Starfield is Bethesda’s first try at new game plus, and it mostly works

It took me a while to fully comprehend Starfield, but now I’m absolutely captivated by Bethesda’s expansive space RPG. From my experiences with the Constellation exploration society to the multitude of factions in the Settled Systems seeking my assistance, there’s an abundance of stories to uncover. However, the real highlight of Starfield is its game plus mode, especially when it comes to the main plot. Despite some minor obstacles, the way it handles the narrative is truly rewarding. (Warning: Major spoilers for Starfield’s main quest and conclusion ahead.)

In my initial playthrough, I spent countless hours roaming the Settled Systems, becoming a Freestar Ranger, a UC citizen, and even engaging in piracy as a little side hustle. I portrayed a character with mostly moral inclinations, occasionally bending the law for my own benefit. While I’d break into restricted cargo areas to steal supplies for someone I just met, I avoided making truly terrible choices, always staying within the bounds of the loveable scoundrel archetype.

The Side Show of Constellation Quests

Initially, the Constellation quests that contribute to the main narrative seemed secondary to the faction questlines for other major groups like the United Colonies, Freestar Collective, Ryujin Corporation, and Crimson Fleet. While pursuing Artifacts and exploring temples rewarded me with cool space powers, it often felt like busy work – going from one remote location to another to complete isolated projects. The characters associated with Constellation quests lacked answers and frequently repeated the same questions. Additionally, the presence of the enigmatic Starborn faction added an air of mystery to the narrative. Their true nature remained unclear, whether they were aliens or angels. The ambiguity lingered ominously throughout the game.

The Revelations and a New Beginning

Eventually, I unearthed answers that led me to Unity, the epicenter of the universe and a gateway to other realities. This is where the new game plus feature comes into play. After concluding the final battles and witnessing the consequences of my choices, I can walk into the light and start anew in a fresh universe with the same story, locations, but a completely new save. Thanks to this journey, I have become a Starborn myself, equipped with my acquired talents, a fantastic ship, and some impressive gear. With new game plus, I can visit Constellation’s headquarters, the Lodge, in a different universe and spoil everything to my fellow society members by choosing a specific dialogue option. I could replay the main plot, but where’s the fun in that when I can casually explain the life purposes of my alternate dimension coworkers in such a nonchalant manner? It’s a thrilling and unexpected twist that I wholeheartedly endorse.

Moreover, as I continue to experience new game plus multiple times, I come across increasingly fascinating alternate realities. As expected with different dimensions, some of these versions include evil variations of Constellation members, including an alternate version of myself from yet another galaxy. In terms of the narrative, new game plus essentially provides a complete reset. Not only do I lose my inventory, custom-built outposts, rare loot, and mission progress, but I’m also transported back to the previous galaxy. The new universe remains untouched, with all quests, exploration, and crafting resetting. Mechanically, I believe that new game plus (and subsequent iterations) falls a bit short. There is a significant loss of power, and while talent points serve as a consolation, I miss my previous ship, loot, and outposts. It’s not all negative, of course; the enjoyable Starborn ship is retained, and having all the skills from my first playthrough amplifies my temple abilities greatly through trips in the Unity. However, the absence of the 600,000 credits I accumulated makes me hesitant to invest substantial time in building elements of the game. I can’t help but wait for the “perfect” run, hoping to settle down once and for all. It would be wonderful if new game plus offered a more generous transfer of elements, allowing my favorite stabbing element to survive the journey. Additionally, new game plus struggles with scaling; even on higher difficulties, my talents provide an overwhelming advantage, even with the humble Frontier ship instead of the impressive Starborn vessel. In the absence of formidable battles, players must seek out their own exciting challenges during new game plus. Some may opt to eradicate the Crimson Fleet from the Settled Systems, while others might attempt to accrue the highest bounty possible before escaping the consequences by reaching the Unity. These subsequent playthroughs, with the skippable main quest, capture the essence of the space life fantasy far more effectively than my initial experience.

As for the future, it remains to be seen whether Bethesda will make any adjustments to new game plus. Undoubtedly, the modding community will eventually introduce some changes as well. For now, I believe that Starfield has beautifully integrated the multiverse concept with its new game plus mechanic. While there are certain mechanical aspects I wish were different, the narrative perspective of a Starborn offers an exciting opportunity to explore the various facets of the game. I’m eager to delve further into the rest of Starfield, experiencing it from this newfound point of view.