Game Rant goes hands on with NieR: Automata, experiencing the new action system from Platinum Games and discovering just how long the game truly is.
When NieR: Automata was first announced, fans of the original game were excited to hear that the title was making an unexpected return thanks to Platinum Games. This week, Game Rant had a chance to go hands-on with an early build of Nier: Automata, speaking with the producers about how the sequel aims to fix the extensive gameplay problems of the original title, while expanding the lore and universe from the first NieR that fans seemed to systematically love more than critics.
As producer Yosuke Saito explains, the first step in the production of the sequel was all about making amends for the missteps of the first title. As it turns out, the harsh reaction from critics about the original game's lacklustre action sequences is exactly what led Saito to team up with Platinum Games this time around, a studio which had previously worked on Bayonetta and Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance. As we played a short period of the game in the boots of the android 2B, the studio's action experience was immediately apparent: combat felt very fluid, and it was easy to hack and slash with 2B's sword as she jumped and dashed across a battlefield of tin-can looking robotic enemies.
While the red-eyed enemies did run the risk of repetition, the game mixed up the action with unique camera angles, switching from a traditional 3D perspective to a 2D sidescroller. These transitions felt seamless, and the bold move to play with camera angles kept the combat from feeling too stale as 2B progressed to each new fighting location. She has several hack-and-slash attacks, and gamers can also utilize their floating pod companion to lay down bullets and trigger laser attacks from distance - something they'll have to do when enemies who can't be melee attacked enter the picture.
While the demo we played only featured one boss fight against a giant buzz saw contraption, gamers should expect many more large-scale boss battle segments littered throughout NeiR: Automata. On top of that, Saito also confirmed that there are more mounts aside of previously revealed deer and boars, commenting cryptically that not every mount may be an animal. The addition of several difficulty options this time around will also make for an easier playthrough experience, a sharp contrast from the difficult-by-default original NieR. The game will also feature an 'Auto Mode' for those who fail to progress through the action sequences but still want to experience the story.
Saito also confirmed that those looking for a long playthrough were in luck, as Nier: Automata should be able to garner a lot of playtime from those who seek to truly complete it:
Because it's an action RPG genre, there is a main story, but we do have side quests as well. While we do call them side quests, some of them actually have chapters within themselves as well. Some of them are actually really difficult. If you want to really complete everything, it might take from 25-30 hours of gameplay, and you might need to upgrade all your weapons and whatnot to complete the quests as well, so it may take longer than that.
The producer also confirmed that the game would be PS4 Pro optimized, and confirmed than an Xbox One release was on the cards depending on how NieR: Automata sales fair from the game's launch early next year. From our time with the game, the action sequences look to have heavily improved, and Platinum Games will be banking on an enveloping storyline and smoother combat keeping fans hooked. While we have some concerns about large bland locations and a lack of cannon fodder enemy variety, it's clear that NieR: Automata looks like a marked improved on the original, and action RPG fans should consider the title when it eventually releases across the globe.
NieR: Automata will release on PC and PS4 in Japan this February 23, 2017. The Western release date has not been confirmed at this point in time.