The Underlords of Dota Underlords are no longer a naming flourish, today becoming actual units leading our armies with handy perks and abilities. Valve name today's update The Big Update because, well, it is. Along with the first two Underlords, it adds new heroes from Dota 2 and new Alliances with new bonuses. A Duos mode has arrived too, with teams who can play on separate boards but can give heroes and gold - and share a life total. Things. Lots of things. A big update. The Big Update.
So, Underlords! They're more of a 'you' unit, picked at the start of the match. While regular units level up by being merged, Underlords level up over time. At each neutral creep round from level 10, Underlords get a choice of talents to pick. Each has 22 talents, only 11 are available at first and the rest will be unlocked by playing. They get a choice from two Ultimates at round 20 too.
Take Anessix, the Mistress of Secrets. She generates extra energy from allied demons and summons one of her own to help fight. She can hurt herself to heal allies. She can zap enemies. And for an Ultimate, she can mark a target for allies to attack then raise its corpse as her own demon, or she can summon a big ol' demon golem.
Only two Underlords are in right now, though I imagine many more will follow.
Other newness! A dozen new heroes, including two of my Dota favourites - Dazzle and Magnus. Also in are the new Insect, Healer, Brute, and Champion alliances, with synergy perks including boosting healing (healing, obvs) and spawning swarms of distracting insects (Insects, innit). The UI has received an overhaul. And the new Freestyle mode is a sandbox to set up scenarios and test strategies.
This is a whole new wodge of heroes and alliances to add in one go, but Valve are taking some away too. Every day, a random assortment of 8-12 heroes will be selected to go 'in jail', removing them from the pool. In a game where the meta can quickly grow stale, random removals are an interesting idea to shake it up. We'll have to see how it feels in reality.
See The Big Update's patch notes for more details on everything changed today.
Dota Underlords is free-to-play on Steam.