Dota Underlords is a standalone Dota 2 auto chess game

There always comes a time when fans of a game franchise create a mod that proves to be just as or even more popular than the original. Sometimes these developers get lucky and are hired by the original owners to work on an official release. Other times, those original owners try to fend for themselves only to finally erase the mod from history. The two arrived in Dota, originally called the Defense of the Ancients. Valve has just fully revealed Dota Underlords, its own version of the Dota 2 Auto Chess mod that is taking the market by storm.

Developed by Chinese development house Drodo Studio, Dota Auto Chess is probably the most misguided name for a game. It has nothing to do with chess and is only superficially related to Dota. Unlike the original team-versus-team game, Auto Chess pits seven players against each other using automated battles (at least he got it right), skill combos, and strategy to win.

The Dota team says they’re big fans of Auto Chess, and insider sources say they’ve even tried to strike a deal with Drodo to co-develop a standalone game. These negotiations failed and the two companies decided to go their own way. Drodo is developing his own standalone Auto Chess, but he might have a harder time bringing it to market in light of Dota Underlords.

Valve’s official release describes the game as “a battle of wits that will see you build, combine, and upgrade a crew in a battle of dominance for the city of White Spire.” It will have the usual elements of online games like ranked matchmaking and progression. Underlords will pit players against seven other opponents or, at least in the preview, practice with bots.

This preview phase begins now for Dota 2 Battle Pass owners. After a week, the open beta will begin, available for free to everyone on Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), Android, and iOS. Hopefully it will do better than Artifact.

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