NieR: Automata is an action RPG directed by Yoko Taro and developed by Platinum Games and published by Square Enix. It aims to retain the originality of Nier while presenting more appealing gameplay. It is set in the same universe as Nier but features a separate story in which robots are sent to reclaim Earth from an alien invasion after humanity was exiled to the Moon.
Nier: Automata opens with 2B and 9S paving the way for a future incursion into machine territory, working to clear out machine threats for the local Resistance. With help from Anemone and later Pascal, 2B and 9S defeat multiple machine threats. During their missions, they witness the birth of and later fight Adam and Eve, physical manifestations of the machine network who reveal that their creators were destroyed centuries ago. 2B and 9S also encounter A2, who is on the run from YoRHa. It is revealed that the machines are beginning to feel emotions and gather in groups, and some like Pascal's group have grown tired of fighting. 9S is eventually captured by Adam, who is killed by 2B. Deprived of his brother, Eve goes mad with grief and drives the machines under his command into a frenzy. 2B and 9S kill Eve, but 9S is infected with the machine's logic virus, forcing 2B to kill him. Despite his body dying, 9S's personality is saved on the local machine network, allowing his transfer into a new body. The second playthrough follows the opening narrative from the perspective of 9S, offering new insight into the machines and Adam and Eve. 9S also learns that humanity has been extinct since the events of Nier aside from a server on the moon holding humanity's DNA and history. YoRHa and its mission were created to keep the androids from losing morale. He also encounters a glitch when performing a standard server sync, and halts the procedure for both himself and 2B.
The apparent deaths of Adam and Eve throw the machine network into chaos, prompting YoRHa to launch a full-scale invasion. 2B and 9S form part of the vanguard, but a logic virus attack turns every YoRHa unit aside from 2B and 9S hostile. The two retreat to the Bunker, which is subsequently overrun—the "glitch" 9S encountered was, in fact, a hole opening in YoRHa's virus defenses, leaving the entire squadron vulnerable. Infected herself, the Commander orders 2B and 9S to the surface then self-destructs the Bunker. 2B and 9S are forced to separate on the descent when attacked by rogue YoRHa, and 2B ends up infected with the logic virus. Saved from rogue YoRHa by A2, 2B uploads her memories into her sword and tasks A2 with completing her mission. 9S sees A2 kill 2B, and ignorant of their interaction angrily swears revenge against A2. Alongside this, a structure called the Tower created by the machines rises above the land. The story then divides between A2 and 9S, with their respective Pods 042 and 153 interacting with each other.
A2 continues 2B's missions against the machines. During her story, Pascal's village is attacked when machines begin going berserk, and when A2 and Pascal fight off a machine attack the "children" of his village commit suicide in fear of being killed. A2 has the option of either wiping Pascal's memory at his request, killing him, or leaving him. Meanwhile, 9S investigates the Tower and its purpose: he learns that YoRHa androids and machines are constructed from the same materials, and the Tower is preparing to launch something he assumes is a missile directed at the server on the moon. During his quest, 9S is tormented by the loss of YoRHa and 2B and becomes emotionally and mentally unstable. 9S eventually gains access to the Tower with help from Devola and Popola, who sacrifice themselves to fend off the attacking machines—they are revealed to be the last surviving versions of the android type that triggered the end of humanity as experienced in NieR: Replicant, thus suffering persecution by other androids. They are programmed to feel perpetual guilt and try to atone for their actions. A2 follows 9S inside, where the machines' controlling artificial intelligence confronts them both—A2's backstory as the survivor of a precursor unit to the YoRHa that was designed to be destroyed is revealed, and 9S learns that the logic virus attack on YoRHa was part of the plan to perpetuate the ruse of humanity's survival and trap both machines and androids in a repeating cycle of war.
When they meet at the top of the Tower, A2 reveals the truth about 2B; her real designation was "2E" (E = Executioner), a YoRHa unit designed to repeatedly kill 9S whenever he discovered the truth about humanity and YoRHa—2B suffered greatly from her role, and wanted to help 9S through A2. 9S, by now driven insane and infected with the logic virus, challenges A2 to a fight. The player then selects which character to control. In the Ending C, should the player choose A2, 9S is defeated, and A2 first cures him of the logic virus, then sacrifices herself to destroy the Tower while Pod 042 takes 9S to safety. In the Ending D, should the player pick 9S, the two kill each other, and in his final moments the machine artificial intelligence tells him that the Tower has changed its function due to the machines' evolution and is instead firing an ark containing the essence of machine kind—including the still-living Adam and Eve—to find a new world. During the credits, Pods 042 and 153 speak to the player upon finding that the data for 2B, 9S and A2 are still intact. If the player agrees to save the data, this triggers the True Ending, Ending E: Pods 042 and 153 reconstitute the androids' memories and experiences and reconstruct their bodies—despite the possibility that the three would merely repeat everything, the Pods hold faith that they will forge a new future.
There are three main characters that feature as the events and story of the game progresses. They are listed below:
- The main female character of the game. A member of special Android task force YoRHa, she is sent to Earth on a mission to return Earth to the humans that once inhabited it, and to destroy the robot menace that the alien invasion left behind.
- The main male character of the game. Teaming up with 2B, the pair work together on their mission to reclaim Earth from the robots that now inhabit it.
- A mysterious character of whom not much is known. A main character in the stage play preceding the game, she was once a member of YoRHa, but disappeared and became a wanted fugitive.
Several side characters also appear in the game:
4. YoRHa Commander
- Working from the Bunker, the orbital home of YoRHa, the Commander oversees your operations over the course of the game.
5. Operator 6O & 21O
- Servicing 2B and 9S respectively, these characters transmit mission information and conduct daily reports.
6. Adam and Eve
- The mysterious antagonists of the game, the "machine brothers" are elusive and extremely powerful.
One of NieR: Automata's defining characteristics is its use of multiple endings. There are 26 different endings in total; one for each letter of the English alphabet which makes up a part of the ending's title. A majority of these endings include various bad or joke endings where a character fails to complete a task or walks away from an objective. When a player triggers one of these endings, text will appear on screen describing the fate of a character and the credits will scroll by very quickly. Once one of these alternate endings is triggered, the player will be brought back to the main menu where they will be able to continue the story from their last save.
NieR: Automata has five main story endings: Routes A through E. After the player completes the first ending, Route A, a message signed by Square Enix PR will appear. The message thanks the players for playing NieR: Automata and encourages them to play through the story again in order to see additional story elements and gameplay systems. With each subsequent playthrough, the player learns more about the main characters, the other androids, and the machines, in addition to seeing new events that weren't featured in the previous routes.
NieR: Automata's original soundtrack is composed by Keiichi Okabe, Keigo Hoashi, and Kuniyuki Takahashi. Several songs change dynamically by adding and removing vocals and instruments based on where the player is located in an area and during certain events. Several songs also have chiptune style versions that play during the game's hacking segments.
|2||City Ruins (Rays of Light)||Keiichi Okabe||6:21|
|3||Peaceful Sleep||Keiichi Okabe||6:49|
|4||Memories of Dust||Kuniyuki Takahashi||5:28|
|5||Birth of a Wish||Keiichi Okabe||4:39|
|6||The Color of Depression||Keiichi Okabe||3:16|
|7||Amusement Park||Keigo Hoashi||6:18|
|8||A Beautiful Song||Keigo Hoashi||4:04|
|9||Voice of no Return||Keiichi Okabe||3:50|
|10||Grandma (Destruction)||Kuniyuki Takahashi||5:28|
|11||Faltering Prayer (Dawn Breeze)||Keigo Hoashi||3:10|
|12||Emil's Shop||Kuniyuki Takahashi||5:27|
|13||Treasured Times||Keigo Hoashi||3:44|
|14||Vague Hope (Cold Rain)||Keigo Hoashi||3:34|
|15||Weight of the World (English Version)||Keiichi Okabe||5:44|
|17||City Ruins (Shade)||Keiichi Okabe||6:00|
|18||End of the Unknown||Keiichi Okabe||4:29|
|19||Voice of NO Return||Keiichi Okabe||2:51|
|21||Forest Kingdom||Keigo Hoashi||5:51|
|22||Dark Colossus (Kaiju)||Keigo Hoashi||6:04|
|23||Copied City||Keigo Hoashi||3:58|
|24||Wretched Weaponry||Keiichi Okabe||7:03|
|25||Possessed by Disease||Keiichi Okabe||5:00|
|26||Broken Heart||Keiichi Okabe||3:29|
|27||Wretched Weaponry||Keiichi Okabe||3:05|
|29||Dependent Weakling||Kuniyuki Takahashi||5:03|
|30||Weight of the World Kowaretasekainouta - Marina Kawano||Keiichi Okabe||5:43|
|31||Rebirth & Hope||Keigo Hoashi||0:36|
|32||War & War||Keigo Hoashi||4:31|
|33||Crumbling Lies (Front)||Keigo Hoashi||3:25|
|34||Widespread Illness||Keigo Hoashi||3:17|
|35||Fortress of Lies||Keiichi Okabe||2:47|
|36||Vague Hope (Spring Rain)||Keigo Hoashi||4:38|
|37||Song of the Ancients (Atonement)||Keiichi Okabe||5:08|
|38||Blissful Death||Keiichi Okabe||2:35|
|39||Emil (Despair)||Keigo Hoashi||4:44|
|40||Faltering Prayer (Starry Sky)||Keigo Hoashi||3:43|
|41||Alien Manifestation||Keiichi Okabe||6:26|
|42||The Tower||Keiichi Okabe||7:42|
|43||Bipolar Nightmare||Keigo Hoashi||4:57|
|44||The Sound of the End||Keigo Hoashi||5:23|
|45||Weight of the World / Nouveau-FR Version Emi Evans)||Keiichi Okabe||5;43|
|46||Weight of the World / The End of YoRHa||Keiichi Okabe||5:38|