Today I will be giving you my opinion of a feature often used in games today, New Game Plus, how it can be done right and how it can be done wrong.
Alright, before we get to the article itself, I have to get to some stuff out of the way first:
- I will be presenting several arguments which are both in favor and against the way New Game Plus is used.
- I apologize in advance for any grammar errors you may find, English is not my first language but none the less I will try to keep them at a minimum for better comprehension and for your enjoyment of corse.
- These are only my opinions. I ask that you be respectful as I will respect any opinions you may have, let’s keep it civil people.
- If you think I made some big mistake or that I forgot to mention something, please let me know in the comments so that I can make better blogs in the future.
Now that that's been established, let's talk New Game Plus shall we?
What is New Game Plus anyway?
A tipical New Game Plus screen
If you'd played any recent game or even some old school rpg's, you should be familiar with this mode. New Game Plus is a game mode which is traditionally unlocked after the player beats the game just once. It allows the player to start the game anew from the beggining, but let's said player keep all his stats and equipment he has obtained in his previous playtrough.
This tipe of mode has been in gaming since as far as the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, but the term itself originated from Chrono Trigger in 1995. Other terms for the feature include Challenge Mode, EX New Game, Replay Mode, etc.
The purpose of having New Game Plus in a game, is to increase it's longetivity as well as offering the player more fun and even just to relax since now the player is overpowered and can breeze trough certain sections of the game (though it's not always the case) and even to complete new challenges and quests that weren't present in the original playtrough.
A perfectly valid accomplishment
Certain games that have one more endings like Persona 4, Final Fantasy XIII-2, the previously mentioned Chrono Trigger, etc, all include New Game Plus, since it's an easier way for the player to reach said endings and gives them the chance to do things diffrently then they did in previous playtroughs.
New Game Plus as alot of variations and twists to add to the original game. For example the Castlevania Series. In a few games of the series (Lamment of Innocence, Portrait of Ruin, Order of Eclesia, etc.) once the player completes the game on his first playtrough, he is rewarded with the possibility to play the game in the shoes of other characters, to experience the story trough their eyes or to see how certain events led to the main story to unfold.
Other games like the Dragon Quest series, offer the player the options of visiting new dungeons and other new areas that aren't accessible in the first playtrough.
In the Resident Evil and Metal Gear series, players are awarded with new, often powerful weapons that can only be unlocked trough New Game Plus.
While it's a feature commonly found in RPG's, other games also implement the feature, like the Ratchet and Clank series, who reward the player with a harder playtrough that is made more challenging with new weapon upgrades to obtain to ease the journey.
A more recent "trick" is using New Game Plus to unlock achivements, like in the Mass Effect series or in Batman: Arkham City.
Don't you mean Clear Game?
If you ever saw this screen, then you know it's all downhill from here folks.
No. Clear Game is a variation of the New Game Plus feature. Clear Game gives the player the option of continuing the game after the final boss has been defeated, which allows the player to see the world after the villain has been destroyed and the world is at peace. All good and well since it allows the player to continue playing and adventuring to finish quests he or she had finished before or even awarding the player with new quests to keep the game going, such as in the Pokemon series.
But certain games like Kingdom Hearts 2 or Sonic Unleashed make it so that once the final boss is defeat, the player is awarded with a progress report of all the accomplishment he has achived during the playtrough, but then "freeze" the game, so the player is forced to shut down the game and forced to go back to the last save spot, like the final boss was never defeated. In one word: Infuriating.
A notable example of a Clear Game happens in Mass Effect 2 in that the characters that die in the final mission stay dead, blocking the player from doing any pending quests that involve said characters.
New Game Plus: Done right and done wrong
Doing it Right
When done right, New Game Plus can be a true marvel to the player who hasn't had enough of his beloved game, but when done wrong, it can enfuriate him to shut down the game and never pick it up again.
Let's take the Ratchet and Clank series. In it's New Game Plus feature, it offers the player a chance to start from the begining while keeping all his weapons, his bolts (currency), his skins and his cleared secret missions. But it also adds a more difficult challenge then before and to further add longevity, it allows the player to upgrade his already maxed out weapons. This adds to the game which is already fun in it's simplicity, it's accessibly for anyone to just pick up and play. The first playtrough allows the player to grow, giving him challenges for him to accomplish along the way and rewards him with expirience, so when the New Game Plus becomes unlockable and presents itself as a harder challenge, the player can now truly test his skills he has obtained and even keep on growing.
This is how you do New Game Plus right. The Ratchet and Clank games are not very long games, by which I mean that there's no level cap or such to keep the player from advancing if he strictly interested in only moving on with the story and ignoring it's secret challenges or hidden collectibles and areas. So unlocking New Game Plus becomes somewhat easy and simple but at the same time it's not as if the player can just breeze trough everything and not be at least a bit interested in worlds he visits. So it's a somewhat large journey that can be completed fairly easy, which makes the player hunger for more, that's when New Game Plus kicks in.
It gives the player more of the game he loves and allows him to keep all his hard earned weapons and bolts, so he feels like it was all validated and it had a point for all his work and now he get's to have fun with his super powerful weapons and just take it easy and not have to be as focused as he was during the original playtrough. It's a great way to have fun and to mellow out and makes ya feel validated when it's all said and done.
And then there's how you do it wrong. For this i'm gonna use Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 and Tales of Vesperia as examples. For these games, the perks that ussually come from unlocking New Game Plus, have to be unlocked themselfs.
Let's take a look at Devil Survivor 2's New Game Plus perks:
|¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯|¯¯¯¯¯¯| | Reward | Cost | |========================|======| | Carry over 1 demon | 20P | | Carry over 4 demons | 80P | *Must unlock the previous Reward. | Carry over 8 demons | 200P | *Must unlock the previous Reward. | Carry over all demons | 400P | *Must unlock the previous Reward. | Carry over all skills | 10P | | Carry over Macca | 110P | | Carry over auction | 40P | | Remove EXP limit | 60P | | 10% off Compendium | 40P | | 30% off Compendium | 120P | *Must unlock the previous Reward. | 50% off Compendium | 200P | *Must unlock the previous Reward. | Remove fusion LV limit | 60P | | New Tuesday enemy | 30P | | Unlock Mitama fusion | 30P | |________________________|______|
These perks would traditionally be all with the player if he started a New Game Plus, like carrying over your demons or carrying over your money (Macca). But for some reason, it requires points. Points are awarded by accomplishing certain tasks (which are never revealed untill the end of the game) like defeating a boss without losing HP or fusing a certain number of demons in one day. My biggest quarell here is that obtaining these points is always RIDICULOUSLY hard, specially if you're like me and can't just sit around the house playing the game all day when you have to go to work or run certain everyday tasks.
And even if you do obtain a considerable number of points it's always gonna find a way to screw you over, take the list on top for example. Obtaining 20 points is hard a task enough but it get's further aggravated when the reward is just plain lousy. "Carry over 1 demon" is a bit of a really lame reward (of corse if you know what you're doing then 1 demons is enough) but what if you want more then just one demon? You only had 20 points so you can't get 4 and even then to unlock the option of getting 4 demons to carry over, you'd have to buy the previous option, meaning if you had the total of 80 points to spend on the 2nd option, 20 of them are already out the window, and you'll HAVE TO play trough the whole game again in order to get the option of buying the perk again.
This is just a really big turn off to casual gamers like myself who like I said before, just can't find the time for something like this. One could make the argument that in a sense, it does give you the chance of playing the game again and gives you a new goal to shoot for and that i'm just being a lazy bum who wants everything handed to me. A valid point yes, but the purpose of New Game Plus is to REWARD you, not to make you toil even more.
Let me put it this way. You work all year, you work hard and you slave away. Eventualy you are given the reward of going on vacation, but when you get to that vacation, you find out you have to toil even more, to finally be able to get the work out of the way and at last enjoy your vacation.
I found this to also be true in Tales of Vesperia. All troughout the game you are reward with Grade at the end of the battles which when you complete the game, can be used in New Game Plus to buy perks like "Carry over your stats" or "Carry over your Gald", but the values of Grade vary according to how well or how baddly you performed in said battle. It seems fair right? Except even if you perform well in battles, your Grade is still ridiculously low, like 0.15 Grade, when perks like "Carry over your equipment" costs 600 Grade. Further frustrations are aggravated as once again, this is not casual gamer friendly, as setting the game to the Easy difficulty, makes it so you are never awarded with Grade.
Keep in mind games like Devil Survivor 2 and Tales of Vesperia are really long games. If you want to finally takes thing easy and just play around, you'll have to beat the game once for New Game Plus, beat it a 2nd or 3rd time to finally be able to afford the perks you so dearly want and finally on the next playtrough be able to relax and just mess around with your new found powers. But the problem here is that by the time you are done playing these huge games, playing them yet again feels exhausting and not fun at all.
Once again this can just be interpretted as me being a lazy bum. Since if players are just gonna set the game to the Easy setting, then they aren't really invested in the game that much and so thinking of playing the game on a 2nd playtrough is not an option. But what if one was to be really immersed in the game despite not having the time for it? I'm afraid it's just one of those matters where there is no straight awnser, you have to pick a side here, either you're really focused on the game or you're just playing for fun and not for keeps, there is no middle ground to be found here.
The point i'm trying to reach here, is that New Game Plus should be a reward, like a pat on the back, you should feel like all your blood, swet and tears were for something in the end, it's a quest for validation. Doing New Game Plus like this feels like more of a chore then a reward. It also serves to further enjoy the game you came to love and to get more of that same goodness, which can be ruined if your mind is focused on something like buying perks so that you can finally take things easy (once again, the vacation analogy).
Playing Devil's Advocate
An all too common feeling when you have your "vacation" denied.
New Game Plus ultimatly serves to expand a game's lenght and your enjoyment of the same. When you are presented with it, you should feel like you are being validated and with said validation, you get your money's worth. Afterall that's why we play games, to get immersed, to enjoy the ride, to learn, to feel, to relax. New Game Plus if done right, gives you all of these back, makes you feel like the ride isn't truly over and that you can kee going and learning more about this adventure and to just have fun and go all out crazy.
When you deny your players the satisfaction of having their investment rewarded, you risk making them upset and lose interest in the game making it just sit on the shelf gathering dust.
But does this mean that games should just hand everything to you on a silver platter without questioning anything? No that wouldn't be right either. Getting New Game Plus should be a reward, if it's just given to you like a grandma dishing out candy, then it really doesn't make you feel validated either. It's ok to make players work and to give them new goals once the old adventure as been finished, just do it in a way that won't frustrate them or allieante casual gamers who which to support your game, but can't find the time in their day to properly sit down and enjoy the ride.
Like so many things in life, it all comes down to finding that elusive middle ground. Pleasing everyone is never possible, there's always gonna be someone somewhere who won't agree that what you did there was right. But trying to make the best you can out of the situation you are given is something we should all strive at, be it at making a good New Game Plus to reward your players and hell even yourself or at giving your all to a game you which to emmerse yourself in and then powering trough when things don't turn out to be as easy as they seemed at first,
These of corse are only my opinions and I hope to hear what you think of them and even what your opionions on this matter are. Please let me know what is the right and the wrong way of making a New Game Plus and even share your expiriences on the matter.
Thank you dearly for reading.