It's early days yet for this trend-hopping strategy app, and it shows, because while it has the core elements that made the mod a hit, it lacks everything that could give it lasting appeal. There's enough in Dota Underlords to pull you in. The interface is clean, and the short tutorial does a good job of explaining the basics and getting you into the action quickly. Even better, multiple game modes let you practice against the AI before going up against real players, and multiple difficulty levels let you boost the challenge based on your skill. The simple buy-fight-buy-fight alternation is easy to absorb, and auto-battle takes the pressure off players with slower reflexes. The rhythm of gameplay is addictive, and the characters are dynamic, even though they're as small as ants. After a few hours though, you start to feel what's missing.
The first issue is not being able to see your progress as you raise your player level. Win or lose, it's good to know where you stand in terms of reaching that next level milestone, but you can't do that. The second issue is its rewards. It's undeniably disappointing to survive 30 rounds of hair-raising combat and get nothing -- no items, currency, titles, or experience. While these things should change, the current missing features make winning anticlimactic. There's nothing really special in single or multiplayer, including no fun story elements to single player or special rewards for multiplayer. Bugs also interfere with the fun. Since you don't control individual units, it's frustrating to see them make illogical moves or perform inappropriate attacks. And auto-battle cuts both ways: On one hand, it can help new players win when they otherwise wouldn't. On the other, veteran players could suffer unnecessary losses. This, like Dota Underlord's other issues, will likely be fixed upon release, but considering its impact on gameplay, the best strategy right now could be waiting for a more finished app.