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Image courtesy of Relic Entertainment, World's Edge

For Relic Entertainment and World's Edge, crafting their latest real-time strategy PC title, "Age of Empires IV," was more than just a matter of making a fun game — it also came with a responsibility to accurately and fairly capture a wide range of cultures.

Why it matters: "Age of Empires IV" is set in historical eras like the Mongol Empire or the Hundred Years' War, and its treatment of the past can influence how players view those cultures and what they take from the game.

  • World's Edge franchise narrative director Noble Smith told Axios that for some fans, "Age of Empires" is how they learned to love history. "That's a huge responsibility," he said.
  • In past games, the team has gotten things wrong, he said. "There were things that were hurtful, things that were offensive."
  • That includes representation of Indigenous people and Native Americans in "Age of Empires III," which they attempted to amend in the "Definitive Edition." The team updated everything from languages to tribe names.
  • "We took a lot of those learnings right from the start," said Smith, adding that the team didn't want to make those same mistakes in "Age of Empires IV."

How it works: Crafting an accurate game requires planning at the earliest stages of production.

  • The team consulted with 18 behind-the-scenes experts and 28 expert presenters — a range including historians, linguists and cultural advisers — to nail the details.
  • One example: An early version originally allowed Islamic civilizations to hunt boar — a practice that would be forbidden in the real world. Instead, the developers changed the mechanic to build orchards.

The bottom line: The overarching goal was to create a "humanized history," said Philippe Boulle, narrative lead at Relic Entertainment.

  • It's "doing for history what 'Top Gear' had done for car culture — making it accessible, making it engaging to a modern audience."

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.