Nier: Automata

Nier: Automata[b] is a 2017 action role-playing game that was developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix. It is a sequel to Nier (2010), itself a spin-off of and sequel to the Drakengard series. Nier: Automata was originally released for the PlayStation 4 and Windows via Steam, and an Xbox One port with the subtitle Become as Gods Edition was published the following year. A Nintendo Switch port subtitled The End of YoRHa Edition was released in 2022,.

Nier: Automata
Nier Automata cover art.jpg
Developer(s)PlatinumGames[a]
Publisher(s)Square Enix
Director(s)Yoko Taro
Producer(s)
  • Eijiro Nishimura
  • Yosuke Saito
Designer(s)
  • Takahisa Taura
  • Isao Negishi
Programmer(s)Ryo Onishi
Artist(s)
Writer(s)
  • Yoko Taro
  • Hana Kikuchi
  • Yoshiho Akabane
Composer(s)
SeriesDrakengard
Platform(s)
ReleasePlayStation 4
  • JP: February 23, 2017
  • NA: March 7, 2017
  • PAL: March 10, 2017
Windows
  • WW: March 17, 2017
Xbox One
  • WW: June 26, 2018
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: October 6, 2022
Genre(s)Action role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player

The game is set during a proxy war between alien-created machines and human-crafted androids; the story follows the trials of combat android 2B, scanner android 9S, and rogue prototype A2. The story requires multiple playthroughs, during each of which additional story elements are unlocked. The gameplay combines role-playing elements with action-based hack-and-slash combat, and includes switches between video game genres in a way similar to that of Nier, with elements varying from shoot 'em up to text adventure.

Production of Nier: Automata began in 2014; with series creator Yoko Taro, producer Yosuke Saito, and lead composer Keiichi Okabe reprising their roles in Nier, and artist Akihiko Yoshida taking charge of character design. The goal was to make a sequel game that would be faithful to Nier while improving the combat system. Because the project was new to PlatinumGames, its staff faced multiple challenges when developing the gameplay and open-world environment. The story, which was written by Yoko, references several philosophies and explores themes of finding value in life and the reasons people kill.

Nier: Automata was announced at E3 2015; it received media expansions to its world and narrative, and both downloadable content (DLC) and crossovers with other games were issued after its release. The game was localized by 8-4, translators of Nier. Critics praised the game's story, themes, gameplay, and music; but drew criticism for some visual and technical problems. The PC release drew a mixed response due to technical issues that were not immediately addressed after release. An official patch that was released in 2021 addressed a portion of these issues. Sales surpassed expectations and as of November 2022, the game had shipped seven million copies worldwide.

GameplayEdit

 
An in-game screenshot of Nier: Automata, showing one of the main characters, 2B, in combat.

Nier: Automata is an action role-playing game (ARPG) in which players take the role of combat androids from the YoRHa units across an open world. In addition to standard navigation on foot, use of a special item allows the player to summon a wild animal to ride and in some scenarios to pilot a flying mech to fight enemies.[1][2] As with Nier (2010), the camera shifts from its standard third-person perspective to an overhead or side-scrolling view while navigating in some environments.[3] Some areas also include platforming elements, requiring the player to navigate by jumping between platforms or over obstacles. The player can complete side quests for non-playable characters (NPCs) that are found throughout the world. In hub locations, shops allow the player to purchase items, including consumables that recover health.[2] Automata has 26 different endings; five main endings lettered A to E, and 21 additional endings lettered F through Z. These additional endings, which act as game over events, are triggered by performing certain actions, failing to progress the narrative, or losing certain battles.[4]

Combat is action-based hack and slash; the player fights enemies in real-time in a variety of in-game environments. During battle, the player can use light attacks—which are fast but weak—and heavy attacks, which are slower but more powerful. The player can evade enemy attacks and, with successfully timed button presses, can gain temporary invulnerability and launch a counterattack that deals heavy damage. The player is assisted by a Pod, a flying robotic assistant that can launch customizable ranged attacks varying from simple gunfire to heavy-hitting hammer attacks. Pods can also shield the player from harm in several ways.[1][3] At certain points, the gameplay changes to reflect different video game genres, such as shoot 'em up and text adventure segments.[5][6]

The player is able to take two melee weapons into combat. While attacking, the player can alternate between both weapons and attacks to create combination attacks. There are four classes of weapons available; short swords, long swords, bracers, and spears. Attacks with different weapon types can be charged and launched for increased damage.[1][3] Weapon Stories—a recurring element in both Nier and the Drakengard series—in which weapons are found throughout the world and have unique stories attached to them, are also featured.[7] Each character has a different fighting style; initial lead 2B is an attacker with two weapons available, second protagonist 9S has one weapon and specializes in hacking into enemies to deal high damage, and later-character A2 plays similarly to 2B with the extra ability to briefly boost attack-power by sacrificing health.[8]

As characters progress through the game, they gain experience levels, increasing their health, defense, and attack power.[1] Character customization is handled through chips, items installed into the player characters that adjust some of their attributes; chips can alter the HUD to show enemy health and damage, and grant status buffs to the player characters. The number of chips that can be installed at any one time is limited to the number of slots a character has. Chips can either be purchased at shops or collected from defeated enemies.[2][9] If the player character dies, they respawn at their previous save point. The player character can then find their original body and either attempt to repair it or retrieve items and experience from it to gain a bonus. If the repair attempt is successful, the body is resurrected as a temporary ally, but if the attempt is unsuccessful, it becomes an enemy the player can defeat for an extra bonus.[1] With online features enabled, the bodies of other players can also be retrieved or revived where they died.[6][10]

SynopsisEdit

Setting and charactersEdit

Nier: Automata, which shares the post-apocalyptic setting of Nier, takes place thousands of years after the original game's events.[11][12] The Nier fictional universe exists in an alternative timeline within the Drakengard series.[11] While carrying over the Drakengard tradition of a dark atmosphere and branching storylines, there is no direct narrative connection between Nier: Automata and the rest of the series.[11][13][14] The story is set in 11945 AD, and revolves around a proxy war between the human-made androids and an invading army of machines from another world.[15][16] Though they lack emotions and true names, androids have attitudes that distinguish them from their fellows.[15][16][17] The "YoRHa" android forces are commanded from the Bunker, a reconnaissance base that orbits Earth. The YoRHA forces fight alongside the pre-YoRHa Earth androids known as the Resistance to drive back the Machines.[18]

The game's initial protagonist is 2B (short for "YoRHa No. 2 Type B"), a YoRHa combat android whose main traits are her calm and composure.[15][16][17] 2B is accompanied by 9S (short for YoRHa No.9 Type S), a male "scanner" reconnaissance android who displays more emotion than the other YoRHa units. Later, A2, another playable character, is introduced: A2 in an obsolete attack android with a taciturn personality who often acts alone.[17] The androids are supported by Pod 042 and Pod 153, floating, box-like robots that act as ranged weapons.[12][18] The game's primary antagonists are Adam and Eve, twin controllers of the Machine Network; and the Red Girls, a construct within the Machine Network. Other characters include Commander the YoRHa's top officer; the resistance leader Anemone; Pascal, a machine who dislikes conflict and wishes for peace; androids Devola and Popola who aid the resistance and are of the same model as two characters in Nier; and the original Nier character Emil, who has lost his memories in the intervening years after the original game.[9][12][18]

PlotEdit

The first and second playthroughs follow the respective views of 2B and 9S during an initial invasion. After opening a route for future missions, they are sent to clear machine threats for the Resistance. They are led by Anemone, who provides the two with support. During their missions, 2B and 9S discover the machines are exploring human societies and concepts. The two work with a pacifist machine group led by Pascal; they battle Adam and Eve, physical manifestations of the machine network who reveal their creators were destroyed centuries ago.[q 1] Anemone, 2B, and 9S encounter A2, a rogue android who is fleeing from YoRHa. Adam is killed by 2B after he captures 9S. During his recuperation, 9S discovers a glitch in YoRHa's servers when syncing himself and 2B, and learns humanity was extinct long before the alien invasion. Humanity's last remnant is a Moon-based server holding their genetic remains. YoRHa perpetuates the myth of their survival to maintain morale and give androids a "god" to fight for.[q 2] With Adam dead, Eve goes mad with grief and drives connected machines into a frenzy. 2B and 9S kill Eve, but 9S becomes infected with Eve's logic virus, forcing 2B to kill him. 9S's consciousness survives within the local machine network.

The third playthrough begins as YoRHa launches a full-scale invasion. A logic virus attack, which is enabled by the glitch 9S previously discovered, corrupts every YoRHa unit except 2B and the restored 9S.[q 3] 2B and 9S are separated in the aftermath, and 2B is infected with the logic virus. A2 discovers 2B, who asks her to take her place. An ignorant 9S sees A2 mercy-killing 2B and swears revenge on her. Simultaneously, a tower created by the machines rises from the land, separating the two robots before they can fight. A fortnight later, the perspective splits between A2 and 9S. A2, the survivor of a test run for YoRHa, begins empathising with the machines; she witnesses the destruction of Pascal's village, then its "children" committing suicide out of fear when attacked. Pascal begs A2 to either wipe his memory or kill him; A2 can perform either task or leave him. An increasingly unbalanced 9S investigates the tower's resource-gathering platforms, fighting machine remnants and learning the tower is designed to launch a missile at the Moon server. Both robots enter the tower, and Devola and Popola sacrifice themselves to open it.

During these events, it is revealed YoRHa was designed to lose and to perpetuate the myth of humanity, and that the Red Girls in the Machine Network are using YoRHa to further their evolution; each side has trapped the other in an eternal cycle of war.[q 4] It is also revealed 2B's real designation is "2E", an "executioner" unit that is assigned to repeatedly kill 9S whenever he discovers the truth about humanity, and that 9S was aware of this.[q 5] Returning characters Emil, and Devola and Popola have separate arcs. Emil lost his memories due to copying himself to fight the aliens. A group of those copies, gone mad from losing their sense of self, act as a secret boss battle. After the current character wins the fight, Emil dies after remembering his now-dead friends.[q 6] Devola and Popola were ostracized and programmed to feel endless guilt after their model series caused humanity's extinction in Nier. They stay at the Resistance camp doing the riskier jobs, and aid the YoRHa androids until helping 9S at the tower.

Reaching the top of the tower, 9S—now insane and infected with the logic virus—challenges A2 to a fight, prompting the player to choose a character.[q 7] If A2 is picked, she saves 9S and sacrifices herself to destroy the tower. If 9S is chosen, the two androids kill each other; in his final moments, the Machine Network offers him the chance to join them, and the tower has changed its function to fire an ark containing the Machine memories to find a new world.[q 8] Once both of these endings are unlocked, Pods 042 and 153 defy their orders to delete YoRHa's data, prompting the player to destroy the credits in a shoot 'em up section. Despite the possibility the restored 2B, 9S and A2 would repeat everything, the Pods have faith they will forge a new future for themselves.[q 9] The player is then given the option to sacrifice their save data to help other players.[19]

DevelopmentEdit

After the release of Nier, director Yoko Taro and Square Enix producer Yosuke Saito wanted to create a sequel. Saito spoke to assistant producer Yuki Yokoyama, who was unwilling due to low sales of Nier.[20] After the positive fan reception of Nier, however, both Square Enix and the lead staff who worked on the original game were willing to continue the Nier Intellectual property (IP) but wanted to create a better, more-action-oriented gameplay experience. They contacted PlatinumGames, which had developed a reputation for high-quality action games such as Bayonetta (2009) and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013).[13][21] The two companies agreed to collaborate on the sequel provided Yoko would be its director and that he would be present to help with production. The latter condition required Yoko to move from Tokyo to Osaka, where PlatinumGames was located.[20] Although Yoko was initially uneasy about the collaboration, he became confident in PlatinumGames due to their excitement to work on a Nier game, and their promise to remain faithful to the original game.[14] Designer Takahisa Taura also joined the team due to their long-time desire to create a Nier sequel.[22] PlatinumGames handled primary development of the game while Square Enix supported the project with additional staff and sound design.[23]

Initially, Yoko said they planned to build a Farmville (2009)-inspired game for mobile platforms or the PlayStation Vita. The team instead shifted development to the PlayStation 4.[11][24] Saito and Eijiro Nishimura co-produced the project.[25] Development, which began in 2014, included six months of pre-production.[11][21][26] At first, the relationship between Yoko and PlatinumGames staff was fraught, mainly because Yoko's freelance status led to different daily schedules. A system of "free time" in which Yoko could work when possible without clashes was developed, reducing the difficulties.[27] The team studied feedback from both fans and critical reviews of Nier, and concluded they would need to improve the gameplay, graphics, and character designs. They also carried over aspects of Nier that were well-received, such as the game's music and complex story.[28] PlatinumGames did most of the development at its offices in Osaka and Tokyo, and was supported by outside staff such as Yoko.[22]

Scenario and themesEdit

 
The narrative of Nier: Automata references numerous famous philosophers and names some Machine characters after them; cited examples are Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.[29]

Yoko was the primary writer of the game's scenario;[28] he working much more on the script than on those of his previous games. He delivered the script nearly five months late; side from minor changes, the narrative remained the same throughout development.[30] Yoko was supported by sub-writers Yoshiho Akabane from the company Highestar,[25] and Hana Kikuchi, who worked on Nier and Drakengard 3 (2013).[25][31] When creating Nier: Automata's story, Yoko was hesitant about adding Devola and Popola to the story due to their role in the original game but he later decided to include them.[32] According to Yoko, while the scenario of Nier is "wet" in its emotional content, he wanted Nier: Automata to have a "dry" narrative concerning the world's inherent unfairness and prejudices the characters are forced to confront.[33] He also wanted to leave more room for the player to interpret the story, feeling he had gone too far when humanizing the antagonists of Nier, and decided to strike a different balance in the sequel.[27][34] According to Saito, a lot of time and effort went into creating the story and character interactions so they would match those of Nier.[35] [19]

As with the original Nier, multiple endings were created, but the conditions for reaching them were not as stringent as the first game.[35] Yoko's desire was to make the game's conclusion happy, which prompted scepticism from other staff members when reviewing his story.[13] The happy ending from Yoko's perspective was the fifth and final ending, which he only created after the character motivations logically led him to the concept. The final ending featured a shooting sequence where the player fought their way through the closing credits, which symbolized the characters breaking out of a known system to find the hope of a new future.[19] The team also included the option for player to sacrifice their save data to aid other random players in the closing credit sequence, a mechanic similar to that of the original Nier.[19] This ability for players to help each other was inspired a Coca-Cola campaign, where drink machines in India were connected via livestream to machines in Pakistan, encouraging the two peoples to overcome their political rivalry. The campaign made a strong impression on Yoko, who adapted the idea into in-game messages of encouragement from players across the world.[36]

The team defined the game's central theme as "agaku", a Japanese word meaning "to struggle out of a bad situation".[37] Saito also said the story is about love, which he stated is unusual because the central cast are robots, which are not normally associated with emotions.[35] Yoko used the androids' and Machines' reverence for long-extinct humanity to show how people's sense of self and worth is necessarily founded on belief in something else. The negative influence of human history on the factions reflect Yoko's views on people continuing to fight and create boundaries between themselves despite their advancement.[38] A recurring element in Yoko's earlier work is his examination of reasons people kill and the impact of killing on others—this stems from his observation of people coming to enjoy killing enemies in games, which suggested to him something is wrong or missing inside them.[39] Yoko said the narrative's darkness reflects the inherent darkness of reality.[23] The narrative references numerous influential philosophers and thinkers, after whom some Machine characters are named after such as supporting character Pascal (Blaise Pascal), boss character Simone (Simone de Beauvoir), and NPC Jean-Paul (Jean-Paul Sartre).[29][40] Yoko used books by Will Buckingham and Nigel Benson, which explain philosophy and psychology in understandable language, as a reference for the narrative.[29]

Art and game designEdit

Nier: Automata was Taura's first role-playing game (RPG), although he had prior experience developing action games.[14][22] Taura managed the action-combat system and designer Isao Negishi created the RPG elements.[41] According to Negishi and programmer Ryo Onishi, creating a game that was faithful to Nier was difficult and required a change from the style of their earlier titles.[41] For the combat system, the team took the systems used in Nier and blended in elements from other titles by PlatinumGames. Taura's main concept was to improve the combat system over that of the original and weave it into the story.[14][22] The basic battle system was expanded and adjusted during development , and was completed within the first two months of development.[42] While designing the game's RPG elements, the staff at PlatinumGames were partially inspired by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015), including the high standard of its sidequests.[24] The sections of Nier: Automata in which the camera shifts to a side-scrolling perspective were inspired by the Castlevania series, of which Taura was a fan. For the final boss battle in which the player chooses between 9S and A2, the developers considered removing character abilities based on their choice but decided against it.[27]

To make Nier: Automata beginner-friendly, the camera was designed to automatically assume "comfortable" angles during combat.[42] Also to this end, the developers included mechanics that would allow both casual and experienced action gamers to enjoy the game.[43] It was the studio's first attempt at an open world; while its previous titles had used a story-driven linear structure, Nier: Automata has large environments that are linked with seamless transitions. Negishi noted the lower concentration of enemies in the world compared to those of earlier PlatinumGame titles, a necessity due to the game's open nature. By including fewer enemies, the team gave players the opportunity to "enjoy the still beauty of the game's desolate world". The developers based the shooting elements on bullet hell games, and decided combat should include multiple camera perspectives.[41][43] The plug-in chips are an updated version of the Words used in Nier, and are themed around the premise of androids. The developers also suggested including multiplayer modes but this suggestion was not developed beyond the concept phase.[27]

Using feedback about the game's original character designs, Akihiko Yoshida was engaged as main character designer.[11] Saito originally wanted to invite D.K, the character designer of Nier, to work on the sequel but D.K had broken his elbow and was unable to draw, so he recommended Yoshida for the post.[23] The developers thought Yoshida would decline the offer due to his busy schedule but Yoshida was willing to join the project because some staff members at his company CyDesignation were fans of Nier. Yoshida joined the company a little later in the process than usual so Taro gave him a general guideline of sleek designs with black as the dominant color.[11][13] When creating the character models, the developer had difficulty making them seem alive despite their mechanical nature.[43][44] Unlike Nier, which has two different protagonist designs for different markets, the team committed to a high-quality JRPG character design that would be consistent, even for the game's Western release.[14][28] Yoshida was also engaged to ensure a consistent aesthetic.[41] The Commander, Adam, and Eve were designed by Yuya Nagai.[45] Square Enix artist Toshiyuki Itahana redesigned Devola and Popola.[46] Concept art for the game's enemies was handled by Hisayoshi Kijima, while Kazuma Koda, Yasuyuki Kaji, and Shohei Kameoka made the environmental artwork in collaboration with Yoko. The developers worked to build settings that would resemble real-world places players would visit.[43][44]

Music and sound designEdit

Composer Keiichi Okabe, who worked on both Nier and Drakengard 3, worked on Nier: Automata as lead composer with other members of his studio band Monaca; Keigo Hoashi, Kuniyuki Takahashi, and Kakeru Ishihama.[28][47][48] The score, which was influenced by classical music, recalls elements of Nier such as that game's sense of melancholy. Whereas Nier is built around grasslands and villages, Nier: Automata includes a more mechanical and brutal environment, which is reflected in the musical score. Okabe created a score with a more-open world in mind, composing songs that segue into each other depending on situation and environment. The music was balanced using the digital audio workstation (DAW) Pro Tools.[47] Emi Evans provided vocals for the soundtrack, as he had done for Nier's soundtrack. Shotaro Seo provided additional male vocals.[47][49] A theme song for the game was created; versions were sung by both Evans and new singer J'Nique Nicole. Nami Nakagawa, Evans, and Nicole formed a three-part chorus for some of the music, including the game's boss theme.[47] Several songs from the Nier soundtrack were adapted for Nier: Automata.[50]

Masato Shindo was the game's sound designer. Creating an echo effect was difficult due to the scale of the open world; Shindo designed a system that would manage echoes in real time, depending on the player's surroundings.[44] Sound was implemented by Masami Ueda; it was a greater amount of work than he had experienced on previous projects. Ueda's previous encounters and good working relationship with Okabe helped the smooth implementation of the game's sound.[43]

The soundtrack album of Nier: Automata was released on March 29, 2017.[48] The first-print copies of the soundtrack include an additional sixteen-track album subtitled Hacking Tracks that contains musical variations for hacking segments.[51]

LocalizationEdit

The company 8-4, which had localized Nier, also localized the English-language version of Nier: Automata.[52] According to Yoko, 8-4 changed elements of the script for each region because some of the concepts in the Japanese script are difficult to understand if directly translated. The aim was to create a script that would appeal to players around the world.[53] Because 8-4 had worked with Yoko on Nier and Drakengard 3, they were familiar with his writing style and found it easy to ask for clarification during translation.[54] 8-4's biggest difficulty was writing the android characters; while these are ostensibly emotionless, they have distinctive personalities, and much of the relationship between 2B and 9S revolves around emotion. While 9S was already written to be more emotive in Japanese, 2B had to be rewritten so she appears whimsically humorous rather than emotionless in English.[52]

The development team had notes about how to write each character; for example 9S would speak about things at length while 2B would be crisper. The team also needed to decide about the voice acting, whether to use regional accents or to alter voice types; for instance whether to change one character's high-pitched child voice to a more mature one to avoid annoyance to players. The team researched the game's philosophical themes to avoid mistakes in their writing.[52] The name of the character Jean-Paul, who in Japanese is named Sartre, caused a problem because the estate of Jean-Paul Sartre would not have allowed the philosopher's name to be used in this context outside Japan. Yoko reluctantly allowed Square Enix to change the name.[29] Cup of Tea Productions, which had worked on both Nier and Drakengard 3, handled English dubbing.[55]

ReleaseEdit

In January 2014, after the release of Drakengard 3, Yoko expressed an interest in making a second spin-off from the Drakengard series but did not specify whether it would be related to Nier.[56] In December of that year, he confirmed he was working on a new game but did not reveal more details.[57] Nier: Automata was first announced at Square Enix's press conference at E3 2015 under the provisional title Nier New Project.[21] Its official title was kept secret because it would have spoiled aspects of the game's plot.[13] An official title had not been chosen at this point; Yoko originally wanted to call it Nier: Android but Square Enix rejected that title due to a possible trademark conflict with Google's Android operating system.[58]

At the time it was announced, the game was 10% complete.[7] At the 2015 Paris Games Week trade show, Square Enix announced the game's official title and a provisional release date, and showed a gameplay trailer.[15] A2's playable role was not intended as a surprise revelation; the development team used the character's long-haired design for footage of a late-game boss fight in which she had short hair, making her change of appearance less obvious.[34] Nier: Automata was initially planned for release in November 2016 but Square Enix postponed the release because of concerns about its commercial performance against other prominent titles: it was decided a late-2016 or early 2017 release would give Nier: Automata more of a chance of commercial success. The delay gave the developers more time to improve the quality and gameplay balance.[59] Yoko appreciated the delay because it gave the developers more time to finish the game.[34]

Versions and additional contentEdit

Nier: Automata was released in Japan on February 23, 2017.[60] A Black Box Collector's Edition includes the game, a figurine of 2B, a special release of the Nier: Automata live concert, an artbook, a download code for a special item, and a prequel novella.[61] The novella, which retells the events of Nier from the perspectives of characters Devola and Popola, was written by Yoko in collaboration with Jun Eishima, a regular collaborator for supplementary material related to the Drakengard series.[62] Square Enix worked with Japanese rock band Amazarashi, lead singer Hiromu Akita was a fan of Nier, to produce a song called "Inochi ni Fusawashii", which was inspired by the game's world. Yoko supervised the music video for "Inochi ni Fusawashii".[63]

The PS4 version was released in North America on March 7; and in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand on March 10.[64][65] In addition to the standard version, there was a "Day One" edition that has reversible cover art featuring artwork by Yoshida. There was also a version of the Black Box Collector's Edition that includes the Day One edition with extra content, a 2B figurine, an artbook, and a 13-track soundtrack that includes music from Nier and the earlier Drakengard games.[66]

A digital release of Nier: Automata for Microsoft Windows personal computers (PCs) through Steam was announced.[67] Both Square Enix and PlatinumGames were concerned about potential piracy of the PC version, which was expected to delay its release. To alleviate this problem, the companies considered using the digital rights management (DRM) system Denuvo.[68] The PC version was released on March 17, 2017.[69] A fan patch fixed two major problems of the PC version Square Enxix had not addressed; an error in the resolution setting and general performance problems, even with over-specified equipment.[70][71] The game was review-bombed in April 2017 by Chinese players demanding a translation of the game to Chinese.[72]

In November 2016, Saito stated the release of a version for Xbox One was being considered, and announced the game would support the enhanced PlayStation 4 Pro model.[73] Saito later said an Xbox One version was not being developed due to low sales of the console in Japan, and that focusing on a single console would avoid compromising the game's quality.[74] An Xbox One version was later announced, and was released worldwide on June 26, 2018; this version was subtitled Become as Gods Edition,[75][76] and was also ported by QLOC for Windows and released through the Microsoft Store and Xbox Game Pass on March 18, 2021. This release includes improvements including HDR content and AMD's FidelityFX suite that were unavailable in the Steam version,[77] but were patched into the Steam version on July 15 of that year.[78]

Virtuos ported the game to Nintendo Switch; this version was released on October 6, 2022. The port includes new in-game items and costumes, reversible cover art, and a new illustration by Kazuma.[79] Saito requested a Switch port to celebrate of the game's fifth anniversary after being impressed by Astral Chain (2019), which Taura directed.[42][80] Virtuos wanted to preserve as much of the game as possible but capped the frame rate at 30 fps and made a racing-based side quest less difficult.[81] Saito was comfortable with the reduced frame rate due toAstral Chain's combat working at that frame rate.[42] Sound compression was a challenge; the team optimized the sound and graphics engine to allow the highest-quality transfer onto the Switch's less-powerful hardware. The game's developers made scene-by-scene comparisons to ensure the final product was as close as possible to the other console versions.[81] Yoko wanted more character outfits and accessories; following the mobile game Nier Reincarnation, he chose a kimono and accessories theme. The port's subtitle references the game's final ending and is a wordplay on "Game of the Year" due to the shared initial letters.[42]

A downloadable content (DLC) pack titled 3C3C1D119440927 was released on May 2, 2017; it includes additional costumes and accessories based on Nier, aesthetic hair-customization options, new battle colosseums, and boss fights with Square Enix and PlatinumGames presidents Yosuke Matsuda and Kenichi Sato.[82] The pack is unlocked in-game from the chapter-selection screen, and requires data saved from a completed playthrough.[83] The DLC was included in the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch releases,[75][79] and in the Game of the YoRHa Edition, which was released for the PlayStation 4 and Windows on February 26, 2019.[71][84]

ReceptionEdit

The original PS4 release of Nier: Automata received "generally favorable reviews" on review aggregator Metacritic based on 101 critic reviews.[85] The PC version also received favorable reviews based on 12 reviews.[86] The Xbox One version received "universal acclaim", earning a score of 90 from 30 reviews.[87] The Switch port also garnered favorable reviews, earning a score of 89 based on 34 reviews.[88]

Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave Nier: Automata a near-perfect score, lauding most aspects of it despite one reviewer finding customization cumbersome.[98] Miguel Concepcion of GameSpot praised every aspect of the game apart from its side quests, referring to its gameplay as "the closest thing there is to a spiritual successor to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance".[92] Eurogamer's Jeffrey Matulef called Nier: Automata "the most captivating game I've played in ages" despite rough edges.[89] Mollie Patterson, writing for Electronic Gaming Monthly, praised it as a highly enjoyable experience, both as a player and reviewer.[8] Destructoid's Chris Carter lauded the title as a competent blend of action game and RPG.[6] Game Informer reviewer Joe Juba wrote a lot of enjoyable elements in the game's narrative and gameplay are obscured by confusing or obtuse mechanics.[91]

GamesRadar+'s Sam Prell was enthusiastic about the game's narrative, blend of gameplay genres, and overall quality.[93] Meghan Sullivan of IGN called Nier: Automata "a crazy, beautiful, and highly entertaining journey full of nutty ideas and awesome gameplay".[5] PC Gamer's Andy Kelly was positive about the game but said the PC port is lacking due to its graphical and technical issues.[96] Janine Hawkins of Polygon lauded the game's sense of scale and willingness to make players feel small in spite of its content.[97] Thomas Whitehead, writing for Nintendo Life, was positive about its presentation and design but noted some gameplay elements did not work as expected and lack depth.[94] Nintendo World Report's Matthew Zawodniak, giving the game a perfect score, described it as one of the best games ever made due to its narrative and gameplay design.[95]

The story and narrative themes met with acclaim,[89][91][92][96][98] though some reviewers found its pacing and presentation lacking.[5][8][93] Both Sullivan and Matulef found difficulty identifying with the android protagonists.[5][89] The gameplay was generally enjoyed but several reviewers found a lack of depth in combat compared to previous PlatinumGames titles.[5][6][92][93][96][97] The game's visuals were generally praised[5][89][92][98] despite comments regarding occasional poor environment quality or visual spectacle.[91][96] Recurring complaints arose from technical issues such as graphical pop-in, frame-rate drops, and long loading times.[5][89][98] The game's music received unanimous acclaim.[5][6][91][92][93][97][98] Reviews of the Switch port named it as one of the best ports to the system, despite noting some expected performance issues and downgraded graphics.[92][94][95]

SalesEdit

Nier: Automata sold 198,542 copies during its first week of release in Japan, peaking at number one on charts and significantly exceeding sales of Nier in 2010.[99][100] In April 2017, Nier: Automata was reported to have sold over 500,000 copies in Japan and Asia, including both physical shipments and downloads.[101] According to the NPD Group report for March 2017, the game reached ninth place in overall sales and sixth place in the PS4 chart.[102] In the United Kingdom, the game debuted at number six in the general software chart.[103] By May 2017, sales of the game's physical and download versions on PS4 and PC had reached 1.5 million copies. The majority of sales during that period came from overseas, and it success was seen as surprising compared to the low sales of Nier.[104] By May 2019, Nier: Automata had reached worldwide shipments of four million copies,[105] with an additional 500,000 units selling by March 2020; the latter was attributed to steady sales of the "Game of the YoRHa" edition.[106] Nier: Automata greatly exceeded Square Enix's sales expectations, and made them consider Nier as a franchise.[107] PlatinumGames cited the strong sales, in addition to the positive critical reception, as saving the company and renewing interest in their products after several disappointing game releases.[108][109] As of November 2022, all versions of Nier: Automata have shipped over seven million copies worldwide.[110]

AccoladesEdit

Nier: Automata was nominated for and awarded several industry awards in 2017 and 2018, including awards from CEDEC and the Game Developers Conference. It was also awarded or nominated in several "Best of" lists for 2017 by gaming websites.[111]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2017 35th Annual Golden Joystick Awards Best Storytelling Nominated [111]
PlayStation Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2017 Best Score/Music Won [111]
Best Narrative Nominated
Best Role Playing Game Nominated
NAVGTR Camera Direction in a Game Engine Won [112]
Original Dramatic Score, Franchise Won
Game of the Year Nominated
Game Design, Franchise Nominated
Character Design Nominated
Writing in a Drama Nominated
Japan Game Awards Games of the Year Division - Award for Excellence Won [111]
2018
British Academy Games Awards Game Design Nominated [113]
Game Innovation Nominated
D.I.C.E. Awards Role Playing Game of the Year Won [111]
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in Technical Achievement Won [114]
Excellence in Musical Score Won
Game Developers Choice Awards Game of the Year Nominated [111]
Audience Award Won
Best Audio Nominated
Best Design Nominated
36th Annual Golden Joystick Awards Games of the Year Division - Award for Excellence Nominated [115]

Additional mediaEdit

During Nier: Automata's six-month pre-production period, Yoko created a musical stage play called YoRHa, which was performed in 2014.[116] Set in the same universe as Nier: Automata, it acts as a backstory for the characters A2 and Anemone.[117][118] While the stage play predates the revelation of Nier: Automata, the play's writer Asakusa Kaoru stated it would not exist without Yoko's vision for the world of Nier: Automata. Yoko created the basic scenario while Kaoru wrote the script. For later productions, Yoko revised Asakusa's script to simplify the plot.[119] He described the play as a spin-off of the overall universe.[34] Over the next few years, new revisions to the original stage play, a spin-off, a musical version, and an all-male spin-off play were produced.[120]

Multiple novels based on the in-game universe were written by Yoko and Eishima.[121] Long Story Short is a novelization of the game's main events with additional commentary from the characters through monologues.[121][122] Short Story Long is a compilation of earlier short stories in the Nier continuity, along with new stories related to the characters of Nier: Automata.[121][123] These two novels were published in North America by Viz Media.[124] YoRHa Boys, which is based on the male spin-off stage play, was written by Eishima and supervised by Yoko; it follows a group of male YoRHa units that are put into an experiment to collect behavioral data.[125][126]

A manga adaptation of the YoRHa stage play that is titled YoRHa Pearl Harbor Descent Record, began serialization on Square Enix's Manga UP! online manga service. Megumu Soramichi illustrated the manga and Yoko supervised the story.[127] Square Enix published the first volume of the manga in North America on December 13, 2022.[128] During the fifth anniversary livestream of Nier: Automata, an anime television series based on the game was announced. It is produced by Square Enix and Aniplex, and animated by A-1 Pictures.[129] The series, the title of which is Nier: Automata Ver1.1a, premiered on January 7, 2023.[130] A figurine based on 2B, 9S, and A2 was released.[131]

CollaborationsEdit

In October 2018, 2B was announced as a playable guest character DLC for Bandai Namco's fighting game Soulcalibur VI. The DLC, which was released on December 19, features a scenario around the character, themed moves, and weapons; and an alternative white variation dubbed "2P".[132][133] Due to the inverted color scheme of 2B when playing as a second player, the name "2P" was adopted as a wordplay on "player two". Yoko Taro suggested the "P" stands for Panasonic.[134] Characters from Nier: Automata were incorporated into a content patch for Shadowbringers.[135] The scenario, which is titled YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse, was outlined by Yoko and given to other writers.[136] The three episodes of YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse are "The Copied Factory", "The Puppets' Bunker", and "The Tower at Paradigm’s Breach".[137][138][139] DLC costumes and promotional appearances based on the characters of Nier: Automata have also appeared in third-party games Gravity Rush 2 (2017),[140] Star Ocean: Anamnesis (2018),[141] Phantasy Star Online 2 (2020),[142] Fall Guys (2020),[143] and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege (2022).[144]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Additional production support and supervision by Square Enix. Become as Gods Edition ported to Microsoft Store by QLOC. The End of YoRHa Edition ported by Virtuos.
  2. ^ Stylized as NieR:Automata (Japanese: ニーア オートマタ, Hepburn: Nīa Ōtomata)

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Game quotesEdit

PlatinumGames (March 7, 2017). Nier: Automata (PlayStation 4). Square Enix.

  1. ^ Adam: The aliens you seek are no longer here. They were wiped out centuries ago ... By us. The machines. (Route A, Chapter 03: Adam and Eve)
  2. ^ Commander: In truth, humans never went to the moon at all. Any transmissions received from the moon are just dummy signals set up in advance. The only thing there is a small bit of data relating to the human genome. / 9S: But why would you— / Commander: Humans were already extinct when the aliens attacked ... No one fights without a reason. And we need a god worth dying for. (Route B, Chapter 9: Deranged Religion)
  3. ^ Commander: But tell me—why weren't you infected? / 2B: I don't know! / 9S: It's probably because I deferred our data sync. I noticed some weird noise in the Bunker's server data, so I paused the upload. (Route C, Chapter 11: Full-scale Attack)
  4. ^ So then! To sum up: For hundreds of years, we've been fighting a network of machines with the ghost of humanity at its core. We've been living in a stupid *****ing world where we fight an endless war that we COULDN'T POSSIBLY LOSE, all for the sake of some Council of Humanity on the moon that doesn't even exist. (Intel - Archives - Machine Research Report)
  5. ^ A2: The 9S Type is a high-end model. They knew you'd discover the truth eventually. But the model designation "2B" was just a cover. The official designation...is "2E". Number 2, Type E. They were a special class of members designed to execute YoHRa units. But you knew that... Right, 9S? (Route C, Chapter 17: The Tower)
  6. ^ These colossal Emils were the sad final state of Emil's copies. Attacking without warning, they possessed the ability to unleash fierce attacks using magical weapons from the old world. At the end of this pitched battle, the true Emil stopped his dopplegangers [sic] with heartfelt words before annihilating them with a final strike. He then passed away with an expression of great relief, as if he had finally met the person he'd longed to see. (Intel - Unit Data - Emil Clones)
  7. ^ Pod 153: Proposal: Cease combat. Fighting her at this point would be irrational and— / 9S: Pod 153! I order you to halt all logical thought and speech! This order shall remain in effect until you have confirmed the deaths of either myself or unit A2! (Route C, Chapter 17: The Tower)
  8. ^ 9S: This tower is a colossal canon built to destroy the human server. Destroy it ... and rob the androids of their very foundation. That was the plan devised by those girls. But they changed their minds ... This tower doesn't fire artillery. It fires an ark. An ark containing memories of the foolish machine lifeforms. An ark that sends those memories to a new world. (Route C, Chapter 17: The Tower, Ending D)
  9. ^ Pod 153: Question, Pod 042. Did the data salvage restore all of their past memories? / Pod 042: Yes. / Pod 153: And are those recovered parts of the same design as previous ones? / Pod 042: Yes. / Pod 153: Then ... won't that simply lead us to the same conclusion as before? / Pod 042: I cannot deny the possibility. However, the possibility of another future also exists. (Route C, Ending E)

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit