Dune II

Dune II, The Building of a Dynasty
Name: Dune II (The Building of a Dynasty, late renamed Battle for Arrakis)
Genre: RTS
Created in: 1992
Platforms: Amiga, DOS, RISC OS, Genesis, Megadrive
Production Company: Westwood Studios, Virgin Interactive

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The Emperor has proposed a challenge, to each of the houses: "The House that produces the most spice will control Dune. There are no set territories, and no rules of engagement." Vast armies have arrived. Now, three Houses fight for control of Dune; The Noble Atreides, The Insidious Ordos, The Evil Harkonnen.
Dune II Intro

Summarising Information

Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty, later renamed Dune II: Battle for Arrakis, is the
Dune II
Renamed version: Dune II: Battle for Arrakis game box.
second Dune video game produced by Westwood Studios, in partnership with Virgin Interactive. It was released in 1992, originally on DOS, but was later released on Megadrive, Genesis and Amiga in 1993. Unlike it's predecessor, Dune II was an RTS (Real-Time Strategy), and though it it is not the first RTS produced, many of it's original gameplay elements, such as the "click and place" base construction system, mouse troop movement and fog of war, have become widely used, even in modern games. Dune II had created a new format of RTS, allowing players to strategically and complexly command their units. It is therefore regarded by many as the "father" of the modern RTS. Westwood would go on to later create Command and Conquer (nicknamed Dune III by many fans), a hugely popular game that employed the use of Westwood's tried and tested RTS system. Dune II also laid the foundation for many other RTS games, such as the Warcraft series. The appearance of Dune II is based on elements from David Lynch's Dune film, though most elements such as vehicles, are original. Dune II later produced a number of direct sequels, the latest (and last) of which was Emperor: Battle for Dune.

Plot Summary

Frederick Corrino IV
Frederick Corrino IV, issuing his challenge to the Great Houses of the Landsraad.
Technically, Dune II is considered to be a loose sequel to it's predecessor, the Dune video game, despite possessing no plot similarities, and being non-canon. A new House, House Ordos, mentioned only briefly in the non-canon Dune Encyclopedia, appears in the game.
Emperor Frederick Corrino IV (clearly based on the David Lynch film version of Shaddam Corrino IV) is desperate to harvest more spice from the planet Arrakis, in order to pay-off a his debts from his inter-family wars. To achieve this end, he offers a proposal to each of the three great houses of the Landsraad, House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Ordos. Whosoever can deliver to Frederick the most spice from Arrakis will be made it's sole ruler. A great war ensues on Arrakis between the three Houses, wherein the player commands one of the three houses in a campaign style game. Early missions focus on constructing forces and bases to consolidate power on Arrakis, but later the style changes to attacking enemy provinces on a world map.
The planet Arrakis in Dune II, with moon.

When the player-controlled team acquires the majority of territories, his two enemies put their differences aside and team up, to defeat their common enemy. In the final showdown, the Emperor's powerful Sardaukar terror troops join with this alliance, and the player must defeat all three enemies to be victorious and take control of Dune. A final cut-scene, differing depending on the victorious House, is then shown.


Harkonnen troops on Arrakis.
In Dune II, the player takes command of one of the three great Houses of the Landsraad, a Union of Houses in the Imperium, House Harkonnen and House Atreides, long time enemies, were featured before in the books and film, but the new House, House Ordos, which possesses elements of Renaissance Italy, was not, and is non-canon. Each House possesses a varying world view. The Atreides are generally noble, compassionate, but also iron-willed. The Harkonnens rule by fear, treachery and evil, whilst the forces of the Ordos are profiteering, insidious and mercenary. Likewise, the tactics and units of these three Houses differ. The noble House Atreides forces specialise in light, troop-based attacks, and are the only House that can employ Fremen to their cause (once they have constructed a Palace). House Harkonnen's speciality is slow moving, but extremely powerful vehicle units such as the Devastator Tank. Ordos employ enemy-crippling units such as the Deviator, which turns enemy units to the Ordos way for a limited time.


The basic in-game strategy surrounding Dune II is the acquisition of the Spice Melange, harvested using a Harvester on special "spice areas" on the sand Dunes of Arrakis. Once the Harvester has collected sufficient melange, it returns to base, and deposits the precious load into a "spice refinery", wherein the melange is turned, by way of sale, into credits. These credits are used in-game to construct units and buildings, which are used to combat and destroy the enemy, as well as defending oneself from enemy attacks. Structures can only be built on rocky areas, or pre-constructed areas of concrete paving, and not on sand, however, units may travel on sand as normal. Structures can only be built if connected to another structure, and so a general condition of play is to keep at least one structure. Building on rocky areas causes building to deteriorate over time, due to harsh weather conditions, whilst concrete slabs slow this process, but do not prevent it. At the beginning of the game, the areas of the map not visible to the units of the placer are black (this is known as fog of war, and is a concept reused time-and time again in later games). When a unit explores an area, the fog of war is lifted. In Dune II, unlike later games, the area now revealed remains revealed (in later games, when a unit moves out of a revealed area, the area becomes greyed in. The landscape is still visible, but units and structures later created therein are not).
Units on Arrakis are in danger of attack by Sandworms, which cannot move on rocky areas or concrete slabs. Another threat are pre-spice masses, which appear as lumps in the ground. When shot at, or walked over, the mass erupts and forms a spice patch, but destroys any units on top of it in the explosion.


Prior to most campaign missions, the player is given a map of Arrakis, and the option to choose one of several territories to attack. Often this affects the nature of the opponent the player will face, be it one or the other of the two enemy houses. Only the first two missions, which are based on acquiring land, do not require the total destruction of the enemy, and, in all, nine territories must be conquered, regardless of the player's house, in order to obtain victory. Completion of missions, as in many games allows the player to use more powerful units and structures, as well as unique House Units, by advancing the player's "tech tree". Houses cannot, however, construct unique-to-the-house-units from other houses, unless they first capture an enemy factory and construct the desired units from there.
Eventual advancement leads to the creation of a House Palace Structure, from which the most powerful units of each House may be constructed. The Atreides however, use the House Palace to call upon the help of the native Fremen (whom the player does not control) to attack the enemy.

Original Gameplay Features

  • Dune II first pioneered the use of the mouse to move units.
  • Resource gathering (in the form of spice melange) in order to build units and structures was first seen in Dune II.
  • Multiple-option world maps, used often in modern games such as Total War, were also an original element.
  • Unit and base construction systems.
  • Tech trees (dependencies on existing units and structures in order to create more advanced units and structure).
  • Mobile building units.
  • Factions with unique units.
  • Enemy annihilation goals.

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