Nier: Automata Impressions

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So I'm sorry guys, I have a family emergency this weekend and I was not able to put in enough time to fully review Nier: Automata for you this week. But I did play enough to give you guys some early impressions of the game.

For reference I got about 3 hours into the game, defeated three bosses, and collected a bunch of random items and upgrades. Also I played this on PC, so some things don't count on the PS4 version.

So the first thing I noticed is the jarring nature of the game. The game's optimization is wonky to say the least. Gameplay is buttery smooth at 60fps, yet the cutscenes are not only capped at 30fps they seem to struggle with that. I was getting cut scenes barely hitting 20 fps and it really hurt my experience with the story so far as the jarring nature of it took me right out of the game. This isn't my system either as the 60 fps gameplay sections never falter, I never end got a slight 59.9 dip. So the struggle to run the cut scenes is clearly a problem with the game and not the system running it.

That being said the graphics confuse the fucking hell out of me. I mean our female robot character 2B is beautifully rendered and full of detail from her looks, to her animations. She moves through the world like a hot knife through butter, it's wonderful. Combat animations are badass, even her idle animations are full of life, which is weird because she isn't...alive. The world and the enemies so far are just horrible though. While the textures of the boring grey robots and boring grey metal industrial areas, ruined cities, and empty deserts are very good textures....it's still just a bunch of boring, uninteresting areas and enemies.

Combat is also not what I expected from a Platinum game. I went into Nier expecting a Bayonetta freakshow of awesomeness with robot parts flying all over the place. What I got, was a much slower game than I expected. Melee combat seems much more focused on whiff punishing than the brutal offense of other games from the developer. 2B takes a LOT of damage when she is hit, even on normal. And her best method of combat is to time your dodges to trigger counter attack combos on enemies. You also have a robot that will fire in the direction your character is facing so long as you hold down the button for it.

Which leads me to the controls. Let me start by saying I always play games for review using the default control scheme. I want to play the game the way the developers thought it best laid out to play. Yet someone over there at Platinum made the choice of putting the ever-important dodge button on the Right Trigger. In a game like this dodging needs to be a lightning fast reflex, and the right trigger is not only unintuitive but also the slowest button on the controller to push. I can't tell you how much damage I've taken because I'm trying to dodge using a button that makes more sense like "B".

Overall it isn't a bad game though, it is just different from what I expected. The game loves to shift perspectives from 3rd person action game, to side scroller, to bullet hell, to twin stick shooter, and maybe that's the problem. Nier is a game trying to do SOOO much, that it doesn't do any of the things particularly well so far.

As it stands I'm a little bit put off on Nier. But I'll continue through to get a better view of the title as a whole. I just wanted to get something up for you guys who love listening to be bitch about games.

Bayonetta also had dodge on the right trigger.

Looking forward to try Nier myself later today.

beat the desert level and the "boring" areas end, you are literally at the start of the game, as for the frame rate, idk I played on PS4 with no issues maybe optimize your card for the game? Get new video card? IDK PC isn't something I'm knowledgeable in.

as for the game itself yes the game is incredible and the action is top notch, the enemy designs while simplistic go very well with the overall story.
Are you familiar with the Drakengard series or the previous Nier? While not necessary it helps flesh out the story.

GZGoten:
beat the desert level and the "boring" areas end, you are literally at the start of the game, as for the frame rate, idk I played on PS4 with no issues maybe optimize your card for the game? Get new video card? IDK PC isn't something I'm knowledgeable in.

as for the game itself yes the game is incredible and the action is top notch, the enemy designs while simplistic go very well with the overall story.
Are you familiar with the Drakengard series or the previous Nier? While not necessary it helps flesh out the story.

I have a GTX 1070 8gb card. It isn't my system. The cut scene frame rates are a widely reported issue. PS4 is locked to 30 fps so it wont be noticable there.

I'm having so much fun with Automata. I'm 11 hours in and let's just say that the City Ruins are the least interesting environment in the game. I still can't get over the Amusement Park and how creepy yet charming it is. They do go places with the simplistic enemy designs later, you're literally at the start of the game.

The controls are a bit weird yes but you'll get used to them after a while. The combat is very Bayonetta which can only be a good thing and I like how for once the gun you have is actually more effective than a pea shooter unlike every other character action game released since Devil May Cry.

I'm glad to hear it gets better. I look forward to seeing how things develop. Like I said, I wanted to put some thoughts out there for you guys.

CritialGaming:
Combat is also not what I expected from a Platinum game. I went into Nier expecting a Bayonetta freakshow of awesomeness with robot parts flying all over the place. What I got, was a much slower game than I expected. Melee combat seems much more focused on whiff punishing than the brutal offense of other games from the developer. 2B takes a LOT of damage when she is hit, even on normal. And her best method of combat is to time your dodges to trigger counter attack combos on enemies.

In a game like this dodging needs to be a lightning fast reflex, and the right trigger is not only unintuitive but also the slowest button on the controller to push. I can't tell you how much damage I've taken because I'm trying to dodge using a button that makes more sense like "B".

I don't really consider this a Platinum game. The way I saw it even before playing the demo was that Platinum was basically coming in to spruce up Nier's combat. And, from playing the demo, that's exactly what they did. Automata is still a Nier game with the same director. Expecting a full-fledged Platinum combat system like Bayonetta wasn't going to happen.

Speaking of Bayonetta and as someone already mentioned, Bayonetta used "R2" for its dodge. I never had issue with that. I imagine you can remap the dodge to another button especially on PC and on PS4 you can remap all buttons for any game as well. I never have to use L3 for sprint again, I'm using R2 for sprint in Horizon for example.

My main concern for Automata is whether the characters will be good. The 1st game was carried by Kaine and Weiss and the main androids don't come off as interesting at all in Automata. Nier's story has some issues even more so after watching Super Bunnyhop's recent Nier video. Hopefully, you don't have to play Automata multiple times to reveal the whole story like the original, which wasn't near (pun unintended) that amazing enough to lock details behind multiple playthroughs.

I've just entered what you would call late game. I can't give a full review right now, but I'll say this: the game is incredible.

The thing that needs to be understood is that the game is divided into thirds. Route 1, route 2, and route 3. I suspect a lot of reviewers will finish route 1, and think they've finished. They're actually only 1/3rd of the way through the game. Each route becomes increasingly different. The final route is essentially the second half of the story. The game starts off slow, but it absolutely explodes during the ending of route two, and route three. This game is weird and experimental, but it's very good.

In terms of game play it switches around a lot. From moment to moment it can be a bullet hell, a twin stick shooter, a third person action game, a top down action game, and a side scroller. It changes genres fluidly, and frequently. It may not be for everyone, but if you want to try something experimental and different, then I think this is an excellent title.

For the record, I find the dodge to be awkward as well, but I believe that the game will allow you to rebind it even on controller. (Maybe? I thought that was what I saw, but I didn't look too closely and it's been a few days since I last played.) I know you said you like to play with the default control scheme, but honestly, sometimes you just need to accept that the developer's standard control scheme is a bit arcane.

But yeah, on PC the optimization is... less than ideal. In fact, I'd dare say it's embarrassing, considering that it takes a special sort of mistake to get pre-rendered cutscenes to run poorly.

Aside from that, I'd also second the question as to whether you're familiar with Drakengard/the first Nier or not, because Automata is most definitely Nier by way of Platinum rather than a *Platinum* game, if that makes sense. I've enjoyed it so far, but I really hope that the performance gets ironed out a bit because right now it's not in a state that I feel excited to come back to. And that's a shame, because I feel like the game is one I'll have a lot of fun with; Nier was a game that I intensely wanted to like, but just couldn't really gel with the gameplay, at least at the time that I tried to play it.

14 hours in. The combat is too simple, which brings down the whole game a bit. You spam the dodge button through everything. When I'm not spamming the dodge button, I'm mashing X and Y. 2B and her traveling attacks do most of the work for me, so I don't even have to be in range. It's rather one-note. If I switch to Hard mode, the enemies deliver way too much damage and often kill me instantly.

I wish the outfits, while goth, were a little more utilitarian, like the ones from Nihei or even Gantz. You can still make them revealing and cute without the fashionable stockings or the fancy decorations and buttons. Is there an explanation? Do the androids envy the humans?

My game has crashed a few times on my GTX 780, which is supposedly rather common on that card. It sucks when you have to worry more about crashing in a long section without saves than dying.

Hmm. I'll have to politely disagree with the dodge button complaint, but I suppose that's subjective. I find that the enemies have built in tells to let you know you need to dodge. For instance, the robots eyes flash red before every attack. If you bare that in mind, it does become easier to dodge. The back bumper dodge button worked seamlessly flor me, and I never had a single issue with it. It's especially easy when compared to dark souls, which requires timing mastery.

Fox12:
If you bare that in mind, it does become easier to dodge. The back bumper dodge button worked seamlessly flor me, and I never had a single issue with it. It's especially easy when compared to dark souls, which requires timing mastery.

It's not so much that the dodging itself is awkward as it is that the button placement doesn't gel with the rest of the control scheme of the game for me. It's particularly bad during the shmup sequences, but any time I want to keep firing with the pod while dodging is an exercise in how strangely I can contort my fingers around the controller. And yes, I could just not have the pod be firing, but that's kinda counterintuitive considering that the pod does chip damage and never runs out of ammo. It's just wasted damage if you don't.

Dodging in NieR: Automata requires actively managing four different systems, which means four different inputs: the pod (R1), the camera (right stick), your melee (face buttons), and the dodge itself (R2). Contrast with Dark Souls, which only requires three, removing the conflicting use of both trigger buttons simultaneously with either the analog stick or a face button.

Now, hey, maybe this is just a problem for me because I use my index finger for both of the triggers. But man is it just uncomfortable and fucking weird for me to have two fingers on the triggers at the same time.

Also, developers, can you please stop pre-rendering your in-engine cutscenes? It looks bad almost every time, like a terribly compressed video you'd find on the Pirate Bay or a porn site. If Kojima Productions can render all their in-engine cutscenes in real time, you can do it too.

It also wastes huge amounts of data. This game didn't have to be 50 GB.

CritialGaming:

Combat is also not what I expected from a Platinum game. I went into Nier expecting a Bayonetta freakshow of awesomeness with robot parts flying all over the place. What I got, was a much slower game than I expected. Melee combat seems much more focused on whiff punishing than the brutal offense of other games from the developer. 2B takes a LOT of damage when she is hit, even on normal. And her best method of combat is to time your dodges to trigger counter attack combos on enemies. You also have a robot that will fire in the direction your character is facing so long as you hold down the button for it.

Now I may have to reconsider getting the game, I dont really like the flashiness of most Platinum games, it always feels like for every button press the character does a shit ton of unnecessary moves, making the action feel shallow and disconnected. Something like Ninja Gaiden worked better for me, you press a button and a slash happens, just that (although some weapons are flashier like the nunchucks).

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!

I have to do all of the story 2 intro again because I died during the last part where you have to fend off the machines with the pod. Even though there were do-over checkpoints before that point! Fucking stupid waste of time.

Mistakes happen. I think I'm decent at shoot 'em ups. I can get to the last level of M.U.S.H.A, level 6 (292340 points) in Thunder Force IV, level 8 in Gley Lancer, and I've beaten the first four levels of Jamestown on Divine. The last on Legendary. But, like I said, mistakes happen. It's stupid to punish you for that by wasting your time with the same (now tedious) story sequences and that slow opening with the little robot. Besides, there were several checkpoints, so I don't see why I'm back at the beginning now.

Is the game design trying to be too many things at once? It sounds like performance suffers and the differences between PS4 and Pro are pretty pronounced. It doesn't even run at 1080p on the standard version, and there are some noticeable aliasing issues. I haven't played it, but seeing that it changes game styles so much I wonder if they didn't optimize any of them. PC version is also a port of the standard PS4 and not Pro, so that's where the cutscene issues probably stem from.

Regarding the game's visual style, yeah, B2 is definitely the highlight and exquisitely designed. Kinda ironic how they sexualize her looks though when she's a robot. Designed to lure horny humans?

shrekfan246:

Dodging in NieR: Automata requires actively managing four different systems, which means four different inputs: the pod (R1), the camera (right stick), your melee (face buttons), and the dodge itself (R2). Contrast with Dark Souls, which only requires three, removing the conflicting use of both trigger buttons simultaneously with either the analog stick or a face button.

This is my biggest issue with the control scheme (though it was temporary for me and I just got used to it). It definitely took a while to get accustomed to juggling four different kinds of inputs at once.

Phoenixmgs:

My main concern for Automata is whether the characters will be good. The 1st game was carried by Kaine and Weiss and the main androids don't come off as interesting at all in Automata. Nier's story has some issues even more so after watching Super Bunnyhop's recent Nier video. Hopefully, you don't have to play Automata multiple times to reveal the whole story like the original, which wasn't near (pun unintended) that amazing enough to lock details behind multiple playthroughs.


OP: I think your complaints are all legitimate to some degree, but I can't say they bother me as much. Dodging is pretty dang easy and it doesn't have to be anywhere near as precise in this game compared to other Platinum games. And I enjoy the genre shifts particularly because all of the ones they borrow from are some of my favorites, but I suppose that's a matter of personal preference.

In any case I hope they make sure to fix the PC version's cutscenes and improve its performance. Seems like it's leaving a bad taste in a lot of peoples' mouths; there's no reason to have pre-rendered cutscenes be running in some weird 15 FPS state. Or to have some of the pop-in I've been seeing.

This is absurdly stupid. I just failed the last part again because I didn't know that I was supposed to prevent the enemies from passing the pod. I skipped the cutscenes this second time. It takes like twenty minutes to get back to this sequence. Dumb!

hanselthecaretaker:
Is the game design trying to be too many things at once? It sounds like performance suffers and the differences between PS4 and Pro are pretty pronounced. It doesn't even run at 1080p on the standard version, and there are some noticeable aliasing issues. I haven't played it, but seeing that it changes game styles so much I wonder if they didn't optimize any of them. PC version is also a port of the standard PS4 and not Pro, so that's where the cutscene issues probably stem from.

Regarding the game's visual style, yeah, B2 is definitely the highlight and exquisitely designed. Kinda ironic how they sexualize her looks though when she's a robot. Designed to lure horny humans?

I wanna know why 9S is wearing a designer purse. I haven't seen any humans yet. I'm guessing it's just vanity. The androids are vain.

Im currently in the process of going for 100% completion on a second save file.

Why a second file? Wouldnt want to spoil it.

So yes i rather like the game.

Also after you unlock ending C or D youll unlock a chapter select so dont feel giulty about missing any sidequests.

I just recently started the third playthrough and so far the game has been absolutely amazing, which isn't too much of a surprise. While the main characters haven't quite gripped me as much as the first game's, the gameplay is much better.

And damn, that scene where you visit that particular place, with that particular character while [/i]that[/i] particular music track starts playing really got to me.

I just beat a robot that tried to kill me with opera and the game has completely fucking STALLED for me. I'm just sort of running around now. Trying to figure out if there is a fast travel but i can't seem to find it. Jackass is also an accurate name for her stupid "challenges"

The first Nier was an intentional genre-salad, with action RPG, shooter, and even survival horror.

This game has much better combat and more interesting character customization, so compared to the original I'm liking it more. Also I dig the music. But I'm not far enough to talk about the story.

CritialGaming:
I just beat a robot that tried to kill me with opera and the game has completely fucking STALLED for me. I'm just sort of running around now. Trying to figure out if there is a fast travel but i can't seem to find it. Jackass is also an accurate name for her stupid "challenges"

As you progress through the main story you'll eventually unlock fast travel.

Ezekiel:
This is absurdly stupid. I just failed the last part again because I didn't know that I was supposed to prevent the enemies from passing the pod. I skipped the cutscenes this second time. It takes like twenty minutes to get back to this sequence. Dumb!

hanselthecaretaker:
Is the game design trying to be too many things at once? It sounds like performance suffers and the differences between PS4 and Pro are pretty pronounced. It doesn't even run at 1080p on the standard version, and there are some noticeable aliasing issues. I haven't played it, but seeing that it changes game styles so much I wonder if they didn't optimize any of them. PC version is also a port of the standard PS4 and not Pro, so that's where the cutscene issues probably stem from.

Regarding the game's visual style, yeah, B2 is definitely the highlight and exquisitely designed. Kinda ironic how they sexualize her looks though when she's a robot. Designed to lure horny humans?

I wanna know why 9S is wearing a designer purse. I haven't seen any humans yet. I'm guessing it's just vanity. The androids are vain.

I had that exact problem. I only died once though, the game doesn't tell you that you can move the pod around like the character. So just get up in enemies faces and blast em. Prioritise flyers. Also if you have healing items, you can use them without going into the inventory screen.

Broderick:

Ezekiel:
This is absurdly stupid. I just failed the last part again because I didn't know that I was supposed to prevent the enemies from passing the pod. I skipped the cutscenes this second time. It takes like twenty minutes to get back to this sequence. Dumb!

hanselthecaretaker:
Is the game design trying to be too many things at once? It sounds like performance suffers and the differences between PS4 and Pro are pretty pronounced. It doesn't even run at 1080p on the standard version, and there are some noticeable aliasing issues. I haven't played it, but seeing that it changes game styles so much I wonder if they didn't optimize any of them. PC version is also a port of the standard PS4 and not Pro, so that's where the cutscene issues probably stem from.

Regarding the game's visual style, yeah, B2 is definitely the highlight and exquisitely designed. Kinda ironic how they sexualize her looks though when she's a robot. Designed to lure horny humans?

I wanna know why 9S is wearing a designer purse. I haven't seen any humans yet. I'm guessing it's just vanity. The androids are vain.

I had that exact problem. I only died once though, the game doesn't tell you that you can move the pod around like the character. So just get up in enemies faces and blast em. Prioritise flyers. Also if you have healing items, you can use them without going into the inventory screen.

I passed it a few hours ago. I preferred 2B over 9S. His gameplay involves too much hacking, which is just more shoot 'em up segments. I hack so frequently (because there's no point in using melee attacks) that I can't even hear his conversations with 2B.

Ezekiel:

Broderick:

Ezekiel:
This is absurdly stupid. I just failed the last part again because I didn't know that I was supposed to prevent the enemies from passing the pod. I skipped the cutscenes this second time. It takes like twenty minutes to get back to this sequence. Dumb!
I wanna know why 9S is wearing a designer purse. I haven't seen any humans yet. I'm guessing it's just vanity. The androids are vain.

I had that exact problem. I only died once though, the game doesn't tell you that you can move the pod around like the character. So just get up in enemies faces and blast em. Prioritise flyers. Also if you have healing items, you can use them without going into the inventory screen.

I passed it a few hours ago. I preferred 2B over 9S. His gameplay involves too much hacking, which is just more shoot 'em up segments. I hack so frequently (because there's no point in using melee attacks) that I can't even hear his conversations with 2B.

I'm getting the same impression, although I only just got done with the desert section. At least I know how to open those chests now

Shouldn't the hacking mini-games be, like, you know, puzzles? How does more shoot 'em up gameplay represent hacking?

I've mistaken the character I'm playing as a few times. I think it would have been better to give them different colored outfits. I'm still not sure why the androids are so into black goth fashion.

Ezekiel:
I wanna know why 9S is wearing a designer purse. I haven't seen any humans yet. I'm guessing it's just vanity. The androids are vain.

Same reason why 2b has upskirt city going on and can even explode the dress off her butt: the devs liked it so that's how they decided their puppets should look like.

So, apparently their designs are supposed to resemble butler and maid outfits, to symbolize their servitude to man. Which is a cool idea, I admit. But then you look at the androids at HQ who are dressed more casually and look like nightclub people instead of servants.

Ezekiel:
Shouldn't the hacking mini-games be, like, you know, puzzles?

Why should it? Because most games do?

How does more shoot 'em up gameplay represent hacking?

I don't think I've ever played a game where the hacking represented real world hacking. Not to mention, this game is more than ten millennia in the future, and technology is obviously a lot different then than it is now.

Well, first of all, 3 hours isn't really that far in, so a bit early to judge but hey.

First a few things.

On PC it is locked to 60fps, and the cutscenes to 30. Why? Fuck knows, but that's how they did it and not much you can do about that. Personally, while the 30 part sucks and I wish it all was 60, it is not enough to break the otherwise lovely experience I am having with the game.

While I understand your desire to play the game "the way it was meant", complaining about the control setup when it is one of the few games that allows you to reconfigure it to whatever you'd like seems a bit silly. Take advantage of that option and change it if it bothers you too much.
I for one love the standard setup, as it feels natural to me. It may be because I haven't played with a controller in ages and have no idea what "standard" setup should be, but it works for me.

As for the general style and graphics, it's weird as hell but I like it. Some areas are sorta boring yes, but others are quite stunning. The amusement park was really something special but wish it was longer.

Now let me give you my impressions, you didn't ask for it but I'll do it anyway.

I went into the game with no expectations at all, just wanted to try a new game I knew nothing about, and so far I god damn love it. Decided to go straight into hard, and even though I sorta regretted that decision after re-doing the whole intro part about 4-5 times, I stuck to it. It forced me to get good, much like in Dark Souls, and it gave me the same feeling of just being a beast once you start tearing stuff up. In fact, it has A LOT in common with the Souls games in terms of mechanics.
However, when playing on hard, the road from feeling invincible to getting absolutely recked is not long. Things hurt, and bosses straight up one-shots you.

I also love the whole skill system and the way they designed it to work, as there is tons of customization to be made there depending on how you play and what you are doing. It allows you to do silly stuff as well, like the idea I am playing with which is basically just going full on glass cannon. Thing's more or less one shots you anyway on hard, so why not just go on very hard, stack "perfect" damage up % in all slots, including slots meant for core systems, and then just go nuts.

If I have to fault it at something it has to be that it can get a bit too spammy at times. Like the sections where you have the flying suit, and as long as you just spam melee attack nothing can touch you. And not to mention the damn shooting thing you can do, where you are basically meant to just hold the button down constantly whenever you are in combat as there is no reason not to. After trying different things like taping it down or macroing it, I just said "fuck it!" and stopped using it, the damage it does isn't worth the hassle at the later stages anyways. Melee combat is a lot more fun, and without the constant shooting sound and the added visuals it's far easier to tell what the hell is going on as well.

The last thing I also wanna point out is the music, as it needs a mention too. It has been a long time since I've even noticed the music in a game, it's good. The track during the Opera boss fight is just epic, and the theme in Pascal's village is just so damn cute and lovely. In many ways it reminds me of the good old days playing Final Fantasy.

As for the story.. Well it's no masterpiece but it's good enough. It is different at least. As long as it keeps leading me from one awesome place with spectacular fights to the next, I don't really care though.

I only got to play up to the first save point because my girlfriend was getting annoyed by 2B's "tseh" noise but I had a lot of fun. I have no issues with the control scheme besides the fact that the dodge button is on the opposite side of the controllers from Bayonetta which confused the utter shit out of me for most of the prologue.

Personally, I had alot of fun with the demo, but when I got the full game, I wasn't exactly in awe.
I don't hate the game, and will try to get myself to finish it when I do go back, but it's unfortunatly not a 10/10 game.

Outside that, my bigest problem is the standard control scheme, but changing it up makes it even more awkward. Possibly thanks to muscle memory, and i'm not sure if I can chalk it up to the game completely.

Just got the last major ending last night. Don't be a purist about controls, just switch them.

As to gameplay, I've been a fan of the Drakengard games since the first one when they had shit gameplay, this game is a huge step up. You do feel good when you get a bosses pattern down.

Finally I'll say, game of the year. Pack it up 2017, we already have a winner.

I'm at the point now where, even though I am leveling up, I don't feel stronger. There is this mission where I have to kill like 8 enemies with shields in 30 seconds and I simply don't do enough damage. No amount of comboing melee with the little robot companion thing helps. I fail by 5 seconds everytime. I even came back and tried it 3 levels "stronger" and nothing changes. I've tried installing increased attack damage chips, but that doesn't help because I don't have anything powerful enough to make a difference. Not to mention I have no room to install shit. I can put in 2 chips, just 2, and it doesn't matter.

The more I play the more shit just gets in my fucking way. It's like playing Zelda again but with a shitty color pallet.

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