On New Game Plus

So kind of a topic stretch today, I’m doing this a bit earlier in the day than normal (it’s currently 5:45am) because I start my on call week today. This means I may be a bit too busy during the day to type up a long post, so I figure I’d do it before the world came crashing down. I’d say I would hope for a quiet week but that is never guaranteed.

That being said, today’s topic is New Game+ modes in games. I’m not exactly sure how many games have done this lately but I know of a few. Namely Dark Souls 1 & 2 and the latest Zelda game A Link Between Worlds. On the off chance you’ve never heard of new game + mode the gist of it is that once you finish the game on normal difficulty it lets you start over from the beginning with all your items/skills but makes the enemies more challenging. Now keeping all your items is not a 100 percent guarantee since Zelda does not do that. It just starts you off at the beginning with harder enemies and you lose health a lot faster. Dark Souls 1 & 2 at least lets you keep your level, and I’m sure you keep all your items as well, though I can’t say for certain as I’ve never tried.

This leads me to wonder a couple of things.

First off, why do games even offer a new game plus mode? Why not just offer a game that lets you select what difficulty you want and go from there? Personally I think it is an attempt to extend the life of a game that otherwise might not take that long to finish. Or there could be specific achievements or rewards that can only be found on a second playthrough. I know that I never find every item or collectible on the first try, and going back to earlier areas might not always be an option. The other reason I can think of is that it is there for people who want that additional challenge, maybe they thought the first playthrough was too easy or something.

The second thing is more of a reader poll. Do you play new game + mode when it is available? If so, why? Personally I have yet to finish a game in new game +. This is primarily because I have not seen any specific rewards for it other than a more difficult game. I find it especially difficult to play through a compelling story a second time as there are no longer any surprises. For me this was the case with the latest Zelda game. I really enjoyed the story, and started out playing new game + because there was a specific item that shed some light on a secondary characters backstory that only unlocked after finishing the game. Once I got that object I no longer felt compelled to keep playing. I might go back to it eventually, as I love the Zelda series, but back to back playthroughs are not my thing.

5 thoughts on “On New Game Plus

  1. I feel like there are a lot of ways to do a new game + style thing and games have done it with varying success. Some do it with unlocked difficulty, some do it with unlocked narrative choices, some just do it to make re-exploration easier.

    On top of the reasons you mentioned (specifically related to a Hard mode style new game +), I think it may just be partially to smooth the learning curve. If they have put a lot of time into making a “Normal” difficulty feel right for a first time player and “hard” feel right for a second run, then I can vaguely understand the designer trying to bypass frustrating experiences by veering the player down their set path. For example, someone stumbling onto Lunatic+ mode in Fire Emblem Awaking without having beaten Lunatic mode would probably led to a lot of 3DS defenestration… Lunatic mode alone probably led to some hardcore rage quits.

    When I was younger, I had more free time and was generally more of a completionist, so I would usually play New Game + as long as it brought something new to the table (not just re-explore this world with levels/items). Now, I’m a little more picky and I generally try to evaluate the time-value trade off.

    Thinking back on some different New Game+ modes I would say:
    Chrono Trigger and Cross – both very good with it. Branching endings, some of which require multiple playthroughs for various reason. Also, at least in Cross (maybe Trigger?) you get a fast forward button, which makes things so much more reasonable.
    Persona 4 – interesting but needed a fast forward. In that game, you kept your compendium of monsters I believe, plus they had dialogue choices they you could not pick the first time through because you didn’t have enough of a character trait. There were also extra bosses. It just really needed a fast forward.
    Most of the other Shin Megami Tensei games I have played – They usually do a nice job at creating new challenge, unlockables, and narrative with multiple playthroughs.
    Tales Games – I like the grade system a lot. I haven’t played the newer games, but I think there is a lot of potential there that with the old games, they came close to fully realizing, but not quite. Not sure about the newer games.

    ~Dyl

  2. Nope. New game+ is the same as locked difficulties for me (like in Diablo). I dislike faffing about so when I get a new game I often just pick the highest possible difficulty and once I beat it – it is done. I don’t care what unlocks at that point. If I finished the bulk of your story then it is the end and I uninstall the game.

    Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?

  3. I think Connor has a point.

    To me, NG+ directs the players energies to simply playing. You don’t pick a mode, you just get going. And when you beat the game, you keep going.

    For game like Dark Souls, NG+ is very important imo. The game is genuinely difficult. No one could pick that game up any hardmode from the start. I don’t think anyone would even want to. So a NG+ is a trophy of sorts. Anyone who has beaten the game has truly achieved something and if they beat it again, well its another great achievement.

  4. Torchlight 2 has a NG mode. The nature of the game is build around the fact that you can still gain levels up to 100 so you can play the end game content or go again from the start with all your existing skills and armour.

    Currently my wife and I are on NG+++ and have reached level 100 with quite a little way to go before completion again.

    Now this is both a bad and good thing.
    The game allowed us to reach level 30 by the first time, and if we had New Gamed at that time the enemies will have continued from that point.
    However we played some end game dungeons and when we came to New Game the content hadn’t leveled with us, this was annoying as we had to wade through trash for many levels.

    Do I NG?
    It depends on the game, is there a reason to do it?
    In Torchlight 2’s case, yes there was as it increased the abilities and stats.

    Call of Duty Multi-player (MW2 at least) has Prestige levels that are New Game +, only they remove all equipment and levels and you start from scratch.
    This is boring at hell to be frank.

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