After 18 years, the cancelled Warcraft adventure game is finally playable

Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was cancelled by Blizzard 18 years ago, and while videos of it have been floating around for years, the full game is now downloadable for the first time. Posted to Warcraft fansite Scrolls of Lore by Russian user Reidor, this version of the game is playable and supposedly near-complete, including all of the in-game cinematics and voice acting. "This is my gift for all Blizzard fans, old and new," Reidor writes.

What a gift, indeed. Warcraft Adventures is a forgotten relic of a time when point-and-click adventure games were booming and was developed in cooperation with Russian studio Animation Magic (the same team behind the infamous Legend of Zelda CD-I game). Unfortunately, what was supposed to be the story of Thrall uniting the orc clans and forming the Horde was nixed by Blizzard. Days before E3 in '98, Blizzard announced the cancellation after seeing the likes of Shafer's 3D Grim Fandango and worrying that Warcraft Adventures just couldn't keep pace with where the adventure genre was headed.

"I think that one of the big problems with Warcraft Adventures was that we were actually creating a traditional adventure game, and what people expected from an adventure game, and very honestly what we expected from an adventure game, changed over the course of the project," said Bill Roper, who was once vice president of Blizzard North, to GameSpot around the time of the cancellation. "And when we got to the point where we cancelled it, it was just because we looked at where we were and said, you know, this would have been great three years ago."

That wasn't much solace to the many Warcraft fans who had been anticipating exploring the Warcraft universe through Thrall's eyes rather than as a disembodied hand dolling orders to units. Thrall's story was eventually turned into a novel, Warcraft: Lord of the Clans, and Warcraft Adventures remained unreleased and largely forgotten until several videos began appearing online thanks to various Russian YouTubers in 2011. It would be appear that Animation Magic didn't exactly run a tight ship—though why it took the full game so long to finally appear is unclear. 

Still, Warcraft Adventures isn't just a hugely important piece of Warcraft history, but also an awesome throwback to its '90s fantasy sensibilities. Warcraft 3 took the series in a new direction that, compared to Warcraft Adventures' masturbation jokes and all around lack of seriousness, feels impossible to reconcile. Don't believe me? Here's a shot of world-destroying badass Deathwing puffing on a hookah. It's like watching Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and then switching on The Hobbit 1977 animated movie.

This released version of Warcraft Adventures is certainly illegal and probably won't stay up for long, but if you're keen to give it a go Reddit user Schlafrok has some tips about how to get it running properly on Windows 10. Early reports seem to be positive, citing desynced audio during cutscenes as the biggest problem. That's a price worth paying if it means finally getting to experience this little shard of forgotten Blizzard history again. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.