Which Games Do New Game+ The Best?


Among the changes Horizon Zero Dawn is getting with its 1.30 update is a New Game+. I feel like that feature is sort of coming back a little bit and developers are only just now realizing its benefits. It’s really a wonder why more games aren’t doing it.

I’m not gonna go counting but I feel like New Game+ is one of those things that was more common in the heyday of original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games, and then was forgotten in the rush for more heavily scripted linear games. I remember New Game+ being a notable inclusion in Dead Space back in 2008, and we’re starting to see it slip back into relevance with popular games like The Witcher 3. Like HorizonDishonored 2 has had New Game+ added post-launch.

The benefit of being able to restart a game while keeping everything you earned in the initial run is obvious, but there are some more subtle benefits of the New Game+. The biggest one is that it encourages more replays of a game. Knowing you won’t lose some of that “progress” you made in terms of stats, items, or whatever else you spent all that time collecting makes it easiler to hit the “new game” button after the credits have rolled. I know I’m certainly more likely to replay a game if there’s a New Game+. It’s not a requirement — I’ll replay a game if it’s simply just that good, but the presence of a New Game+ lowers that threshold considerably. It’s probably why I ended up playing through Resident Evil 4 more than a dozen times. Sure, it usually means you curb-stomp your way through most of those additional runs, but New Game+ serves to maintain that momentum from the initial run.

This is very important for linear, singleplaye games in today’s live-games or “Games As A Service” world. Publishers don’t want you to play through the story once and be done anymore. Most of the time the solution is multiplayer or some other online component, but New Game+ is a great way to potentially double or triple the length of the singleplayer experience.

Even better is when a game really designs part of itself around the New Game+. I think Witcher 3 bumps up every enemy’s level by around 30 in its New Game+. Mass Effect goes for a simpler solution of simply having enemy levels scale to the player, and letting that continue into New Game+. Actually I think achievements earned by one character in the first Mass Effect could unlock bonus abilities for other characters created in a new game. Dishonored 2 has two playable characters with different sets of skills, but only one can be played per run. Letting players combine the characters’ skill sets in New Game+ basically encourages them to play through Dishonored 2 at least twice.

Right now however the ultimate example of a game designed around New Game+ is probably the Souls franchise. Building New Game+ and the higher difficulties to be essentially one and the same is a smart move, encouraging not just one but multiple repeat runs. The real challenge of this mode usually doesn’t even become apparent until several runs in when enemies keep getting stronger but the player begins to level up more slowly.

One of the most interesting permutations of New Game+ that tends to get ignored is how Namco’s Tales of series of RPGs does it. I’ve only personally seen it in Tales of Symphonia but I believe it’s a tradition in the franchise. Throughout the game players earn points called “grade” which, upon completion of the main story, can be spent on lots of fun modifiers for the next run. These include things like double or 10x experience points or increased drop rates. You could say the games lock cheats behind this New Game+ shop.

When done right, a New Game+ can potentially make a singleplayer game nearly endless.


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