Horizon Zero Dawn is a phenomenal game on the first playthrough as it tells a compelling story, lets you obtain your skills and abilities naturally, and gives you the greatest sense of growth and accomplishment.
But after the credits have fallen away you have the chance to play through again on New Game +. It changes the game in significant ways, and has earnest potential be an even better experience than the first time around.
10 Skip Tutorial
The first thing you’ll notice when starting New Game + is that you don’t have to go through the tutorial section. You skip being a child, the long cutscenes, and the early wandering around before meeting with Rost for the quest The Point Of The Spear.
Don’t misunderstand those early parts of the game were great and as far as tutorials go Guerilla Games did a great job, but when you already know how to play, slogging through that first section takes forever and the ability to skip it is great.
9 Awesome Gear Right Away
Another benefit of New Game + is that you start the game with all of the gear you had in the previous playthrough. Instead of having to dedicate a lot of time saving up the resources to buy a good outfit and grinding out weaves to augment it further you simply have what you built before.
This is especially handy if you took the time to complete the quest Ancient Armory which often takes players a significant amount of time. Now you start out with that awesome armor and don’t have to worry about tracking it down.
8 All Your Skills
You also keep all of the skills you obtained in the first playthrough. Some skills, such as overriding abilities are locked away until you unlock them via the quests and Caldrons, but you don’t have to worry about power leveling to get the combat abilities you had before.
If you’ve been spending hours playing the game with skills like Concentration or Triple Shot it can be a bit jarring to lose those abilities. Thankfully with New Game + that doesn’t happen.
7 Adept Equipment
Something new New Game + brings to the table are the tweaks to Adept equipment. Now Adept outfits and weapons have an additional modification slot that can make them more powerful then the stuff you’re wearing, with the exception of the Shield-Weaver.
It gives you a reason to reacquire the weapons and outfits as they’ll be stronger versions than the ones you have. It’s totally up to you of course as your old gear should be sufficient, but that extra mod slot is really, really nice.
6 Unlocks Cosmetics
Another new feature are the cosmetics that unlock upon finishing a New Game + playthrough. Depending on the difficulty you can unlock a number of Face Paints and Focus Skins to give Aloy an entirely new appearance.
The Focus Effects are different colors such as teal or pink and the Face Paints can make you look like the Carja or Nora characters you’ve seen with facial markings. For some this may not be a big deal, but for those looking to customize Aloy’s appearance beating New Game + on the highest difficulty should be your focus.
5 Ultra Hard
Speaking of highest difficulty New Game + unlocks the hardest challenge in the game, Ultra Hard. It’s definitely a step up from the other difficulties and depending on your skills and what difficulty level you were playing through the first time you might want to consider working your way up to this challenging difficulty.
It should be your goal anyway as all of the game’s content will be unlocked on a successful New Game + Ultra Hard run, but make no mistake it’s very tough to do even for skilled players.
4 Realistic Difficulty
This increased difficulty in New Game + does have the effect of making the game seem more realistic. If it always bothered you that Aloy could tank a stream of fire or a giant robot smashing down upon her then New Game + Ultra Hard will take care of that.
The Machines are much more aggressive, stealth is more difficult, and human opponents attack much more often. You’ll also find that your damage is decreased and knockdowns are less effective. It’s because of this you’ll want to focus on gathering new gear with the extra modification slot.
3 You Know The Story
Playing through the first time your attention was diverted between learning the game’s mechanics and understanding the interesting story. Now that you’ve completed the game and learned the truth behind the apocalypse and the cause of the machine’s rising aggression you no longer have to worry about flushing out every dialogue tree or sitting through cutscenes.
Obviously if you missed something in your first playthrough or you really enjoy some of the interactions you can definitely do them, just don’t feel compelled to sit through every social interaction when you already know everything and have listened to it before.
2 Focus On What You Want
Continuing this idea now that you’ve beaten the game and you’re reentering things in New Game + you can focus on the things that truly matter to you. Maybe you didn’t have a chance to complete certain quests, maybe you want to find all the collectibles, or maybe you just really enjoyed hunting Sawtooths.
Whatever you’re most passionate about or interested in doing you have the freedom to pursue it in New Game +. You also have the advantage of having the tools and skills you need to do these things more effectively, that first Sawtooth fight was a pain without the right gear and skills after all.
1 Feel Powerful
Perhaps the best thing about New Game + is the sense of accomplishment and power that comes from beating the game on the hardest difficulty. It’s one thing to beat the game on Normal or even Hard, but to beat it on Ultra Hard in New Game + is quite the feat.
It’ll take all of your experiences and everything you’ve learned from previous playthroughs, but pulling this off will represent a true mastery of everything this game has to offer. It’s also the only way to get 100% completion so grind out some resources to buy better gear, grab every skill, and go for it.