State of the Game: Dota Underlord's Past, Present & Future

By Jake Tucker 02 Sep 2019 0

Dota Underlords is being rapidly iterated on by Valve as they drag their "official" auto battler to market after Dota Auto Chess made it big on their workplace. They're fighting off competition from both Auto Chess' full release and the efforts of Riot with Teamfight Tactics. That's not to mention the multitude of competitors they have in the mobile space.

Want some tips on mastering Dota Underlords? This guide might interest you.

But what makes Dota Underlords so special? We've taken a look at the recent changes to try and work out where Valve are steering the giant video game shaped ship, and also talk a little bit about what should be, and is, coming to the game in the near future.

dota underlords meta 2

Where are we now?

We live in the age of the Juggernaut. One of Underlords' strongest heroes in terms of gold per smack, Juggernaut has been nerfed and moved around a lot to try and make him a little more balanced. He's been changed six times since the patch on July 27th alone and seems to be the hero Valve are having the hardest time with.

Recently, he was moved to Tier 3, meaning that he's more expensive and not available to players until later in the game, which seems like a giant shrug as Valve decided to just explain Juggernaut's dominance away by making him harder to obtain and level up. It's early days for this, so we'll see if this moves him down on the tier list.

dota underlords meta re roll

Elsewhere, Valve has recently made all fights occur head to head. This means that instead of fighting a clone of a player in rotation, you're fighting an actual real player. Which makes a lot more sense and makes it more like you're playing another human being rather than a random string of lineups. It also means that players will lose more often in the early rounds, because every player that wins has to beat someone. Don't stress though, because if you lose you'll get a free re-roll, allowing you a bigger pool of heroes to choose from next round.

Of course, if there's an uneven number of players, you'll actually fight a clone of another player, which should give you a kick of nostalgia for the way things were. Elsewhere we've seen nerfs to powerful alliances but also to the gold offered up for win and lose streaks, meaning players can't deliberately throw matches to get a bunch of cash, but more importantly, a guy who has won the first 20 rounds isn't as likely to snowball to an easy victory.

It's not uncommon at the moment to see players go through individual golden age moments, rising gloriously and unbeaten for a while before the tide turns against them and they crash down. This happens to me more than I would want to admit.

dota underlords meta 3

What's next?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Choices, David Bowie might have sung, if he worked as one of the developers in charge of balancing Dota Underlords.

This is because, dumb jokes aside, the dev team seem to be pushing a mindset that encourages smart decision making and responding to changing conditions over adhering to a rigid build, and several recent patches seem to have tried to negate the power of strict adherence to alliances, and brought several must-have heroes down a peg or two in terms of power so that there are multiple different ways to play.

As you can see above, numerous tweaks and changes have tried to stop snowballing victories. It seems clear, looking at their intentions, that Valve would like to make victory possible no matter what. Like the MOBA, DOTA 2, that Underlords shares a world with, victory can be yours no matter how doomed things might seem.

dota underlords meta 4

We're still in the "Beta Season" but the team behind the game have said that they plan to kill off certain alliances and heroes in different seasons, rotating people in and out so that the game stays fresh.

One thing that Underlords does seem to care strongly about is levelling up your heroes, however. For a while there was a trend in the meta for using 2-star tier 5 heroes, and not bothering to upgrade them as they were often better than a three star hero, even backed with alliance bonuses. To counter this, Valve buffed the HP and damage of most 3-star units so that there's a clear reason to pick them over a 2-star legendary.

In short, it seems that Valve want to prioritise good decision making, and are providing numerous ways for players to scrape a victory together. Most alliances can feel overpowered if you crash into something that counters them, but you can play literally any alliance and get that feeling of power.

dota underlords meta 1

It seems that Valve are steering away from any particularly dominant hero, and have smacked down many heroes (Tidehunter, Kunkka, Enigma) that have achieved prominence.

We'll see if this plays out, but I'd expect to see Valve continuing to prioritise a "whatever works for you" approach,

The Underlords

Bizarrely, Dota Underlords' biggest game-changer and unique selling point, the eponymous Underlords, aren't even in the game yet, although they're planned to arrive in the next couple of weeks.

dota underlords3

These Underlords will be the most informative part when it comes to making strategies, as Valve has claimed "these Underlords are a core part of the game and we think they will add a layer of fun and strategy to every match.”

There are four planned to come in the next few weeks, and as they're expected to each have an entirely unique way of playing the game, it seems reasonable to expect them to completely shift the way the game is played when they launch.

Got any observations or quetions of your own? We'll try and keep this article fresh with new information as Underlords continues to grow - feel free to participate in the comments!

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