The information presented in these archived FotDs is now outdated, but that's often the most interesting thing about them, seeing how much the game has changed from then to now.
The original FotDs are indented and italicized. Explanatory comments below them were written by Flux at the time the FotDs were archived, usually a couple/few months after the original FotDs had been presented.
April 1, 2000
- Shimmy is a newly-added Clvl 30 skill from the Amazon's Passive and Magic Skill Tab. The most powerful skill in the Dodge/Avoid/Evade famlly, Shimmy grants the Amazon a higher % chance of not being hit by melee or projectile weapons when she is walking, but not while standing still or running. It has a potent PvP effect as well, causing Barbarians and Paladins to remove their most valuable piece of jewelry and give it to the Amazon. Necromancers are of course immune to this skill
Yes, the April 1st FotD strikes again. The icon is the abandoned Necro skill "Familiar" turned upside down and with the little dots around it added, that I took from a submitted FSotW and used here.
"Necros are gay" jokes were always amusing back then, mostly because so many of the most rabid, younger D2 fans had sold their souls to the Necromancer fan club, and any suggestion of him being less than Uber and l33t and all of that was met with outrage.
For example, a necromancer guild (that we hosted!) posted a petition and did a lot of forum spamming about how we were discriminating against the Necro and posting less info on him than the other characters, after our Blizzard North visit.
Nevermind that we'd have no reason to do that, and ignore the fact that we posted our Necromancer gameplay report first of all the character reports from the visit. No one got all that worked up over or emotionally tied to the Druid or Assassin pre-D2X, which is either a relief or a disappointment, depending on how you look at it.
April 2, 2000
- Sacrifice is a Clvl One skill from the Paladin's Combat Skills tree. A dangerous combat skill, this one provides the Paladin with a very damaging attack, but at a price. The damage at just Slvl One is impressive, with a 20% bonus to/hit, and a 180% bonus to damage. The painful part is that it costs the Paladin 8% of his total hit points per use. However it doesn't cost any mana, so it seems like a nice combination with Prayer.
Leeching was a new concept, after being in Diablo, but only on a very few items. So it wasn't really understood at this point how easy it was to fill up your hit points while killing things, if you had some decent equipment.
April 3, 2000
- There will be three difficulty levels in Diablo II, just as there were in Diablo, and currently they share the same names; Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. Playing on a higher diff level will allow players to "raise the bar," so to speak, and make the game harder for higher level characters. Also, there will be very high quality items, uniques, and modifiers that can only be found on the highest difficulty level, so you will be rewarded for taking the biggest risks. There will be some exp loss for death on Nightmare and Hell, and thinking about playing Hell solo? It's said to be balanced towards "suicidal"
Blizzard insisted all along that Hell would be incredibly difficult, virtually impossible to do solo, and that careful party play would be required. They lowered the diff a bit in later testing, but mostly just underestimated the quality of equipment players would accumulate. In their internal higher difficulty testing (which they admittedly didn't do much of) they tended to have hacked Clvl 60 or 70 characters, who didn't have that much good equipment or what we'd consider good skill distribution now (it took a while for the concept of 20 points in one or two killing skills to become prevalent) so of course it was hard.
Players were generally shocked upon reaching Hell in D2 and finding that it wasn't really much harder than Nightmare. D2X hell was much harder initially, until players found bigger weapons and ways to overcome the 50% physical resistance on the monsters.
April 4, 2000
- Defiance is a Clvl 6 skill from the Paladin's Defensive Auras Skill Tab. This aura adds substantially to the Paladin's defense (Armor Class), and is very useful in melee situations. It adds 70% at Slvl one, and improves from there. While useful at lower levels, it could be extremely useful once the Paladin had high AC, as it would boost it through the roof.
Blizzard had said all through development that AC would be important, and it was important in Diablo, so we all figured we'd need it now. Of course it turned out to be needless for most characters; Bowazons put on Greyform at Clvl 1, and still had it on at Clvl 80 in D2.
April 6, 2000
- Multi-shot arrow is a Clvl 6 skill from the Amazon's Bow and Crossbow Skill Tab. This skill enables her to fire one arrow that splits into many, 2 at Slvl 1, and up from there to 8 at Slvl 7. The spread of the arrows is controlled by how far from the Amazon you aim them, and hitting the same target with four or more arrows is quite possible. Each one does the full normal arrow damage, and each one has a chance of hitting for double damage with Critical Strike. An extremely effective skill.
With the beta in hand, we could actually test out things in detail before posting them. MS arrow did work like this early in the beta, where you could hit the same target with multiple shots. According to Blizzard it was an accident, they had it like that early in testing but found it was way too powerful and changed it, but somehow the older skill code got into the first build of the beta.
April 8, 2000
- Auras are not just for the Paladin and his friends in Diablo II. Monsters can have auras as well, and when a monster with an aura gets near other monsters, they will share in the effect, just as other players share in the Paladin's auras. Thus far only a few of the weaker Offensive Auras have been seen on monsters, but it is possibly they will have Defiance or Warmth or Thorns or other auras later in the game. Lovely shot of aura-packing monsters can be seen here.
The screenie link is good, the shot resurrected from our D2 beta archives, which have literally hundreds, maybe close to a thousand shots that we posted in the month or so the beta ran. That is Holy Fire there, looking a bit different than it does in the final game. I liked that look better, now it's too hard to tell from Might, but of course then it was very hard to tell from thorns. The two half-circles rotated around your character's (or the monster's) feet.
Actually seeing Auras was a revelation, since in screenshots they just look like lights on the ground, and it was amazing to see how they moved and pulsed and vibrated, like graphics on a scoreboard at a sporting event.
April 10, 2000
- Frozen Armor is a Clvl 1 skill from the Sorceress' Cold Spells Tab. A defensive skill, this one is quite effective early on, causing any melee attacker who successfully lands a hit on the Sorceress to be frozen in their tracks for a short time. A great aid to the Sorceress if she's fighting melee, or just trying to run back from an attacker to get some space for her next spell. Slvl 1: +30 Defense, 120 sec duration, Freezes for 1.2sec, costs 7 mana.
Having actual spell stats to post was such fun, after months and years of conjecture about such things.
April 18, 2000
- Lightning Javelin is a Clvl 12 skill from the Amazon's Spear and Javelin Skill Tab. A ranged attack, this one only works with a Javelin. It adds a substantial lightning attack to your spear, and the damage increases quickly with more skill points. You can see it in flight here.
The screenshot link works here; another old beta shot restored. The graphics are slightly more detailed for lightning in these old shots, compared to the low-machine-load look it has in D2X.
April 22, 2000
- Increased Stamina, from the Barbarian's Combat Masteries skill tab, is possibly the only skill in the beta that no one has ever actually put a point into yet. Actually, someone surely has, but it certainly isn't at the top of anyone's "gotta try it out" list. By Clvl 12 most Barbarians have more stamina than they know what to do with. However there are no plate armors in the Beta, and running while wearing plate mail causes rapid stamina drain, so perhaps this skill will look more attractive, later in the game.
Or perhaps it will be a pre-req for a skill every Baba really wants.
April 25, 2000
- Frozen Orb is an awesome Clvl 30 skill from the Sorceress' Cold Spells Skill Tab. When casting this spell, she emits a blue puffy cloud that moves forward at about walking speed, hovering at around her head height. The Frozen Orb appears to spin, and sends out a spiral pattern of deadly Frost Spikes, which freeze their target, and deal heavy damage. See it in action here.
The screenie looks just like it does now, so no need to pull it out. The beta capped skills at Clvl 12, so we didn't get to see it there, but during the beta a number of D2 previews were posted by sites that got to visit Blizzard and see the full game at the time.
April 27, 2000
- Chain Lightning, from the Sorceress' Lightning Spells Skill Tab, is a skill that dates way back to Diablo I, but it has been much changed in function and appearance in Diablo II. And even in the icon graphic, as you can see here. This one is more appropriate to how the skill works in Diablo II, since it now sends out just a few bolts, which arc from target to target. You can see it at work with the new icon and the old one.
The new one is here, to see the old one (which was used in Diablo as well) click the link.