Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty (titled Dune II: Battle for Arrakis in Europe and Dune: The Battle for Arrakis for the North American Mega Drive/Genesis port respectively) is a real-time strategy Dune video game developed by Westwood Studios and released by Virgin Games in December 1992. It is based upon David Lynch’s 1984 movie Dune, an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel of the same name.
While not necessarily the first real-time strategy (RTS) video game, Dune II established the format that would be followed for years to come. As such, Dune II is the archetypal “real-time strategy” game. Striking a balance between complexity and innovation, it was a huge success and laid the foundation for Command & Conquer, Warcraft, StarCraft, and many other RTS games that followed.
Emperor Frederick IV of House Corrino is desperate for the harvesting of the valuable drug melange (also known as “the spice”), found only on the planet Arrakis, to pay off all of his debt incurred on internecine wars with family members. To achieve this, he now offers the sole governorship of Arrakis to whichever of the three Houses (Atreides, Harkonnen, and Ordos) delivers the most spice for him. War begins as deputations from all three Houses arrive on Arrakis.
The player is a military commander from a House of their choice. 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. Later, when the three Houses divide Arrakis among them, the player has to assault and capture enemy territories. When the player dominates Arrakis on the world map, the two other enemy factions ally against their common enemy. The ultimate final showdown is the battle between the player’s House against three enemy sides, among them Frederick’s forces the Sardaukar (an unplayable elite force whose heavy infantry are particularly powerful). The introductory, mission briefing and endgame cutscenes are different for each House, in keeping with their very disparate world views. The weaponry and units also vary from house to house.