Valve is finally releasing another game and no it's not Half Life 3, though many likely wish this were the case. Instead, Valve has announced that they're bringing Dota Underlords to multiple platforms including mobile devices on Android and iOS.
If you're not familiar with Dota Underlords you're not alone. The game is Valve's upcoming standalone version of a popular Dota 2 mod called Auto Chess, a game that can be played essentially inside of Dota 2 but outside the realm of that game's standard genre and gameplay format. Dota Underlords by way of Auto Chess is a mix of tactical and strategic moves made by players on a series of chess boards.
The goal of course being to win, players will need to set their sights on employing the best tactics, unlike in Dota 2 where victory is solidified more with how fast you can react to players unleashing a barrage of skills and abilities on you in hopes of counterattacking your opponent. In Auto Chess players don't actually make any moves once the match begins.
Instead, players choose their starting roster of characters for the match before it begins, which is where the ability to think analytically and strategically comes in handy as you'll want to likely pick the best characters for the job. Picking the wrong ones could result in an early loss of the match.
It's not entirely clear if Dota Underlords will be exactly the same as Auto Chess in every single aspect, but based on Valve's very limited description of the game and what it has planned for it going forward it's possible that the game will be very reliant on the same style of play. Of course, Valve will no doubt do its best to differentiate Dota Underlords from a standalone version of Auto Chess given that the latter is now an Epic Games exclusive.
Valve is going to be holding an open beta for the game in the near future though it hasn't yet mentioned any specific day or time for when the open beta launches. When it does however, the game will be open to play by anyone on the supported platforms, including Android, and for free.
The open beta will begin sometime after the Battle Pass Preview of the game is finished, which is supposed to be after about one week of testing. The Battle Pass preview is already up and running as it was opened up yesterday so if you play Dota 2 and have a current Battle Pass then you're already able to play Dota Underlords, and those looking toward the open beta may be able to expect it to begin sometime next week.
You'll be able to play online against seven other players in the preview as well as play against all bots or team up with friends or a mix of friends and bots against other opponents, so there's a variety of ways to play. Presumably this will be the same layout once the open beta starts.
The open beta will also include some new features such as ranked matchmaking. You'll also be able to play with others across devices meaning just because you play on Android it won't lock you out from playing with a friend who is playing the game on PC through Steam. Rank and progression is also shared across all supported devices so you'll be able to play on multiple devices too, if you wish, without having to worry about losing any progress you've made on other platforms.
Dota 2 has been an active game in the world of Esports, so it wouldn't be to shocking to see Dota Underlords make its way in that direction, especially with the growing commitment to mobile Esports that many games, publishers, and other companies related to mobile are making.