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Diablo: Pre-Release Demo
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Date: Built around August, released for download by the end of September and available on magazine discs in early October

The pre-release Demo was made available by Blizzard before the signup for the battle.net Beta began, suggesting that the multiplayer component of the game, was a very late and unplanned addition. There have not been a lot of changes from the pre-release demo until retail, except new item graphics and a more functional interface along with some other balancing changes.

Originally, due to the interface similarities, we believed the pre-release Demo to be closer to the Alpha3 than the retail version, this turned out to be false. The Alpha3 still uses the old level generator system for the cathedral, while the pre-release demo makes levels that look very similar to those of the retail version.
  • PreRelease Demo 1 - Unreleased

    This first version remained hidden for quite a while and even when we discovered the screenshots, we initially believed it to be Alpha3 material. Technically we can't prove it's an old pre-release demo build, but it is a version made after Alpha3 and before the released pre-release demo, which we made into Alpha4. It uses the new dungeon generator, which Alpha3 doesn't, but has the Alpha3 interface, which the later demo doesn't. So it's clearly some kind of Alpha3.5 build, which we know almost nothing of. The reason we put it in this section is because the shots were found in the pre-release demo MPQ and the build seems to be closer to the pr-demo than the Alpha3, except for the interface
  • PreRelease Demo 2 - Released (locked)

    This is the pre-release Demo that was sent to magazines and a few select websites to be released by the end of September and early October. You can download it on Diablo Evolution in the files section and you can find it at a lot of other places on the web
  • PreRelease Demo 2 - Released (unlocked)

    Technically not a different version, but the original pre-release demo is locked after level1 and you can only play the warrior class. Shortly after release there was a hack available on the internet, that allowed people to see deeper levels, different monsters and play the sorceror as well


Probably the game would've been released like this, but then battle.net and the Beta came along, giving the game another interface update and the final shareware demo.

Features:

  • Only the first level is playable
  • Only the Warrior is playable
  • The Warrior has a different voice than in retail
  • The Archer class has been renamed to Rogue
  • Rogue and Sorceror are disabled in this version
  • It seems like the Sorceror sprite wasn't finished yet as can be seen by the fact that even though he's deactivated in pr-demo, the Sorceror still uses Warrior graphics
  • The Butcher quest is available on level1 instead of level2 like in the retail version
  • Alpha3 interface with visual update, resembling the retail interface
  • Still using alpha3 item icons for the inventory
  • It uses a number of affixes and spells that got cut or changed later in development
  • For example: blood boil spell, book of identify, doom serpents, sentinal, blood ritual, +% spell duration items etc.



If you've played Diablo a lot, but never tried the prerelease demo, you should give it a shot. It's a fun experience where you can see a slightly earlier build than the retail version.


Pre-Release Demo "hack":


Shortly after the release of the pre-release demo, someone found out that you could hex-edit the demo's diablo.exe file and unlock later levels and the sorceror class. This was found out around mid October in 1996.
Here's a list of the changes:
  • Sorceror (with Warrior gfx) now also playable
  • If you get lucky with enemy spawns, you can play all the way up to level 4
  • If you get unlucky, the demo will crash frequently because it tries to load graphics that aren't included in the diabdat.mpq file like the catacombs, rogue or enemy sprites
The game also crashes sometimes when casting blood boil. The Skeleton King quest is available, but you can't enter his lair, because, again, graphics for the king are missing.
It's quite interesting to see all those (NW) marks behind item properties, meaning (NOT WORKING). Some of them were made working and some were kicked out of the game, probably because they made no sense or they couldn't get them to work in time.
Here's how to change the demo to unlock later content: Simply hex edit diablo.exe offset 0xba95c from 01 to 00 and you're done. I'll also put the modified EXE in the Files section for your convenience.

PreRelease Demo 1 - Unreleased


Warrior in Cathedral

  • This is from the newly discovered Alpha3.5/pre-pre-release demo or however you want to call it
  • You can clearly see it's using the Alpha3 "Claws" Interface
  • If you're a little bit experienced with the game and early versions you can see the dungeon layout resembles later versions of the game and doesn't use 100% of the available level tiles
  • The player just casted the "Sentinal" spell, basically the "Guardian" spell with just one projectile. It was later removed due to redundancy
  • Cheats are off as can be seen by the fact that the player used up almost all his mana and the spell icon is grey due to a lack of mana
  • Besides the interface, there have been other visual updates in this version. One of them is the braziers, which are finally using a different flame sprite, which will still be used in retail



Warrior in Cathedral

  • Same scene as before, you can see the stairs up to Town (or previous level) in the north
  • The player has selected the "Doom Serpents" spell, which was still usable in the pr-demo but was removed in Beta
  • New login message with "F1" hint, same as in the pre-release version. It's visible after starting a new game until changing the level or after loading a new game from the main menu.



PreRelease Demo 2 - Released (locked)


Warrior in Town

  • You can see the updated interface in this screenshot. It's a purely visual update, retaining all Buttons and the layout.
  • After a long time of development, we finally see the Demon/Angel statues that hold up the Life and Mana orbs. These would be used in beta+retail as well, but the interface will change in the next build
  • The small bridge the cursor is pointing at was removed in the next version. Just one of the small changes the town map experienced over the course of development
  • We don't know about the unreleased pre-release demo, but this is the first confirmed appearance of the Amulet inventory slot. Very late in development!



Warrior in Cathedral

  • The quick-item button in action. This would be replaced by the belt in the next version and improved further upon in Diablo2
  • This button is almost more convenient than the belt used in beta/retail, because you have access to your inventorys potions. While the belt gives you more inventory slots, this is more flexible. The Diablo2 solution is sort of a combination of both.
  • The player has killed the Butcher, congratulations, and basically finished the whole demo



Warrior at the end of the pre-release Demo

  • Blizzard recorded "That is forbidden in the Demo" for the Warriors to say when you try to enter level2



PreRelease Demo 2 - Released (unlocked)


Warrior in Cathedral

  • "Usual depth" will be replaced by "Resistances and Immunities" in later versions
  • This fearsome enemy doesn't appear on level1 in the pre-release demo, so we know the player is in a deeper level
  • Since different subclasses of enemies simply use the same sprites with different palettes, the game is able to load enemies not available in the unmodified demo



Warrior before Leorics Lair

  • The quest is present in the code, but doesn't work in the modified pre-release demo due to the Skeleton King sprite missing



Warrior in Town

  • An example of planned, but unfinished and later removed item affixes



Warrior on Level 4 of the Cathedral

  • This was the original text players would see when being close to the catacombs
  • It was later altered for the "Chamber of Bone" quest



Warrior about to enter the Catacombs

  • The entrance would only open after reading the book shown above
  • This special premade room isn't used in later versions of the game anymore, you can enter the Catacombs directly



Complete Pre-Release Demo - Quasi Alpha 4


Rogue fighting a Drake in Hell

  • This is a seemingly insignificant part of a screenshot, shown as a teaser at the end of the pre-release demo
  • It's the first appearance of the Rogue sprite outside of manipulated fakeshots! In fact: These are the only legitimate rogue screenshots we see before the beta version
  • It seems like the Rogue sprite was still a work in progress, since she's in Hell (more on that below) wearing light armor. The lack of lighting suggests that some kind of test and/or cheat mode was also enabled
  • Why is this screenshot in Hell? We know this because of our own Alpha4 project, where we could observe that the Levels 13-16 spawned the regular Hell enemies, but had a non working automap and it generated Catacombs levels
  • This also proves the very late implementation of the Hell tileset. While the Cathedral, Catacombs and Cave were already in Alpha1, Hell was still not there after Alpha3
  • Another "first" is the appearance of the Drake enemy type, which wasn't seen in screenshots before
  • Basically this is the Alpha4, just in it's "complete" state over at Blizzard. It's possible that these shots still have the Alpha3 Claw interface, but it's of course impossible to tell



Rogue fighting Succubi in Hell

  • Same deal as with the shot above, we're in the unfinished Hell levels, as we can see by the succubus
  • The succubus hasn't appeared in any other shots yet, so this is yet another "first" for this small set of screenshots