We talked in the past about how, if the Auto Chess genre continued to grow, it could turn into a phenomenon in the same scale of Dota back in the early 2000s. If you’ve been around for a while, you may know that hugely-popular Dota started off as a custom map for the hit RTS game Warcraft 3. At the time, this custom map took the famous characters from the Warcraft universe, gave them several custom skills, and allowed up to two teams of 5 players each to battle it out in a fight to destroy the enemy’s Ancient.
The resounding success of Dota back then paved the way for many companies to take their formula, add their unique spin on it, and released games in the same vein, which gave birth to the all-popular MOBA genre we know and love. Of course, while the formula was powerful and popular at the time, the success of each new game depended on several factors, which is why most of them failed, while a few games still dominate the market to this day. Case in point, we currently have Dota 2 and League of Legends, which are the two leading contenders in the genre.
However, ever since Dota 2 implemented their “Arcade” mode, which was, in essence, the modern equivalent of Warcraft 3’s map editor, players have been experimenting with creating their own custom game modes. Once completed, the players could share their custom games with their friends and spend a good time playing with their creations. However, one game stood out among the rest both for its use of popular Dota 2 characters, as well as for its unique mechanics, in a story that, to this day, closely resembles the origins of the original Dota back then.
However, we already explored this story in our Auto Chess review. If you want to learn more about it, feel free to read up on it following the link above. This time around, we’ve come to show you what happens when someone comes up with a good idea, and then a company of experts in the industry take it and refine it to its most optimized form. Dota Underlords, developed and published by Valve, is the industry’s AAA response to the growing genre and offers the best possible experience with this game that we’ve ever tried, so far.
If you thought Auto Chess as a custom game mode for Dota 2 was great and had a lot of fun playing the mobile version, then you’re definitely going to have a blast with Underlords. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore some of the best features that this game has to offer and why you, as an enthusiast of the genre, should definitely give a try.
Disclaimer: We’re still getting everything set up so you can play Underlords on BlueStacks. In the meantime, we’ll be using screenshots from the PC version of the game, which is very similar. After all, this game has crossplay so it’s evident that the experience would be identical across all platforms.
Immediately Recognizable Hero Units
As long-time gamers, we’re definitely familiar with Dota, Dota 2, and even League of Legends. Throughout the years, we’ve learned each and every champion, even those that we didn’t enjoy playing, and discovered what they all can do. Our experience in this regard helps us much in identifying the best strategies to counter every champion’s skill set and how best to proceed to take the victory.
However, despite having its origins as a mod for the popular Dota 2, the standalone Auto Chess game, due to copyright reasons, couldn’t feature the same heroes and had to implement some clever variations. As such, while some heroes were recognizable, others were completely different. As newcomers who had never played the game before, one of the biggest obstacles we had to overcome was learning what each champion did. In this sense, it took a lot of time to get used to the flow of the game, especially since we didn’t know what each unit did.
Dota Underlords doesn’t suffer from this issue as it’s developed by Valve, the company that holds the rights for the original Dota 2 characters. In this sense, when you play Underlords, you’ll find many familiar faces and will, in a matter of seconds, know exactly what each character can do. This fact made it much easier for us to get into Underlords in contrast to Auto Chess, which we’re still learning, by the way.
Vastly-improved, Intuitive UI
Aside from the modified hero appearances, one of the other complaints we had with Auto Chess was its UX and UI. While playing it on BlueStacks was a vast improvement over the phone version due to improved performance and access to a mouse and keyboard, the game still left a lot to be desired in terms of usability. Dota Underlords addressed this issue by developing a smooth interface that controls about as good as it looks—which is saying a lot since the game looks absolutely amazing.
Several Quality-of-Life Upgrades
Aside from learning what every hero can do, which is a huge task considering the number of champions, you also have to learn what each item can do.
Throughout the match, you will encounter several intermission rounds with neutral monsters instead of fighting against other characters. These monsters, while giving gold if you manage to beat them, will also grant you an item after the round is over. These items can change the tide of a match if equipped to the right characters. However, in Auto Chess, you don’t receive an item at the end of the round but have a chance to gain one from every defeated monster. These items are random and of the lowest quality, and can be combined with others to create stronger items.
In regular Dota, this is a crucial aspect of its gameplay as the player’s choice of items will significantly affect their performance in battle. In Auto Chess, however, the task of having to combine items, and then clunkily drag them to your desired character, adds an extra layer of artificial difficulty that takes away from the fun. In Underlords, this cumbersome feature is modified so that you can choose from a list of random items after completing an intermission round. Furthermore, you can easily read the effects of the item before deciding, which makes devising a strategy as simple as ever, without any added complications.