Dota 2’s hottest custom game is a legally iffy Vampire Survivors clone

BroDota is a new hit Vampire Survivors-style Dota 2 custom game, but unfortunately it looks like it won't be around for much longer.

A cute little cartoon girl with red hair raises a sword and charges with two other characters behind her

What do you get if you take Vampire Survivors, throw in some Auto Chess, put it inside Dota 2, and sprinkle on a little intellectual property crime? Why BroDota, of course! It sounds like a hellish combination, with Vampire Survivors being one of the most action-packed games in recent memory, while Auto Chess is all about strategy, but somehow it all comes together and, like the games it takes inspiration from, it is incredibly addictive.

In practice, BroDota is quite simple: just like roguelike titans Vampire Survivors and Brotato (where the name comes from) you’ll be dropped into an area and have hundreds of enemies to fight off. However, your weapons will auto-attack, meaning you have no control over them and it’s all about your positioning and skill build.

The Auto Chess side of things comes into play through the round system and synergies. Likely as a result of the limitations of the Dota 2 engine, which BroDota is made in, instead of having one continuous arena with different waves of enemies, you’ll be fighting across multiple timed rounds, hoping to make it to the end without being killed by the many variations of foes. This means there’s never a situation with more than a few hundred enemies at once, something the Dota 2 engine likely couldn’t handle.

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Then at the end of every round, you’re taken to the shop where you can buy new weapons, which are all Dota 2 heroes with one of their abilities, and items, which give you certain stat buffs (although often at the expense of other stats). While you can pull together a random group of Dota heroes to make up your six weapons, the better plan is to combine heroes from the same group, much like Auto Chess.

Put together a team full of mages and you’ll get some cooldown reduction on each of your weapons, whereas other groups can give things like damage buffs or crit chance. There’s a lot to play around with, and with each different character you can play as having different stats, you’ll probably want to make a team that fits with them. Building mages on a character that starts with reduced arcane damage probably isn’t going to work. There’s also a similar system with items: get all of the items from a set and you’ll get a bonus. I would compare it to getting all the pieces of Exodia in Yu-Gi-Oh, but one set of items in BroDota literally uses the Exodia artwork, so it’s a bit of a cheap comparison.

An image of the Brodota shop in-game with various different purchasable heroes

As someone who loves Vampire Survivors and auto-battlers, this is almost the perfect combination. Playing around with different synergies and builds is a great reason to keep going, and the rounds give you a much-needed break every so often, although some slightly longer ones for more of a challenge would be appreciated. You can quite easily lose hours to BroDota and barely notice, which is always a good sign.

However, despite being a massive Dota fan, I wish this wasn’t a Dota 2 custom game. Sure, having the knowledge of what each hero can do helps, especially given imperfect translations, but the janky custom game system is currently making it difficult to play and will likely be the reason BroDota doesn’t have a long life.

A team of Dota 2 heroes fighting waves of monsters on a black background

Custom Games have been neglected by Valve for a while, but the current state is worse than usual. Servers are difficult to find, meaning even getting into a game is difficult despite the massive number of players. It also isn’t the most stable system, so crashes and disconnects are reasonably common. With the boss rounds where you team up with other players, you really need at least three players out of four, so it can really ruin a run if anyone drops out.

Then there’s the looming legal difficulties that are surely coming BroDota’s way. While Valve does let anyone use Dota 2 assets for their custom games, a recent wave of cease and desist letters allegedly sent to the biggest Dota 2 custom games has set the precedent that monetizing these games is not ok. From a legal perspective, the letters apparently claim that Valve believes that creators are monetizing their Dota assets through the inclusion of a premium in-game currency and battlepasses. There are also assets just straight up taken from other games, like the previously mentioned Exodia.

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Given the dev team is based in China, the legal action may take a little longer compared to some of the Western custom games that effectively dropped support a few months ago, seemingly as a response to these supposed letters. But if you want to play BroDota then you will want to do it sooner rather than later, or hope that its success will lead the creators to put together a standalone game, like Auto Chess.

Alternatively, if you’re still playing through Vampire Survivors, it’s worth checking out our guide to the best Vampire Survivors build, as well as our Vampire Survivors weapon evolution guide – you can never be too prepared.