Ahead of the latest movie adaptation’s release this weekend, Dune content has been discovered in Fortnite. How wonderful it is to see one of my favorite books and least favorite game come together for an awkward bit of brand synergy.
Epic Games’ all-encompassing Fortnite battle royale will allow players to use skins based on major Dune characters Paul Atreides and Chani (modeled after the 2021 film’s Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya respectively) as part of the game’s imminent Chapter 2 Season 8, leaks have revealed.
Also referenced in the leaks are Dune franchise mainstays such as the sandworms (merged with Fortnite character Fishstick in the loading screen), ornithopters (used as a glider skin), and Fremkits (as “back bling,” whatever that means). What I find most interesting, however, is the emote, which is shown at around 44 seconds in the video below.
The planet on which Dune takes place is overrun by a species of sandworm that hunts its prey via vibrations in the sand. As such, the indigenous people have developed an arrhythmic walking style that, when sensed by a roving sandworm, doesn’t send signals that those vibrations are being caused by a living creature it might be able to munch on.
We still haven’t seen what this “sand walking” looks like in the upcoming movie, so this limited appearance feels like a neat tease of the coming attraction.
That said, this is probably the Fortnite crossover that’s disappointed me the most. Sure, it was weird to see Street Fighter’s Ryu wade into battle armed with a gigantic machine gun, but I hold Dune much closer to my heart. To see it so tactlessly butchered for cheap signifiers of the sci-fi franchise’s main themes when I know those concepts will be sacrificed in favor of the same boring, battle royale gameplay is just depressing.
It’s true that everything in Fortnite is a glorified commercial for products pimped out, strip-mined, and sold back to us devoid of the thoughtful passion with which they were created. Dune is just the first time I’ve seen it come for something I truly love.