Dota Underlords – game review. Valve Chess.

Valve no longer intends to look at the competition’s successes by officially returning to game development. One of the first productions prepared by a recognized corporation is Dota Underlords. A game of the “Auto Chess” genre has a good chance of achieving the expected success, but in this case a lot depends on the next moves made by the developers.

Dota Underlords – game review.  Valve Chess

Valve wants to make great AAA games, but instead of more shooters, strong platformers or captivating stories, we got Dota Underlords. This decision is not accidental, because the corporate governors are well aware of the strength of the Auto Chess genre, which was basically born before their eyes. DotA 2 received a modification called Auto Chess – the mode was becoming more and more popular, so Valve tried to get along with the developers and create a standalone production. Unfortunately for the corporation, this time it was not possible to find developers, so the developers of Auto Chess develop the game based on AC for Epic Games (exclusive to the Epica store), Valve created Dota Underlords, and in the meantime Teamfight Tactics from Riot (the creators of League of Legends) was created.

Three giants – Valve, Riot, Epic Games – decided to create a game based on one scheme, and thus a new genre was born. I spent the last weeks on the servers of the proposition from Gabe Newell, feeling great potential in all of this.

Dota Underlords – game review.  Valve Chess

Dota Underlords – what is the gameplay about?

I reached for Valve’s proposal for a reason. The corporation works instantly and the production is available on mobile devices and PC, thus offering full cross-play. The gameplay assumptions mean that no one has to be afraid of a tablet vs. mouse, and in addition, Valve takes great care of updates, and even offers Polish.

In the title, our task is to create an army, which, however, we do not fully control – we only set the units bought with the acquired currency, and the fight takes place automatically. It is for this reason that the platform is not important, and mainly the player has to choose the right units while observing the enemy troops.

Dota Underlords – game review.  Valve Chess

There are eight players in one match, but the matches are one-on-one. The system automatically draws the rival we are facing and we have the opportunity to check our chosen ones. Each player starts the meeting with 100 points, and after the round we receive gold, for which we can buy new heroes or improve the current ones – we do it by collecting the same characters.

Dota Underlords – where does the challenge appear?

Creating the right army in Dota Underlords is quite a challenge, because we have 60 different heroes at our disposal, who have their own levels, offer different attacks and special abilities, and are members of 23 different alliances. Choosing the right alliances has a big impact on our ability to attack and defend, because by collecting, for example, three mages, we get an upgrade, and the enemies get 40% more magic damage. By gathering two killers in a team, representatives of this formation gain a 10% chance of a critical hit dealing 300% damage. Usually, the larger the pool of soldiers of a given class in our collection, the more powerful improvements we can count on. The situation is even more complicated, because we cannot easily choose that we want, for example, four Kings of the Desert – in the game we have a chance to buy heroes drawn by the system. In addition, the developers reduce the number of heroes depending on their level – for example, in each encounter, all players draw 45 copies of each of the first tier heroes, but already 10 copies of each of the fifth rank.

Dota Underlords – game review.  Valve Chess

Our possibilities of creating a team are very limited from the beginning, we have to combine, look for the right characters or just rotate. The number of soldiers thrown into battle is limited, we also cannot have an infinite set of characters on the bench, and there is still no budget for a bit of madness. We collect gold for completed rounds, but also for winning or losing streaks, gathering resources (percentage of profits) or we can collect an item that increases the chance of increasing the budget. The creators have also prepared loot rounds – in this case, we are fighting with NPCs who allow you to get, for example, weapons for heroes. The gear has levels and offers a variety of boosters – from a simple “+30 damage” to “+400 health, while attacking an enemy, it slows their movement speed by -35 units and attack speed by 45 units”.

Gameplay in Dota Underlords is extremely tactical, because from the very beginning you have to carefully observe the situation on the screen and act accordingly. Put yourself in for an additional bonus from defeat, block the development of a powerful enemy hero, or maybe hoard coins and actively run around the store only after losing a certain amount of life? There are plenty of tactics here. The most important thing is, of course, the selection of appropriate units, but there is no question of collecting an outstanding set if we do not take care of the budget. It is for this reason that the title is not just about clicking on the heroes you want.

Dota Underlords – can it work?

Honestly, I didn’t expect to get so much into Dota Underlords. I still have a problem with choosing soldiers, I’m looking for the right sets, but the game turns out to be a great springboard. Valve takes good care of the title, often offering balance-related updates, and it could undoubtedly be one of those titles that will stay on my smartphone for longer. As I mentioned before – the production does not require dexterity, there is no attacking skills here, so the game is perfect for mobile gameplay. The size of the icons and heroes is fine – I did not encounter any problems with the interface.

Dota Underlords – game review.  Valve Chess

I must also point out that the developers have refined the mobile edition – the production on the Samsung Galaxy S9 + runs smoothly, I have never had problems logging in to Steam servers (the title requires a game account), and the graphics options are interesting. Developers allow you to reduce the quality of textures, shadows, image rendering and the interface mode (mobile or PC).

Currently, I miss additional modes in Dota Underlords – we can check the tutorial, play with bots, choose a free online match or a ranked match for eight players. I would like to practice my skills in smaller scale matches (up to four?) Or try out team matches. Ranked can last even more than 20 minutes, which is not the optimal time for a mobile game for me – I prefer faster 8-12 minute matches in which I can participate in my free time.

At least at the moment, the lack of microtransactions looks positive – the title is in the first, introductory season, in which you can perform tasks and acquire items (a typical Battle Pass, currently called Protopart), which make our pennant more beautiful, but we cannot spend money on new heroes, for example. I’m afraid it will be difficult for Valve to earn enough money from such a system, so the company will introduce small deals.

Dota Underlords – game review.  Valve Chess

Dota Underlords – an exemplary start… What’s next?

Valve’s game is still in its infancy, but is already showing great potential, which, if used properly, will guarantee great success. I still don’t know how the developers want to earn money from this game, but at least it’s hard to complain about the production at the moment. This is not a title for everyone, but fans of tactical fun should definitely check out Dota Underlords. The whole genre of “automatic chess” has great potential.

I treat Dota Underlords as a mobile production that has been refined by developers, offers the ability to customize the gameplay, gameplay allows you to play cross-platform, there is never a shortage of people on the servers, and the lack of microtransactions can encourage even more. Valve faces a difficult task of reviving gameplay and expanding options, but I will be happy to observe the direction in which this production will be developed.