I recently felt an itch for a big expansive RPG and decided to play through AC:O for a second time. The game is really big, was a timesink the first time around (like 80 hrs) and is bogged down by...
I recently felt an itch for a big expansive RPG and decided to play through AC:O for a second time. The game is really big, was a timesink the first time around (like 80 hrs) and is bogged down by a lot of resource sinks and differing systems all trying to get your attention. But I'm a sucker for the Greek Myths and ancient Greece, so this game is perfect for me; so I gave it another go.
So NG+ on AC:O is your typical affair: You begin a new game, but you keep your experience, all your items, and also crucially, all your invested resources. AC:O has an extremely tiring resource sink in the form of the Adrestia, your ship. You can upgrade the hull, the ramming damage, the throwing spears, the arrows, the fire to light your arrows, and the ability of your crew to brace against enemy ranged attacks, the ramming speed, and I think I'm even forgetting a few. Doing this all on your original run is an extreme timesink, as the resources required to get a single one of those things up a level scales incredibly fast. Even worse, the items required to do so are all fairly common (wood, iron, and the like) except for one, which are ancient tablets, of which there is only a set amount in the world, at various locations you need to loot. I went the distance on my first run, and upgraded my ship fully. And it remained upgraded! This means that one vast system in the game is now basically gone. It has made ship combat very easy, but then that never was the highlight of the game anyway, so I don't mind. On top of that, all rewards are scaled up in NG+, meaning that you begin to immediately drown in money and resources, and with the biggest resource sink gone, you can focus on building your equipment exactly the way you want to.
A second one is experience. Now, when AC:O came out the first time, lots of players complained that the amount of experience you gain is abysmal, pointing to the overly convenient ingame shop selling a permanent XP and money boost for like 10 bucks. And I can absolutely see their point. To progress in any form in AC:O in the normal game, you pretty much need to do every "proper" side-quest (as in the ones with a plot, not the automatically generated ones you find on message boards and the like, only the ones marked on the map with the golden exclamation mark), and then the main-quests of an area. If you do that, you'll be just about the minimum level to do the main quests. So for the people who are here for the scenery and a main story, they got fucked hard, or had to pay up again.
Another incredibly annoying thing about vanilla AC:O is that like many open-world games, the world is divided into large regions and islands. Every region had a minimum level recommendation that might as well have been a requirement, as fighting someone just 3 levels above you bordered suicide, as you could die in sometimes 2 hits, and did a fraction of their health in damage even with your most powerful abilities. This means that on your original run, the world is not open at all, but you have to progress in the way that developers want you to. You start in Kephalonia, and can't leave until you unlock the ship. Your first quest leads you to Megaris, but you'll immediately notice that the level requirement for the region is too high. Conveniently, along the way is a different area which actually fits your requirement, so you have to stop there, and do every quest there before you can progress in the main story line.
NG+ fixes that entirely. Completely. Whatever level you are, every region in the game is now set to your level. Which means that you can follow the main quest line along without any problems at all and actually do the fun thing where you travel the open seas to sail to a random island and do the quests there. You know, open-world stuff! I vividly remember on my first play-through how sad I felt that I couldn't actually use my ship to sail around and explore, because the game forced me to do each region in a specific order, and "enjoy" my time there before moving me along at the pace of the main story line. I couldn't even stealth my way through it (in an ASSASSIN'S CREED game) because Odyssey has this really fucked up mechanic where stealth kills stop becoming instant kills if the target is too high of a level above you. Seriously. But NG+ fixes this, because you immediately get access to the crutch ability that the devs implemented to fix this issue and because most enemies you encounter are going to be around your level no matter where you are.
Since now everything is just scaled to your level, the world immediately opens up after you leave the tutorial area and you can do pretty much whatever you want. I didn't hunt down the Cult of Kosmos, a gameplay system where you discover clues about members of a secret dangerous cult hunting your family, have to piece those clues together (or collect enough where the game is just willing to locate them for you), and then go to a place to assassinate the person, which gives you another clue, and so on. Killing all cult members is optional, but does influence the main story-line, as they serve as the main antagonists. I didn't complete this objective on my first play-through, because some of them are specifically level-gated, as in the person you have to kill is just set to have level 59, which is post-endgame content, meaning you either have to commit to a worse ending of the main plot, or stall the final mission, ruining the pacing even more, to go on a world-spanning quest of hunting down every member.
Playing on NG+ has significantly increased my enjoyment of the game, as I feel like I can just go everywhere and do thing as I want to, not as the developers intended to. Do you know how great it is to actually see a place on the horizon and just, I don't know, go there? You know, the main attraction of the open-world genre? And not be greeted by an enemy town guard 10 levels above you decimates you in 2 hits while you'd be whaling against him with your best weapons for a solid 15 minutes before he goes down. It's great. I'd honestly urge it to even new-comers who like RPG or like the setting but don't like the grindy messy bits to just download a full save of the original game and start a new game + on it. The start will be a bit intimating since you'll have all abilities, but you can just reset the skill tree for spare change and re-level the way you want to. The game is better off not having the grinding for better ship parts in the game and you being able to go wherever you want.
It's far from perfect, but I really think it just turns into into a better experience. I'm fine with not really levelling my character, because 1 out of 3 skill trees is entirely useless and the other two only contain a couple of abilities which are any good, so putting your points into prestige skills that just percentage increase your damage or resistance or whatever is honestly good enough. It's not interesting, but the world and characters are plenty interesting enough for me.