We drop by the BioWare offices to play an early build of the expansion to our current RPG of the year.
Epics tend to be in three parts. The notion of the trilogy is often associated with ambitious works of fiction. These are the sorts of works whose far-reaching ideas and rich casts of characters couldn't possibly be encompassed in a single volume. Trilogies are well known in fantasy and science fiction. Who hasn't heard of The Lord of the Rings, let alone Star Wars? And now, the culminating chapter of what's certainly one of the most significant works of computer gaming fiction has been announced: Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. It's true that the official expansion to last year's highly acclaimed role-playing game isn't a true sequel, and, as such, doesn't really constitute a third installment in a trilogy. Besides, Baldur's Gate II was technically the third installment in the series anyway; BioWare produced the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion for the original Baldur's Gate. However, the forthcoming Throne of Bhaal still serves the purpose of the last chapter in the series: It will conclude the story of Baldur's Gate and will reveal the fate of a character whose mysterious past turns out to have remarkable and terrible consequences. If the incentive of a grand finale to the story of Baldur's Gate weren't enough, the forthcoming expansion also has a lot more to offer in its gameplay. Most notably, it'll let your characters reach a godlike level of experience. Recently, we visited BioWare's offices in Edmonton to see Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal and to see whether this expansion would be everything that fans of the Baldur's Gate series could ask for. We weren't particularly surprised to find that, indeed, it seems like it will be.
As noted, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal is an expansion to BioWare's hit role-playing game. This means you'll need to have Baldur's Gate II installed in order to play the expansion, and Throne of Bhaal picks up immediately where Baldur's Gate II leaves off. Actually, part of the expansion--a massive dungeon called Watcher's Keep--will be accessible even before you've finished the main Baldur's Gate II quest. Altogether, the expansion will comprise at least 40 additional hours of gameplay--which is more than can be said for most games, though it's certainly less than the 80-100 or more hours of play that Baldur's Gate II demands. BioWare deliberately has designed the expansion to be relatively compact as compared with Baldur's Gate II, and yet adding enough breadth of new content to the expansion is an extremely important priority. BioWare knows its fans expect an epic quest and doesn't intend to disappoint with Throne of Bhaal.
But are 40 more hours of Baldur's Gate II really necessary? What struck so many of you about Baldur's Gate II was not just how long the game was, but how much replay value it had to offer. The gameplay would fundamentally change depending on which sort of character you decided to play; how you'd respond to particular situations; and whom you'd choose to have accompany you in your quest. Also, Baldur's Gate II has a rich, satisfying story in its own right. Some of you might not be interested in the idea of an expansion for all these reasons. However, Throne of Bhaal will have much more to it than just more quests, more battles, and more dialogue. Read on to find out why every Baldur's Gate II fan ought to be very excited about this next and last chapter in the saga.
- Release Date: Jul 20, 2001 (EU)
- Release Date: 2003 (US)