Because I really can’t help myself, I started the new Elden Ring+ game almost immediately after complete its crushing home stretch. It’s a remarkably liberating experience, and bullying early bosses is exactly the satisfaction I needed after so many frustrating deaths. I may just be petty, but killing Margit in five shots gave me inner peace.
I’ve done follow-up series of FromSoftware games before and the new Elden Ring plus game system is already my favorite. There is a clear and exciting difference between a normal game that makes the game feel fresh again. The Lands Between is no longer an intimidating and seemingly endless landscape. The second time around, the world is more like a mixed bag of candy, and I’m free to choose just my favorite flavors on my return tour.
See the Lands Between with fresh eyes
The genius of Elden Ring’s New Game+ is that it lets you keep your card. This is the ultimate cheat sheet. The whole world is laid out before me, and all the dungeons and ruins I discovered on my first run are still neatly labeled. I lost all my grace sites, of course, but these are only a short horse ride away. I know exactly where I’ve been, I know the bosses I want to fight again, and just as important, I know which dungeons I don’t need to revisit because I’ve already looted them. If my first clear was a grueling final exam, the new game plus is an open and airy test.
I went through Sekiro on new game plus because after familiarizing myself with its combat system, I wanted to dunk on all the bosses that gave me trouble before. This feeling is also true for Elden Ring, but in addition to my meticulously refined character and playstyle, I also just want to flex my knowledge of the game. For example, for reasons known only to FromSoftware, you can only get Only one uchigatana per game, so I was excited to head straight back to the dungeon where you get that sword to grab another one for my new run game. Now I can use double bleed katanas against bosses that are strong against my usual arsenal of magic swords. It’s a small victory, but a significant victory that’s only possible because I’ve already beaten the game.
I also made some interesting discoveries about the new game plus, some of which are ridiculously obvious in retrospect. There’s almost a fog of war over Elden Ring on your first run. Its world is inviting, but also so threatening that I was constantly on high alert and focused on what was directly in front of me, to the point where I sometimes had tunnel vision and forgot things hidden inside. everyone’s view. Ironically, now that I no longer feel the need to pay attention to every little thing, I can see the world more clearly. I’ve found overlooked weapons, upgrade materials, and even war ashes just because my field of vision seems wider. Knowing that I’ve been there and done that, I’m also more willing to take dangerous paths instead of trying to flank enemies or find clever approaches to everything, and that’s often where I find things that I missed. It turns out that facing threats head-on comes with its own rewards.
Choose your own adventure, then re-read it
It’s hugely rewarding to learn a game from the ground up and then apply that knowledge to subsequent playthroughs, and that goes doubly for punishing games like FromSoftware’s action RPGs. It’s hard to overstate the fun of trivializing the boss fights and dungeons that once kicked your ass. It’s like exercise; things that seem impossible now become a warm-up later.
It’s not just about being leveled up with more powerful weapons on the new game plus, although that certainly helps if you want to hit Margit five times. It’s amazing what a bit of hindsight and experience can do for your vision of a game. What was so difficult about all that? How could I get caught up in this? What was I so afraid of? Small accomplishments wash over me every time I rein in a boss who gave me hell, and the boost in confidence is electrifying.
Even among the legendary Soulsborne series, My Time With Elden Ring’s New Game+ stands out because its massive open world is such a memorable story generator. When I look at the full map, I see a lot more than just bosses and selectable items for my second run. Each marker has a memory that shapes my perception of this place. This is where I barely scratched with zero flasks until I lucked into a new site of grace. This dungeon has ambush crabs that shattered me. There’s a springboard there that sent Torrent and I into the abyss. And so on.
Funnily enough, it actually reminds me of battle royale games. When my friends and I suggest where to go next in a game of Warzone, we inevitably end up talking about what happened the last time we were there – the chaotic shootouts, the close calls, the clutch revives. The same goes for The Lands Between on the new game plus: my map key is what happened to those places, not just what they look like.
Great, now do it again
Even after 104 hours, I kind of felt like I wasn’t quite done with Elden Ring. I got the ending I wanted and killed every boss I knew, but something was still nagging at me. I knew I could do better against a few bosses, especially Malenia and the real final boss (although Malenia arguably East the real final boss), and I can’t wait to fight them again…sort of. But there was something else too, and as I delve into the new game more, I start to realize what.
I am more and more convinced that Elden Ring has three facets. I saw the first on my first playthrough, which will always be the sweetest. The vastness of the world overwhelmed me and I totally got carried away by the current of FromSoftware. I was a bundle of caution propelled by curiosity, a tiny thing adrift in an impossible world of improbable details. What I wouldn’t give to experience that for the first time. That said, I can grip my own agency better on the new game more, and that gives more power than few games, precisely because Elden Ring is such a huge challenge. Obviously, I played the game for fun at first, but now I feel like I’m doing stuff just for fun, you know? This is a highlight reel of my own making. No pressure, no necessity, just a way to test myself and an excuse to spend more time in FromSoftware’s madhouse.
The third side, I think, is when you create a new character after beat the game and make fun of the new game more. Think about it. What would you do differently? How do you get as strong as possible as fast as possible? What weapons or spells would you rush? Would you use an old reliable version or a completely new version? Which bosses are you comfortable fighting in sublevel? Which NPC questlines would you prioritize? What ending would you choose?
These are the questions that keep me up at night. As we established, I can’t help it, so naturally I’m also looking forward to making another Terni. In my experience, smurfing an absolutely new character is one of the most fun you can have in a Souls game, and I’m willing to bet that will be true for Elden Ring as well. I had a lot of fun applying my experiences to a new game plus, even though I’m super over-leveled for most of the content, so the prospect of doing the same with a new character is tantalizing.
At the end of the day, I’m still inventing reasons to keep playing Elden Ring, but the fact that I’m motivated to do so shows just how engrossing FromSoftware’s magnum opus truly is. I do not want to get it over with. Elden Ring is something else, and I’m going to squeeze every last drop out of it. If you’re in the same boat, I highly recommend a new game plus rush approach. It’s a power trip worth taking.
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