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Video Game / Emperor: Battle for Dune

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The reign of House Corrino is ended. Another House must take its place. (...) Under the terms of the Great Convention, a limited form of warfare, known as the War of Assassins, has been declared by three factions: House Atreides, House Harkonnen and House Ordos. (...) The war will be limited to the planet Arrakis. Use of atomics is forbidden. So long as these rules are followed, the Guild will not interfere. But understand this: during this conflict, and following it, no matter what the outcome...the spice must flow.
Shafla of the Spacing Guild, opening narration

A Real-Time Strategy game set in the Dune universe.

Released by Westwood Studios in 2001, Emperor: Battle for Dune is a sequel to Dune II and Dune 2000 covering the War of Assassins as the three Houses of Atreides, Ordos, and Harkonen fight for control of Arrakis, and various subfactions in the Fremen, the Ix, the Tleilaxu, the Sardaukar, and the Spacing Guild add a level of customization and move the plot along.

The Padishah Emperor is dead, and the Spacing Guild presents the three great houses with a challenge: A War of Assassins for control of Arrakis, with the victor being crowned the new ruling house.


  • Abnormal Ammo: While their equivalents in other houses simply use automatic rifles, the basic Ordos trooper employs a chemical projector. Also, the Inkvine Catapult, which heaves sticky, toxic, and flammable gunk.
  • Action Bomb: The Ordos Saboteur. Emperor also gives them an airborne version, the Air Mine, which rather than simply blowing up on contact with an air unit, instead unleashes a Macross Missile Massacre. They also have an "Eye in the Sky" scout unit, which when detonated air-drops a saboteur to the ground below it, potentially directly into an enemy structure. There's also the Ix Infiltrator, which is essentially an Attack Drone version of the Saboteur.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the Dune novel and Dune 2000 game, the leaders of House Atreides and House Harkonen are Duke Leto and Baron Vladimir respectively. In Emperor, their names have be retconned to Duke Achillus and Baron Rakan.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Shields. In the Dune books, shields had changed the paradigm of warfare by rendering artillery and 'traditional' ranged weapons obsolete, and forced armies to engage using infantry and melee fighting using specific techniques designed to get through an opponent's shield: They could only not be used on Arrakis because their vibrations enraged the Sandworms. In this continuity, shields only protect a single object instead of entire cities, can be worn down by projectile fire, and are so bulky that only vehicles and buildings can carry them — and even then, only the ridiculously wealthy Ordos can afford to employ them (they still cause violent explosions when shot with laser weapons, but since only the Ordos use lasers this rarely comes into play).
  • Alliance Meter: Of a sorts. You can undertake specific missions to earn the trust of any one of the five sub-factions, each one giving you access to Elite Mooks with various capabilities. Though the Spacing Guild always turn against you by the game's end. There are limitations, however. Certain factions will not ally with others in the campaign, but in multiplayer you can select any two before a match. Specifically, the Tleilaxu and Ix are outright hostile to each other, while the Sardaukar and Fremen often clash with the Tleilaxu as well. That's not to say you can't have Sardaukar/Fremen and Tleilaxu allies, but be careful which missions you pick; some will require you to attack your ally's faction, which breaks your alliance.
  • Alternate Continuity: Emperor is very openly set in a different continuity to the Dune novels and while referencing the previous Dune 2/Dune 2000 has only a limited connection to it as well. Both the Emperor and the Great House leaders are different people than in the book and previous games, House Ordos (a minor house from the book) is powerful enough to contest Arrakis from the Atreides and Harkonnen, and Holtzmann shields are severely underpowered from the canon, to the degree that only House Ordos use them on their vehicles and the armies are therefore much more based on projectile weaponry.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Harkonnen. Due to them being a Planet Of Jerkasses, the Fremen cannot be made to ally with them in the campaign. Until the final mission.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Justified; inkvine has to be catapulted as it is too volatile to be shot from a gun.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Our introduction to the Harkonnen. Copec sucks up to Rakan praising him as the future emperor, but the Baron states he knows his son is just waiting for him to die. And then rhetorically asks Gunseng if he could have asked for more suitable heir.
  • Artificial Human: The gholas, used by the Tleilaxu and Ordos.
  • Arc Words: As in the original, "The Spice must flow."
    • For House Ordos: "That is the directive." and "Failure is not an option."
  • Attack Drone: The Atreides' Anti-Air defense drones.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The Harkonnen soundtrack consists almost entirely of heavy metal guitar riffs.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Harkonnen Devastator lives up to its name by, well, devastating everything that gets in its sights, with a pair of plasma cannons that mutilate both infantry and vehicles and a missile launcher that will One-Hit Kill any vehicle or aircraft it locks onto, but it is expensive as heck, slower than molasses, has the lowest range of the 'ultimate' units and cannot fire while moving. Having an Advanced Carryall is practically necessary to use it, adding a whole new layer of micromanagement onto the unit.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The ending for Harkonnen and Atreides has whoever leads the House being crowned the new Emperor. Ordos instead has them setting up a Puppet King.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Atreides and Ordos can use APCs, but they're only slightly awesome. The Atreides one is armed with a standard gun turret and can use an Invisibility Cloak while not moving, and the Ordos one is a very nimble Hover Tank armed with rockets.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Harkonnen leadership. The Baron's sons are so violent that they throw a fit over not getting the chance to torture leaders of rival houses.
  • Badass Army: The Sardaukar and the Fremen, both of which have to be convinced of your worthiness before they'll help you.
  • Badass Boast: At Baron Rakan Harkonnen's prompting, the Ordos Executrix has this to say:
    Executrix: We are the Executrix of House Ordos. We fear nothing, we will eliminate all competitors, in the end we will prevail.
  • Bad Boss: House Harkonnen and Ordos proudly wear this as a hat. The intro shows that both of them pulled a You Have Failed Me on your predecessor and do the same to you if you do if you perform poorly. The Harkonnen are especially brutal; Rakan, after seeing the player character and not being impressed, says to his mentat "if this one performs as badly as the last one I'll have you strangled along with it." After the betrayal of the Guild leaves them stranded on an enemy's home planet, either of the Baron's sons threaten to kill their mentat unless he quickly comes up with a way off the planet. Gunseng is especially brutal, if the player attacks the Ordos homeworld, he demands the soldiers who burned down the Executrix's great hall be brought to him so can torture them as punishment for denying him the opportunity to torture the Executrix.
  • Benevolent Boss: Duke Achillus. Unlike Rakan and the Executrix, he is not bringing in a new strategist because he killed the old one and isn't dismissive of the player on first sight. If the player does do poorly, he threatens to replace instead of kill them, though due to distrust from the Fremen caused by the player's failures, he hands the player over to the Fremen as a gesture of goodwill. And when his mentat feels guilt over not seeing the Guild's betrayal and offers to resign, he tells the mentat to get a hold of himself.
  • BFG: Both the Atreides Kindjal Infantry and Ordos Mortar Infantry carry around a big missile launcher and mortar respectively. They must deploy before they can use these weapons first due to their heavy weight.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A slightly different one of these occurs in each house's ending. Atreides Minotaurs get backup from an Ornithopter squadron, Ordos laser tanks from a Kobra artillery barrage and Harkonnen assault tanks from air-dropped Devastators.
  • Cain and Abel: The Harkonnen princes Copec and Gunseng. Copec poisons their father Rakkan and takes control of the house. The commander must choose who to side with, ultimately resulting in that brother being crowned emperor. The other? Well.. This is really more Cain and Cain. Gunseng, the youngest, isn't really any less evil than his brother. He's just marginally more low-key about it.
  • Chain Lightning: The Maker's lightning attack can arc and strike multiple targets at one time.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Harkonnen Buzzsaw is a huge circular saw blade with a cockpit and mounted machine guns. To say nothing of what it does to infantry, it can be used to break up spice fields, disrupting your enemies' economy.
  • Charm Person: Using a mind-controlling gas warhead, the Deviator can turn its target into an Ordos unit for a short time.
  • Cherry Tapping: Killing someone with the Harkonnen Engineer, the Atreides Kindjal Infantry or Ordos Mortar Infantry (the latter two uses a pathetically weak pistol while mobile).
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Harkonnens are really fond of this. The Baron himself borderlines on a Large Ham.
  • Civil Warcraft: One mission in the Harkonnen campaign between Copec and Gunseng.
  • Colour Coded Armies: The Atreides are blue, the Harkonnens are red and the Ordos are green. This more stereotypical colour scheme is different to that seen in the book (and faithfully represented by the David Lynch film) in which the Atreides wear green with a red hawk symbol and the Harkonnens wear blue with a gryphon symbol. The game also substitutes that gryphon with a more stereotypically 'evil' ram's head, since the designers used the Dune Encyclopedia as a resource. (The Encyclopedia erroneously has the Harkonnen symbol a ram).
  • Cold Sniper: The Atreides Sniper. Fremen Warriors. The Fedaykin use sonic pistols a la the 1984 film instead.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Spice mining.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Nearly every level necessitates you building your own base, and then further building additional windtraps to provide power for all your structures. Your territories can be attacked by the other houses, in which case you are able to make use of existing bases you may have built yourself previously.
  • Cool Plane: Ornithopters, aircraft that use actual flapping wings to achieve flight.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Spacing Guild is played this way.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Each main House has an interesting relation with this trope:
    • The Atreides avert this by following the classic Command & Conquer behavior, their units will move slower as they are damaged.
    • The Ordos also avert this but differently, if they are hit on their armor even by the weakest of weapons (like a pistol or a sniper round on a vehicle), their units will slow dramatically for a few seconds.
    • The Harkonnen are a straight example: as one of their advantages, their units function at full ability up until they are destroyed, likely to compensate for their lack of a Healing Factor or medic-type units.
  • Cut Scene: Very well done for its time.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The plot follows up directly from the Ordos victory in Dune 2000, though House Ordos is not left in any stronger position than the others.
  • Deadly Gas: The Ordos make use of Sickly Green gas-armed infantry and Sentry Guns.
  • Defenseless Transports: Advanced Carryall helicopters have no weapons to defend themselves.
  • Deflector Shields: Found on a few Ordos units. Amusingly enough, they mirror the books in that if a shielded unit is hit by a laser weapon both units will be instantly destroyed. Thankfully, this does not extend to generating an atomic explosion, however.
  • Doppleganger Attack: The Ixian Projector can create seemingly harmless duplicates of any unit, in order to fool an enemy. In truth, while they rapidly lose health and disappear upon taking damage or colliding with an enemy unit, their weapons are fully functional. Projectors thus become Game Breakers once you have access to Harkonnen missile tanks.invoked
  • Dual Mode Unit: The Ordos Kobra has two modes. In mobile mode, it moves around with the gun fixed firing forward. Once deployed, the gun is raised up to its firing platform, freeing up its turret. This also increases the Kobra's range.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The target structure in the final mission is made of tissue paper and it's defenses start fairly light; an immediate rush with your starting units will end the game in minutes.
  • Emotionless Girl: The Ordos mentat, although she does not seem to be a construct like the mentat from Dune 2000.
  • The Engineer: Used to capture and repair structures. The Harkonnen version carries a pistol for self-defence.
  • Evil Is Hammy: House Harkonnen, specifically the Baron and his sons.
  • The Evil Prince: Copec Harkonnen. Gunseng as well, but he's less savage and focused on winning the war.
  • Evil Versus Evil: In the Harkonnen storyline, the brothers Copec and Gunseng are constantly at each others' throats. When Copec poisons their father, they go to war over who leads the house. You have to choose which to support.
  • Experience Points: Your units earn them. Atreides infantry that reach maximum level can be sent back into their barracks; the unit is lost forever but all subsequently produced units of that type start with an extra level. Do this multiple times to be able to produce elite units on command.
  • Expy: Numerous characters are intentionally modeled after the David Lynch movie. The Atreides mentat's appearance and mannerisms resemble Thufir Hawat. Rakan Harkonnen is a less insane version of Vladimir Harkonnen. Gunseng is Feyd-Rautha while Copec is a more psychopathic Rabban from the movie.
  • Faction Calculus: Harkonnen are Powerhouse (individually powerful but very tactically straight-forward units), Atreides are Balanced (durable and tactically flexible units whose veterans can be sent back to base to promote future units of the same kind) and Ordos are Subversive (weak individual units but with a lot of tactical options).
  • Fat Bastard: Rakkan and and elder son Copec. Gunseng, not so much.
  • Fate Worse than Death: If you know what's good for you, never fail the Ordos. Or else...
    Previous Ordos Strategist: "Why won't they just let us die?"
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Harkonnen are fond of this trope, with flamethrower-armed infantry, tanks, and Sentry Guns.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Harkonnen light infantry and Imperial Sardaukar does this in their cheer emote.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The Harkonnen Assault Tank and Atreides Sonic Tank are slow and their gun is fixed, meaning that they may have trouble engaging fast opponents.
  • Flash Step: Guild NIAB tanks can "fold space" and teleport short distances.
  • Fragile Speedster: Ordos units, with the exception of their "Kobra" artillery tank.
  • Friendly Sniper: Atreides sniper infantry. To the Atreides, anyway.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Guild NIAB tank in Emperor, generally thought to stand for "Navigator In A Box," which can be used if you ally with the Guild. They also have the non-usable NIAP, the "Navigator In A Plane."
  • The Fundamentalist: House Tleilaxu are "religious zealots who preach ceaselessly about the evils of machines." It both goes with and contrasts with the original novels: the Tleilaxu appeared as amoral traders of Organic Technology. In reality, they were a religious order, hiding their true nature from the universe.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Ordos Chemical Warriors wear these to protect themselves from their own weapons.
  • Genre Blind: House Ordos, of all people. They trust the Tleilaxu much more than the other factions. Their technology is also unsuited to Dune warfare, as they rely heavily on shields for defence, whose vibrations attract sandworms. Although they do use a lot of hovering tanks, which don't attract worms.
  • Glass Cannon: The Atreides Sonic Tank is a fragile tank with high destructive power.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: The three main factions Atreides, Ordos, and Harkonnen respectfully.
  • Hard Light: The subfraction house Ix allows you access to their projectors if allied.
  • Hate Plague: What the Ordos' "Chaos Lightning" super weapon does to enemies.
  • Healing Factor: Ordos units start with regenerative abilities and Harkonnen ones gain it with experience.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Sardaukar, the most durable infantry in the game.
  • Hellbent For Leather: It's pretty much all the Harkonnen wear. Also combined with Evil Wears Black.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: The holograms seen in the intro have a very distinctive type of fritzing where the red, green and blue channels of the hologram fail to line up, similar to effects seen in early colour film and TV.
  • Horse of a Different Color: If they are deployed with a thumper out in the sand, Fremen Fedaykin can summon worms, which they can then ride.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The Ax-Crazy Harkonnen Mentat is visibly scarred when returning to Arrakis and seeing that the Tleilaxu have contaminated the food and water across the whole planet, turning almost everyone on the planet into a Contaminator.
  • Hover Tank: House Ordos has a few, because of Deflector Shields they are practically Lightning Bruisers with one crippling flaw. Also both Ix units.
  • Humongous Mecha: Many of the Atreides armored units are Mecha, as is the Harkonnen Devastator. This may be a call back to Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: The Sardaukar Caid, while already portrayed in the Atreides storyline as wise and savvy, is in the Ordos storyline able to immediately catch on to House Ordos' subversive strategy of installing an imposter (or, more precisely, a ghola) of the late Shaddam IV as the puppet ruler while his superior falls right for it.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: After Gunseng questions the wisdom behind Rakkan's "sublime thought" of attacking Atreides and Ordos passengers on the Spacing Guild highliner, thus a violation of a Great Convention rule stating that the "War of Assassins" must be limited to the planet Arrakis...
    Copec: Great Convention! Is my baby brother a soldier or a diplomat?
    Gunseng: My brother is an imbecile.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Fremen units are perpetually invisible, unless badly injured. This is meant to represent their skill at moving and hiding in the desert. Invisibility is also employed by the Ix Infiltrator, the Atreides APC and all scout units.
  • Insult Backfire: After Copec becomes the new Baron, he orders Gunseng to swear fealty to him. Gunseng instead spits at him in defiance. However, spitting at another person is the Fremen way of saying they owe a life debt to that person (since water is precious on Arrakis and spitting at another shows they are forever loyal to the recipient) which Copec purposefully chose to interpret the insult as a sign of his brother's loyalty.
  • Ironic Echo: In the Ordos campaign when the Ordos approach the Sardaukar for an alliance, the Sardaukar leader states that the Ordos envoy is brave for setting foot on Selusa Secundus because the Sardaukar could simply have her killed, to which the envoy states that her single life is irrelevant. The Ordos then unveil their Ghola of the Emperor and their propaganda campaign to convince the Landsraad that the emperor had simply gone into hiding and is now backing the Ordos as protectors of the Status Quo, but the Sardaukar refuse to openly back the plan and only promise to ally with "the most worthy". The Ghola then outright threatens the Sardaukar commander with death for his 'treachery' should the Ordos win the war, to which the commander only responds that his single life is irrelevant.
  • Irony: The Tleilaxu seeing machines as being evil, while creating reanimated corpses and other biological monstrosities.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Both Gunseng and Copec want the Executrix or Achillus alive when attack their respective homeworld and quickly throw a fit when they find they were killed in the fighting and can't torture them. Gunseng is so pissed off with the former being killed when their palace is set on fire he decides to kill the soldiers who set the fire.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: When the player character is formally introduced to Baron Rakan Harkonnen, the man quickly entrenches his status as a Bad Boss by referring to you with "it" rather than "him".
  • Kill It with Fire: A favourite tactic of House Harkonnen; they have both flamethrower infantry and flame tanks, both of which are capable of instantly killing infantry. The latter is also very effective against buildings and massed Tleilaxu units. For whatever reason, Inkvine fluid also sets infantry on fire.
    • The Executrix of House Ordos dies this way when their homeworld is defeated.
  • Language Equals Thought: The introduction to House Ordos.
    In the language of the Ordos, there are no words for the concepts of 'trust' or 'honour'. There are more than three hundred for the concept of 'profit'.
  • Laughably Evil: House Harkonnen. With the sheer hamminess of its characters, their over the top villainy, and the occasional moment of Chewing the Scenery, it's hard not to get a laugh out of their antics.
  • Laser Sight: Atreides snipers.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Gunseng and Copec are both ruthlessly brutal, but Gunseng isn't a Fat Bastard and tends to treat you somewhat more respectfully. He promises rewards for backing him in the civil war, whereas Copec threatens you, and continues threatening you even after you help him secure the throne.
  • Lightning Gun: Guild NIAB tanks discharge huge electrical charges along their length and can hit several targets.
  • Limited Loadout: Ornithopters and Gunships can only carry a limited amount of ammunition and must return to a Landing Pad in order to reload their weapons.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: The cutscenes are shot in live-action and feature well-known actors like Michael Dorn.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The powerful but delicate Atreides Sonic Tank. Fedaykin infantry also use sonic weapons.
  • The Medic: In Emperor Atreides vehicles lack a Healing Factor, so they get a dedicated repair vehicle to compensate.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Averted with the Ordos. For them, even one death is a statistic.
    "A single life is irrelevant."
  • More Dakka: Several examples, but the Harkonnen quad-barreled gun towers stand out.
  • Mouth of Sauron: House Ordos seems to be lead by a mini Hive Mind called the Executrix, with what appears to be a cyborg or ghola as their voice.
  • Musical Nod: Frank Klepacki's part of the soundtrack is especially guilty for this:
    • Prepare to spot riffs from his previous work, Rise of the Harkonnen, quite a lot...
    • ...and then there are Ride the Worm and Fremen Alliance using the same roughly-two-minute tune.
    • ...and then there's also Battle of the Atreides, which includes an orchestral riff taken from Flight of the Bumblebee, with several modifications.
  • No Cure for Evil: House Harkonnen, the most villainous faction, has no way to heal their units.
  • Not Hyperbole: Gunseng makes a speech before the final level ending with the chant "Failure is death!" His Mentat tells you that this is no exaggeration.
  • Nuke 'em: The Harkonnen Death Hand Missile super weapon is loaded with multiple atomic warheads.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Baron Rakan Harkonnen pretends to listen to Copec's version of how the war is going. In truth, he has spies in Arrakis giving him an exact rundown of victories and losses.
  • One-Hit Kill: Multiple examples:
    • Like in the preceding games, Sand Worm will inflict this on anything it touches. Even the ones riden by a Feydakin warrior.
    • In close combat with enemy infantry, the Sardaukar Elite uses a knife that can instantly kill any enemy soldier in one hit except for other Sardaukar Elites.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • Allying with the Tleilaxu gives you access to Contaminators, which convert slain infantry into more of themselves. They can also do this to vehicles with their Leech unit.
    • The Ordos intend to put Shaddam IV back on this throne... as a Ghola, a resurrected, conditioned duplicate of a formerly living individual. In addition, they use Gholas during the campaign as to replenish their forces. Also, in order to trick lesser factions into gaining their trust. It works pretty well, allowing such unnatural alliances as Ordos/Fremen.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: Ordos units with Deflector Shield are bound to overload when hit by laser weapons, destroying both the unit and the attacker.
  • The Plan: The Spacing Guild's challenge to the Houses proves to be one by the Spacing Guild in an effort to control the galaxy. They get Out-Gambitted by Elara and the player's House.
  • Playing with Syringes: The Spacing Guild, attempting to create a Physical God called the "Emperor Worm."
  • Polluted Wasteland: Giedi Prime, seat of House Harkonnen, is a wasteland of industrial refuse, toxic waste and rusting machinery.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Gunseng is unusually respectful of the rules for a Harkonnen. On the other hand, when the "rules" are that of the Great Convention... One wonders how much the Harkonnens bribed the Guild to allow a firefight to break out on one of the highliners.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Both the Fremen and the Sardaukar.
  • Puppet King: The Ordos' plan to is install a Ghola made in the image of the late Emperor Corrino, rather than ruling directly like Harkonnen and the Atreides.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Copec only has hints of this until the sacking of Caladan when he just loses it upon learning that Duke Achillus died during the assault.
    • Gunseng really isn't much better at that point. At least he directs his violence at someone instead of just jumping around throwing a tantrum. On the other hand, Gunseng directs his violence against his underlings, while Copec recognises that he can have a Ghola of his intended victims made instead.
  • Required Secondary Powers: The Fremen Fedaykin wear earplugs to protect themselves from their own sonic weapons. In gameplay terms, this also means that opposing Fedaykin cannot harm one another at range.
  • Retcon: Emperor Corrino's death is depicted as it takes place in the Ordos ending of Dune 2000, but it is mentioned to have taken place on Kaitain. The House leaderships are also Retconned to their Emperor incarnation, which isn't too hard to achieve since we never saw them in Dune 2000. The Emperor, who was seen, is also retconned to having been named Shaddam IV instead of Frederick IV, but the Frederick name was only in the manual for Dune 2000, and never actually said in-game.
  • Retractable Weapon: Ordos gun turrets pop out of the ground to attack.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: More dynamic than in earlier games. The computer-controlled rival factions can try to retake territories you've captured and you can defend them with most of the base you built carried over. Sometimes, the CPU will attack an area that you started off with control of, and you will have to defend a pre-built base. Also, the sub-faction units become available depending on which map areas you conquer. This adds replay value because you can either try to push into enemy territory and take their stronghold in as few missions as possible, or you can keep taking territories until you control almost the whole map.
  • Robotic Torture Device: Gunseng Harkonnen custom-orders one in the form of a surgical chair from the Ix. Depending on which side you take during the civil war mission, he can become its very first victim. You get to hear and see glimpses of what it does to its occupants, and they are not pretty.
  • Rousing Speech: Several examples towards the endgame, delivered by the faction leaders before the mission where you attack an enemy faction's homeworld and the final mission against the Guild and the Tleilaxu.
    • Duke Achilus:
    Atreides, today we stand on the doorstep of one of our greatest enemies. Many of you and you families have sufferd at the hand of the Harkonnen and their vile Baron Rakan / the Ordos. Now is our chance to remove their black stain from the fabric of the universe. Onward Atreides! Onward to victory!
    • He later delivers one before the mission where you attack the Emperor Worm.
  • Sand Worm: Of course. Keep your units off the sand whenever possible to avoid attracting them, as they cannot be killed and will destroy your units instantly. Watch for Wormsign to know of their approach. Fremen units can move without attracting them and can even ride them, steering them into enemy units.
  • Shown Their Work: Emperor is full of references and nods towards the Duniverse, some of which are incredibly obscure. Whatever problems the game may have had, it is clear that the team in charge knew the story quite well. Not to mention the cutscenes, whose visuals closely match that of the film - even to the point of recreating some of the scenes.
  • Skippable Boss: In the last mission you can walk right past most of the enemy base and army and take out the target with your starting units, regardless of faction.
  • Sigil Spam: Many structures incorporate their House's logo into their very architecture if not simply having it stuck on the side. This extends to units, such as the Atreides Minotaurus, a Humongous Mecha, the cockpit of which is shaped like an eagle's head and body.
  • Silent Protagonist: Lampshaded by the Harkonnen Mentat in the first cutscene.
    Have you no tongue?
  • Single-Biome Planet: The titular world and damn near every other planet, including Sigma Draconis, the frozen Ordos homeworld.
  • Sniper Rifle: The Sniper's rifle has a low rate of fire but long range and inflicts massive damage to infantry units.
  • Spawn Broodling: The Tleilaxu units, Contaminators and Leeches, attack infantry and vehicles respectively and convert them into more of themselves.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Several planet names are spelled differently from the mainstream Dune universe, presumably in error; the capital planet Kaitain is spelled 'Kaitan' and the prison planet Salusa Secundus is spelled 'Selusa Secundus' for instance.
  • Spider Tank: Calling it a "tank" is exaggerating, but the Ordos Dust Scout qualifies as a "Spider Recon Drone".
  • Status Effects:
    • Burn: Harkonnen flame troopers and tanks.
    • Charm: Ordos Deviator tanks.
    • Confuse: Ordos Chaos Lightning superweapon.
    • Fear: Atreides Hawk Strike superweapon.
    • Doom: Essentially what happens to vehicles when attacked by a Tielaxu Leech. They can be saved by friendly Engineers.
  • Stone Wall: The Advanced Carryall can take a lot of punishment and has no offensive weapons of its own.
  • Suicide Attack: The Harkonnen Devastator can be ordered to self-destruct, detonating the reactor, and damaging any units or buildings within the area of effect.
  • Teleportation: The Spacing Guild NIAB Tank can be deployed to teleport to any spot on the map. It takes time to get to the destination and time to recharge once it reaches that place.
  • Timed Mission: In the final mission of the campaign, once your Mentat informs you of the Emperor Worm attempting to awaken, you have thirty minutes to destroy the worm, or lose the mission.
  • Tripod Terror: The Harkonen Devastator which happens to be very big.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: One of the rarer Ixian missions involves the Suboid worker caste rebelling against the Ixian leadership. The rebellion is subsequently revealed to have been orchestrated by the Tleilaxu. The plotline (and in fact, the Suboids themselves) is based on the main Ixian plotline from the Prelude to Dune books.
  • The Un-Favourite: Baron Harkonnen frequently flip-flops between favoring his two sons in public. It's fairly obvious he's playing the two against each other; privately (according to All There in the Manual) he seems to consider Gunseng the most threatening of the pair and ends up sending him to Arrakis to oversee the spice production. He is then poisoned to death by Copec.
  • Unfulfilled Purpose Misery: The Sardaukar are suffering from this with their undying loyalty to the Emperor when there is no emperor. During the Ordos campaign when Sardaukar leaders are presented with the ghola duplicate of the old Emperor, they decide to support the Ordos with the rationale that even following a lie like that is better than languishing in purposeless existence.
  • Veteran Unit: Factions that retain their units are rewarded by said units gaining experience and in some cases sharing it with future units.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: You occupy this role, being more expendable than the mentats and rulers of each House, and under threat of death for failing to perform.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The Mentats from Dune 2000 are never seen again.
    • It is not made clear what became of Shafla, Cilix, and Elara. The lab was most likely destroyed when the Emperor Worm was bombed, and we do see what appears to be its wreckage. The final shot of the ending suggests something happened, but that's it.
  • Worker Unit: The ubiquitous, beetle-like Spice Harvester (presented exactly as they appeared in the 1984 film) and the Construction Yard. Carryalls also function as such, automatically ferrying harvesters to and from spice fields. Typically these carryalls are entirely automated and uncontrollable (though they will automatically ferry a damaged unit to an available repair pad), but you may build more expensive Advanced Carryalls that can be given orders.
  • You Have Failed Me: Lose too many battles and the Harkonnen will install a heart plug and pull it out, while the Ordos will decapitate you and hook your head up to a life support system to serve as an example to future strategists. The Atreides will actually double-subvert this trope - while the Duke initially intends to merely dismiss you from your position, he is forced to promise your water to the Fremen in order to mend the rifts in the trust between the two factions caused by your failures.
    • The Harkonnen and Ordos opening cutscenes show your predecessor's "punishment for failure", who may be the player character from "II" or 2000.