The autobattler genre, maybe better known as "auto chess," has leveled out, and now developers are looking to determine their identity in the space. For Valve's Dota Underlords this has meant new takes on items, alliances, and now, a duo queue.
In an Update About Updates posted today to the Underlords Steam community, the Underlords dev team talked about changes coming soon to Valve's take on auto chess, for both its current "Season 0" and the launch of its first official season. Right at the top is a "duos" game mode.
Set to arrive in "the next week or two," Duos will be launching in Underlords. (Valve mentions it was originally called Battle Buddies, a name I wholly support.) Players will be able to team up with a friend and battle against three other pairs, in both casual and ranked matches.
While I'm curious about the specifics, like how life will work and whether you share a board or not, it's an intriguing idea. Some potential players might be wary of jumping into Underlords alone. Being able to queue up together and guide newbies through actual play sessions is a great way to alleviate those fears and get more folks playing. It reminds me of Starcraft's Archon mode, in a good way.
Valve also teases the arrival of the "Underlords," the titular characters who appear in concept art and menu screens but are new to the universe of Dota. It doesn't say much of what this functionally means, besides that Underlords will be a "core part" of the game. I've got at least three ideas in my head, but there's not much need to speculate, as they're also set to arrive in the next few weeks.
Changes to the UI, new heroes, and new alliances are set to arrive alongside balance changes as well. One of Dota Underlords' defining traits has been how nimble it is, quickly iterating on ideas and expanding pretty fast compared to other autobattlers. While Riot Games' Teamfight Tactics is also a very solid autobattler, Valve is looking to both significantly define its identity and push the autobattler genre into untested waters. It'll be exciting to see how it fares.