Chrono Trigger

New Game Plus modes have been growing in popularity over the past few gaming generations, but the concept been around for decades. If this Gamasutra article is to be believed, 1995’s Chrono Trigger is the game that coined the term New Game + (with the plus symbol). The general idea, however, can be found in earlier games like The Legend of Zelda, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and Super Mario Bros. to some extent.

On paper, this is the perfect way to go through a game a second time if your primary intent is to just re-experience the story without all of the grind, or to explore the nooks and crannies that you missed on your first playthrough. Or, if you’re strongly attached to the stats you’ve worked so hard for, you can start the game fresh without sacrificing those.

For me, though, New Game Plus only goes so far, and it’s hindered by what I am going to refer to as the Groundhog Day Effect. What do I mean by Groundhog’s Day Effect? Well, faithful reader, allow me to explain.

First of all, I should point out that this really refers to “vanilla” game experiences. There are a lot of PC mods have been brilliant in addressing this very issue.

The Witcher 3

But every time I think about the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and how great of a game it is, and how very much I would love to replay and re-experience its glory, I am faced with a stark reality: Having to play through the opening hour or so of the game over again seems like a grueling slog. The bath scene, having to find that key, training with Ciri — good lord almighty, is this boring. Even the first time through it felt like a mind-numbing way to open a game, and on several subsequent playthrough attempts, I am just unable to stomach it.

The same can be said for a number of other games, role-playing games being the biggest culprits. Games are so front-loaded with tutorials now that it can be soul-crushing to have to relive your character’s formative years over and over again, similar to Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day.

Because, much like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, even though this is the first time everyone else in the game is experiencing these events, for you, Bill Murray, it is so familiar. It’s like being a guide at Universal Studios — that shark will always just be that same shark, perpetually jumping out of the water, perpetually boring.

The Groundhog Day Effect.

So what I am proposing? Well, New Game Plus mode should not only take into account the skills and XP the player has earned but NG+ should also take into account the fact that we don’t need to play through a tutorial section again because we’ve obviously been through it already.

In New Game Plus, the Witcher 3 should just give players one of those static-image cutscenes to get them up to speed, just in case it’s been a while since they last played the game. But then it should just start with Geralt and Vesemir under that tree, about to head into the Lilac and Gooseberries quest.

Mortal Shell

Now, Half-Glass Gaming’s owner, Josh, told me an interesting thing about the game Mortal Shell, which he’s been playing a lot of. Apparently, in Mortal Shell, not only does NG+ skip the game’s tutorial section, but it also starts you at the game’s first checkpoint. (Editor’s Note: Mortal Shell‘s NG+ starts you at Sester Genessa in Fellgrim Tower, which is sort of your first destination when you spawn into the game world on your very first playthrough). This seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

If we can just skip over the tutorial section on a NG+ playthrough, you sidestep so much of the Groundhog Day Effect tedium that I associate with NG+. And that seems like a positive step forward for gaming in general.

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