There always comes a time when fans of a gaming franchise creates a mod that proves to be equally or even more popular than the original. At times, those developers get lucky and get hired by the original owners to work on an official version. Other times, those original owners try to strike off on their own to eventually wipe the mod from history. Both have happened to Dota, originally called the Defense of the Ancients. Valve has just fully revealed Dota Underlords, its own take on the Dota 2 Auto Chess mod that’s taking the market by storm.
Developed by Chinese development house Drodo Studio, Dota Auto Chess is probably the most poorly-chosen name for a game. It has nothing to do with chess and only superficially related to Dota. Unlike the original team vs team game, Auto Chess pits seven players against each other using automated battles (at least it got that right), skill combos, and strategy to win.
The Dota team says they are big fans of Auto Chess and insider sources say they even tried to strike a deal with Drodo to co-develop a standalone game. Those negotiations fell through and the two companies decided to go their own way. Drodo is developing its own standalone Auto Chess but it might have a harder time marketing it in light of Dota Underlords.
Valve’s official spin describes the game as “a battle of wits that will have you building, combining, and leveling-up 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.
That preview phase starts now for Dota 2 Battle Pass owners. After a week, the Open Beta will begin, available for free for everyone on Steam (Windows, Mac, Linux), Android, and iOS. Hopefully, this will do better than Artifact.