The Big Update has finally gone live in Valve's autobattler Dota Underlords (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), a fairy arsonist who relies on fire-based ranged attacks and grows in power as he sets enemies on fire, and Anessix (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab).