To hear Bethesda tell it, Starfield is very much like space as perceived by Douglas Adams: You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to Starfield. In light of that, a New Game+ mode might seem like a bit of a waste, and yet according to a new GQ feature on the game, it will have one—of some sort.
New Game+ is essentially a game mode that enables dedicated players to replay a game, after completing it once, with some features, items, and abilities carrying over from the first playthrough. In Elden Ring, for instance, New Game+ lets you start a new campaign with all the armor, weapons, spells, upgrades, consumables, and other items carrying over from your previous runthrough. In most games that include the mode, it opens the door to more focused experimentation and deeper dives into aspects of the game that you might've missed the first time around, without having to deal with all the entry-level drudge work first.
According to GQ, Starfield will offer something similar, but also different, with "a unique and exciting twist on New Game+ to incentivise continued and repeat play."
Unfortunately, nothing more is said about the mode, so we're left to speculate, and the first thing I have to wonder is, why? All joking aside, Bethesda RPGs really are big, and one of the best things about them is that they're basically a sandbox: You can sink hundreds of hours into just banging around in the game world if you want, main quest be damned. (I have 184 hours in Fallout 4 and never came close to finishing it.)
Of course, hyped-up Starfield followers will no doubt be pleased to hear that some sort of bonus replayability option has been worked into the game. But that still leaves the question of what makes it "unique and exciting" compared to other NG+ modes. Letting players start a new game with their weapons and gear intact is hardly a fresh idea; it's possible that Starfield will simply open up at the conclusion of the main quest and let players wander and explore to their hearts' content, but that doesn't strike me as a New Game+ mode so much as just ignoring the main quest in favor of wandering around—which, as I said, has been a central element of pretty much every Bethesda RPG since Daggerfall.
I've reached out to Bethesda to ask about the nature of Starfield's New Game+ option, although they'll probably leave that detail for the launch. I think this is probably one of the many surprises Todd Howard said the studio hasn't talked about yet.
The release is just over a week away now: Starfield launches on September 1 for players who have purchased the Starfield Premium Edition, Premium Edition Upgrade, or Constellation Edition of the game, and on September 6 for everyone else.