single player aspect as well.


OpenDUNE is an open source re-creation of the popular game “Dune II”, originally made by Westwood Studios, and released by Virgin Entertainment.

It attempts to re-create the original game and apply modern technology to it to allow it to be run natively on most operating systems.


Dune II clone with hi-res graphics. ( Not Updated )

Dune 2 - In your Browser

This title is playable in your Browser and is a high quality version of OpenDune in a web implementation


( Abandoned Projects )

Dune 3: Back 2 Desert by An attempt at remaking Dune II. Works only under pure DOS.
Dune32: Strike Back A Dune II-themed game that uses Command & Conquer: Red Alert graphics.
WAR Dune II clone with C&C-styled interface. Separate versions for DOS and Windows available.

So that about wraps up the Dune 2 article, I hope you enjoyed the read, don't forget to comment and give me feedback or thoughts about Dune 2. Which version did you prefer, the original or the latest emperor?


  1. I will have Arrakis back for myself! He who controls the Spice controls the universe ;)

  2. Wow, you read old posts for new comments? :D

  3. I see all ;)


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