A single Dune: Awakening map will be almost ten times the size of Conan Exiles, where you can "meet hundreds of players"

Dune Awakening screenshots of gameplay
Dune: Awakening is going to be seriously large. (Image credit: Funcom)

What you need to know

  • Dune: Awakening is an upcoming survival MMO based on an alternate Dune universe where Paul Atreides was never born.
  • It is being developed by Funcom, the studio behind Conan Exiles.
  • Players will be able to explore multiple maps that include social hubs, starter areas, and dedicated PvP zones.
  • One of these PvP zones will be over 500 square kilometers, making it almost ten times the size of Conan Exiles.

Dune: Awakening is an upcoming survival MMO based around the Dune IP. Developed by Funcom, makers of Conan Exiles, the hype surrounding the game has been slowly growing since its announcement in 2022. Given the success of Conan Exiles, which continues across multiple platforms like Xbox, PlayStation, and, most importantly, Steam, the expectations for Dune: Awakening are already high. That anticipation just grew even more.

In a surprising move, Funcom revealed that one of the maps in Dune: Awakening will span over 500 square kilometers. To put that into perspective, the map of Conan Exiles, a shared world survival game, was a mere 54 square kilometers. Even the vast open world of Valheim, another popular survival game, was only approximately 314 square kilometers. So, the scale of Dune: Awakening's map is truly monumental, and it's just one of the potentially many maps to come.

It's going to be big

That's a lot of unknown maps to be announced later. (Image credit: Funcom)

When discussing player traversal from map to map, Joe Bylos, the Creative Director for Dune: Awakening, spoke about how the maps function together as a whole via the overland map. "Once you're ready to leave the Hagga Basin, you craft yourself an Ornithopter, for example, and you fly out into what's called the Overland map. The Overland map is a server [where] you can meet hundreds of other players and allows you to see all the locations in the world, so you physically fly between locations on the Overland map."

As you can see from the above look, the Hagga Basin supports 40+ players, while the Deep Desert serves hundreds. "You'll go back to the Overland map, and you'll fly to the Deep desert. The Deep Desert is this massive area. It's 500 km squared or a minimum of 500 km; it's actually a bit larger than that."

Dune: Awakening Direct – Episode 2 - YouTube Dune: Awakening Direct – Episode 2 - YouTube
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I don't think players expected the map to be this massive, much less for multiple maps to be part of the singular experience. Dune: Awakening is shaping up to be larger than anyone ever dreamed besides Funcom. Not only that, but this 500 square kilometer zone doubles as the main area for PvP.

Joe explains, "There is probably going to be a player cap if too many people go there, but it should be able to handle quite a lot of people. That's a completely seamless set of servers that are all connected together. It's generally a PvP map with a strip of PVE as people enter so that they can be safe when they come into the map and don't get ganked. Then you head out into the desert, and you have these adventures where you're harvesting spice."

Infinitely explorable and expected to be expanded

PvP in this game looks like hectic, spicy fun. (Image credit: Funcom)

While this zone is an enormous PvP playground, don't expect to learn the best spots for player-on-player action. As noted in our preview, the game's Deep Desert will regenerate on a weekly basis, giving players a fresh map to explore. You'll learn to think on your toes.

"The cool thing about the Deep Desert, and this is one of the things that I think I mentioned last time, is that we have this thing called the Coriolis storm, and every week, the Coriolis storm wipes the Deep Desert and resets it with a new landscape and new points of interest. So, it's an infinitely explorable space and a really cool place to hang with your friends. I do love that."

These are also the only areas we know of so far; more will come along with time that extends this size even further. We could see the world's collective scope match that of something like World of Warcraft. Joe would go on to describe this was all planned from the start.

Hagga Basin looks gorgeous. While the Deep Desert will be procedurally generated, these hand-crafted maps will still find room to breathe and be explored. (Image credit: Funcom)
Dune: Awakening

• Links: Wishlist at Steam | Official website
• Developer:
Funcom
• Publisher:
Funcom
• Genre: Survival-MMORPG
• Platforms:
Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, & PlayStation 5
• Xbox Game Pass:
Unconfirmed
• Release date:
Unannounced

"Having the server infrastructure and the approach, it's important for me as a creative director to point out here that we built this with the idea of making the game last and be expandable for a long time. So, the idea of the Overland map and being able to place new maps within the map allows us to just keep building on the world and giving players more content, more things to play, and more spaces to explore. Who knows what it will look like five years from now? That, for me, is the main thing, and I think survival games have typically struggled with this a little bit because of the one server, one map paradigm."

Dune Awakening is undoubtedly shaping up to be a proper survival MMO that will push beyond the boundaries before it. Games like V Rising, Once Human, DayZ, and more all hold to the idea that the map is what it is. Sure, we're given map expansions, and the traditional map system has always been terrific, but it's exciting to see a company attempt to push this boundary.

I remember when the game Dead Matter was announced; don't look now; it's a train wreck. Their idea was a system of maps, each hosted on separate servers seamlessly, that players could build upon themselves. Custom maps could be hosted and all interconnected, giving world sizes the limit of how many servers you wanted to rent. While juggernauts in the space, such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and others, have already done this unlimited size per server idea, I've never seen it done in a survival MMO, at least not yet.

Timer for a little trading. (Image credit: Funcom)

I can't wait for this game to come out, and I'm not just saying that for the sake of hype as a "video game journalist." I'm genuinely excited to see what Funcom has cooked up. If nothing else, they created Conan Exiles, which stands to this day as my most-played survival game of all time.

How about you? Are you excited for Dune: Awakening? Does this get your blood hyped for launch? Let us know below or somewhere on social media. I'll be sure to check it out! 

Dune: Awakening will launch on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PlayStation 5. There is currently no release date.

Michael Hoglund
Contributor

Michael has been gaming since he was five when his mother first bought a Super Nintendo from Blockbuster. Having written for a now-defunct website in the past, he's joined Windows Central as a contributor to spreading his 30+ years of love for gaming with everyone he can. His favorites include Red Dead Redemption, all the way to the controversial Dark Souls 2.