Dota Underlords 2020 Review and Guides
Everything you need to know
Is it worth playing?
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People have been playing Dota Underlords for a long time now, Valve had lengthy early access and beta stages before the game came out officially. The fans were not crazy about the auto battler version of Dota 2, the acclaimed hit game from the same studio, as the gameplay was unfinished and seriously lacking at the time. Now, officially out on February 25th, the game looks and feels completely different than it did last year in June. It is now a triple-A title for sure.
Dota Underlords has a 3.9-star score from over 93k votes in total and over 1 million installs so far…
Dota Underlords is developed and published by the Valve Corporation, as they did not want to let anyone else claim the responsibility for their baby. The game is, as mentioned, constantly being updated since the open beta started, and the download space required has gotten smaller over time as Valve has slowly gotten the hang of the entire mobile porting and other stuff. The beta testing phase began in June 2019, followed by early access in July of the same year, and the official release date was on February 25, 2020.
Being out for over 6 months, this game already has an established player community from both iOS and Android users. It was aiming to satisfy the need for the massive DOTA 2 online community for a mobile game to occupy them in their spare time, when not playing the it, but it grew to become so much more. On Google Play, DU has a 3.9-star score from over 93k votes in total and over 1 million installs so far. On the iTunes App Store, DU has a much better 4.4-star score out of over 6k ratings as of now. The somewhat low rating is owed to the beta and early access stages, when the game was, according to the Reddit community and feedback, poorly optimized for Android devices.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Dota Underlords is a lot more story-driven game than Dota 2 and any other auto battler for that matter…
DU is a lot more story-driven than Dota 2 and any other auto battler for that matter. Here, the narrative is taken perhaps even more seriously as it has been combined with gameplay in several high points in the game. The entire story happens in a city of Whitespire, which is an ominous place, filled with shady characters, outlaws, smugglers, assassins, and similar sorts.
It is, or at least was, ruled by Momma Eeb. She was the kingpin, brick top, the don of the crime life, and in Whitespire, that’s better than being the major. However, after she is hilariously killed in the opening trailer, four Underlords are left as main pretenders to the throne, which is where game gets its name from. We, the players, are also Underlords of sorts and we work with one of the four to tip the balance of power in our favor, and thus we battle in various city stages, like in the arena or even on the streets, for supremacy over the neighborhood.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
To make up for the lack of abilities, Dota Underlords characters all have an alliance affiliation…
As mentioned, this is an auto battler, or what is popularly called auto chess or chess-inspired competitive strategy. If this is the first time you’re meeting with the genre, it’s rather simple to grasp, but the entire concept requires a high mastery level. We place characters, or heroes, on the battlefield which is in 8×8 chess-style shape. The characters are all familiar Dota 2 heroes, along with their iconic abilities. However, unlike in Dota 2, in DU the characters’ ability and skill pool is more limited. The heroes do not have 4+ abilities, but only a certain amount, one to three. Usually, it’s the most iconic ability from a character and an additional passive ability, but not always.
However, to make up for the lack of abilities, DU characters all have an alliance affiliation, and this is the main factor affecting combat and the entire game. This is a standard mechanic in auto battler games, while here it’s been adapted to the Dota lore and it works great. The alliances all offer different opportunities for combat bonuses, and currently, in the game, there are 26 alliances: Assassin, Blood-Bound, Brawny, Brute, Champion, Deadeye, Demon, Dragon, Druid, Elusive, Healer, Heartless, Human, Hunter, Insect, Inventor, Knight, Mage, Primordial, Savage, Scaled, Scrappy, Shaman, Troll, Warlocks, Warrior.
There are also neutral alliances and, as mentioned, the Underlords themselves who also join the player at a certain point in combat. Underlords also have several abilities some passive and some activated, and command a strong presence on the battlefield, something like a commander or a Hero. All alliances offer different combat bonuses that depend on the number of units of the same alliance, excluding Demons. One Demon character activates the full Demon Alliance bonus.
A single battle is being waged between eight underlords (8 online players) and they all fight against each other 1 vs 1, taking turns, each turn matched with a different opponent. Each Underlord builds up his or her team of characters by purchasing them at the shop for gold won each round. Underlords can also spend gold to level up and fit more heroes onto the battlefield. The number of levels equals the number of heroes you can have on the board in a single match. Experience is also gained through rounds and there are special item rounds. Items are also imported from Dota 2. Whoever has units left standing at the end of the round is the winner, and he deals damage to the other losing Underlord based on the units left. Once an Underlord’s HP drops to zero, that player is out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Dota Underlords is perhaps the best-looking auto battler…
Since the beta and early access stages, Valve has improved the looks of their game. Now, DU is perhaps the best-looking auto battler there is, and it certainly looks like the most seriously approached auto-chess style game in terms of development. The characters themselves look exactly like in Dota 2, but everything else has been taken up a notch. The city, the setting, the arenas, and the Underlords themselves are all incredibly well-modeled and animated. Hero animations are also true to the source material.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The game requires Android 5.0 or later or iOS 11.0 or later…
Regarding tech compatibility, things were a little hectic during the last six months for DU. Firstly, when early access became available, the game took up far too much space on Mobile Phones. It was and still is a somewhat lengthy download, but this is not a “small casual” game in no way and the graphics, the content, and the mechanics all took their toll on the size of the download. Current size varies with device, but get ready to lose at least 2GB with updates and stuff. The game requires Android 5.0 or later or iOS 11.0 or later (compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad). Additionally, we played the game on Huawei y7 2018, with 2GB of Ram, Snapdragon 430 and an Adreno 505 GPU, and it struggled with the game a lot, performing quite bad with lag spikes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Microtransactions are in no way affecting any odds or changes…
As with Dota 2, DU is a very competitive game and microtransactions are in no way affecting any odds or changes in that aspect. However, the Seasonal Battle Pass is a mandatory purchase for anyone who wishes to genuinely experience the game. Battle Pass brings rewards, access to additional game content, and customizations. It costs $5, while the game is free to play, so you could say that anyone who likes the game will be inclined to spend at least $5 bucks.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Dota Underlords is a serious game made by serious people…
Dota Underlords is a serious game made by serious people. The use of the auto battler or auto chess genre was obviously a good decision to progress with Dota 2 content and expand it onto other universes. But, it is also a game developed with obviously great care and ambition, as Valve has approached the genre with the utmost care. The story surrounding it is also quite good and immersive, and it is combined with the gameplay innovatively, making the entire experience that much more immersive. Of course, seeing our favorite Dota characters in action is always good and the game is true to the source material. Top marks!
How to improve your gaming experience and gameplay…
Note: Use the button “GUIDES” in the lower right corner to jump back to this section.
As far as guides go, we’ve made quite a few in the past half a year for the mobile version. Blue Moon Game compiled tier lists, alliance metas, and stuff, but it all changes fast with each update. New meta alliances are springing, new champion comps, and more so we’ve scoured the Reddit posts, the gaming community feedback, and also came back with our guides and tips to include on this page. We’ve also found frequently asked questions regarding.
Use links below to jump to the guide sections. Use links in the lower right corner to jump back.
- How to choose Underlord?
- How to change Underlord?
- How to get 3 star?
- How to play ranked?
- How to play with friends?
- How to check MMR?
- How to level up, when to level up and spend gold?
- Meta builds
One of the later features added to it was the addition of the four Underlords to the storyline. As mentioned, they all have their place in the narrative but also actively participate in the gameplay, and they are:
There are currently several more “unrevealed” underlords, that will come with upcoming updates probably, but at this point, we have these four. They all have one Active, one Passive, and one Ultimate ability they use in combat. When you start a match in any more, you will get to choose which Underlord you want to join up within Round 10 automatically. Each of the Underlords is slightly randomized at that point and is given a random fighting style that affects their abilities slightly towards damage dealing, healing, support, or tanking. When an Underlord has joined your team, they start each round with their abilities on cooldown and they are used automatically (those that are activated) with no mana cost.
This is a popular question throughout the Reddit community and the web. While most players mean a different thing when they ask this, we tried to answer all variations of the question. Firstly, when asking about how to change Underlord, players mean the Underlord that is featured in the main game menu screen. When you play a match, whichever underlord you’ve used last will appear on the screen until you play a match with a different one and he takes its place.
Secondly, when asking this question, some people refer to the changes in the Udnerlord’s abilities and fighting style. The fighting style is always randomized and when you are presented with your choice of Underlords at round 10, their abilities will be changed and adapted to their randomly generated style. Each player gets a different mix, which is what makes the matches less predictable and more interesting.
And, thirdly, when asking how to change Underlord, some players want to know how to change one mid-match after you’ve picked one in round 10. The answer is, you can’t. Once you pick an Underlord during a match, you are stuck with it until the end of that match, and that Underlord will be featured on your home screen.
Bulking up champions is mandatory and it is a part of the basic gameplay functions. You purchase Champs from the shop between each combat round, but when you find duplicates you can combine three of them into a two-star champion. Furthermore, three of the two-star champions form a single three-star ultimate champion.
- Three 1-star champions form a single 2-star champion
- Three 2-star champions form a single 3-star champion
As it is traditional for Valve and Dota 2, Dota Underlords features a well thought out MMR system. In the game’s current state, we have casual and ranked matches to choose from, with other modes also, but only ranked will count towards the players’ MMR or matchmaking rating. The MMR system in an auto battler may seem a bit chaotic at first glance, but it is rather simple. Out of the eight players matched up in a single match, there is no single winner or single loser. The player on top is the best for sure, but the top four players are the winners and rank up, while the other four are ranked down.
- Top 4 players at the end of the match rank up
- Bottom 4 players at the end of the match rank down
Playing with friends requires a Steam Account and for you to be logged in during your play, which is what most serious players do anyway. Either on mobile or PC, once you link your account with the Dota Underlords app, you can invite friends from your Steam Friends List (up to 3) for a multiplayer match.
There is lots of info hidden from the player for those who don’t know how to find it. Many people have been asking on Reddit and other forums about how to check their MMR in the game. To play ranked and have an MMR rating, you need to sync your Steam Account and thus everything you do is connected to it, including your MMR. To check MMR, go to Steam, log in, select Games, and under DU you’ll see the “Personal Game Data” option. Selecting this will open a window with info about your in-game account. Select “Account” in the first drop-down menu, and “Game Account Client” in the secondary, and your MMR will appear next to your account.
Your level in battle determines how many Champions you can have on the board, so it is quite an important factor. While you do gain experience points each round, more if you win the round, you can also spend gold and purchase experience. 1 experience point costs 5 gold always, but higher levels demand more points, as you’ve guessed it. As a general rule we’ve found, it is good to spend gold for leveling up initially, while at the beginning stages of the match, as you need a small investment to put another champion on the battlefield. Having more champions increases your chances of winning the round, thus earning more EXP and gold, so it may prove a good investment.
We’ve covered most of the alliances and champions as the game was updated since the early stages. Thus, our guides, meta builds, best comps, and tips have evolved along with the game. At these stages of the game, with the current version being 1.0, some of the old stuff still stands. The Reddit community is also always filled with the meta suggestions, builds, comps, best alliances, and ranks, so we’ve scoured the web to see where things stand now.
Meta Builds (Feb. 2020)
Currently, the top 5 meta builds according to community feedback and Reddit are:
Tier B: Void Assassins
Tier A: Bloodseeker carry
Tier A: Knights + Healers
Tier S: Spirit Mages
Tier S: Savages + Hunters