As BioWare nears the completion of their upcoming Baldur's Gate II expansion pack, titled Throne of Bhaal, further details have been revealed regarding the game's content. Mentioned recently in RPGamer's GDC coverage, it is known that the add-on will enhance last year's Baldur's Gate II with new locations to explore, additional spells and items to make use of, and new characters to play as. More gameplay details have been revealed, including the expansion's involvement in the epic saga's storyline.
Fans might be surprised at the direction the add-on takes, allowing characters to become god-like in their experience levels and abilities (characters can reach up to level 40, with an experience point cap of 8 million). However, this is effectively balanced by the fact that the perils and foes within the game are more dangerous than any other installment of the series. Many new skills for melee classes will be included in the expansion, as well as about fifty new high-level spells. These spells can be used by clerics and magic-users, including the new "wild mage" character, a powerful magic user whose spells have a chance of creating chaotic, totally unexpected effects. While players will certainly be able to import their old Baldur's Gate II characters straight into the game, there will also be the option of beginning the expansion with a pre-made high-level character, equipped and ready for the game's challenges. Apparently, a typical low-level character wouldn't last five minutes in the game.
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal also features the return of a classic character: Sarevok, the villain from the original Baldur's Gate. He will exist in the game as a playable character, and will join with you early on as an extremely powerful fighter. Of course, this union will cost you, as Sarevok will only join in exchange for part of your soul, which will restore him to life. Voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson, who did the character's voice as well as the narrator in the first Baldur's Gate will return to play him again in the expansion.
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal comes as the third chapter in the "Child of Bhaal" story, which began with the original Baldur's Gate in 1998. The expansion will also conclude the Baldur's Gate legend. Bioware has stated that all the expansion features have all been completed, and that they are aiming for a second quarter release for the title, so look for it to become available in the next few months.