The Bad Design of Nier: Automata (NO SPOILERS)



  • I have a Hot Take. I just finished the five canonical endings of Nier Automata.The design of this game needs to be talked about, but I think it will be granted tons of leeway in GOTY discussions.

    First and foremost: I liked this game. A compelling story with some solid humor and universe-building. But just maybe its rabid fandom, as rabid fandoms do, soured my experience with calls on it to be the game of the year with an amazing, best-ever story. The fans were right about one thing, though -- the music is some of the best in recent memory. Now to the list!

    -Invisible walls galore

    -Route B does not stray enough from Route A, so the percentage repeated is ridiculous. This is saddening since it could keep people from the solid story development found in Routes C-E. Gotta love 10 hours of repeated content with minimal additional cutscenes and the replacement of more combat options with spam-hacking bosses.

    -Route B gameplay was extremely monotonous with one attack buttons and repetitious hacking games.

    -Horrible side mission structure. Escort missions that require you to walk next to an incredibly slow NPC in an uninteresting, desolate wasteland. Yikes. Fetch quests requiring you to go back to all 4 locations in the game to kill fodder enemies with slightly more health? Gross.

    -Uninteresting, desolate wasteland that has you seeing the same locations over and over (and getting fast travel a quarter through the story sure was not fast enough).

    -Oh, can I hint at possibly the worst part of the game? Going across the world with that virus. God have mercy on my soul.

    -Save system is esoteric without any form of auto saves. I got glitched out in the first mission's boss battle (30 minutes into the game), died, and had to restart the entire game. That virus part? I got stuck in a pit and I had to restart the long trek.

    -The game gets incredibly easy the moment you receive two or three specific plugins, and the only difficulty increase in hard mode makes it unfair.

    -Finding materials for the thousandth time is not fun -- especially when they are dice rolls on specific enemies. I had to reload a save in order for quest items to drop from the needed enemies

    -Textures/visuals are just bad. The fluidity of the game is appreciated, but this looks like an up-res'd PS3 game from 2007.

    I am sure there is far more wrong with the game, but these portions really killed a ton of my enthusiasm for the good/great parts!



  • I did feel the combat was very one note, it was like Platinum figured out the movement and basic attacks and just forgot to add all the rest.



  • I wouldnt disagree with any of your points, for me personally the way in which the game didn't leave as much of a mark on me, was because it didn't live up to the astronomical expectations I had from Nier, not that I didn't enjoy it or that I didn't like the story, it simply didn't blow my mind as the original Nier did.

    And since I'm mentioning the original and that one is one my top 5 games ever and I'm sure even more flaws can be pointed out about it, I would say that I'm pretty ok giving a pass on those things and more if the core of the experience and what is really important about it is strong enough, there are limits to this of course with Drakengard 3 being a prime example of this, where it was impossible for me to overlook how everything about it that wasn't story and characters sucked and really hampered my impressions of the game.



  • @JamboHyland95 It sure felt good! But very one note. Totally agreed.

    @bard91 said in The Bad Design of Nier: Automata (NO SPOILERS):

    I wouldnt disagree with any of your points, for me personally the way in which the game didn't leave as much of a mark on me, was because it didn't live up to the astronomical expectations I had from Nier, not that I didn't enjoy it or that I didn't like the story, it simply didn't blow my mind as the original Nier did.

    And since I'm mentioning the original and that one is one my top 5 games ever and I'm sure even more flaws can be pointed out about it, I would say that I'm pretty ok giving a pass on those things and more if the core of the experience and what is really important about it is strong enough, there are limits to this of course with Drakengard 3 being a prime example of this, where it was impossible for me to overlook how everything about it that wasn't story and characters sucked and really hampered my impressions of the game.

    Oh man! A lover of the OG Nier. I can see how this shift from the original game almost in its entirety would ensure it doesn't leave a mark



  • I enjoyed it, but it definitely wouldn't be my game of the year.



  • i agree with everything you said except the saves i was ok with the save system however auto save wouldn't have hurt i guess. while i enjoyed the game its probally not in the top 5 for this year



  • @Minamik said in The Bad Design of Nier: Automata (NO SPOILERS):

    I enjoyed it, but it definitely wouldn't be my game of the year.

    I want to be clear that I enjoyed it! Routes C/D/E were pretty amazing in their second halves. But I believed it needed to be called out for its nonsense.



  • @FF7Cloud said in The Bad Design of Nier: Automata (NO SPOILERS):

    i agree with everything you said except the saves i was ok with the save system however auto save wouldn't have hurt i guess. while i enjoyed the game its probally not in the top 5 for this year

    I think the saves were only a problem in those instances for me. Otherwise, there were ample opportunities. I could throw in accidentally triggering an extra ending sucks when you hadn't saved for a while. I had two instances where I was set back tons of organizing and fetch questing because I strayed at wrong points of the game, and it just credit roll'd me into my previous save.



  • @HeyItsThatChris ok that i agree with



  • Loved the characters, story, music, enemy design. The combat was a bit lackluster, especially when compared to Platinum's other works. The semi open world was just...kind of weird and annoying at times. I remember searching for the deserters or something, and it looked like they were supposed to be behind some fence, so I tried to jump over it and smacked into an invisible wall.

    All that said, I went in as a fan of the original, and compared to that, lol, it's leagues more competent.

    I'd give Nier Automata an award just because Yoko Taro wears that goofy Emile mask wherever he goes. That shit cracks me up.



  • @Minamik That deserter quest was awful. No indication they had an order. Had to climb that building twice



  • THE CAMERA! I actually really like Nier, but that camera! It always centers itself at ground level behind you. I've grown very accustomed to cameras being positioned while aimed slightly at the ground, being forced to play like that feels unnatural to me.



  • OP, a lot of your criticisms come from what I believe without doing research, are budget restraints. The world is desolate as you say, and I very highly doubt that was what the game would have been with a larger budget.

    However, many of the flaws in the game were at least contextualized or even thematically implemented to combat these restraints. I certainly believe that the isolated and lonely nature of the world creates an atmosphere that greatly reflects the themes and beats within the story.

    As per story B. I disagree on the length and "drag". You can beat both A and B in an extremely short amount of time. I rarely play games for long anymore (long is relative, but for me long would be over 2 hours) and I beat Story B playing after work a few nights one week. It got onto Story C quite quickly if you ask me. From a gameplay POV, playing as 9S was rather mundane.

    None of my responses detract that the game is flawed, but I'm really not upset by most of the things you brought up. Nier stuck with me more than most games have in years. I was very impressed by it and how far it went with so little.



  • Yoko Taro isn't really a good game designer or director, he's more of an idea guy. It's why most of his games suffer from similar (and numerous) problems.
    Yoko Taro might not like it since he's been a game director for so long, but I think his games would benefit from having someone above him as the game director, possibly a creative director.