Dota Underlords

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Dota Underlords
Developer(s)Valve Corporation
Publisher(s)Valve Corporation
EngineSource 2
  • Early access
  • June 20, 2019
Genre(s)Auto battler
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Dota Underlords is a free-to-play strategy video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The game is based on a Dota 2 community created game mode called Dota Auto Chess, which was released in January 2019. It was released in early access on June 20, 2019 for Android, iOS, macOS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux.


Dota Underlords is a auto battler, a type of chess-like competitive multiplayer strategy video game, where players place characters known as "heroes" on an 8x8 grid-shaped battlefield during a preparation phase. After both players are ready, a team's heroes then automatically fight the opposing team without any further direct input from the player.[1] A match features up to eight players who take turns playing against each other in a one-on-one format, with the winner being the final player standing after eliminating all others.[2] Over the course of a match, players earn gold and experience points, which are used to upgrade characters and other playable units to make them stronger.[2] Players can also make use of items, which give stat bonuses to units.[2] It features full cross-platform play, with players being able to start a single game on PC and finish it on a mobile device and vice versa.[3]

Development and release[edit]

Dota Underlords is developed and published by Valve Corporation. It is based on Dota Auto Chess, a popular community created game mode within Dota 2, another game they developed, which released in January 2019.[4][5][6] As Dota Auto Chess saw great success, having over seven million players by April 2019, Valve met with the mod's developers in February 2019, the Chinese-based Drodo Studio, to discuss directly collaborating on a standalone version. However, the two companies were unable to come to an agreement, with them both stating that it was in their best interest to develop their own separate games, with Dota Underlords being Valve's project.[7] The game was built using Valve's in-house Source 2 game engine, making it the first Source 2 game to be released on mobile platforms.[8]

Valve announced Dota Underlords in May 2019, with it releasing in early access as a fully free-to-play game for Android, iOS, macOS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux on June 20, 2019.[9][10] Within a few days of its release, the game saw over 1.5 million downloads worldwide, and held a concurrent player count of over 200,000 on Steam.[11][12] Valve plans to keep it in early access for only a few months, eventually adding features such as a replay system, ranked matchmaking, daily challenges and rewards, and a battle pass before officially releasing it later in 2019.[13]


Polygon called it a clone of Dota Auto Chess, stating that while they thought Underlords was more appealing to new players, the many similarities to the original mod could make it hard for veterans of the genre to see a reason to play Underlords over it, adding that games need to be more "unique in order to survive" in a niche genre.[14] Critics also noted its popularity with Artifact, another Dota-based Valve game that was seen as a failure.[15][16][17]


  1. ^ Gilroy, Joab. "An Introduction to Auto Chess, Teamfight Tactics and Dota Underlords". IGN. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Makar, Connor. "Dota Underlords guide: Strategies for how to play Dota Underlords, from getting gold to when to buy XP and unit upgrades". Eurogamer. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  3. ^ Lawler, Richard. "Valve's 'Dota Underlords' open beta launches on Android, iOS and PC". Engadget. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  4. ^ Bolding, Jonathan. "A Dota 2 custom mode may be 2019's most popular new game". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Warr, Philippa. "Dota Auto Chess: The joyful deck-based Dota 2 game that Artifact isn't". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on February 8, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Lucas. "The skyrocketing rise of Auto Chess, a Dota 2 custom map that became one of the year's biggest games". GamesRadar+. Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Gilliam, Ryan. "Auto Chess creators bringing stand-alone game to PC later this year". Polygon. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  8. ^ Bailey, Dustin. "The Dota Underlords open beta is now live". PCGamesN. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  9. ^ Grayson, Nathan (May 20, 2019). "Valve Is Making Its Own Version Of Dota Auto Chess". Kotaku. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  10. ^ McWhertor, Michael. "Valve's Auto Chess competitor is Dota Underlords". Polygon. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Minotti, Mike. "Sensor Tower: Dota Underlords sees 1.5 million downloads in first week". VentureBeat. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  12. ^ Jones, Ali. "Dota Underlords' player count tops 200,000 in its opening weekend". PCGamesN. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  13. ^ "Dota Underlords update: what features are coming to Underlords soon?". PCGamesN. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  14. ^ Gillia, Ryan. "Dota Underlords feels like a clone of Auto Chess". Polygon. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  15. ^ Brown, Fraser. "Dota Underlords has more than double Artifact's peak player count". PC Gamer. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Lawler, Richard. "'Dota Underlords' has more people playing now than 'Artifact' ever did". Engadget. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  17. ^ Grayson, Nathan. "Valve's New Auto Chess Game Is Already Way More Popular Than Artifact Ever Was". Kotaku. Retrieved July 10, 2019.

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