The Let's Play Archive

NieR: Automata

by The Dark Id

Part 4: Episode III: A Real Junk Heap

Episode III: A Real Junk Heap

Destroying Marx and seizing the means of production has leveled 2B up again. Just about every boss fight will provide a level and top off our character’s health afterwards. So that’s nice. Wouldn’t want to barely scrape by a boss encounter only to take chip damage and die before getting to a save point.

Anyway, who is this dingus kid?

My name’s 9S. I’m here to provide support.
Copy that.
Soooo, was that big ol’ buzzsaw the Goliath you came here to take out?
No. Just another defensive system.
Oh, Well, uh... I guess we have to find the target then, huh? I’ve got a flight unit, so I’ll take a look around the perimeter.
All right. I’ll work my way inside from the ground.

Music: Alien Manifestation

Alright. Later 9S. Try not to get shot down by a stationary laser beam. Had some real issues with that and our co-workers lately...

So let’s take a moment to cool down and go over our menu. There’s a whole lot going on in here and we may as well get its functionalities out of the way early.

We’ve got a map we can access at almost any time. It’s strange 3D approximation of the overall area. It can be rotated and whatnot to get our bearings. But it can be err... fickle. Just like the original game, there’s a giant red marker pointing in the direction of our primary objective at all times. So no getting stuck on the wrong dock and rage quitting the game like a doof.

The quests tab will let us view all active sidequests. Oh you’d better bet your ass sidequests are back. There’s 60 of ‘em this time around. But Platinum chilled out on <some> of the trolling and missable quests. There are points of no return that will fail quests for a particular playthrough. But there’s a very generous means of going back to do ‘em at a later time. There’s exactly one thing in the entire game that can be permanently missed and it’s a bad ending. But we’re not gonna worry about that anytime soon.

The Items tab is where all our junk is slotted. Restorative items are what the name says on the box. There’s a 99 item cap this time around instead of Nier 1’s tiny 10 item limit on heals. Enhancement and Support Items are buffs we’ll forget to use 99% of the time. Materials are weapon upgrade drops. Key Items are plot/sidequest relevant junk that is segmented off so there’s no way to accidentally sell ‘em.

And fishing is back. There are no quests linked to fishing this time around. Just an achievement for getting a certain percentage of total fish. We’ll get into all that another time.

As far as items we start with, we’ve got 15 Small Heals (I used one) that recover 25% of health. 50% for Medium. 75% from Large. Melee Defense/Attack is a 30 second buff to those stats. It’s rare worth using those. Rusted Clump and Broken Keys are materials dropped for weapon upgrades. Yep... that’s all back again. Wouldn’t be a Drakenier game without ‘em.

Finally, we can just turn our Pod’s model into Grimoire Weiss or cardboard textures thanks to Pre-Order Bonus DLC. But that seems highly disrespectful. Also cosmetics don’t show up on cutscenes because they’re all pre-rendered.

The Weapons tab is where all of our weaponry is kept. 2B can equip two weapons at a time. As stated, the first slot will be for light attacks. The second slot is for heavy attacks. Also weapons are put into two Weapon Sets that can be swapped any time by tapping up on the D-Pad during gameplay. We’ll play around with this when we’ve got some more weapon types.

Skills are where we can tune our character and the equipped Pod Program we want to use.

Right now we only have the Laser. We’ll gain a whole mess of abilities later on. A whole lot of ‘em are the Sealed Verses from the original Nier just redone with super advanced technology instead of magic. Magic has almost entirely left this world by this point in time. It’s all nanomachines, son.

Plug-in Chips are where we can slot in permanent (as long as they’re equipped) upgrades/buffs on 2B. I’m not going to get into that too heavily right now. We cannot really do anything with it until after the Prologue. Properly abusing Chip upgrades is the way to become as gods in this game.

The intel tab is this game’s Codex/Logbook/General Mess of Info that will fill up entire future updates. Tutorials all get stuck in here. As do Weapon Stories. Yep, weapon histories are back in a big way. I think some told Yoko Taro that they’d gotten a bit soft for Drakengard 3 and NIER 1 because HOLY SHIT I’m gonna have to keep a running tally on how many stories end in massacres, suicides, gory deaths, or child killings.

But, we’re not going to look into that just yet. We don’t even have the means to upgrade our weapons and we might not keep the ones we’re equipped with past the Prologue. Don’t worry. They’ll be coming soon enough.

Unit Data is a huge inventory of all the enemies we’ve encountered in NieR: Automata. Small Stubby are the default little dudes we’ve encountered. Medium Biped was that chuffy boy we saw before fighting Marx. Small and Medium Flyers are from the shoot em up segments.

In the Unit Data we can zoom in with a model viewer and check out a few animations. Also their equipment loadout can be changed with accompanying animations (the guys firing orbs have a little cannon grafted onto their stomachs.) I’ll probably make a compilation update for all the new Intel Data at the end of chapters for everyone to barely skim. Ya ingrates.

But that’s enough farting around cycling through menus. Let’s get back into the game and begin exploring the Factory Zone.

I got a bit ahead of myself showing off the Pod’s gatling fire. Here’s where the game decides to let us in on that little snippet, if we hadn’t bothered to see what Fire did when on foot.

We’ve got to shoot down a steel beam to make a bridge to the other side of the factory. Frankly, this is kind of a bad way to do a tutorial since it proposes that there will be environmental hazards we ought to shoot at to make progress. That... is not at all the case. We’re made to fire on something to progress like... maybe one more time the entire game?

A better tutorial is that there will be aerial enemies descending and firing out of reach and we should probably just dump on them instead of attempting to get into melee range. Smart. Lock on is disabled on Hard difficulty and above and frankly... it’s just kind of annoying instead of adding challenge. Especially when enemies have already been buffed to the point where a couple stray energy orbs will grease 2B.

Upon destroying enemies, a piñata of junk will rain down in their wake. The little holographic rings and screws are G, this game’s currency. G will automatically be collected if 2B runs near it. G will fade away and be lost if not collected about 10-15 seconds after it drops. But 2B can absolutely haul ass at all times so Hoovering up any cash drops in the middle of fight isn’t too hard.

The glowing orbs, on the other hand, are item drops. These are NOT collected automatically. 2B needs to manually grab ‘em. There is an ability to auto-collect junk but it’s not unlocked until WAY later in the game. Which is unfortunate because next to every single encounter will lead to an item drop. All upgrade materials fall from this. The random health pick-ups primary source is here. You name it. Shit drops CONSTANTLY!

Material drops are mostly what you’d expect from scrapping machines. Screws. Metal Ores. Gears. Gizmos. Batteries. A Nintendo 64 cartridge that made nerds so mad it had to be removed in a patch. Yes, that really happened with the Japanese release. Gamers will at no point stop being gigantic weird babies.

Our trail through the factory will lead us upwards. This opening area was the PS4 demo and is rather linear in its layout. The game opens up a lot once we get past the Prologue.

Radio Codec ring...

What is it?
I was going to send you the map data I collected earlier.
Do it.

We’ve now got a mini-map. Unlike the overworld map in the demo and its vague outline of areas, the mini-map is rather concise about the regional layout and exactly what direction our next objective will be. It stays at an overhead angle that rotates with 2B’s current direction. There’s a reason for that...

You know how the shooter segment shifted angles several times? That also applies to the on-foot segments. This is now a side scrolling shooter/platformer/brawler. 2B is locked to a 2D plane for these segment.

Which is nice because things can get hella hectic with machines falling from the sky and trying to give 2B the business.

But since we’re on a 2D plane and everyone is on a flat horizon, Pod Program Laser can REALLY mess up some machine lifeforms’ day all at once. Later nerds!

While we’re mostly locked to a 2D axis in these segments, the game isn’t above hiding secondary areas by jumping off the beaten path. For instance, there’s a broken guard rail and a crane just below.

This allows us to double-back the way we came and grab some goodies.

For instance, we’ve got a treasure chest over here we can break into. 2B doesn’t have time for prolonged loot crate opening animations. She’s got shit to do. So she’ll just kick those open with her boot and move on. Smart.

Speaking of kicking things, there’s a ladder up here that 2B can kick down to create a shortcut past the 2D segment on that tower.

Likewise, she can use a console to lower a crane providing a path back to the arena where we fought the Marx bot. It’s not a huge shortcut. But anything helps traveling through this area. We’re gonna be back here again. Quite a few times. The Factory is Automata’s Junk Heap.

But enough about backtracking in the future. Let’s head inside this tower we’d been climbing.


So open it.
Negative. Nearby enemies are jamming our signal.
Nothing’s ever easy...

New Music: Alien Manifestation (Vocal)

Fine. An arena fight. Let’s do this.

I mentioned earlier that Pod 042 should ALWAYS be firing if possible. There’s another reason for that besides shooting infinite ammo having zero drawbacks. Concentrated gatling fire can stun machine lifeforms, allowing 2B to perform a critical attack. In this case, she just punts that sonuvabitch. It exploded as soon as 2B’s boot made contact with its face. But if its HP endures it will get launched right into his nearest friend. So that’s a fun time.

It’s easy to accidentally get nicked in the middle of battle. Just like the first Nier, we can access our restorative items at any time. Action does NOT pause during this, however. So we gotta be quick in chugging our recovery items.

The machines play fair and as soon as everyone in the area has been destroyed, the signal jamming ends and the Pod can unlock the door. Pod 042 is an incredibly useful tool.

Radio Codec ring...

Scanners like me mostly work alone. Scouting ‘out enemy lines and all that? I don’t usually get a partner. It’s kind of fun!
...Emotions are prohibited.
EEK! S-sorry, ma’am!
And another thing... Stop calling me “ma’am”.
It’s unnecessary.
All right, then. 2B it is!

No emotions! Also stop calling me ma’am, you’re making me sound like an old woman, ya dick. Those seem like conflicting reports, 2B. Anyway, take a look at this bridge. We cannot access it right now. But just keep it in mind for later.

This factory did look pretty expansive on approach earlier. But uhh... yeah. It’s frikkin’ HUGE on the inside. There are hundreds of machines tooling around working in the background. Thankfully, only a few dozen of ‘em notice our advance through the complex.

As we continue along, we find a mysterious chest hidden behind a staircase. 2B cannot access this chest right now. It’s best to start keeping a mental log of these locked chests. It’s gonna be ohh... I dunno... 20 hours until we can deal with unlocking them...

Also further ahead is a locked elevator we won’t be able to access for quite some time. We’re gonna be back here again. And again... and again. Don’t you worry.

As we continue onward, we eventually reach a shipping hub where machines are loading machine lifeforms into shipping crates. Good to see the alien machines adopted humanity’s shipping container specifications.

9S calls again...

I guess humans used to use it as a weapons factory. But now it’s just crawling with machines. The enemy seems to have repurposed the facility to increase their overall machine production.
So if we don’t destroy it, they’ll just keep coming.

We’re not only limited to side-scrolling combat segments. We do have some overhead conflicts as well.

Overhead sections can get a little bit hairy. Most character action games, the good ones anyway, reduce aggro on enemies when the player is facing away from them. Since nobody likes getting kicked in the back of the head from off-screen. NieR: Automata does the same thing. Except well... when the camera is overhead, that’s disabled, making enemies somewhat more aggressive. It also can be tougher to notice the eye flashing attack tells with the camera pulled out like this.

This camerawork can also be used to hide what should be obvious secret paths. Like right here to the right. That platform about is where we entered this area and it looks just like a raise wall. But...

Wouldn’t you know it? There’s a sneaky boy hiding back here with some treasure chests. It’s just a medium recovery and another locked chest we cannot deal with. But more importantly...

The door in the back of this hidden room lets us lower the bridge and do a rather substantial shortcut back to the early part of the level. Which is real nice... But let’s get back into the factory proper. We’ve got a mission to complete.

The PA system crackles to life as a female automated voice speaks...

Lot 33 to Lot 20. Materials on-route. Work Party B to Material...
It’s just accessing random nonsensical data from the old world. There’s no actual meaning behind anything machines do.
Thank you for another day of hard work. Please *crackle* for a job well done.

Woo! It’s quitting time. Time for the machine lifeforms to punch out and hit the bar. It’s hard work cramming into a freight container all day, I’ll tell you what.

Oh, c’mon 2B. That’s just mean. Roboto just wanted to do karaoke with his mates.

Eventually we find our way out of the looping catwalks of the blast furnace area and find what is almost certainly another combat arena. Alright, what are you bring to the table this time, guys. Whirling arm boys aren’t exactly doing the job.

Close-range combat is advised.
I know.

Would you look at that? The little guys got cute little welding mask shields. As Pod 042 suggest, our bullets are ineffective against shielded enemies.

Quality android steel, though? Instantly disassembles their shielding. And now they’re back to square one. Well, at least they made the effort.

Medium Bipeds also gain a shield as well. While the Stubby machines have trouble keeping their bearings towards 2B given their half foot teeny legs, shield carrying machines rotate like they’re on a Lazy Susan or are moonlighting from Dark Souls 2. We’ll just have to take them head on.

You know what these shields are NOT durable enough to stand against? Lasers. Lasers melt shields and the robot carrying them.

Alright. We’re good to go. Let’s finish our scouting of the factory. The top of the facility is just ahead.

Radio ring...

Maybe they... I dunno. Moved it somewhere?

Music: ENDS

I mean... that’s one theory. Let’s see if we cannot get a better look from atop that tower, eh?

You mean the birds?

Hmm... is that right? You know, I’m just now remembering NIER 1 and having to grind eagle eggs...


Threat identified. Eliminating. Directive: fuck birds.

Alright, let’s head down ahead. Real Turok 2 kinda fog rolling into the area this afternoon, huh? I’m sure blowing up several hundred machines hasn’t improved air quality.

It’s a bit of a hike, but should we check it out?
It’s not like Command to get a location wrong. I guess even they get bad intel from time to time, huh?
Hmm. I wouldn’t bet on that.

*sigh* C’mon 2B. Nothing good has ever come of saying that sort of thing. Next you’re going to tell me you think “it’s too quiet” or “you’ve got a bad feeling about this”.

YOU SEE! Dammit!

New Music: Bipolar Nightmare

Ya know, that buzzsaw gambit from early probably would have gone better for the machines if 9S hadn’t intervened. What do you say we give it the old college try again? And also double the amount of 50 foot buzzsaws?

Tune in next time for a swift upward trend in machine lifeform combat escalation.

Video: Episode 3 Highlight Reel

Factory Concept Art