Follow TV Tropes


Gladiator Subquest

Go To
"Here we go folks, arena combat! Yeah, you know you want it!"

Clank: Hmmm... I seem to have also accidentally unlocked a virtual battle-arena.
Ratchet: Hey, that's always fun too!

A staple of many Role Playing Games. This subquest, which is usually an optional Side Quest, but sometimes a part of the main quest, requires you to fight in some sort of gladiatorial combat.

If done as a sidequest, expect rules to make this more difficult than standard combat. For example, you might be limited in your choice of gear, or the fight might include only One party member at a time, or some types of attacks (say magic for example) may be forbidden. It might also be the home of the Optional Boss and where the Infinity +1 Sword is found. Such restrictions are rarer if this is part of the main story line due to being mandatory to finish the game.

Alternatively, it is possible that the player may only need to perform in a few ranks of the subquest to advance the main quest, the rest of the competition is optional.

Main Story examples are usually Inevitable Tournaments, as you are likely to hear of the fight long before you actually have to take part in it.

Compare Monster Arena.


    open/close all folders 


    Adventure Games 
  • The Coliseum from Quest for Glory V is the sidequest variant, though no special rules apply.
  • Hillsfar, an old classic from the Silver Box series, allowed players to fight in the arena. You could always go fight if you felt like it, and you would be sentenced to the Arena if you got caught burglarizing a house. Also, several of the different quest-lines required you to fight in the arena.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Borderlands:
    • There are two arena-like segments as sidequests in the original game, the Circle of Death and the Circle of Slaughter. A third one (the Circle of Duty) appears in the DLC The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. Madd Moxxi's Underdome Riot is another DLC focused entirely around this trope.
    • Borderlands 2 has three different gladiator fight arenas, all of them directed by Moxxi. The Mister Torgue's Campaign of Carnage DLC features a few that need to be fought in order to advance the story, but the second and third tier rounds are optional on all of them.
    • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has a five-round arena as a pre-order bonus as well as the Holodome DLC, which is a series of wave-based arena challenges.
    • Borderlands 3: There are three in the base game, all run by Mr. Torgue: The Cistern of Slaughter on Promethea (with creature-type enemies), the Slaughter Shaft on Pandora (with Children of the Vault enemies), and Slaughterstar 3000 (with Maliwan enemies).

  • Several examples from Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • At one point in the Bounty Hunter's story on Tattooine, their prey escapes with the help of a deranged arena master known as the Lady of Pain. She offers to put you on the right path, if you fight in her arena.
    • The Colicoid War Game flashpoint is a Collicoid wargame that culminates in an arena fight between a group of players and their best war droid.
    • The Blood Hunt flashpoint's second boss is a duel between the players and a Mandalorian Battle Couple.

  • Ratchet & Clank: Ever since the second installment, nearly every game has had one of these where Ratchet can compete in various challenges pitting him in multiple rounds against enemies and bosses, sometimes restricting which weapon he can use, or draining his health, or randomizing which weapon he has, among other things. In most games only the first challenge is required to progress through the storynote , but you can compete in many more for bolts and the occasional weapon and gadget. Some notable points on these include:
    • Going Commando was the game to introduce arenas to the series, and is also one of the only games in the franchise thus far to have multiple arenas with their own challenges.
    • The arenas in both Up Your Arsenal and Into the Nexus have challenges based outside of arena combat, with the former having death courses and the latter having racing and platforming challenges in a canyon.
    • The cell phone game Going Mobile!, due to it being a 2D sidescroller, restructures arenas to be levels the player must traverse in order to find all of the enemies they must defeat in order to beat the challenge.
    • Size Matters is unique in that the arena challenges are exclusive to Clank and involve different objectives than what Ratchet usually gets: A destruction derby, scoring Gadgebots in a goal, and guiding Gadgebots to a goal in a Lemmings style minigame.
    • All of Ratchet's segments in Secret Agent Clank act as arenas, as he tries to survive in prison while completing various objectives. The catch is the player will not obtain any bolts from enemies in these challenges until Clank purchases an upgrade to let Ratchet acquire them.
    • Rift Apart goes back to just having combat challenges unlike Into the Nexus, however you can only play as Rivet in these sections (interestingly enough Ratchet is shown in the arena in the game's weapon demonstration videos). It is also the only game that places a boss fight in the arena that is both important to the plot and cannot be replayed, having Rivet fight Dr. Nefarious which then leads Emperor Nefarious to make his presence.
    • The arenas proved to be so popular that the fourth installment on the PlayStation 2, Ratchet: Deadlocked, was based entirely around arena challenges.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, you'll need to fight a number of battles in the Vivec Arena in order to advance through several factions. In particular, you'll need to do this to achieve guild leader status in the Imperial Legion, House Redoran, and the Mages' Guild.note  You'll need to battle Dram Bero's champion in order to gain his support in House Hlaalu as well.
    • The Arena in Oblivion is also an optional version. Your armor is limited to the one provided. You can however use your choice of helmet, shield and weapons. The Arena was founded by the legendary Redguard hero Gaiden Shinji, who also served as its first Blademaster (which wasn't just a cosmetic title for him).
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 2 lets you box for increasing amounts of cash and fame in New Reno, but the first time you lose, you can only try again once if your speech skill is high enough, and even then you get reduced pay.
    • The Hole in Fallout 3's The Pitt DLC is a main story example.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • The Legion Camp has an arena you can fight in (if you are not femalenote ).
      • In an underground settlement called The Thorn, you can pit various wasteland creatures against each other in combat, as well as participate in the combat against said creatures yourself. You can pay to set up your own custom matches, such as paying to make a Deathclaw and a Cazador fight. You can also simply bet small sums of caps on fights, betting on either the blue or red team, with no knowledge of the combatants on either side. The stoic, enigmatic caretaker of The Thorn, Red Lucy, can provide you with missions to fetch various eggs of dangerous creatures in the Mojave so she can train them for combat in the thorn, granting experience and large amounts of caps for completion. Upon the completion of all of the missions, the character can become very intimate with Red Lucy, as she respects the Courier for their strength.
  • Lie of Caelum: The Underground Tournament of La Dame Du Lac can be accessed by showing a VIP ticket to the bouncer. However, the ticket will be consumed upon entering the tournament, which consists of a gauntlet of increasingly difficult fights. While it's possible to rearrange equipment and item loadouts between fights, the player has no access to a save point.
  • The Munari City arena of Summoner 2 is set up like this. It is part of the main story, but it is possible to return to gain money as a sidequest.
  • BioWare loves this trope:
    • Mass Effect: the first game's optional DLC "Pinnacle Station" creates a quasi-arena like station for you to go against hordes of holographic Geth pretty much solely for bragging rights, though completing all the challenges wins Shepard a nice house on a planet where they can potentially get rare weapons and armor really cheaply. The DLC itself was poorly received and is the only DLC not included in the Legendary Edition remaster (allegedly due to the files being corrupted). Then, the "Citadel" DLC for the third game brings back an expanded version where you can fight enemies from throughout the series.
    • The Dueling Rings on Taris in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It is a side quest and the fights have to be fought one on one.
      • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, both the Echani on Telos and Mandalorians on Dxun put you through a series of fights to test your worthiness. In both cases there are limitations; some fights might be one-on-many, others might limit you to fists or a specific melee weapon, or ban using the Force or items such as grenades. The Echani Handmaiden will also engage you in a series of duels on the Ebon Hawk, although these double as combat training and, if you believe certain characters, courtship.
    • The Provings are of the Dwarven Commoner (as a main quest) and Dwarven Noble (as a sidequest) origins in Dragon Age: Origins. They return later in the Orzimmar portion of the game as part of the main quest. Also in Orzammar is an entirely optional illegal set of proving for money.
    • Jade Empire has such a quest as part of the main story, though it is optional, being one of two ways to prove your worth to the Lotus Assassins.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Olympus Coliseum is traditionally the site of tournament side-quests.
  • The Tolbi Coliseum in Golden Sun. You hear of it long before you reach it, but once you arrive, learn that signups are closed. You can only go through it once, and even then only Isaac gets to participate, with the other party members cheering for you (read:cheat by using Psynergy to make the obstacle courses easier, letting you get much better equipment). Strangely, winning is actually not required to progress, only costing an (admittedly useful) item if you lose. In a linked-game sequel, the three defeated gladiators will ambush you, accusing you of cheating until you beat them (likely using Psynergy).
  • Paper Mario:
    • Chapter 3 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is built around this. Unlike the usual story enforced examples, there are rules to make the fighting more difficult. Following these conditions is needed to go up in rank.
    • In Super Paper Mario, there's the Duel of 100 in the postgame. The party can take on a hundred Sammer Guys, one by one, for a single run. You have the option to save every 25 fights and you can leave at any time.
  • Radiant Historia has one; only some of the fights are mandatory.
  • Gothic III has several arenas in different towns. Gothic I also has a small one.
  • The remake of Alter A.I.L.A. has one. It's over 100 fights long.
  • Resonance of Fate has the Arena located immediately adjacent to the starting town; you can go there in Chapter 1 for training in the game's battle system (almost all hunters do it), and in subsequent chapters for money and Arena Coins that let you buy some nice gear and ammo. You unlock the higher-tier fights in the coliseum by reaching the appropriate chapter in the storyline, and then beating the lower-tier arena fights three times each up to 50 ranks.
  • Dungeon Siege II and its expansion both feature the Aman'lu Arena, a 10-round contest against an increasingly difficult range of enemies, some of which are also minor bosses the first time you encounter them outside the arena. Not only is it required for 100% Completion, it is also required to get some of the artifacts needed to unlock the Easter Egg filled "Mysterious Mystery" area.
  • The Coliseum of Coursair in Breath of Fire II, where the Hero faces Katt in a solo battle in order to save her life.
  • The Tales of... series has this as a typical sidequest in most of its games. The earlier games only let you use the main character in the arena, but later games let you use every party member, or even an entire party. This is where cameo characters often like to hang out.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has the House of Valor and, to a lesser extent, the Lykeios of the Kollossae.
  • A recurring element in Might and Magic was the Arena, a place you could visit through the stables on the right days and which let you fight random monsters in, well, an arena, at a difficulty you choose. Normally the reward was just gold and experience, but sometimes there were quests requiring beating a number of Arena fights at a specific difficulty.
  • Octopath Traveler: Olberic's chapter 2 involves a tournament in Victor's Hollow, where he has to enter the tournament and fight a series of boss battles in order to confront someone who knows where one of his former comrades turned traitor might be.
  • Octopath Traveler II has the same thing for fellow warrior Hikari, whose chapter 2 is also a series of fights (Via his Challenge path ability) as he tries to win a tournament to pay off Kezan's debts. Or so it seems, Kezan is using Hikari's victory streak to end the entire gladiator business.
  • Inverted in the first Summon Night: Swordcraft Story, where the gladiator-esque Craftknight Tournament constitute for 45% of the plot. The other 45% is dungeon crawling and the 10% is plot-only incursion outside the main island.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has two: There's the fist fight quest chain spanning every zone in the game, and an optional three round arena fight in Whoreson Jr's arena.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has a series of one on one (or two) optional fist fight tournaments across Night City. They are noted for being particularly hard as one actually needs to spec for unarmed combat to be any good at it as other weapons are disabled during the fight.

    Simulation Games 
  • Multiple games in the Armored Core series, starting with Project Phantasma feature the Arena, a ladder where the players take on dozens of other AC pilots. The specific format varies, but most iterations of the arena are one-on-one battles where the players get to select the zone of combat, and success is met with a cash reward and the occasional bonus part as the player ascends through the ranks. Notably the arena is a good way for beginning players to acquire cash as matches have no fee and unlike the main game, players do not have to spend money for repair and ammo expended. The fifth generation notoriously axed the arena entirely in favor of online duels only for it to return in Armored Core 6 with a new currency unique to it used to purchase special upgrades for their AC.
  • Fighting in the Solaris 7 gladiator games in MechWarrior 2 and 4: Mercenaries are extremely popular side-quests. Some players consider Solaris's tournament season the highlight of the game, not only because of its profitability but also because of the Announcer Chatter from the spectacularly hammy Duncan Fisher.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Fire Emblem has Coliseums where you can have one of your units battle. If you win, you get double your entrance fee, if you lose, the unit you sent dies. You have the option of forfeiting the match, but you will get no refund. Slightly different in Genealogy of the Holy War, where units that lose a fight are left alive but with one HP ; the sum of money earned after each fight is preset; and instead of unlimited, random enemies, each unit can only face seven fixed adversaries.

    Tabletop Games