Dota Underlords' 'Big Update' goes live with new heroes and a Duos mode

(Image credit: Valve)

The Big Update has finally gone live in Valve's autobattler Dota Underlords, meaning that the Underlords themselves, Anessix and Hobgen, have now joined the fight. Players will select an Underlord at the beginning of each match to lead their team with abilities and buffs that will grow stronger as they play.

The Underlords—Hobgen, a fairy arsonist who relies on fire-based ranged attacks and grows in power as he sets enemies on fire, and Anessix, the Mistress of Secrets, who summons demons to fight on her behalf and can cast healing buffs on her crew and curses on her opponents—each have a set of 22 unique talents, half of which are locked by default. Playing the game unlocks the rest of their talents, which can modify their abilities "in powerful and unique ways."

Underlord abilities are powered by a resource called Hype that's generated both passively and by killing enemy units—and also each other. Underlords are powerful but they're not immortal, and if an Underlord is killed in battle their counterpart becomes "empowered" and will earn double Hype for the rest of the fight.

The update also brings in a new Duos game mode that pits eight teams of two against one other in tag-team throwdowns. Each team member will hire and level their own crews but will be able to help out their partners by sending them gold and heroes, and teamwork will be essential: Health and levels are shared, so ignoring your partner's woes to focus on your own probably won't get you too far. Duos will debut with Casual matchmaking, while Ranked Duos mode is expected to go live soon.

Freestyle is another new Underlords mode that will give players the ability to set up and execute scenarios to see how strategies will play out or how different heroes will fare under particular conditions. (If you're curious what happens when you make a bunch of Potatoes fight a bunch of Tomatoes, for instance, now you can find out.) There are new alliance options for Insects, Healers, Brutes, and Champions, 12 new heroes available to hire, and because there are now so many heroes to choose from, the Jail, which will hold a random selection of 8-12 heroes, updated daily, who thus cannot be hired—although all alliances can still be fully completed, even in their absence.

The update also makes some big changes to the interface, including the dashboard and notifications, adds new voice lines to most of the game's heroes, and makes the usual array of bug fixes and balance tweaks.

It is, as the name suggests, a Big Update. The full patch notes are available here.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.