There’s a new game that’s taking Dota 2 fans by storm and it’s not even a MOBA title. To give you an idea, Game Informer reported that it is currently the 4th most popular game on Steam, with a player base of over 4 million. What’s even more interesting is that it only launched on 4th January this year.
The game is actually a new Dota 2 custom mode called Auto Chess, and it was created by Chinese developer Drodo Studio. Other than the presence of chess pieces and a board, Auto Chess functions less like a traditional chess game and more like a turn-based strategy game that involves resource management. Think of it as a board game with similar mechanics to MOBAs. The key to victory is to be the last player standing among 7 others. Again, unlike chess, beating Auto Chess entails more than capturing the “King”.
There’s plenty to consider when playing each round. First, a player has to mind all the pieces or heroes they have. They can buy pieces with gold but are also allowed to randomly select from the roster each round. Each hero has its own abilities, which means the player has to be familiar with the roster.
In each round, players must fend off waves of creeps or one of their opponents. The outcome of these battles is out of the players’ control, hence, the term “auto”. But winning fights will earn them gold and in between rounds, players also need to think about where to place pieces and which ones to upgrade.
The popularity of Auto Chess may stem from love for the original game itself. Dota 2 is massively popular considering there’s a whole eSports community surrounding the game. In fact, Ladbrokes’ guide to the world of eSports, details that the biggest eSports tournament is Dota 2 The International, which has been running for eight years and will return this year with a prize pool of $25,532,177. The tournament is sponsored by Valve Corporation – the company that developed and published Dota 2.
The game is very popular nowadays because it is extremely exciting, as discussed on a previous Dota 2 post on Geek Slab.
Since Auto Chess features familiar Dota 2 elements, it presents a new way for people to experience the game. However, some are doubtful about the game’s rising popularity. Dual Shockers mentions a trending Reddit thread that suggests that the player numbers for Auto Chess are bugged. The thread, which was started by a Dota 2 custom creator, referred to an experience with bugs in custom games and pointed out the existence of a bug that prevents custom games from ending on time. This may be the reason for the “increase” in player numbers.
Whether this is true or not, it’s clear that Auto Chess is getting more attention than Artifact, the Dota 2 digital card game developed by Valve. The former’s all-time peak player count is 60,740 and it’s not even close to Auto Chess’s peak concurrent player count of 300,253. Part of the reason may be because Artifact is a paid product while Auto Chess is a free mod. However, fans have also said that Auto Chess is less stressful to play since players can vie for a top 4 finish if they are unable to secure victory, whereas Artifact only declares a single winner.
It stands to be seen whether Auto Chess will remain popular for long. The game is free to play, so give it a go and see what the hype is all about.