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Dune: Awakening developer seeks to reassure fans following religion concerns

Funcom, developer of the upcoming Dune: Awakening, has issued a statement regarding the role of religion in the game after fan concerns erupted on the internet this week.

In Eurogamer’s preview of Dune: Awakening, Funcom chief creative officer Joel Bylos mentioned how “for the large part, we sort of sidestep religion” as part of the game’s “alternate history approach” – something which, as we wrote at the time, was likely to initially set Dune nerds’ alarm bells ringing.

But the decision to “sidestep” Dune’s overtly religious aspects in Awakening has been taken out of consideration for the series’ lore, our Chris Tapsell wrote, and refers to one “religious aspect” in particular. That said, religion is still a theme in the game – something seemingly evident by its focus on the Butlerian jihad: the war between humans and AI.

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A look at Dune: Awakening’s Arrakis, in 4K.Watch on YouTube

Still, the suggestion of a “sidestep” prompted surprise from fans – prompting Funcom to respond.

“We agree that religion is an integral part of the Dune universe,” reads a statement from Funcom, posted to social media platform X. “This is why in Dune: Awakening you will meet and interact with people of different religions along your journey.

“However, as opposed to the story presented in the books, the player is not a messiah and will not play a major role in any of them. Leading people on a holy war is not why you arrive on Arrakis.”

Eurogamer previously asked if Dune main character Paul Atreides would pop up in the game at all, to which Bylos replied: “No comment”.

In a follow-up statement to Eurogamer, Bylos detailed the game’s relationship with religion further – and the misconception that religion would not exist in Dune: Awakening at all.

“Religion is at the core of the book because the main character is hailed as messiah and the potential Kwisatz Haderach. As Paul interacts with the Fremen, he takes on the mantle of the Lisan-al-Gaib and leads them on their holy war.

“When I say we ‘sidestep’ religion, I am not saying religion doesn’t exist in the game (which is how people seem to have reacted) but that the player is not a central or important figure in any religion. You can hear about the various religions in the game, you can interact with people who are part of those religions, but you aren’t the messiah or prophet of one, and you probably aren’t going to be exploiting one and leading the people on a holy war.”

For much more on the game, including the player’s interactions with spice, here’s Eurogamer’s Dune: Awakening preview.

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