Starfield is a huge game. Unless you’re powering through the main story and ignoring side content, completing it takes a very long time. With tons of planets, NPCs, items, and secrets to discover, you could easily sink a hundred hours into the game without even beating it. Even after you do complete the main quest, however, Starfield includes New Game Plus. In fact, NG+ in Starfield goes much further than it does in most RPGs. While other games are content to let the player restart the story with all of their old gear and levels, Bethesda’s new sci-fi RPG takes a different approach. The innovations on display here should serve as inspiration for other developers in the years to come.
What Starfield’s New Game Plus Doesn’t Change
Exploring and adventuring at one’s own pace are what lead to most of Starfield’s best moments. It isn’t worth rushing through content in pursuit of NG+ rewards. That said, there are significant perks to completing the game. When the player finishes the main quest, they’re given a choice: they can either return to the universe they already know and continue their adventure or restart the game. If you choose to continue your adventure, you keep everything you already have. If you decide to restart, you lose your money, items, ships, and any outposts you’ve created. You also give up any progress you’ve made with exploration, as well as any relationships you’ve advanced.
Conversely, you keep your present character, including their Background, Traits, level, skills, and Powers. There’s no opportunity to respec or trade the old Background and Traits for new ones. While this setup may annoy some players, it’s justified in the lore and gives the player a sound foundation upon which to build. This setup lets players see how things might have gone if they’d made different decisions. Starfield is a big game with many branching choices, so it’s nice to be able to play through “what if?” scenarios, reconsidering old decisions in light of new knowledge.
What Changes in NG+
There are concrete and abstract rewards for starting New Game Plus. The concrete rewards include the Starborn Spacesuit Astra, a Legendary suit with high stats and three random traits. The player also receives the Starborn Guardian, a unique ship that’s as powerful as it is stylish. The Starborn Guardian ranks amongst the best ships, so it’s worth considering a jump to NG+ for it. Powers the player already possesses can be rediscovered at temples, upgrading them to stronger forms. Interestingly, after starting NG+, the player gets to choose whether or not to start the main story again or begin the game with it already completed. Doing the latter frees the player up to explore and adventure at their leisure.
The suit and ship that Starfield players receive as NG+ rewards get buffed each time they complete the main story. As a result, beating the game over and over again can be a worthwhile endeavor. In addition, a handful of key story elements change upon entering NG+. The details are major spoilers. Suffice it to say that who the player meets at the Lodge and who is running Constellation change with repeated playthroughs. The universe the player inhabits in NG+ might resemble their old one, but things have warped in important ways. The player can choose to share their newfound knowledge with their old companions, assuming their old companions are still there to listen. Whether that’s a wise decision is another matter.
Setting the Bar
Starfield rewards loot-motivated players with awesome gear and story-motivated players with unexpected twists. Though it’s not the first to take this approach, the game strikes the perfect balance between concrete and abstract rewards. Motivating players to tackle a game more than once is tough, but Starfield’s willingness to refresh or discard old ideas in New Game Plus feels excellent. If a player chooses to never touch NG+ in Starfield, there is still an entire universe to explore. For those who choose to make the leap, however, New Game Plus offers ongoing surprises and rewards even after half a dozen playthroughs. More developers should be so ambitious.
Starfield is available for PC and Xbox Series X/S.