What does it mean to be human? In a time where people are immersed with technology, we are starting to question ourselves. NieR: Automata, an open world, action role-playing game, explores this question through androids’ perspective.
NieR: Automata was published by Square Enix and developed by PlatinumGames which is very much recognized for their action game series Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101, and Mad World. The game was produced with the involvement of series creator Yoko Taro, Square Enix executive producer Yosuke Saito, NieR composers Keiichi Okabe and Keigo, and character designer Akihiko Yoshida.
The game takes place in the year 11,945 after the events of NieR RepliCant (NieR Gestalt for the Western release). Humanity evacuated to the moon during the 14th Machine War as alien machines took over Earth. The human survivors founded YoRHa, an android militia created for the sole purpose of reclaiming Earth. The goal of the game is to liberate Earth from the alien machines.
Players take on the roles of YoRHa No. 2 Model B or “2B”, a well-composed, female-model combat android, YoRHa No. 9 Model S or “9S”, a reconnaissance android who grew human emotions and YoRHa Model A No. 2 or “A2”, an older android and a lone wolf.
In an interview with Yosuke Saito and Junichi Ehara by CGMagazine last December 8, 2016, the combat system is reminiscent of the previous series Drakengard and NieR but it is integrated with Platinum Game’s flashy, gameplay style found in Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Other than exploring ruins and fighting android hordes, the game also includes a twin-stick shooter mode and a bullet hell mode.
After clearing the introduction stage, players can explore the open-world environment with interconnecting areas. They can encounter random enemies, discover weapons, materials, upgrade chips, documents, assist pod units, do side quests, and progress in the game through the story mode at their own pace.
Game Revolution previously revealed that NieR: Automata has 40 melee weapons. These are categorized as small swords, large swords, spears, and combat bracers. Each of them offers unique move sets so that players can execute flashy combos. Weapons are also upgradable for unlocking new moves or enhancing attacks. The game has a debug mode for players to test juggles and combos.
Each YoRHa has her own fighting style. 2B can wield 2 weapons and activate self-destruct as a last resort. On the other hand, 9S can only wield 1 weapon but she can hack enemies. A2 can carry 2 weapons, teleport for dodging and activate berserker mode for increased speed and damage at a cost of health per second. In a previous article by gamestalk.net, it explained that the androids are upgradable with plugin chips for custom playstyle like in-game huds, stronger melee attacks, faster movements, healing and counterattacks. The chips can be also combined for improved potency. With limited drive space for the androids, the chips can also be switched on the fly.
Players have their own assist pod units where they shoot projectiles and protect them by destroying enemy projectiles. They can also be incorporated into combos to deliver devastating attacks. The pods are also customizable where they can unleash special attacks and be switched during combat.
NieR: Automata’s difficulty system provides new challenges for hardcore gamers. Players can select easy, normal, hard, and very hard modes. Increased difficulty affects the available chips, controls for the pod units’ functionality and aiming, untaken save spots and the damage that players take. For those who are more interested on the plot, players can opt for easy mode. Very hard mode means one-hit death from enemies.
As expected from a difficult game, NieR: Automata allows players to retrieve their androids’ corpses from the last place where they died. Playstation.Blog explained that players have the choice to either salvage their corpses for chips and experience or repair the corpse to assist them for a limited time. There is also a chance where the repaired corpse will become hostile. International video game blog Siliconera confirmed that players can connect to the network to find android bodies with encrypted messages from other players who can also use the game’s online feature to leave a message upon game over.