Baldur’s Gate II: The Black Pits II, PC

The Black Pits II: Gladiators of Thay is an arena combat-based add-on for the Baldur’s Gate II series, given away free with the Enhanced Edition in 2013.

It’s sort of a Spartacus-type story, where you begin in a gladiator school and work your way up to the top by killing with swords, and magic, and anything else you can lay your hands on.

You can play the game with a single character, and give yourself a serious challenge, or you can add five more characters, and have a party of up to six. Combat is the usual Infinity Engine clicking, and is therefore not that challenging. Where combat does become challenging, though, is in getting your spellcasters to cast properly. Not a particularly easy task if you’re new to the Infinity Engine, but simple enough if you’ve had some practise with the game.

Every round of arena combat that you win will net you a pot of gold, which you can use at the various shops found dotted around the rest area. Buying new weapons and armour, and also magic items and potions, gives you an edge in the next round of combat. There’s also an interesting escape conspiracy storyline going on too, plus a variety of smaller side-quests. Of course your enemies get more difficult with every round of combat. Initially it’s all too easy, but by round five you’ll start to get some larger monsters, or spellcasters, set against you. And that’s when it gets interesting. I would say that aggressive spellcasters are your greatest enemies. Well, combinations of enemies will later cause you problems.

Overall: The Black Pits II is a decent little add-on.

The Black Pits II is a fun addition to the Baldur’s Gate II series, and Baldur’s Gate fans will probably get a decent kick out of it. I didn’t quite understand what was going on with levelling though. The characters I was given were rarely awarded any upgrade skill points. No one I had could pick any locks either. Or maybe I just didn’t understand the joke?

More: Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn on Wikipedia
Steam: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

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