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NieR: Automata Preview

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Scheduled release date:

TBA 2016

Publisher:

Square Enix

Developer:

PlatinumGames

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/RPG

Release Date:

TBA 2016

It came out of the blue to surprise many: Nier was an action/RPG that just seemed to click with old-school and new-school alike, as the game presented the player with both a traditional role-playing structure and some intense real-time combat. Those loyal fans have been pining for a sequel ever since, and despite the fact that original developer Cavia is gone, we should be excited about the new team. After all, Platinum Games is a premier studio in this industry, as they’ve produced some seriously fantastic titles over the years. The only lingering question is whether or not they’re capable of retaining the role-playing focus of the original; I mean, these guys do Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising. RPGs just aren’t their bag.

But despite those concerns, which will remain until we see more gameplay, we know Platinum will deliver a tight, vastly improved fighting mechanic. The original had a decent fighting system but it’s definitely outdated by today’s standards and Platinum will spruce that up big time. No worries there. But let’s talk about the intriguing story and setting for a minute: If you remember the first game, the Black Scrawl virus was spreading rapidly and it was up to the intrepid adventurer to stop it. There was a personal, emotional element as well, as the protagonist’s daughter suffered with the virus in question. In the sequel, called NieR: Automata, the original main character will be replaced by a new protagonist called simply “2B.”

She’s an android and that’s her serial number, so don’t expect much of a personality. In fact, in this post-apocalyptic-like world, androids aren’t allowed to have emotions, even if each particular model “has its own quirks and characteristics.” As you might expect, 2B is pretty flat and cold early on, but we’re hoping something more shines through as we progress. There’s a lot you can do with this character premise but again, the guys at Platinum aren’t exactly proven narrative experts. Even so, they could be fashioning an absolutely spectacular world, very different from the one in the original Nier but a good deal bigger, and perhaps even more involving. Aliens have invaded Earth and strange mechanical beings with huge amounts of power have forced mankind to flee to the moon.

Yes, man is in the midst of a mass escape exodus of sorts, and it’ll be up to 2B and others to reclaim the Earth. The resistance force of android fighters has been created expressly for the purpose of dealing with the invaders, apparently because humans simply don’t have the requisite combat skills. The atmosphere on Earth is filled with both mechanized wonder and sprawling untamed wilds; the aliens have decimated much of the landscape and haven’t yet created a futuristic civilization. In short, it’s a war-torn, suffering climate and it reminds me a little of the environment in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. There are dangerous machines roaming about and crumbling remnants of a once advanced civilization, but nature has broken through in the midst of the chaos. It makes for an endlessly interesting background, provided it’s realistic and absorbing.

There will be a few returning characters and locations, though, so it’s not like Automata will be entirely foreign to those who loved the original. The locations will appear different due to the events of the story, but they might still be recognizable. As for the rest of the production, some returning members are back in action: There’s Square Enix producer Yosuke Saito, for example, as well as composer Keiichi Okabe and character artist Akihiko Yoshida. Perhaps most importantly, director Yoko Taro returns, so maybe the follow-up effort will retain more of the first game’s traditional appeal. One can hope, at any rate. Ironically, Saito is on record saying they wanted to make a sequel right from the start, but it needed to make sense from a business standpoint. Obviously, Platinum’s involvement helps.

We’ve seen some gameplay already; it debuted last year and while some die-hard fans of the original hate the action-centric focus, it is quite promising. Note the beautiful animations and styling that is just so PlatinumGames, and remember that this represents a big step forward. Because after all, if Nier lagged in any particular area, it was the lack of refinement and depth in the combat department. Platinum will undoubtedly fix that and with key returning members of the first development team, those who loved the first game shouldn’t despair. Let’s just hope the story really grabs us and it goes beyond an android running around slashing everything in sight. We’ve done that in the past, guys…this one requires that RPG touch. If we get it, we’ll be happy.

1/7/2016 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System


Legacy Comment System (9 posts)


WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, January 07, 2016 @ 9:37:26 PM
Reply

That footage of the action makes it look like a Day 1 for me. The enemies even look properly Japanese styled as well as the action animations and wacky gadgets. I hope that's her droid floating her swords on her back, I hate when swords literally just float there.

The aliens attack story seems out of the blue but maybe it will have some substance. Like Ben says it just needs that very tangible ancient JRPG feel to the off-action interactions, battle customizing mechanic and locales.

Want.

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Sol
Thursday, January 07, 2016 @ 10:56:51 PM

Idk man, the original's machines had a similar style to me... To say Aliens have invaded and everyone's on the moon, is spit in the face of the original's plot.

I mean, why not delve into the details about the Shade's origins with them being the staple enemy along with the automata? The machines that were enemies in the original, I thought were man-made. Why can't these be? I have quite a few questions that need answering.

I swear, I can't wait to finish school and get into the industry... Then I can show them how it's done!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, January 07, 2016 @ 11:47:33 PM

You just agreed with me on the robots (when I said they look properly japanese styled) but I'm trying to give them some leeway on the alien thing, maybe the scrawl will be involved or be its origin I dunno. I agree though I'd rather have it stick to earthbound plagues.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 1/7/2016 11:48:00 PM

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Sol
Friday, January 08, 2016 @ 12:54:32 PM

Pretty much yeah.

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xenris
Sunday, January 10, 2016 @ 1:17:26 PM

Sol, if you beat the game, and played Drakengaurd 1 you know the shades origins. In fact you don't even need to have played Drakengaurd to know the origins of the shades, or do you forget what happens on playthrough 4 to get the true ending?

The machines were only enemies because the shades were controlling them, they weren't sentient.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, January 08, 2016 @ 12:06:40 AM
Reply

Sooooooooooo basically Bayonetta with a NieR paintjob...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 08, 2016 @ 12:17:25 AM

Cant say I saw that.

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Hexen
Friday, January 08, 2016 @ 1:57:18 PM

nothing you said was a negative.

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xenris
Sunday, January 10, 2016 @ 1:21:17 PM
Reply

I would like to point out that if anyone remembers the original NIER teaser trailers it was pretty much all action and combat. It didn't give us much in terms of story, or tell us that the gameplay would be quite varied with some bullet hell elements in there.

With all that said I think that this game could still have all the RPG elements that the first one did with just WAY better combat.

As for the protagonist having know emotions this is probably the most exciting thing for me, they can do so much with this, for example what if she starts getting emotions, what if her companions have emotions and she doesn't and it causing a tense dynamic between the party?

There is a lot they can do with the plot. Also going to the moon on an exodus makes sense given the back story of NIER and what the humans were trying to do because of the virus.

To be honest though, even if it doesn't have any RPG elements save from the standard RPG lite mechanics every action game has today I will still be happy if the combat is tight and varied and the story is awesome.

Last edited by xenris on 1/10/2016 1:22:16 PM

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