Valve has officially released Dota Underlords after just over a year of beta and early access. The game was already a hit throughout its early days and it effectively became a leader of the auto battler market in a matter of months. Season 1 of Underlords, however, is very different from the beta days we’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Queue in the world’s smallest violin to mourn our defunct Big Boss II rank.
What can you expect? Well, everything. New heroes, new alliances, new items, achievements, an entirely new game mode – PvE this time (finally!) – and even underlord changes. We have our work cut out for us, so let’s get right to it.
Who Goes and Who Stays?
It’s time to say farewell to old friends and welcome new ones. No point in prolonging a goodbye, so let’s rip off the band aid as fast as possible:
- Inventors and Scrappies are gone. No more Techies, Clockwork, Tinker, Timbersaw, Alchemist or Bounty Hunter. In addition, Enchantress, Gyrocopter, Kunkka, and Sniper have also rotated out.
- Summoner, Vigilant, and Void Alliances are in. Get ready to rule the battlefield once more with Arc Warden (hooray), Magnus, Luna, Windranger, Mirana, Tidehunter, Templar Assassin, Nature’s Prophet, and Enigma.
While we’re not advising you to throw out your best alliance tier list just yet, these hero movements are big enough to warrant a major overhaul. We don’t want to give away too much, since we have a tier list on its way, but we will say that Bloodseeker and Bristleback are really strong early game picks.
One new item that’s worth mentioning here is the Hat, a completely new addition that can make any hero part of the following alliances: Blood-Bound (for Ogre Cap), Hunter (for Crown of Antlers), Brute (for Leg Breaker’s Fedora), Deadeye (for Mantle of the Flayed Twins) or Demon (for Ristul Circlet).
Since we’re discussing transitions, we can’t get over the fact that all of the battle pass rewards we farmed during beta and are now completely gone. Instead of our “Hot!” emote and pixel winning streak, we got the two maps and a cosmetic statue. We know a new season has begun, but we were expecting more. After all, we endured many a week of unbalanced Arc Warden, Terrorblade, all the 5-cost units throughout the first phase of the beta, and much, much more.
If we didn’t even earn the right to keep the Proto Pass rewards, what was the point in getting them in the first place? Will the same be the case with the Season 1, paid battle pass?
Season 1 Underlords Gameplay Changes
While there’s no doubt that Underlords falls in the MOBA auto-chess variety, the developer team is trying really hard to deliver their own approach to the gameplay we all know and love. Perhaps a bit too hard, since the player base has dropped significantly. In Season 1 of Underlords, this is how the game has changed:
- You can re-roll the selection of items you get at threshold rounds once time. This is not so bad, especially since each of the ones you got will not appear in the following choices. If you think one of them is useful, you might just want to go with it rather than risk getting an even worse set-up.
- Item rounds are now more frequent. The old system gave players a choice between 3 items at rounds 1, 5, 10, 15, and so on. Now, the thresholds are 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, etc. So, multiple of 4. Much like item re-rolling, this also feels more like a quality of life improvement, since it gives players more chances to get useful stuff.
- Ace tier is completely gone – by which we mean the Ace unit buff associated with top-level characters, as well as the extra chance to find them. The category wasn’t removed altogether, just renamed to Tier 5. Valve says the system might come back at a later date, but we don’t know when or in what circumstances.
- Beneficial cells. This is something we’ve seen added in other turn-based games, such as Disciples 3, a failed reincarnation of the legendary series. Although not introduced with Season 1, the devs claim the mechanic is now fixed. If you didn’t have the chance to play with them yet, beneficial cells are areas on the battlefield that will improve a hero’s ability.
- Examples include mana gain by means of a Mango, improved Precision Aura for our very own Traxex, or a bonus for the Knight alliance.
- Poison stacks will now reduce healing received by 15% per stack, rather than 10%.
The underlords themselves have been the target of several revisions. We wouldn’t call them game-breaking, but you should take note of them. Jull’s Barrels of Fun and Happy Hour skills CD were reduced by 3, respectively 2 seconds. Enno’s auto-attack was significantly buffed, as he now hits harder and faster, but his All-out Attack was slightly nerfed. The poison was a bit too strong for our taste as well.
The Much-Awaited PvE Mode
The creep rounds have moved out of regular gameplay and straight into Underlords’ White Spire PvE mode. Mama Eeb’s passing left the city ripe for the taking. By solving various puzzles, winning street fights, and defeating underlords, you’ll be able to gain control of this region one neighborhood at a time.
Some regions of White Spire are only available to Battle Pass owners, who also get additional rewards from completing challenges. Fortunately, the plunder is purely cosmetic (and pretty cool at that) and it has no bearing whatsoever on gameplay.
These are the most important gameplay changes coming to Dota Underlords’ Season 1. If you want more information on items (many of which have been rotated, while some new ones were introduced) we advise you check out our special guide. We don’t know whether the game’s full release will manage to create 2019’s Underlords hype, but Valve’s auto-battler is definitely fun to play in its current iteration, not in the least because we get more items and characters to play around with.