Here’s What Happened Before Nier: Automata’s Story Began

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Here’s What Happened Before Nier: Automata’s Story Began

We summarize thousands of years of fictional history in the strange, sad universe of Nier.

It’s not every day we get to explore a game world as rich as that of Nier’s. The recently released Nier: Automata introduces a wealth of lore for both newcomers and fans of the original to get acquainted with.

As pointed out in yesterday’s tips guide, you don’t have to play the previous instalment to enjoy Automata’s bot-on-bot brawling. But players venturing into this weird and wonderful universe may find themselves asking a few questions. Questions like: “Where have all the humans gone?” “Why is Earth ruled by machines?” and “Who gave this blindfolded goth-loli a sword?”

To answer these — and add some context to the game’s post-apocalypse — you’ll need to take a look at the wider timeline of Nier. But to save you the trouble, we’ve poured through guidebooks, light novellas, and even a Yoko Taro penned stage play (Yes, really) to collect some of the most significant in-game events leading to Automata’s opening act.

Fair warning before we begin — spoilers for both the original Nier and Drakengard (we’ll explain in a moment) ahead.

Nier: Automata Concepts

Nier started as an alternate ending for an entirely different fantasy adventure.

First, let’s step back in time to the year 2003 (both in Nier’s universe and our own).

Even amongst series fans, it’s a little known fact that Nier’s world is a spin-off from the PS2 game Drakengard. The game featured multiple endings, and it’s the fifth of these which resulted in the timeline of Nier.

It was in this scenario that Drakengard’s giant Queen Beast antagonist was teleported through time to modern-day Tokyo — where she was promptly dispatched by the game’s fire-breathing hero. This turned out to be pretty poor move for us humans however, as the giant’s death unleashed a rather nasty disease on mankind.

That ending transported a fantasy beast to modern day Tokyo, unleashing a killer virus.

From its origin in downtown Shinjuku, the disease “White Chlorination Syndrome” spread with devastating effect. Most that contracted it were gradually turned into salt, whereas some turned violently insane. By 2009 the country had become a warzone between uninfected humans and a mad unstoppable horde called “Legion.”

With the Japanese government unable to contain the outbreak, the epidemic became a pandemic, and since the world’s scientists could find no cure, an ambitious workaround was conceived.

Nier: Automata Concepts

Androids are built to monitor the production of new human bodies for those infected.

Project Gestalt was established, in which human souls would be transferred safely out of their infected bodies, to one day be placed into healthy clones. Naturally, this process would take some time to perfect, so development began on android AIs which would oversee the operation.

Sure enough, hundreds of years passed before the disease began to die out. Human clones known as Replicants had been successfully grown, but unexpectedly (and unfortunately for their originals) had also developed their own sentience.

Thousands of years later, the events of Nier occur, and doom humanity to extinction.

The world was now entirely populated by these engineered doppelgangers, each with new personalities and souls, and it’s here (around the year 3361) that the events of Nier occurred.

Like Drakengard before it, there were four possible endings to the story and it’s the fourth of these (Ending D) which Automata follows on from. In this, protagonist Nier threw a wrench in the gears of Project Gestalt and effectively doomed humanity to extinction.

This marked the beginning of mankind’s inevitable decline, but in parts of the world where the android AIs were still in control, a handful of Replicants continued to survive.

Nier: Automata Concepts

Eight thousand years later, Earth’s invaded by alien machines, and humanity fights back.

Fast forward another eight thousand years and things still weren’t exactly looking up. As if to add to its troubles, Earth had been invaded by “machine life forms” and what remained of the human race finally felt that they’d had enough. They disappeared off to the relative safety of the moon, from where they could dispatch teams of combat androids to fight back the invasion.

The android teams fighting the invaders include you, and so Nier: Automata begins.

This brings us back up to date, to the year 11,945. One such android team (designated “YoRHa”) is being shipped off to Earth, and amongst its members are NieR: Automata’s two protagonists: Unit 2 Type B and Unit 9 Type S (affectionately known as 2B and 9S.) We join them en route to their latest objective — to kick some “machine life form” butt and reclaim our planet.

And there you have it! A whistle-stop tour of the world of Nier: Automata. For the next slice of the story… you’ll just have to pick up the game.

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  • Being a big fan of the original Nier on PS3 I’m quite shocked I missed so much details in the Story xD thanks for this great article really! :)

  • I recently started the first Neir game in anticipation to this one. I’d say I’m rather disappointed in it. The demo for the new one was good enough for me to pretty much blindly buy the new one. Unfortunately for me, I have to wait until Easter to play it.

    • The original Nier is a weird game. It was a great experience because it was such a strange mix of genres, styles, and themes… not because it was an incredible game. I definitely recommend experiencing it, even if just for the soundtrack and the novelty of it, but Automata is a much higher quality game than the original Nier was, still retaining all the novelty of it, but without the clunkiness. :)

    • The original Nier was great when it first came out. Even back then it didn’t look that great compared to other PS3 games, but the game was so engrossing. It was one of the best action RPGs I had ever played.

  • I am not into fantasy games, but Nier:Automata caught my attention and I simply love it. I started with the free demo and after completing I bought the game – on the same day! I play it every day and every time I play it, I discover something new. Hope there will be a sequel…

  • If you want to dig into the lore of Nier specifically I highly recommend this video:

    He has a ton of content so enjoy!

  • Here’s an idea…

    Nier HD and Drakengard HD on the PS4 on disc.

  • I replayed the 1st game in preparation for the 2nd. Can someone tell me how exactly did the protagonist Nier throw a wrench in project gestalt and doomed the replicants?

    • As Replicants gain sentience, their Gestalts (originals)undergo relapse, becoming hostile and aggressive. NieR kills the Gestalts, but since the Gestalts are the original versions of the Replicants, the Replicants become susceptible to the Black Scrawl, thus slowly killing them. Doesn’t help that Replicants cannot reproduce either.

      Nier also killed Popola and Devola, who oversaw Project Gestalt, as well as the original Gestalt, NieR himself. This in turn ensured that every Gestalt goes into relapse.

  • Oh boy, some of this isn’t necessarily accurate. Beware of potential spoilers:

    There had been multiple “Machine Wars” spanning the years between the initial invasion in 5012 all the way to the start of the 14th Machine War in 11939. Each android “drop” mission from the Bunker was labeled a consecutively numbered Machine War since earlier drop missions were few and far between. However, since the start of the 14th Machine War, there were multiple missions being deployed in short succession, then these missions were individually numbered, all taking place within a singular Machine War (the 14th).

    It’s important to note that humanity did NOT flee to the Moon during the 14th Machine War; that had already happened long ago. It’s unclear exactly when this occurred (more heavy spoilers involved, so I’m trying to be discrete), but it likely happened shortly after the initial attack by aliens.

    • I was actually expecting to read more details on the YoRHa stage play here, but all that was mentioned was that he wrote a stage play. lol If anyone wants to read more into the play, I have all that information on my site here:

      Also, this timeline might help you piece how everything together:

  • Hi PlayStation, i want to say THANK YOU! thank you for bringing Nier to PS4.I loved this game so much! I know words aren’t enough to show my thanks, it got 2B done through action. I bought the digital ver of game through PS Store and the blackbox ver through SE store, i will be going for the soundtrack next! but I have one small request for you, please PlayStation! Please make 2B&A2’s PSN avatar available on NA PS Store, cuz i totally fell in love with them! and i will be supporting it via action as well!!!THANK YOU FOR THIS AWESOME GAME EXPERIENCE!!!

  • I find everything about Nier so appealing, I can only want to know more and more. Thanks for posting!!!

  • Can’t end this game like dis. DLC plz

  • Need to say that I missed some détails.

    And for sure you need to bring us Nier as HD on the PS4 on disc.

  • Okay refering to the protagonist 2B as “Goth-Loli”, is offensive. The character may well have a gothic presentation, but she (?) CLEARLY is a fully-grown woman. Please keep your anime fetishes to yourself.

  • I like how they say that in the fifth ending of Drakengard that the Queen Beast is promptly dispatched. They is no promptly about it. That is a very difficult ending to complete.

  • Anyone here recommends playing Nier before playing Nier Automata?

  • Played neir & automata both are great games but the story i kept reading about it and searching every detail of what happened before and after gestalt fails….. I hope they make another sequel where androids and machine finds out that there is a piece or something that could help initiate project gestalt again and gives hope to humanity…and this is were androids and machines begin the conflict…… Just a thaught :)

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