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SYFY WIRE World of Warcraft

Gaming: World of Warcraft animated series; Fortnite Thor comic; Marvel's Avengers launch trailer

By Benjamin Bullard
Scene from World of Warcraft Afterlives animated series

When Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner tears open the helm of the Lich King later this year, World of Warcraft will be opening a whole new lore-verse of ideas with the game’s upcoming Shadowlands expansion. Bridging the realms of the living and the dead with that villainous act will no doubt give players plenty to do when Shadowlands arrives, but now WoW fans won’t even need to log on to tap into the larger story.

World of Warcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment has unveiled its first animated series, and it's set in the world of Shadowlands. Titled Afterlives, the small-screen spinoff will tie in with the new storyline in the long-running MMORPG, and of course Blizzard broke the news with a preview trailer. Take a peek:

The clip doesn’t call out the antagonist causing all the chaos by name, though Blizzard has previously teased another new Shadowlands villain — the Jailer — who uses departed souls as fuel to drive his never-ending quest for the souls of Azeroth.

Blizzard tweeted that Afterlives will make its Aug. 27 debut at Europe’s Gamescom event this week, though it’s not yet known where the series is destined after that. As for Shadowlands itself, the new WoW expansion is set to arrive sometime between now and the end of this year.

Even if iPhone players may be left out for now, Chapter 2 of Fortnite is forging ahead with the launch of the new Season 4 later this week, and Epic Games has been hammering away with teases at how Thor and other Marvel favorites will play a big role in what’s to come. From the sound of things, there may be much more to the Fortnite-Marvel mashup this time around than simply snagging a Marvel character skin.

As if anticipating what the curious might ask to explain how Thor (along with cosmic villain Galactus) could end up setting foot on Chapter 2’s breezy, island-themed game map, Epic is rolling out a bona fide comic — readable in the game — to set up a backstory that takes Thor out of Asgard and places him on the frenzied battle royale map.

Written by Donny Cates and illustrated by artist Greg Land, the comic fits in with Cates' ongoing Thor storyline in print, framing Thor as the Herald of Thunder (and Galactus’ herald) to help stave off a sinister, universe-menacing power. What happens when Thor arrives on the island is too good to spoil, but it neatly ties in with the logic of what players already do in Fortnite, while giving the God of Thunder as plausible a reason as any to be at the center of it all.

The story is still unfolding in the game, so to check out what’s been revealed so far, simply log in, find the comic in the Battle Pass menu, and start browsing. It’s a good bet that more new pages will be added in the days leading up to the launch of Fortnite's Season 4, which kicks off Thursday, Aug. 27.

While we’re still hanging out in the Marvel-verse, Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics have unveiled the launch trailer for Marvel’s Avengers, the long-developing game set to arrive next week. For anyone who’s taken part in the two beta periods, there’s plenty here that may look familiar — but for the rest of us, it’s a good chance to see more of Kamala Khan’s big-handed melee skills, as well as glimpse Tony Stark’s Hulkbusters suit…which, we’ve gotta say, looks as sweet in this reimagined version as it did in Avengers: Infinity War.

It's safe to say that superhero ensemble games are enjoying a spotlight moment these days, with DC unveiling two upcoming titles (one featuring the Bat-family, the other the Suicide Squad) this weekend alone at DC FanDome.

First announced all the way back in 2017 and closely followed through every new reveal, Marvel’s Avengers reframes Earth’s Mightiest Heroes with an alternate-take cast of playable characters that distinguishes them from their iconic MCU counterparts. After three years, it’s nearly here: Marvel’s Avengers arrives for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC on Sept. 4.