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Gaming Week In Review: Many Blizzard animated shorts at Gamescom, ‘Age of Empires’ series revived

Blizzard releases new animated shorts for several of its games including “Hearthstone” and “Overwatch” at Gamescom 2017.

Blizzard has stolen the Gamescom 2017 spotlight, which seems to be a new habit in the last three years. While the veteran gaming company brought many exciting announcements about their games, it mainly showcased the cinematic excellence that makes its titles truly legendary within the gaming community.

New animated, CGI and in-engine cinematic shorts for nearly every Blizzard game debuted at Gamescom this year, from “World of Warcraft” to “Heroes of the Storm.” While the quality of these shorts is as high as ever, what may be most striking is how they’ve shown Blizzard understands its community.

The “Heroes of the Storm” animated trailer sees the return of Kel’thuzad, a powerful necromancer and a “World of Warcraft” fan favorite. Jaina, another “Warcraft” character, will also receive a Dreadlord skin. This is a nod to the tinfoil hat theory that the “WoW” community concocted, in which the important character was killed and replaced with a demon.

“Overwatch” had two shorts. The first showed us Junkertown, an upcoming set of maps for “Overwatch,” where we see the “Mad Max”-style hometown of criminal duo Junkrat and Roadhog. The other showcased the origin story of the ice-slinging Mei, as she awakens from cryosleep to find a drastically different world than the one she knew. “Overwatch” fans are always hungry for more lore about the game, and Blizzard did not disappoint this year.

Check out the live coverage of Blizzard at Gamescom 2017 here.

You can watch Mei’s and Kel’Thuzad’s animated shorts below:

“Age of Empires IV” and “Age of Empires Definitive Edition” are in development and Bill Gates may be responsible.

The “Age of Empires” series has a special place in many people’s hearts. Whether it was conquering the world with their favorite historical empire or using cheat codes to burn castles to the ground with machine gun-filled sportscars, this real-time-strategy series brought many smiles to young gamers’ faces.

When the Microsoft-backed game developer Ensemble Studios shut down in 2009, it looked like the end of things for the series. Yet Microsoft saw potential in the franchise, which had retained one of the largest RTS player bases of any game outside Blizzard’s “Starcraft” franchise. After a poorly received free-to-play installment, the series’ most popular iteration, “Age of Empires II,” had an HD remake and released several fan-made expansions nearly two decades after release.

Enter Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO and infamous philanthropist. In an ask-me-anything thread on Reddit, Gates was asked about a new iteration of the game. After Gates replied that he’d “look into it,” the topic then came up a year later in another AMA. This time, Gates still didn’t have an answer, at least not for a couple months. He later replied that Microsoft had begun work on the “Age of Empires: Definitive Edition.” But at Gamescom 2017, Gates had one more surprise.

“Age of Empires IV” is in development. Few fans of the series thought this would happen. Aside from the announcement, few details have been given. That hasn’t stopped fans from quivering in anticipation though, whether that be for a world’s worth of historical empires in a massive free for all or a new set of cheat codes to spice things up.

Watch the announcement trailer below:

Gaming Week In Review is a semi-regular column by Mathew Brock devoted to recapping recent news from the video game world each week.

You can follow Mathew on Twitter: @MathewQBrock.

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Mathew Brock

Mathew Brock