NieR is a bit of an odd beast in the gaming space. As an offshoot from the incredibly divisive Drakengard franchise, the title never managed to gain much recognition, and quickly faded into obscurity. It managed to develop a cult following, much like its Drakengard brethren, but most fans weren’t expecting anything further to develop within the franchise. The reveal of NieR: Automata at last year’s E3 came as an enormous surprise then, but news has been rather slow since that point.
April 16 marked the NieR Music Concert and Talk Live event, a show dedicated to celebrating the 6th anniversary of the series. From this event, a slew of new characters, artwork and gameplay was unveiled from the upcoming Automata. True to the dense and borderline incomprehensible nature of NieR, the two new characters are known as YoRHA No. 9 Type S, and YoRHA Type A NO.2, or 9S and A2 respectively for short. 9S is described as kind but childish, specialising in mission research, intelligence gathering and hacking. On the other side, A2 is quiet, violent and independent, being described as a ‘vortex of hate from the past’. These two characters join the previously-revealed A2, and will be available as party members in-game. Each character can be seen below, as depicted by artist Akihiko Yoshida.
The accompanying gameplay videos demonstrate the desolate industrial wasteland that makes up the game’s setting. There’s a brief look into the fast-paced battle system, which uses a mix of swift, short-ranged sword strikes and ranged attacks from your mechanical companion. It’s very stylish and fluid, with an active dodge component and some flashy combos, but it seems fairly straightforward in terms of depth. The enemy design is rather simple, consisting largely of generic robots, but it seems fitting giving the setting, and stands in stark contrast to the elaborate player character design.
NieR Automata is currently in development for PlayStation 4 with no concrete release date at this point. It’s certainly shaping up to be an interesting title, with intriguing characters, stellar artwork and if the franchise history is anything to go by, a deep, dark, heavily convoluted story.