There’s a strong sense of satisfaction that occurs whenever a gamer takes down a video game’s final challenge and watches the credits roll. This sense of accomplishment is incredible, but there are plenty of video games where the end credits mark the definitive finish to this experience and mean that it’s time to try out another game. However, there’s been a strong push towards “New Game Plus” modes that offer attractive extra content. This special feature incentivizes repeated playthroughs and can significantly change the experience.
Sometimes a New Game Plus mode just allows the player to retain their old weapons and equipment, or grants the opportunity to play as a new character. However, the release of Starfield has reminded audiences just how far New Game Plus modes can go when it comes to expanding an adventure.
10 The Legend Of Zelda
Release Date: August 22, 1987
Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda has evolved in impressive ways since its NES debut. Several of its biggest entries, like Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild, provide their takes on New Game Plus modes with their Master Quest and Master Mode second playthroughs. The original Legend of Zelda features a creative Second Quest New Game Plus option that felt revolutionary to the game’s more seasoned players.
The Legend of Zelda‘s Second Quest remixes the location of Heart Containers. It also rearranges the floor and enemy layouts in multiple dungeons. Much of Zelda is built upon successfully figuring out each room’s pattern, and Second Quest throws all of that away in favor of a harder experience.
9 Elden Ring
Release Date: February 25, 2022
FromSoft has established a new normal for difficult video games, presenting challenges that are both punishing and enjoyable. FromSoft also has a decent track record when it comes to the New Game Plus options in their Soulsborne series. Elden Ring is one of FromSoft’s most celebrated titles and this acclaim carries over into its satisfying New Game Plus mode.
Unsurprisingly, Elden Ring‘s New Game Plus alternative makes a hard game even more difficult. A boosted difficulty is the major selling point, but players will also be rewarded with greater Runes upon success. This is also the best way to achieve some of Elden Ring‘s more challenging trophies, since previous timed events now offer greater leeway.
8 Horizon Zero Dawn
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Horizon Zero Dawn is a truly immersive open world experience that pits the player against mechanical menaces in a post-apocalyptic world. Aloy’s adventure is deeply inspirational, and she makes great progress as a hunter and individual by the game’s end. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the game’s conclusion thanks to the New Game Plus mode eventually incorporated alongside a new Ultra Hard difficulty setting.
New Game Plus in Horizon Zero Dawn means that Aloy gets to retain all of her weapons, gear, and knowledge from the first playthrough, but there are also more dangerous machines that prey upon her. This mode proved so successful that it was also carried over into Horizon Forbidden West.
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Bloodborne builds upon FromSoft’s stellar Dark Souls series, but leans even further into the horror genre with a wealth of monsters that specifically draw inspiration from H. P. Lovecraft and other popular supernatural creatures. The events of The Hunt are terrifying on their own, but they’re best experienced in Bloodborne‘s more robust New Game Plus mode.
Much like the New Game Plus modes in FromSoft’s other titles, Bloodborne increases the game’s difficulty, but it’s the Chalice Dungeons that really stand out. Randomized dungeons remove the player’s previous safety net and force them to function on pure instinct.
6 Pokémon Gold & Silver
Release Date: October 15, 2000
Pokémon has grown into one of the most successful video game franchises of all-time and some of its earliest handheld entries still have the greatest reception. Pokémon Gold & Silver, the second generation of games, feature a massive expanded post-game run that puts every other Pokémon title to shame.
While not explicitly designed as a New Game Plus mode, the completion of Gold & Silver‘s final challenges gives the player the option to leave the Johto region and explore the entirety of Pokémon Red & Blue’s Kanto region, complete with upgraded Gym Leaders. Pokémon Gold & Silver’s base game is already substantial without including its predecessor’s whole environment.
Release Date: September 6, 2023
Bethesda’s space-set magnum opus, Starfield, has hit the ground running and become one of 2023’s most popular games. Starfield‘s last mission, “One Giant Leap,” prompts the player with an important decision where they can prolong this experience and avoid the finale or ostensibly reset the new universe and begin anew, albeit with a greater capacity for success.
This New Game Plus mode erases some of the player’s progress, such as their weapons, inventory, money, and cargo. XP, skills, and Powers remain, which is really what’s important. An upgraded suit sweetens the deal, but Starfield‘s second story gives the player a greater capacity to collect all 24 Powers and upgrade any previously acquired skills.
4 God Of War Ragnarok
Release Date: November 9, 2022
The original God of War series helped reinvent the action-adventure hack-and-slash genre on the PlayStation 2. 2018’s bold reboot, God of War, was just as revelatory of an experience on the PlayStation 4. God of War Ragnarök is everything that audiences want in a sequel and nearly half a year after its release came the addition of a fancy New Game Plus Mode.
Ragnarök‘s New Game Plus carries over experience levels and gear, but also includes a higher level cap, stronger gear than what’s available in the core game, and more powerful enemies. A God of War Ragnarök follow-up, whenever it happens, will have very high standards to match.
3 Marvel’s Spider-Man
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Insomniac’s take on Spider-Man has turned into one of the greatest superhero video games and fans can’t wait to see what’s in store in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. The New Game Plus mode in Marvel’s Spider-Man wasn’t initially available upon the title’s launch, but it’s become one of the game’s most enjoyable features.
Marvel’s Spider-Man delivers a New Game Plus mode that’s pure wish fulfillment and gives the player unprecedented power so that they truly feel like a superhero who can do anything. Spider-Man is no longer an amateur crime-fighter, but instead a top tier superhero who has full access to the player’s existing suits, gadgets, benchmarks, and mods so that they can blaze through the adventure. On the flip side, enemies also become more powerful and can take Spidey down in a few hits.
2 Ghost Of Tsushima
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Ghost of Tsushima puts players in control of Jin Sakai, a vengeful samurai who desperately works to save Tsushima Island from Mongol invaders. There’s constant action in Ghost of Tsushima, but the game creates so much of its tension from Jin Sakai’s conflicted mental state of how he should defend his land and if dishonorable tactics justify their results.
Ghost of Tsushima is another upgraded title that eventually adds New Game Plus to the equation, but in a way that feels incredibly natural. Jin Sakai retains his most valuable items and tools, but there is also special equipment that can only be acquired in New Game Plus through the use of Ghost Flower trading.
1 Nier Series
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Nier is a methodical action-RPG series that might have started as a spin-off, but has quickly become its own self-sustaining franchise that’s dense in lore. Nier titles unpack questions of control, identity, and morality as a grueling war between alien-created machines and human-forged androids reaches a fever pitch.
New Game Plus modes are frequently optional exercises in gaming, but Nier turns them into necessary elements for those who want to fully understand the game’s narrative. Nier‘s use of New Game Plus allows the player to control new characters, but the multitude of new options and variables that become available continue to redefine the game and expand upon its world.
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