For the Glory of Mankind

Discussion in 'Game Corner' started by Chaos Shadow, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    What is NieR: Automata?
    NieR: Automata is the far-distant sequel to the 2010 PS3/XBox 360 game, NIER (also known as NieR: Gestalt or NieR: RepliCant, wacky capitalization inclusive, according to the Japanese releases). It was a wholly unexpected creature born from the creative talent of the folks behind the original NIER, and the game-systems talent of the folks at Platinum Games. If you are at all familiar with the original game it's pretty well acknowledged that Automata had absolutely no reason to exist, but here we are, and the world is better for it.


    What is NieR: Automata about?
    Earth has long since been invaded by aliens, who left behind a mechanical army called machine lifeforms (colloquially simply referred to as 'machines'). Humans were almost eradicated in the early invasions by the superior forces of the alien threat, but eventually created their own mechanical combatants in the form of combat androids. Leaving the Earth itself to be fought between proxy armies, the aliens seemed to retreat to somewhere in space while the remaining human population fled to the moon, allowing the Earth to become a battleground in a millennia-long war between the machines and the androids.

    In the year 11945, during the 14th Machine War, a combat android from the elite YoRHa squadron -- designation 2B -- is deployed to the surface to find and eradicate a massive Goliath-class machine being built by the machine lifeforms. After the success of her mission, she is sent again to assist an older android force stationed in the ruins of an old city, and from there...

    ...it gets complicated.


    What the hell does that have to do with NIER?
    Damn fine question!


    ...
    NieR: Automata has a generally loose relation to the original, by design; the game takes place several thousand years in the future and capitalizes on the time difference by being basically removed from the original game. That said, it features quite a few references to the original, both in small and major ways-- nothing that makes playing the original fundamental to the experience, but it does enrich Automata considerably. Still, Automata can stand on its own story-wise.


    What the hell is a NIER, then?
    According to our creative lead Yoko Taro, "Nier is a curse".

    Nobody has any idea what that means, probably not even Yoko Taro.

    And that's totally cool.


    What's your approach?
    The expected approach will not be too dissimilar to what I did with the original NIER: updates will generally go back and forth between story updates and sidequest/exploration updates (as available). I will try to do as much as possible regarding the sidequests, but there is one in particular that I can't guarantee will be finished as it requires a lot of enemy type cataloguing and it's largely just tedious (and I say this with a 100% sidequest LP of NIER sitting on my channel).

    That said, I will be getting all endings.

    I repeat: all. Endings.

    All of them.



    Where do we start?
    Where we should always start.

    From the beginning.
     
  2. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    Meet 2B. She's got swords and a robot buddy and much better survival instincts than everybody else in her squadron. What squadron, you may ask?

    Exactly.

    The factory level presented here is the same as the one provided in the November 2016 demo, and there's relatively little of note aside; the only real addition to the game is that we start off with a couple of minutes of Gradius.

    Also we reached the end credits.

    ...wait, what.




    NieR: Automata
    broken [W]ings


    The YoRHa force was annihilated...
    And Earth went on to become a paradise for machines.


    Obtained By: Dying during the opening assault; it triggers whether you die during the shoot-em-up segment or the actual battle in the factory. The quickest way to do so is to set the game to Very Hard and ram your face into a projectile or enemy machine as soon as they appear.
    Interesting note: The giant fuck-off laser that annihilates all of 2B's friends is programmed to deal specific damage equivalent to 1/3rd of 2B's maximum health. This is regardless of her level, defenses, total health, or the fact that she's on the OHKO difficulty setting.
     
  3. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    [​IMG]

    After a long day of fighting robots and literally exploding, it's a good time to chill up at our awesome space pad.



    [​IMG]

    The Bunker

    The Bunker is the YoRHa base of operations, located in a space station locked in geosynchronous orbit over the Tokyo Bay area (approximately the same location that the original NIER took place in). The Bunker is primarily used by Operator units to monitor, supervise, and coordinate activity among YoRHa units deployed to the Earth's surface, but also functions as a 'home base' for ground units to return to for maintenance, as well as a massive server for storing the uploaded data of the YoRHa androids assigned to this particular base.

    [​IMG]

    The Bunker is not a unique unit; there are many of them scattered above the surface of the Earth, stationed at strategic drop points to wage war with the machines across the surface of the planet. Each station has its own dedicated YoRHa squad, and its own dedicated servers to house the information and memories of those specific units. Though the bunkers do work in concert with each other, they oftentimes carry out individual missions rather than broad attacks across the planet's surface.

    [​IMG]
    The Bunker may also possess bizarre, non-Euclidean properties as yet not investigated by man- or android-kind.

    It's also a bit frail.



    [​IMG]

    NieR: Automata
    deb[ U ]nked


    By self-destructing at the Bunker, the entire structure ended up exploding in a spectacular fashion. But hey, it sure did look pretty from Earth!
    Somewhere in the depths of space, the Commander still floats about with a stern look on her face.


    Obtained By: Self-destructing on the Bunker. This may be done at any time you have access to the Bunker, from anywhere on the Bunker. This is one of my personal favorite endings. I mean I like a lot of them but I just love thinking of the Commander, arms folded across her chest, frowning deeply into the ether.
     
  4. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    Our first real steps on the surface, our first visit to the Resistance Camp, and our first SIIIIIIIDE QUUUUUUESTS!


    The Fallen
    Today we recognize the sacrifice paid by two YoRHa units:
    - micturkey (micturkey)
    - Bb (EEP8-6CNB-ABQ4)

    We carry your memory to the next battle.
    Glory to Mankind.


    [​IMG]

    City Ruins
    The City Ruins function as a sort of central hub for the game; the Resistance Camp is going to be our ground base going forward, and the City Ruins the main location we spend time in.

    Automata takes place not far from where the original NIER did, making the City likely the ruins of present-future Tokyo. I don't think you can directly map a particular area here, as thousands of years of decay and overgrowth have rendered the environment unrecognizable (it's changed, you see). Still, the buildings are holding up pretty well for nine thousand years; building codes must be phenomenal in Japan.

    [​IMG]

    The enemies we find in this area are composed almost entirely of non-aggressive small stubbies wandering in circles across fields, on overpasses, or on the roofs of buildings. The biggest threat here is actually the wildlife; boar and moose are brutal at this stage of the game (and, in fact, any stage of the game), and until you purchase a sachet they're aggressive on sight and more than capable of completely wrecking your shit. If you explore the field enough you can find a few low-level dead bodies laying broken here, no doubt at the prongs of a moose they didn't realize was just off-screen.


    [​IMG]

    My Grandfather's Axe
    "One day, my grandfather passed on his woodcutting axe to me. It was a good axe, but old, and though I took care of it the handle eventually became brittle and difficult to hold. So I went to town to purchase a new handle for my grandfather's axe.

    Over time, though I took care of it, the head of my grandfather's axe became chipped and cracked, and eventually split. So I went to town to purchase a new head for my grandfather's axe.

    Now my grandfather's axe has a brand new handle, and a brand new blade.

    Can I still call it my grandfather's axe?"

    The Grandfather's Axe paradox is a thought experiment regarding the state of existence of a subject as pieces of itself are replaced-- not in a wholesale, full replacement, but in a gradual way. The axe in this situation loses first its handle, then its head, meaning there was a state of being where it still retained some of its original components before those components were fully replaced.

    While the obvious answer is that the axe, being wholly composed of new parts, is clearly not the same axe, the transition state muddies the waters somewhat. While the physical state of the axe cannot be denies -- it is certainly no longer my grandfather's axe -- one must ask if the sentiment makes up the difference. It may no longer physically be the same axe, but there was a particular insistence in maintaining its physical state until unable to do so, and the sentiment related to the axe, that gives it a different meaning. Is the sentiment still there, and is it enough to still qualify as 'my grandfather's axe'?

    Now we extrapolate to living things.

    I read once an interesting take on this dilemma, immediately applicable to our friend, the item merchant: we as human being undergo a constant process of cellular generation and death, and it takes roughly ten years for each of our individual cells -- the very literal core of what composes us as organic lifeforms -- to undergo a full life cycle of birth and death. In practice, this means that every decade or so, we are physically not the same individual we were the decade prior. Of course this is also a transitional situation; we don't lose all of our cells at once (that would likely result in a relatively minor medical condition known as 'death'), but after a certain point we have completely replaced ourselves. Some cells are newer, some are older, but none of our molecular composition is actually the same as the day we were born; for adults, it's not even the same as when you were a child.

    And what ramifications does this, in turn, have? Because this also includes a constant replacement of the brain, as well. Are the synapses still firing the same? Are our memories retained through processes or do they undergo constant adjustment just by the physical nature of living? And what about the development of a personality? It's easy to look back and realize you're not the same person you were when you were a young child, but is that in terms of natural growth and development gathered through life experience, or is it because over time you have literally become a completely different being?

    And what of the androids?

    We as humans have no control over the process of cellular production and decay, but androids are composed of inorganic parts and fit in an uncomfortable spot between organic transition and the state of my grandfather's axe. They are creatures with active, developing intelligences and memories, but also capable of actively swapping out parts of themselves. Then you factor in that these are actively machines, even if they are given such profoundly human characteristics. The item merchant's concerns are founded on sentiment -- as I said, what's the importance of one's left leg in the grand scheme of identity? -- but can also take on a very real concern when one considers the ramifications of swapping parts for a machine. Even if the hard drive and OS remain the same, there's a whole new batch of connections that have to be established, different ways the electronics work with each other, adjustments that have to be made on a practical end...

    But if it's the same memories, the same personality -- the same 'soul', effectively -- then can one really ever say they are not the same individual?

    The item merchant's concerns are actually not entirely idle, in context of the game itself; the YoRHa units operate entirely on their ability to replicate new bodies into which old memories are subsequently uploaded. This is, in fact, the very core of how the save system in-game works; you are not simply ‘saving the game’, but actively backing up and restoring memories and combat information from the Bunker’s servers. When you reload from a title screen or a death, 2B emerged from the access point in a newly replicated body, with the ‘memories’ from the last save.

    The 2B that we control once we enter the Bunker is an entirely new fabrication whose personality was downloaded from a cloud storage backup initiated by 9S-- who is himself a completely new fabrication made from the same backup source, but with a personality saved roughly thirty minutes earlier. Is 2B the same as the one we were controlling originally, or the distinction between these bodies academic as the core personality is what's contained in the Bunker's server database? But if that's the case, then what of 9S, who bonded with 2B during that thirty-minute interval and whose backup information catalogued none of it?

    [​IMG]

    2B seems to have some thoughts on the matter.
     
  5. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    Desert level, yaaaaay


    The Fallen
    Today we recognize the sacrifice paid by four YoRHa units:
    - Gfgtgt (Aoyama)
    - hys (hys0088k)
    - CB (river_crab020)
    - Justin-sama (xKateUpton14)

    We carry your memory to the next battle.
    Glory to Mankind.

    [​IMG]

    The Desert Zone reveals some intriguing details from the second fall of man. The desert has expanded since it was last seen in NIER, now covering more of the city complex and encroaching into the city itself (or, given what 9S said about the birds, it's possible the foliage is actually re-encroaching on the desert as the environment adapts).

    For instance, at some point, they established an oil pipeline from the desert locations through the outskirts of the city. This is particularly fascinating as modern Japan almost entirely lacks domestic access to fossil fuels (with the exception of coal mining) and has to import all of their crude oil products from other nations. Where the oil came from in the future is a mystery, and I really don't know enough about the natural production of oil to speculate what might have happened (although the length of the pipelines might suggest it was only in relatively small, remote quantities that could be used and shipped back to whoever was using them.

    Now that I think about it, though, it might not have been humans that initially set up the pipeline, but the machines, using crude technology to siphon a resource that they might be able to put to use.

    More interesting are the enemies.

    [​IMG]
    The tower stubbies are adorable and helpless (and therefore great for collecting scrap parts without any risk to oneself), but the real prize is once you leave the city limits and get into the desert itself. The robots that populate the area are dressed in garb mirroring the old Facade people, from their desert cloaks to their wooden masks.

    (I also mentioned in the video that they weren't wearing face paint, but the concept art reveals that they actually are; it's just much harder to see in-game and something that I actually never noticed until I had another look at this.)

    This is not just a callback to the original game; the Desert Zone is the actual confirmation that Automata takes place in the same location as the original NIER. The machines integrated Facade culture into their look because they are actually located on top of Facade; the mid-desert access point is actually one of the staircases (and arches) from Facade. Other parts of the buildings are also visible in the western part of the desert.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    NieR: Automata
    fa[T]al error



    Obtained By: Removing your OS Chip. They may be done at any time you have access to the main gameplay menu. Please do not remove OS Chips unless you have saved recently, and please do notice that the game gives you a second warning prompt to make sure you don't accidentally pull the OS Chip while going through the menu.
     
  6. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    this cannot continue
    this cAnnot continue
    ThiS caNNooooot cONTINUE
    thi-
    i-
    i-
    s
    cannot co nconconconcoooooooooooooooooooooo
    nti
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -


    The Fallen
    Today we recognize the sacrifice paid by six YoRHa units:
    - Avatar (avatarninja12)
    - Nightsorrow (shatteredanima)
    - shun (s_saga0205)
    - Riffer Kyle (RifferKyle)
    - Casey (SocialDestroyer)
    - Harvey (Harvinator0905)

    We carry your memory to the next battle.
    Glory to Mankind.



    [​IMG]

    Desert Housing Complex

    The Desert Housing Complex is a small 'dungeon' area located in the ruins of an old apartment complex. It's preceded by a fairly large expanse of desert and seems to have an old oil pipeline leading into the town and presumably under the sands, lending some credence to the idea that the oil pipes might have actually been laid by the machines to provide a resource to more distant locations (such as the sinkhole at the far end of the complex).

    [​IMG]
    There's also an old play area here underneath what was once a flourishing tree. The fact that the trunk is still here, watching over the playground, is pretty cool. Life will find a way, I suppose.

    Of course at this juncture it's more interesting to note the responses of the machine lifeforms to the attack. Some of their speech sounds like actual response to incoming stimuli and could very well be appropriate programming and minor intelligence advancement (although what the benefit of giving your mass-produced war machines emotions like 'fear' would be is up in the air); however, much as 9S said back in the factory, they also seem to be pulling some random data, mitigating the idea that their responses have any real intelligence behind them.

    That or they're really aggressive about telling you how nice the weather is today.
     
  7. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    I fucking love the Amusement Park area.



    The Fallen
    Today we recognize the sacrifice paid by six YoRHa units:
    - Truth (xRadiant_Wolfx)
    - Haseo (haseoseerlane)
    - -- (hagotao)
    - nao (koba123456)
    - Adrian (boxforever)
    - -- (littlekidwow)

    We carry your memory to the next battle.
    Glory to Mankind.



    The Amusement Park

    [​IMG]
    The Amusement Park is one of the earlier pieces of revealed concept art, and drew a lot of speculation. There ultimately isn't much to the Park itself except that it seems to bear themes from Alive in Wonderland-- the Castle of Hearts in the center, and the White Rabbit/Machine statue standing guard when you first enter.

    The park itself is long since run down and looted, and in normal circumstances the area would have a rather macabre, ghostly feel to it; even the City Ruins, for all its greenery and roaming moose, feels empty, and the Amusement Park is even more desolate. Going into the backstage areas of the park feels lonesome and old and just a little wrong, but it's all offset by the fact that the Amusement Park is so damn happy.

    [​IMG]
    We've seen a few different, shall we say, 'tribes' of Machine Lifeforms so far. There are the group we expected to meet, who are openly hostile; there are the 'numb' wanderers out in the Ruins, who don't seem to have any purpose except to walk in circles; there are the desert machines, who seemed to be attempting to not only emulate human behaviors (protip: "Nice weather today" is not usually the precursor to attempting to stab somebody), but came together for the purpose of emulating actual human (or android) physiology.

    The Amusement Park machines are a whole separate group, decked out in bright colors and even face paint. The look is probably incongruous with how the park originally appeared (they certainly don't seem to fit the hypothetical Alice park archetype. (...parketype?)), but they embody a spirit of joy and fun that isn't found in any other environment. They are also, notably, completely docile; until you start attacking them they just go about their business throwing confetti and shooting balloons.

    I actually quite liked just coming to the Amusement Park, hanging out in the front courtyard, and chilling. The background for the music sounds like it's going to go into 'creepy carnival' at first, but then it mellows out when the vocals kick in and it's quite soothing. And, despite the somewhat ominous greeting the robots give you, they never actually devolve into a deranged cult, so if you're ever feeling down you can just go to the Amusement Park and watch them play.
     
  8. Chaos Shadow

    Chaos Shadow Simmered in awesome sauce

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    Oh my god.

    It's adorable over here.



    [​IMG]
    The Robot Village

    The Robot Village is a small settlement located in the forest just outside the Amusement Park. It's inhabited by a group of robots who seem to be somehow separate from the rest of the machine lifeform 'society', forming their own 'tribe'-- not unlike the Amusement Park or desert robots. However, this particular tribe as a sense of self-awareness that sets them more thoroughly apart from any other singular group, with each of its representatives actually expressing a unique (rather than unified) personality, although they're brought together under the banner of peace.

    The Robot Village is not (spoilers) a trap, or in any way the establishment it does not appear to be. It existence is very much to emphasize the fact that the robots are not a singular network with no thoughts or considerations of their own, and are in fact capable of the same intelligence, consideration, and thought that the androids are.

    This is almost completely glossed over as 'oh yeah we talk to some robots it's cool' by Anemone, and for good reason; this really isn't a big deal on its own. For anybody who's familiar with the original NIER (which should be... just about anybody reading this), the concept of two warring sides not being divided into 'good' and 'evil' is nothing new to the franchise and miiiiight have kind of been a sorta important point in the original game. However, in comparison to the Shades, the Robot Village is entirely dedicated to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict-- and, perhaps more importantly, is capable of directly contacting the androids and actually engaging in conversation, allowing a much higher chance of everybody actually coming to a peaceable solution.

    Their nature as an intermediary between the forces of the robots and androids is, somewhat interestingly, exemplified in where they choose to build their home. The Robot Village is located on and around a large, central tree and hidden in the heart of the forest. It is built with a hybridization of natural resources and artificial, with more emphasis on the use of wood (in the platforms and bridges) than on scavenged metal parts (although there is still ample use of scavenged metal parts, especially for constructing some of the homes).

    It’s somewhat interesting that the robots here aren’t really ‘one with nature’, or that they retreated to nature as some commentary about the beauty of the Earth as a planet, but their specific use of nature versus the robots we've seen (who are scavenging from the remains of human civilization) and the androids themselves (who live in a cool sci-fi bunker IN SPAAAACE) is an interesting bit of imagery.
     

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