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Blizzard's Lords of War animated series sets up Warlords of Draenor

In the weeks leading up to the release of Warlords of Draenor, the fifth expansion for World of Warcraft, Blizzard is releasing a series of animated short films that take players inside the legendary characters from Warcraft's past.

Blizzard premiered the first episode of Lords of War at a livestreamed event in Los Angeles, Calif. today. It focuses on Kargath Bladefist, the gladiator and slave who would become the leader of the Shattered Hand. The remaining episodes will focus on characters Grommash Hellscream, Kilrogg Deadeye and Durotan — one of the main characters in the upcoming Warcraft film.

Chris Metzen, senior vice president of story and franchise development at Blizzard, said Lords of War was created to introduce many World of Warcraft players to Draenor's pivotal warlords.

"Most World of Warcraft players have never met these guys, done quests with them," Metzen said. "This series, in its heart, really takes you inside these characters and why you should care ... [and] why you should bring them to justice."

Metzen also said Lords of War represents a shift in tone for the World of Warcraft franchise post-Mists of Pandaria.

"The age of the whimsical panda sadly is over," he said. "The Warcraft of old is back and it is as savage of ever."

Blizzard also release a teaser today for the series' future episodes.

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