Originally announced back in 2015 during the Paris Games Week trade show, Nier: Automata has finally arrived, and it’s both a sequel to 2010’s Nier and a perfect starting point for players interested in diving into the game’s universe.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has lost control of planet Earth, Nier: Automata puts you in the shoes of a combat android named 2B. She has been sent down with an army of other androids to participate in a proxy war against the machines controlled by Earth’s alien invaders. While roaming across what remains of human civilization on Earth and fighting against the hostile machines, you’ll have the opportunity to work with remnant factions of humans and truly understand why the enemies assaulted humanity’s home in the first place.
Since Nier: Automata is filled with new gameplay mechanics, varied character abilities, and a healthy amount of in-game lore, there are a few things you should know before heading into the war against the machines as 2B.
The Original Story
Even though Nier: Automata is designed to feel welcoming to newcomers, the game is loosely connected to Nier, which released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2010. While the story of Nier: Automata doesn’t directly feature the main character from Nier — who was tasked with finding a cure for the illness known as the Black Scrawl — it is set in the same universe nearly 10,000 years later. Things aren’t going great in the future: Humanity has lost Earth to an army of machines controlled by otherworldly invaders.
Although you won’t have to play through the game’s predecessor to enjoy it, there are sure to be a few mentions of the past with Easter eggs worth experiencing if you mastered everything Nier had to offer from a narrative standpoint years ago.
There’s Action-RPG Combat
One of the major criticisms the original Nier faced back in 2010 was that its core gameplay mechanics, namely those behind combat and side quests, didn’t feel very interconnected and smooth (from a graphical and stylistic standpoint). Instead of opting to go with a set of standard mechanics, Nier’s development team opted to separate boss battles and regular battles with a different set of combat mechanics intended for an older audience.
Naturally, that didn’t go over too well, which inspired the team to make Nier: Automata’s combat accessible and interesting, complete with the multiple levels of depth that players have come to expect from modern RPGs. In true PlatinumGames fashion, Nier: Automata is tight and fast-paced with dozens of different camera perspectives to serve up a series of cohesive and challenging combat encounters for players to enjoy.
A Semi-Open World
While the gigantic open world of Nier: Automata is built from the ground up to be one of the game’s most interesting elements, PlatinumGames wanted to make sure that each of the different in-game locations you’ll visit doesn’t feel as overwhelming as say, Velen from The Witcher 3.
So, even though Nier: Automata has plenty of side quests to complete, hidden areas to uncover, and items to find scattered throughout the environment, the game doesn’t try to completely paralyze you with an overwhelming number of tasks to complete in the open world. Every major objective you mark from your to-do list doesn’t overstay its welcome, and each new area you uncover while exploring has just enough to keep you engaged without taking you away from the game’s core experience. So if you’re looking for a manageable RPG to spend some time with, Nier: Automata features a perfect middle ground to keep you entertained and invested through your first playthrough.
Designed with Replay Value in Mind
Although a single 30- to 40-hour playthrough of Nier: Automata will probably satiate most players for months to come, the entire experience has been built with replay value in mind, rewarding players with additional endings and information about the game’s world.
Just like the original Nier, Nier: Automata has multiple endings hidden throughout the game which you’ll have to discover. There are end credits, mini-games, specific items that can immediately trigger certain endings, and different characters you can ally yourself with to force the end of the game to play out in a specific way — the choice is entirely up to you. Unlike Dark Souls however, Nier: Automata has a relatively limited selection of equipment, meaning that each subsequent playthrough will be similar regardless of which character builds you end up focusing on. Either way, there are plenty of rewards for those willing to spend the time completing the game multiple times which you can uncover to piece together for the full story.