The Best Time To Play Nier: Automata Is Right Now

2B and 9S walks under a bridge in Nier: Automata.

Screenshot: Square Enix

Nier: Automata spent the last week in the headlines, the result of a secret door that sent the community into a scramble. The mystery itself may have come to a sudden, surprising conclusion, but that doesn’t mean the base game it was part of should drop off your radar. In fact, it’s all the more reason to revisit what many herald as one of the best action-RPGs ever.

That recommendation goes for everyone, by the way, whether you’ve hit the credits a dozen times or have yet to see firsthand what’s endeared Nier: Automata to so many people. Developed by PlatinumGames and first released in 2017, Nier: Automata is an action role-playing game set 9,000 years in the future, wherein you play as a small contingent of battle-trained androids. It mostly focuses on hack-and-slash combat, but there are moments where it’s a straight-up bullet hell.

Nier: Automata‘s main gimmick—and what makes it stand out among a crowded field—is that it has multiple endings. Not just two or three alternatives either. All told, there are 26 different endings. Most of them are semi-serious at best (including one where you unequip an item that specifically says will kill you if you unequip it). But five are legit, which means you have to play through its campaign several times, from different perspectives, to get the whole plot.

Nier: Automata is a recent narrative tour de force in its own right, which may partially explain its cultural resurgence—again, because of that secret door.

For the past two months, dedicated members of Nier: Automata‘s online community were piqued by a player asking about a “church” that didn’t seem to match any known areas of the game. Some people called bullshit, but video evidence of the previously undiscovered area surfaced early last week. The door to the area, though, curiously seemed accessible only to one player.

After a week of frenetic, community-fueled speculation, it turned out the whole thing was a viral campaign for a new, potentially game-changing set of modding tools, whose designers say they’re planning on releasing the tools to the public soon. In other words, Nier: Automata is about to be home to some truly wild community creations.

That’s not all. In February, Publisher Square Enix announced it’d produce an anime adaptation of Nier: Automata. (Details are currently scant.) Nier‘s story is branching and emotionally devastating, but it’s also deeply personal in the way only games can be. No matter how you end up at its ultimate conclusion, you probably got there by a different route than someone else. The only way to truly measure the anime against its source material is, y’know, to actually play that source material.

Also, c’mon: Though the release calendar is set to pick up steam soon, it’s dry AF right now. If you’re looking to slot something in the first spot of your backlog, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Nier: Automata.

Some advice for the newcomers, though: Juggle multiple save files, and beware the fish.

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