While a lot more straightforward compared to last year’s difficult but enjoyable narrative campaign, Siltbreaker, the Underhollow remains a bit of a challenge for the uninitiated.
When Valve first unveiled details of the Underhollow for Dota 2, many were skeptical. After all, how could battle royale and MOBA mix? But, now that it’s here, it’s actually quite something — enjoyable, in fact.
The main difference between this year’s game mode tie-in for TI is that it’s not all that difficult. Where Siltbreaker was frustratingly difficult, nearly impossible to complete with random stacks, Underhollow is a bit more forgiving. So long as you know what you’re doing, you can direct your teammates, and outlast all of the other teams.
To help you get started with the Underhollow and become less of a sitting duck for at least until your first few playthroughs, we’ve come up with some important tips to help you out.
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What Is The Underhollow?
The Underhollow is a custom in-game mode available only to the owners of The International 2018 Battle Pass. It’s a dungeon brawl where eight teams consisting of three players each must battle their way against mobs and each other in a maze-like map that caves in and gets smaller by the minute in search of Roshan’s rarest cheese, the Roshefort.
You can access Underhollow via the main interface, just right above the Mutation game mode.
Once the game is done searching for other players, you’ll have a 3-minute wait time. During this period, try not to talk to other people about your strategies or what you’re planning to do (or not do). They’re not your teammates, at least, not yet. Once everyone is in, that’s the time you’ll be able to select from all of the heroes and talk to the other two players you’ll be teamed with. If it’s your first time playing, I recommend spam clicking either Centaur, Axe, or Wraith King, as they are all fairly tanky and easy to play in this game mode. Drow Ranger is another fairly easy to play as well, especially when paired with other ranged heroes.
Once the game starts, you’ll be placed randomly with your team in a rectangular grid of rooms. Every room except for the starting point has a chest. Often you’ll need to kill all the enemies inside the room for the chest to appear, while for others, you’ll just have to survive whatever trap is set to claim the chest’s rewards.
Moba Meets Battle Royale
As is typical of a battle royale experience, looting is essential. Items include experience tomes, gold bags, health and mana potions, cheese wedges (for battle points), and other in-game items also available in the main game. You can also destroy crates, which sometimes drop nothing or a gold bag, or in worse cases, an enemy. There is also a Shop available where you can buy and sell items.
Five minutes into each game, a 60-second time appears. Afterward, the outermost rooms will start to cave in and deal 80 damage per second to anyone still inside. Five minutes later, you’ll get another 60-second timer, and the same thing happens, and so on.
You start the game with two Healing Salves, a Mango, and an Escape Potion. Clear rooms fast, collect the treasure, and move on. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes, the next room will be gated by either a rock wall (that you can destroy using the dynamite) or a gate that you can destroy with normal attacks. Alternatively, you can also teleport to the next room (Storm Spirit with Ball Lightning) or scout ahead using Observer Wards or Venomancer with Plague Wards.
In Underhollow, your hero becomes a tombstone upon death. Your teammates can revive you to 50% of your max health or mana by clicking on your tombstone for three seconds. Be careful, as this is interruptible via any form of damage. Enemies can also completely eliminate you from the game by channeling on your tombstone for 20 seconds or wiping your entire team completely.
Once eliminated, all of your items and gold drop to the ground.
Dota 2 Underhollow Guide: The Basics
— The faster you clear the rooms, the better because you’ll have more experience and gold compared to the other teams. Not only does this make it easier to overpower them once you inevitably meet, but you’ll also be more prepared to dive into the deeper rooms. Ideally, you’ll want to clear out the outer rings first before diving inside, especially if it’s your first few times playing the game.
— The chickens in Underhollow are not worth it. They very rarely run in front of you and the gold they give is negligible. They also run at 500 MS, so they’re just not worth it.
— Observer Wards exist. Use them. As you go deeper into the maze, it’s a good idea to leave an Observer Ward in the previous room just to see if another team is coming in.
— Dynamite is pretty useless early on, but it’s even more useless once you get into the fourth ring. You’re better off selling it or keeping it safe for when you need to blow a hole into the inner rings if you find yourself in a dead end.
— Sell everything you pick up that’s not essential or useful.
— AoE isn’t always good because a Caged Menace (a Lifestealer that gets progressively stronger further inside) could be hiding inside the crates. They’re worth a good amount of gold, but you don’t want to be suddenly with two of them while also occupied by another monster.
— Armor and healing are essential for sustainability. Early on, tell your tank to buy two Stout Shield and a Ring of Protection. This helps negate a lot of the damage from the outer rings.
Dota 2 Underhollow Guide: On Itemization
— Regeneration is extremely important early on. You start with two Healing Salves and a Mango. Use them. Better yet, don’t be afraid to share them with your teammates, especially if you have a tank. As you progress deeper, Health Potion drops and Lifesteal will be enough to sustain your entire team.
— Build for quick wave clear. Unless your team doesn’t have any disable (in which case, you’ll have a hard time), focus on building items that let you take out the mobs faster. Maelstrom and Mjolnir are excellent choices, especially if your hero has the prerequisite attack speed to make use of them. Conversely, Battle Fury sucks because you won’t be needing the wave clear from Cleave as much.
— Dropped items are fully shareable, so don’t hog everything. Trust your random teammates and take to them. Winning is a pretty nice incentive, so they most likely will listen if you ask nicely.
— By the time you get into the third ring, focus on itemizing against the remaining enemy heroes instead of the mobs. You most likely can deal with them pretty easily anyway. Black King Bar is always a great item to prevent disables, while Scythe of Vyse and Rod of Atos are pretty useful for locking enemies down. Eul’s Scepter of Divinity is also very underrated if you want to take out the enemy’s DPS main and deal with the other two first.
— Observer Wards. Again, use them. Vision is important.
— Escape Potions are extremely useful. Don’t be afraid to use them to disengage.
Dota 2 Underhollow Guide: Team Composition
— Heroes that need a lot of farm to be effective or specialize in roaming aren’t good. That means no Anti-Mage, Doom, Nighstalker, Rikimaru, Bounty Hunter, Slardar, and the likes. You need heroes that come online fast and are useful from the get-go because the game will most likely end before you get that Level 15/20 talent anyway.
— Teamfight items are good. Drums of Endurance, Vladimir’s Offering, Assault Cuirass, and Crimson Guard are all excellent item choices, especially for tanks. Even a Ring of Aquila can do wonders for your team, especially early on. Pipe of Insight is rather useful too, to some extent, but it shouldn’t be a priority.
— Heroes with long cooldown skills are a big no, except maybe for Tidehunter and Void because they are not as useless without their ultimates and their ultimates are pretty much game-winning when used properly.
— If your team coordination is good, a lineup of Vengeful Spirit, Luna, and Drow Ranger can clear out waves extremely fast. You’ll have problems early on, though, because of a lack of tank, but if you play well enough together, you’ll be so far ahead of the other teams that you can just kill them in a couple of shots. You can swap in Luna with Windrunner for the additional lockdown, although Windunner takes a bit more time to come online and be useful.
— Tanks like Wraith King, Underlord, Timbersaw, Axe, Centaur, Bristleback, and to some extent, even Sven, are always good to have on your team.
— Juggernaut has a healing ward and spin for wave clear, and he has Blade Dance for DPS and Omnislash to quickly kill enemy heroes when necessary.
Of course, while all of these tips can come in handy, anything and everything can still work in Underhollow.
Lineup-wise, your team could run with Pudge, Bounty Hunter or Riki, and still can get a lot out of it, especially if your other picks are solid. That’s completely up to you. The game isn’t necessarily all that difficult for you to follow hero composition lineups to a T to win. Although the monsters can be a pain to deal with, especially if it’s your first time or two playing the game, it won’t take long for you to learn what to do and what NOT to do in certain rooms.
What’s important is that you communicate with the other players you’re paired with, especially if it’s a random stack. Just a simple word or two to let the other two guys on your team know what you want to do or if you’re planning on buying items first can be the difference between winning the game or coming in second.
All in all, the new Underhollow game mode seems to be more about offering a fun and less monotonous escape from the typical Dota 2 game.
What do you think of our tips for Underhollow? Do you have anything else to add? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.