It's not everyday that Valve releases a new game - and it's not, well, ever, that the PC giant launches a mobile game. But here we are, on June 21st 2019, sitting down to play Dota Underlords. It's a funny old world, isn't it?

So what is Dota Underlords? It's Valve's official mobile version of the smash hit mod Dota Auto Chess - at the time of writing the mod has 8 million players around the world, which is a lot. While the original dev has made its own mobile version - Auto Chess - this is Valve's take, and it's super duper shiny.

Dota chess

The game sees you building up an army of characters - or pieces, if you like. You position them on a board, and then let the game get on with the fighting. It might sound hands-off, but that's far from the case. You need to think about what units you're using, the gear they've got equipped, and much, much more.

Matches take place between eight players, although not on the same screen. You're fighting it out with other players, but there's a ranking system on the side of the screen too - that shows you where you are in the table. Lose a bout and you'll take some damage - lose all of your health and you're out of the game.

There are also levels where you're fighting against NPC characters. Beat them and you'll get your pick of three pieces of loot to toughen up your team. Lose and you'll only be given one piece, but shown what you could have won. Every round you're drawing new cards - these represent your pieces, but there's another twist here too; get three cards of the same unit and they combine to make an even more powerful fighter.

Dota Underlords iOS screenshot - Fighting in the 29th round

There are roster limits, both in terms of the cards you can have on the field of play and the ones you can have on your bench. Essentially this is a game of balancing a whole bunch of different stats and options to create the perfect killing team - and then letting that team get on with the slaughter without you.

Open beta

The game is in open beta right now for iOS and Android, so you can pick it up and play it to your heart's content. Right now it's running a bunch of preseason events before gearing up to launch its first proper season of content in the coming months.

This open beta is still a bit on the buggy side, as you might imagine - we've had crashes as we've played, as well as trouble logging into the Steam servers to play online games. We'll have more on the game in the coming weeks, including plenty of guides and a proper review.

In the meantime though, click here to download Dota Underlords for iOS. Or, if you prefer gaming on Android, click here and you can pick the game up from the Google Play Store.

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