Dishonored 2 is built on choice. Every single ability you unlock, upgrade you purchase, and takedown you perform is a decision which shapes Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano into a master assassin of your own choosing. Regardless of who you end up playing, the game eventually introduces resource-enforced restrictions. Runes become more difficult to come by, and upgrades start to rely more heavily on money instead of blueprints too. Because of these restrictions, you’ll find routes to your objective that fall a little short of your character’s reach thanks to a missing power or upgrade. Now with New Game Plus, those restrictions have been lifted provided you want to go through again — and damn does it make for a great experience.

Introduced to the PC version of the game through a beta patch, which was later released to every platform via a free update on December 19, New Game Plus is a free feature that allows you to tackle a second playthrough with a previous character. Once you’ve completed the game on any difficulty, the character (either Emily or Corvo) can then be carried into a new game on any difficulty. You retain any runes assigned to abilities, bonecharm traits, and blueprints. Money earned, inventory items, upgrades unlocked, and whale bones won’t be joining you, though, so make sure to prepare yourself by breaking down all your bonecharms, creating extra runes out of the scraps, and spending them all on abilities before you begin.

New Game Plus begins in roughly the same fashion as your original game of Dishonored 2. You witness Emily’s betrayal, pick to play as either Emily or Corvo, and then proceed to sneak your way out of Dunwall into Karnaca aboard the Dreadful Whale. One you’ve arrived, however, you’ll notice a few changes have been made. For one, you’ll have access to every single ability for both characters in Dishonored 2 — complete with all your runes refunded to spend as you see fit. You’ll also be able to instantly craft a few top-tier blueprint upgrades at the first Black Market Shop you reach, allowing you to get extremely valuable benefits such as silent sprinting early.

Because you now have access to every ability in the entire game, you’re able to create a much more powerful build from the very beginning of Dishonored 2. For me, that meant putting runes into Corvo’s Blink and Bend Time capabilities while augmenting my usual approach with Emily’s Shadow Walk and Domino to further increase my non-lethal capabilities with larger groups of enemies. This allowed me to quickly roll through the Addermire Institute non-lethally, which was a completely different experience compared to my first attempt with Corvo that required me to kill a few more guards than I would have liked to.

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Since you have access to stronger ability upgrades earlier, you’ll also be able to explore routes through each of Dishonored 2’s locations you previously couldn’t reach. While playing through the first few hours, I found myself navigating through sections of the map and using shortcuts I had never considered or noticed before, which often led to completely different experiences than those I had during my first playthrough.

What’s great is that you’re able to carry a single save through multiple games as well, which means you can go through three or four times to unlock every bonecharm trait, every upgrade blueprint, and every supernatural ability in Dishonored 2 on a single character. While I don’t have plans to do this myself, I’m assuming this is a way for players to prepare for playing through the game with the custom difficulty settings Arkane Studios has mentioned releasing in future updates this year.

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Even though Dishonored 2 was met with a mixed reception due few performance and gameplay issues at launch, Arkane Studios has continued to impress with its support for the game post-launch. With more updates like New Game Plus in the works for 2017, it looks like the development team is far from finished with Dishonored 2.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore