Handy Spoiler-Free Tips For NieR: Automata
Now that NieR: Automata is finally out on both platforms, I figured it would be a good time to write an article that I’ve been contemplating for a while. I can see some players being too engrossed in the story to dive into any side content until a later time, but there are in fact plenty of optional quests which help complement the main narrative arc. This guide is intended to be completely spoiler free, and should just nudge readers in the right direction for any particular highlights that I feel are especially worth paying attention to.
Ending A Isn’t Actually the Ending
This is something I want to point out before we get into the things you might miss, since some readers may not be familiar with director Taro Yoko’s work. The game is actually split into three playthroughs, though I honestly think that ‘playthrough’ is a bit of a misnomer. I like to refer to these as ‘cycles’, but other fans refer to them as ‘routes’ or ‘paths’ followed by the ending that you’ll obtain for clearing it. The endings are more like chapter endings rather than actual endings to the game, with the final and true ending designated as Ending E.
There’s also twenty-one joke endings, so watch out for those. The joke endings fit the typical player perception of an alternative ending a lot more than endings A – E.
Also, this might be slightly unrelated but whatever. Don’t watch the title screen cutscene if you haven’t already. Taro Yoko games typically give away spoilers here, and this is coming from a writer who usually conforms to the idea that a spoiler is something that isn’t given away by the creators. Just skip any cutscenes that play on the title screen.
So, the thing about NieR: Automata is that there is a lot of complementary character development and foreshadowing to be found in some of the side quests. While absolutely not mandatory, these help flesh out the story as it unfolds and also establish certain key events before they’re used in a twisty reveal. I’ve highlighted a small handful of the sixty side quests and in which cycle they can be found, but I didn’t want to say any more than that.
Cycle 1: Fans of the original NieR might want to return to the flower in the shopping centre once they’ve met a familiar face for the first time. Trust me when I say that this questline is pretty emotional, but even those unfamiliar with the quest may want to complete it to complete a later cycle 3 quest.
Cycle 1: Anemone will eventually have an interesting quest worth looking at. It opens up sometime after being introduced to the third playable character. That’s all I really need to say for this one. She has two quests, so here’s a non-spoiler detail about this one: Anemone was a character from the YoRHa stage play by director Taro Yoko and this quest is about her past!
Cycle 1: Be sure to help out your operator and do those terminal repairs. There’s a nice reward at the end of this three-quest chain and Operator 6O is precious.
Cycle 2: There’s a quest located in the tall building right next to where you start the open-world portion of the game at. It’d almost be hard to miss if which floor it’s on was easier to figure out. You can find it on the third floor.
Cycle 2: Help out your operator again. This time, you’ll need to visit her at the Bunker for these particular quests. This chain is a two-part quest.
Cycle 2: This is actually available in cycle 1 but the reward is more relevant in cycle 2. You can get one of the best available weapons for 9S by accomplishing the treasure hunt quest in the desert. Fans of the original NieR will appreciate this. This quest can be a pain in the ass, so it’s the least significant in this list.
Cycle 3: The Resistance Camp will have a quest pretty early on that’s incredibly fulfilling, but also requires you do that flower quest that was available in cycle 1. You can find the NPC for this quest in a chair.
While I may have highlighted a few missions here, don’t make the assumption that other quests aren’t worth it. Almost all of them really are worth it, it’s just that these ones particularly enhance the main story as you progress through it.
Really Big Cycle 3 Detail
I really can’t say anymore than the following sentence: once the gameplay resumes after the title card is displayed, return to the flooded ruins and look for a YoRHa Flight Unit. That’s it. It’s really, really worth it.
This one seems to be missed by a lot of players, so I just figured I’d chuck it in here. By pressing both the Shoot button and the Jump button, the protagonist will be able to launch themselves further. It’ll disable double jump, so make sure to precede it with that first. You can also follow it up with a dash and a hover to get more air. This is pretty useful, even if the game doesn’t mention it at all.
Increasing Jump Height
There are areas that are seemingly unreachable in the game, or are a little bit more arduous to access. The simple solution is to use the launcher attack and then the double jump. That’s it. The launcher will send the player higher than their regular initial jump would. To use the launcher: simply use heavy attack almost immediately after using the jump. It really is that easy, though 9S will require a light attack instead of the heavy. You can use this to skip a couple of block-pushing platforming too, like where players will find the master blacksmith who can upgrade weapons to the final level.
Plug-ins Are Super Good
This cannot be understated. NieR: Automata may be an action-RPG by Platinum Games, but it weighs more heavily on the RPG elements. If the game is feeling too hard, make sure to customize and play with your plug-ins. They’re also pretty vital to any difficulty above normal.
2A’s Past (Sort Of)
Surprise! 2A isn’t actually an original character to NieR: Automata. Some of the press leading up to the game already kind of stated this, but readers that haven’t followed the pre-launch build up may not be aware of the YoRHa Stage Play set prior to the game’s events. You can read a diary on these events by speaking to Anemone as 2A. This may require talking to her a few times before she reveals it, though.
At some point, the need may arise to level up more quickly (*cough* superboss *cough*). There’s actually a fairly easy way that unlocks an incredibly well hidden boss fight. You’ll probably want to be around level 50-60 before starting this ̶ at least, that’s the level I started farming at.
To even access the boss, players will need to step into the shorts and boots of 9S. You’ll also need to clear out the entrance area where the golden machine statue is ̶ except for one. Don’t worry about screwing up though, because you can actually grab another machine from nearby. Whatever the case, you’ll want to hack into the golden machine statue while remote controlling another machine. That’s really the only way to reach it. I wasn’t kidding when I said subtle.
This fight can be pretty easy if you abuse 9S’ core mechanic, and defeating it will almost always reward players with three level ups. Make sure to stack as many experience up plug-ins too!
This one is actually a little bit difficult to convey without spoilers so I’m going to be a little cryptic here. There’s two level 99 superbosses that are related to each other, but the method of unlocking the first is actually a little bit more subtle.
First, readers will want to speak to the wandering merchant (who does have a name but I don’t want to give that away) before they can continue. You’ll know who that merchant is once you meet them. After speaking to them, readers should look for a sewer pipe in the middle area of the city ruins.
There’s actually two sewer pipes that take you somewhere else, but this one requires you to jump in order to reach it. Once you get inside and take the elevator, the reader’s aim should be
to reach the bottom and steal an item. The protagonist’s pod will warn them about stealing, but ignore the warning and take the item anyway. Return to the wandering merchant, and then return once more to the room with the item that can be stolen. You can probably take it from there.
As an added note, one of the optional endings is locked behind the second optional superboss. There’s a very specific event that’s scripted to occur at the end of the fight, so make sure you save prior to the encounter and try failing that condition on the first run.
Weapon stories are a cool thing that you usually find in Taro Yoko games. While they give you the usual fare of misery, there’s a few interesting details–specifically the weapon you get for beating the first optional superboss which has a story set after NieR: Automata’s Ending E. It’s a nice detail for those looking for a tiny little bit more closure.
Plug-in Chips Are Still Awesome
Does the game not feel Platinum Games enough for you? Look out for the Counter and Overclock chips, which are similar to the Metal Gear Rising parry and Bayonetta witch time mechanics respectively.
You can’t actually miss things (except Ending Y, see: Optional Superbosses). There’s a chapter select. I wasn’t sure if I should include this here, but there it is. I’ve seen a lot of players fret about missing content, but NieR: Automata might be the most friendly of the Taro Yoko games.
Also, if you’re familiar with the original NieR then here’s a little bit of comfort: don’t worry too much about losing your save data. Play as you like. I won’t comment on whether it’s in the game or not, but I will note that even the original game had a few warnings about what you were going to do. Relax.
Uhh, that’s it. I don’t think I missed anything else significantly useful. Maybe you could try fishing in the flooded ruins or one of the sewer pipes, but that’s all I can really add.