Retro Review: Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal

Throne of Bhaal, the expansion to Baldur’s Gate II and the finale of the Baldur’s Gate saga, is a satisfying ending to an epic journey. It brings closure not only to your quest, but to the story of your being a child of Bhaal, the God of Murder.

In addition to new post-game content, Throne of Bhaal provides enhancements and additions to the base game as well. Perhaps the most obvious and useful change is the addition of tab highlighting to find dropped items and treasure containers, a feature it’s hard to live without once you have it. The dungeon of Watcher’s Keep is also added, and can be accessed both before and during the expansion itself. This is a sprawling dungeon filled with puzzles and interesting fights, not to mention some fantastic loot. Its unique shared position also allows you to bring more items than you can carry over to the expansion, which is useful if you’re a hoarder.

Unlike Tales from the Sword Coast, the main Throne of Bhaal content is completely separate from the base game. Once you finish the original plot, you’ll find yourself on a new map with no ability to go back. The plot is also new, with few direct connections to that of Shadows of Amn. This time, you’ll be hunting down and fighting a variety of other Bhaalspawn, all of whom are dangerously powerful. With the experience cap more than doubled and weapons of up to +6 available to you, though, you’ll be quite powerful yourself. You’ll finally be able to memorize level 9 spells, and the addition of high level abilities such as making 10 attacks in a round or summoning high-level angels really ramps up the party’s capacity for battle.

Throne of Bhaal introduces a “pocket plane,” which acts as a home base that you can enter at any time. This pocket plane contains your alternate party members, several containers to store extra items, and your amusing imp butler that will construct powerful items from pieces you find (similar to Cromwell in the main game). It is somewhat reminiscent of, and perhaps the inspiration for, the Normandy of the Mass Effect series. It’s only too bad it took this long to get such an accessible base of operations. There’s only one new character to recruit, but they’re a doozy and a very fun addition plot-wise.

The relatively straightforward plot works very well for an epic-level expansion, allowing you to really flex your muscles and try out various crazy tactics. Your party’s resilience just keeps growing, to the point where multiple consecutive major battles with no rest are entirely doable (and good thing, since you’ll find yourself in that situation more than once). This is the kind of expansion where a demi-lich can be found as a no-big-deal random encounter.

Throne of Bhaal is satisfying in every sense, bringing closure to a character you may have taken all the way from level 1 and allowing you to play with powers typically reserved for heroes of legend. It serves as an amazing capstone to an amazing RPG series.

Review Score: A

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