God of War Ragnarok and The Callisto Protocol Prove That the Post-Launch New Game Plus Trend Has Got to Go

Let me play NG+ as soon as possible.

by Noah Nelson

There is a growing trend within video games that needs to go. I’m not talking about the “squeeze through a tight space” trend, though that also needs to stop entirely. No, the heinous trend I’m talking about is developers releasing the new game plus (more commonly known as NG+) mode months after the game is released.

If you are unfamiliar with what NG+ mode is, allow me to explain. NG+ is a feature that allows players who have just beaten a game to replay the story without having to grind for all of the collectibles, armor, weapons, skills, and everything else they have already unlocked. Where a completely fresh save file makes players replay the game by treading through the same collectathon, NG+ eliminates the grind and allows players to focus on experiencing the story again but with their endgame gear and progress, often at a harder difficulty.

Recently, on January 19, 2023, to be exact, The Callisto Protocol, a survival horror action game from the Dead Space creators that was released on December 2, 2022, received an update that included a NG+ mode. God of War Ragnarok, a 2022 GOTY contender (and winner in many peoples’ hearts) released on November 9, 2022, and has yet to receive its NG+ mode, though it is expected to release in Spring 2023.

The post-game NG+ trend doesn’t stop there. Horizon Forbidden West got NG+ on June 2, 2022, and it was originally released on February 18, 2022, Dying Light 2 received its NG+ mode on April 27, 2022, but it was originally released on February 4, 2022, and Elden Ring… well, Elden Ring is better than every other game in more ways than one.

The concept of NG+ has been around for decades, starting in the 1990s with games like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros., which is why this new post-game NG+ trend is so frustrating. Only recently has the NG+ mode been released in post-game updates.

From a game developer’s point of view, this makes sense. Since the majority of people who purchase a game don’t finish it, why would you allocate precious time when the game is still in development to include a NG+ mode?

Game development notoriously takes a lot of time, patience, and money, so therefore, holding off on including the NG+ mode for after the game is released allows for more time to work on improvements to the core game. Plus, the average person is more likely to get around to completing the game months after it is released. All of that makes sense and is valid… but this trend has still got to go.

The reason this post-release NG+ trend is an issue is that it is hard to rekindle the fire you once had for a game. Numerous video games are released every month, not to mention the live-service games vying for gamers’ time, which leads players to move on from a title. As much as they might have loved the game when it first came out and they first beat it, if the NG+ mode is months away, the willpower needed to pick up an already completed game again for the NG+ experience is hard to summon.

However, if the NG+ mode is available on the same day the game is released, gamers are much more likely to immediately play it again and continue to have fun with it. They are more likely to buy DLC and be invested in potential sequels because there’s nothing that shows respect for a game’s true gamer audience than a NG+ mode.

While we, the true gamers, demand NG+ to be available on the same day the game is, we will accept a compromise: If you, the developers, can’t get the NG+ mode out the door with the launch of the game, please make it priority number one when it comes to post-launch updates. Of course, focus on bug fixes and patch notes (please), but directly beside that, shoulder to shoulder, could you please have the NG+ mode ready to go?

To all the game developers, when considering whether or not to include a NG+ mode into the core game and not in a post-launch update, just remember WWERD. What Would Elden Ring Do? All jokes aside, I would love to see games get NG+ on day one, however, receiving the NG+ mode in an update a month after the release wouldn’t be the end of the world. Just the end of my progress.

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