Gamer Koala

How Starfield Nailed the New Game+ Formula

I have a confession: I’m a Bethesda hoarder.

Yes, I’m the gamer whose first action in any Bethesda game is to pick up the nearest loose, random object within reach and stash it in my abysmally small inventory pack. I’m the one who puts all my skill points into strength so I can carry as much random shit as possible while hiking across the massive worlds Bethesda is known for creating (yes, on foot–when is Bethesda going to introduce vehicles, already?).

You never know what you might need while hunting dragons in the realms of Skyrim or shooting raiders in the Fallout wastelands. What’s a sweet roll without a toaster, am I right?

Fallout 4: The Enabler

I thought Fallout 4 was my salvation, my final reward for a lifelong addiction to snatching every object off every counter, from every locker, and from every broken refrigerator. And yes, Fallout 4 is still the Bethesda game I’ve replayed the most. The settlement system allowed me to break down the objects I hoarded for scrap and put them to good use–building homes for my lost settlers and decorating the hell out of their shacks and lean-tos.

Now, in retrospect, Fallout 4 was my enabler.

True emancipation from my Bethesda hoarding came with Starfield’s New Game+. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the main storyline by getting into specifics of why Starfield’s genius way to hook players into replaying Starfield over and over again exists. I will, however, spoil a tiny detail about the mechanics of NG+.

The Genius New Game+

You see, many games that feature a New Game+ setup, in which players who have beaten the game can start a new game but not wholly from scratch, focus on players keeping all their hard-won stuff.

Their story progresses, and, in many cases, their skill points are tossed out the window, meant to be earned again through the new play-through.

From a gameplay standpoint, I enjoy collecting new items. And I, like many gamers, love earning loot–whether it be weapons, armor, or other rewards–for completing quests or defeating enemies.

Most of the time, skill points can be applied to multiple weapons and armor as background buffs. But that new rocket launcher? That’s what I want to find locked in a crate in a high-level base I may have missed during my first play-through. That’s what makes it fun to play the game again.

Skills or Belongings?

So, to have a player character tossed into a new adventure with all their skills and almost no belongings is a far more effective format for an NG+ experience.

Skill points represent the experiences a player has undergone throughout their journey. In real life, hard-earned wisdom is something no one can take away, even if they steal all your stuff. Narratively, Starfield has a brilliant explanation for how this scenario makes sense, but you’ll have to play it yourself to find out why.

Starfield is by no means a perfect game, but for me, they stuck the landing and absolutely nailed their approach to New Game+. As a Bethesda hoarder, I was disappointed by Starfield’s limited outpost system, as I’d been hoping for a revamp of Fallout 4’s settlement system.

All of my hoarding ways once again seemed to have little purpose, and I was caught up in inventory management for materials I ended up never using. 

However, when I beat the game and headed straight for NG+, and all of the stuff weighing me down was stripped away, I felt…free. And now, knowing my future in Starfield is limitless, I can truly let things go. As I beat the game again… and again… and again… my attachment to the material drifts further and further away.

Now, it’s nothing but stardust.