Valve already hinted that it is working on its own version of the popular Dota 2-mod Auto Chess. The company now announces that it is Dota Underlords. Some already have access to an early version of the game and an open beta will follow in a week.
Valve presents Dota Underlords as a new standalone game in which the player has to compete against seven opponents, where you have to build your own team and make choices that ultimately make the difference. Owners of the Dota 2 Battle Pass already have access to an early version of Dota Underlords. Valve says that this is a kind of stress test that will last about a week.
Then comes the open beta for the PC, the Mac, Linux, Android and iOS; that beta will probably be released in about a week. In the beta version, players can compete independently or collectively over the internet against seven other players, although practicing against bots is also possible. It is still unclear when Dota Underlords will be officially released. According to Valve, the development is still in a fairly early phase, which probably means that the necessary bugs are still present during the open beta.
Dota Underlords can be considered as the official version of the existing Auto Chess mod for Dota 2. This mod is very popular; Auto Chess currently has nearly nine million subscribers in the Steam Workshop. The gameplay of the mod and Dota Underlords is quite different from that of Dota 2 and the moba genre; players play on a chessboard on which all kinds of heroes from Dota 2 take the place of the chess pieces. It is mainly about tactics and strategy, with automated battles between heroes that the players from a joint group have purchased. By combining heroes, making combos and achieving a certain mutual synergy between the heroes, players must try to get the upper hand.
The new game from Valve will get the necessary competition. Drodo Studio, the maker of the Dota Auto Chess-mod, comes with its own standalone version for the PC that will be available exclusively in the Epic Games online store later this year. Valve approached Drodo at an earlier stage to see if the team wanted to collaborate directly with Valve, but the parties were unable to resolve it, which means that both now make their own version. Valve indicated that they fully support each other in this. In addition, Dota Underlords receives competition from Riot Games, the creator of the big Dota 2 competitor League of Legends. This company recently announced that an Auto Chess-inspired game mode called Teamfight Tactics will be added to League of Legends later this month.