Nier Automata hands-on: bizarre, slick and with the potential to be one in all 2017’s greatest

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Let’s end 2016’s previews with a powerful’un, eh?

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Nier Automata is a few severely thrilling stuff. It has a demo out as we speak, although I used to be fortunate sufficient to go and play that chunk of the sport at Square Enix’s workplaces a few weeks in the past. With the demo out I can lastly speak about it and, uh, wow. Wow.

We’re not even out of 2016 but, however Nier Automata may simply be a contender for sport of the yr subsequent yr. The hour or so I performed was completely improbable.

Nier Automata

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Sequel to a cult-favourite 2010 Cavia RPG, itself a spin-off of Drakengard.

Developed by Bayonetta and Vanish studio Platinum Games, underneath course from Drakengard and Nier creator Taro Yoko.

Launching on PS4 in March 2017, PC launch undated, might come to Xbox One finally.

Supports PS4 Pro.

To speak about why that’s, it’s in all probability greatest to hop again in time a bit to 2010. Developed by now defunct Japanese developer Cavia and revealed by Square Enix, the unique Nier was a bizarre sport. It was eclectic; it tried to do a number of various things without delay however in the end was excellent at none of them – and but the sport had a coronary heart and a way of enjoyable and journey that was onerous to beat, plus an unbelievable soundtrack. I scored it 6/10 because of its wrestle to be mechanically competent, however on the similar time it was one in all my favorite video games of the yr. Basically, its coronary heart was firmly in the best place – largely because of visionary director Taro Yoko.

Thanks to the reception of the primary one Nier Automata was a sport I by no means anticipated to be made, however I couldn’t be happier that it’s taking place. This time round Square Enix has partnered with ever-reliable motion sport developer Platinum Games however left Yoko in cost on the high from inside Square Enix. This is an extremely smart move.

While I do know Platinum tends to impress an excessive love or hate relationship with individuals, one factor that may’t be denied is that Platinum make mechanically tight video games. Bayonetta, Wonderful 101, even the licensed stuff like Transformers – these are all extraordinarily well-made video games from a gameplay nuts-and-bolts perspective. That’s what you get with Nier Automata. It’s enjoyable to play, snappy and slick, working at a rock strong 60fps on an everyday PS4 (albeit taking a sub-1080p reduce to decision to take action).

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The unique Nier was really form of troublesome to categorise genre-wise, however Automata is extra firmly and clearly an motion RPG. The motion facet performs out precisely as you’d count on for one thing from Platinum – with slick action-based fight. The core of fight is right down to dodging, countering and launching enemies into the air for cool-looking air combos, however equally as necessary and hidden behind just a few full-on RPG menus are some attention-grabbing weapon mechanics that blend issues up.

The core of fight is right down to dodging, countering and launching enemies into the air for cool-looking air combos, however equally as necessary and hidden behind just a few full-on RPG menus are some attention-grabbing weapon mechanics that blend issues up.

“We are Square Enix!” Automata producer Yosuke Saito joked to me again at Gamescom after I requested if the sport can be pure Platinum motion or function true RPG depth – and the demo backs up his grinning reply. The largest RPG twist on the motion comes with the gear you may deck out your character with. Essentially there are two weapon sorts – gentle and heavy. The weapon sorts aren’t decided by the weapons themselves however slightly the slot they’re outfitted in.

What this implies is that each single weapon within the sport has each a lightweight and heavy set of properties and animations and your character at all times has a lightweight and heavy choice outfitted without delay. The katana I begin the demo with acts utterly otherwise relying on if I equip it within the gentle slot (used with Square) or the heavy slot (used with Triangle). You can arrange a number of decks of weapons and flick between them – so that you would possibly discover weapon with lengthy attain works greatest as your heavy assault, however then if that you must change to a setup the place it’s your gentle assault as an alternative you are able to do so with just some on-the-fly button presses.

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At some level Yoko determined he needed to make a bullet hell sport too, and so the results of that’s the little robotic drone buddy that follows you round. One of the shoulder buttons permits it to fireside bullets (which once more could be augmented and switched out with gear within the menus) and you may shoot in addition to get within the enemy’s face. The counter mechanic is activated with a well-timed faucet of the button, with Automata’s robotic enemies having eyes or limbs flash pink to present you a serving to indicator of the precise timing window. Hold the dodge button, nonetheless, and also you’ll sprint alongside the bottom in a sublime slide.

Nothing feels extra superb than sliding round a sea of projectiles bullet-hell model to succeed in the enemy firing them.

Nothing feels extra superb than sliding round a sea of projectiles bullet-hell model to succeed in the enemy firing them. Sometimes the sport will dynamically change perspective on the fly to emphasise a specific gameplay model. Occasionally it’ll pull again to top-down and encompass you with projectile-shooting enemies to encourage bullet-dodging. Other instances it’ll tackle the side-on perspective of a 2D brawler earlier than slipping again to an everyday third individual motion digital camera. The mounted views are sometimes used to cover collectibles or entrances to non-compulsory and secret areas – it’s tremendous cool stuff.

My one criticism of the demo was that the digital camera bought a bit dicey and irritating in some third individual motion spots, however whereas that was a problem one additionally has to notice that the dynamic perspective transitions are extremely effectively completed.

Beyond weapons and your drone there’s additionally a full-on RPG capacity system that gives all the pieces from bonus abilities down to help mechanics corresponding to lock-on, and even the power to take away a chunk of apparatus the principle character must maintain carrying to proceed dwelling. I’ll allow you to ponder what occurs if you do this.

All of the tone that made the mechanically mediocre Nier particular is current right here, besides it’s connected ultimately to a way more competent sport.

Unlike the unique Nier, all of those eclectic concepts are carried out way more strongly. Platinum actually is aware of how one can crank out a top quality, polished sport and it seems to be doing that right here. It appears to be like nice, it runs like greased lightning, and the fight loop has an extremely satisfying ebb and stream to it. The glorious music is again too, in fact. But then, lurking – there’s Yoko.

His presence is necessary, because it’s this that offers Nier Automata its coronary heart. There’s a thread of intense ardour that appears to bubble beneath the sport’s floor, like Yoko himself didn’t count on to be allowed to make this sport and is giving it his all. I’d toss him into the identical class the place I’d place the likes of Hideo Kojima, Goichi “Suda51” Suda and Hidetaka “Swery65” Suehiro – Japanese sport administrators with visions that they’re gleefully completely satisfied to let run amok and get bizarre. All of the tone that made the mechanically mediocre Nier particular is current right here, besides it’s connected ultimately to a way more competent sport. That makes me stupidly excited.

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When I attain the top of the demo and the boss encounter ramps up from regular online game, into a bit bit foolish, into full-on ‘this is ridiculous’ laughing-out-loud territory, I understand that even with well-built programs that is what makes Nier particular. As I repeatedly slap a big robotic about its face with its personal torn-off arm I’m slack-jawed: that is silly. This is sensible. I like it.

It feels becoming, then, to shut out my 2016 with a preview for a sport that appears prefer it has all of the makings of one in all my favorite video games of 2017. Don’t simply take my phrase for it, although: Go obtain the demo. It’s out on PS4 now. The sport is out in March for PS4, and is about to come back to PC a bit afterward. I’m pumped. Roll on 2017.


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