Devil May Cry is nowhere to be seen; Bayonetta is most definitely off the gaming horizon for good; and the God of War series has completely changed its style and setting. In these times comes a game that brings good old fashioned fast-paced action back to its roots -- Nier: Automata.
PS4 owners first had the chance to play the demo of Nier: Automata right before the Christmas, and the first reviews are exceedingly positive. The full game will be released on March 10, 2017, and while we’re all waiting to get our hands on the full game, here are several of the most important facts about Nier: Automata to get you hyped.
There is a lot of confusion concerning the world of Nier: Automata. Most people just believe it to be the direct sequel to Nier, while others give this credit to the Drakengard series. However, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Nier: Automata is handled by the director of both the Drakengard and Nier games -- Taro Yoko. But the development team has changed, and now it’s in the hands of Platinum Games -- the people behind Bayonetta. When Yoko created the very first Drakengard game, the producers told him that he should not expect the game to be successful, so there was no need to extend the story for a sequel (of course, it turned out that they were wrong). So in response, Yoko created multiple endings to the game.
One of them resulted in the creation of an alternate universe that was later released as a full game -- Nier, which also had multiple endings. Nier: Automata follows the tradition and was set after the fourth ending of the original Nier. So the game is set in a post-apocalyptic world, 1,000 years after the events of Drakengard’s fifth ending, and shares the history and the characters from both Nier and Drakengard.
Platinum Games have developed their own peculiar type of combat for Nier: Automata. And although we are told that Nier: Automata is an action-RPG, in all honesty, it’s a real slasher. The protagonists of the game, just like Bayonetta, jump quicker and higher than any other characters in Nier or Drakengard.
Releasing the demo was a very smart thing to do for Platinum Games. In this way, they prepare us for what will come in the full game. It's kind of a tutorial that shows you the possibilities of the combat.
As you move through various sections of the demo, you learn how to use both small and large katanas. You're thrown into a fight both in the open, where dodging works great, and inside narrow corridors, where dodging simply doesn't work. So you need to use your fellow drone's machine gun to advance in these narrow, less mobile sections.
Apart from the typical third-person combat, the camera also switches to a 2D perspective from time to time, which brings an enjoyable change of pace to this action masterpiece.
Typically, hack-and-slash games take place in a world strictly divided into many sections or arenas, but Nier: Automata is not a usual slasher. It has a huge open world that is fully explorable. The locations naturally change from deserted landscapes into ruined cities covered with industrial junk.
There is no transport in the game, so you will have to cover the distances on your feet. However, the little drone that follows you everywhere is capable of helping you jump over dangerously wide gaps, and land safely on the other side.
Unlike Bayonetta, there are no firearms in Nier: Automata -- except a little droid that follows you and carries a small-caliber blaster. Other than that, YoRHa is strictly limited to melee weapons, such as small and large swords, spears, and combat bracers.
The lack of firearms is fully compensated by the combat mechanics that allow you to wield two sets of weapons at the same time. The demo version showed a set of katanas -- Virtuous Contract and Virtuous Treaty.
Obviously, there will be more weapons in the final game, and as it is traditional for RPG games, these weapons should be highly customizable.
The word “automata” in the title of the game refers to the enemy droids and mechanical bosses that YoRHa must face on her path. These machines are everywhere and they’re as dangerous as machines can get.
Currently, only a couple of bosses have been revealed. One of them is Goliath -- a huge excavator-like droid, who was at the end of the demo. The rest of the droids are weaker, but they aren’t smaller, while some are just plain weird.
Enemy AI doesn’t appear to be too great judging by the demo version alone, but slashers don’t need a particularly good AI in the first place.
It looks like Nier: Automata is not focused on action alone -- there will be a healthy number of puzzles, too, just like the ones we saw in Nier.
Some locations will require you to solve riddles so you could move on to the next section, and most of these puzzles will be utilizing the physical abilities of YoRHa, proper timing, and a bit of brainstorming.
There also may be certain NPCs or objects with which you can interact in the game world that can propose a riddle to solve, and if you figure it out, you will be rewarded with an important piece of information or an item.
The game clearly defines that we’re dealing with droids, but for some reason they are quite emotional, which is a bit contradictory to the whole set-up.
These robots have been sent to Earth to clear the way for people, so why would they be programmed to express emotions in the first place? Probably the answer to this question will be given after the game’s full release.
Many fans of the game seem a bit puzzled with the decision to make robots emotional. So, let’s just hope that it all makes sense at the end.
It was never mentioned before if Nier: Automata was going to be an exclusive PS4 title, but lately, the developers have confirmed that it will be coming to PC through Steam.
But what about other platforms? Well, it looks like Xbox One and Nintendo Switch aren’t out of the question yet. However, this decision depends entirely on the success of Nier: Automata on PS4 and PC.
The developers have high hopes for the upcoming expansion of the Nier universe. It is proved by a few interesting items from the upcoming limited Black Box Collector’s Edition, such as a novella that will go into details about the world of Nier and its events.
Hopefully, the game will be as good as it looks in the demo, so there is a big chance of another sequel coming sometime in the future.
Do you have high expectations of Nier: Automata? Do you think the game will live up to them? Let us know in the comments below.