Videogame / NieR: Automata

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"Everything that lives is designed to end.
We are perpetually trapped... in a never-ending spiral of life and death.
Is this a curse?
Or some kind of punishment?
I often think about the god who blessed us with this cryptic puzzle... and wonder if we'll ever have a chance to kill him."

NieR: Automata is an action/role-playing game developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Steam, released in March 2017. The game is set in the same universe as NieR, a spin-off of the Drakengard series.

The year is 11945 A.D. For hundreds of years, mankind has been locked in a seemingly endless war against an Alien Invasion and their armies of "machine lifeforms". The last few remnants of humanity have been forced to take shelter on the Moon, from which they deploy intelligent android troops to liberate Earth in their stead.

To break this stalemate, humanity creates a new organisation called YoRHA, comprising their most advanced android models and military technology to date. Stationed upon an orbital base called the Bunker, the YoRHA-model androids work tirelessly as the new frontline against the machine lifeforms occupying Earth. 2B ("Number 2, Type-B") is an enigmatic but dedicated YoRHA combat model who is assigned to a plucky intelligence operative named 9S ("Number 9, Type-S"). Together they are sent to the ruined surface of Earth to investigate the strange activities of the machine lifeforms, some of whom appear to be mimicking aspects of human civilisation.

Series creator Taro Yoko, producer Yosuke Saito (Dragon Quest X, Drakengard) , and composer Keiichi Okabe (Drakengard, NieR) return in the same roles. Atsushi Inaba (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Bayonetta 2) is acting as co-producer for Platinum Games, while regular Square Enix artist Akihiko Yoshida (Final Fantasy XIV) designed the main characters. Also, the lead game designer is Takahisa Taura. The goal was to make a new NieR game true to the spirit of the original with better gameplay.

Trailers: Announcement trailer - Gameplay Trailer - Second Gameplay Trailer

The PS4 version was released in 2017 on February 23 in Japan, March 7 in the USA, and March 10 in Europe, while the PC version was released on March 17. Beware of spoilers, both marked and unmarked.


Provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Every android weapon with a cutting edge must have at least one, considering how they're used to cut apart legions of armored robots day in, day out. 2B's late-game boss fight in the Abandoned Factory provides a particularly good example that plays out in a cool Diagonal Cut cutscene.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: One of the many areas the YoRHa squad can explore are a network of sewers that is big enough for them to stand up with room to spare.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: One sidequest has you funding the exploits of a hair-brained scientist. After you give him $100,000, he "fails" sending a rocket to the moon because he sent it to Mars. You can even buy a facehugger from him to act as a mask.
  • Action Bomb: The machine lifeforms field various types of suicide bomber units, with some of them being little more than explosive barrels on legs. Destroying them before they can blow themselves up yields a nice XP reward and, if timed right, can wipe out entire enemy squads in the ensuing explosion.
  • Action Girl: All of the combat oriented YoRHa are female, and all of them can put up quite a fight, but of course 2B and A2 are the primary examples.
  • Actionized Sequel: While the first game was action-themed already, Cavia put really simplistic controls due to their inexperience. This game gives the action the Platinum Games treatment.
  • After the End: Takes place even further after the catastrophe that seemingly destroyed humanity in the first NieR, now focusing on the YoRHa combat androids as they fight against the machine lifeforms commanded by the aliens who invaded the planet.
  • A.I. is a Crapshoot:
    • The machine lifeforms kill their own masters, and their new leaders (by the merit of being able to corrupt the simpler machines into doing their bidding) relish in conflict as it brings forth evolution. That said, the aliens' incompetence is also a major factor, as they programmed the machines to "destroy the enemy" without making it clear what the enemy was.
    • When Grün - a gigantic machine lifeform from the early years of the Machine War that was created specifically to destroy androids - can't find any more androids to kill in the vicinity, it massacres its machine buddies instead. Unable to stop the rampaging Omnicidal Maniac, they banish it to the depths of the Pacific, where it remains for many millennia.
  • Alien Invasion: The machine lifeforms were brought to earth by an alien race.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The YoRHa Stage Play, the Emil centric Space War, and the Fires of Prometheus story all detail events that play a heavy influence on the events of Automata. Some details are given in the game, but from a different person's view that lacks the entire context of the events that happened in all three.
    • The novella The Memory Cage tells us why 9S, an android who wasn't built for physical combat, is capable of fighting in the first place. It also contains a battle between 2B and 9S that will serve as the foundation of their relationship, since it's implied that this is the first time 2B had to kill 9S due to her true function as an Executioner-type.
    • The soundtrack came with a coded message about 9S memories. The memories of what the Ark is like inside, where he reveals it's similar to the Garden of Eden and free of original sin. He fears that a person like himself is unworthy of being in such a paradise.
    • An official, translated timeline exists that, for the most part, follows the events that happen after the death of the final Gestalt: a small number of androids become "Independists" and leave for Australia after choosing to abandon their attachment to humanity; the aliens take over South and North America; a "Dragon" weapon is created to fight the aliens and machines; Beepy ascends towards space after altering the Machines and numerous androids; and, the Command leads both the Resistance and The Army of Humanity, and YoRHa oversees Project Gestalt, punishing all Devola and Popola models. Other points in the timeline also detail events following the games Ending D and E, which includes two unknown events following the ending of the Machine War, an armistice between Humanity and the Machines with Pascal as their leader, and a civil war that eventually breaks out between Machine Lifeforms following 2B's sighting by Emil 400 years later.
    • The Nier Concert event details short story events spoken from the perspective of the characters and details numerous events from the well-meaning creator of YoRHa, Zinnia, and the descent into madness by 9S prototype Number 9, 2B learning 9S will likely never wake up nor will A2 following the events of Ending C, 9S asking 2B to continue to kill him as long as it means they'll meet each other again, and the story of how A2 encountered 2B and 9S multiple times and killed them in each encounter, and that she learned how to fight back against S-Type hacking.
    • The Strategy Guide contains other numerous details, which not only includes the Timeline mentioned above, but other details that influence the story including how Adam hacking into 9S and 9S hacking into Eve caused parts of their data to merge with his own, which is why his memories of 2B fight like Eve on Route C.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Eve assaults the Resistance camp near the end of Routes A and B, and attempts to destroy Pascal's village as well.
    • The logic virus hits the Bunker's upload server, infecting all of the androids there save 2B and 9S. The Bunker ends up getting destroyed in the chaos.
    • Pascal's village is assaulted again by logic virus-infected machines in the second part. This time, it doesn't survive the assault.
  • An Axe to Grind: Some machine lifeforms are armed with axes. You can equip these, as well as other axe-type weapons, under the "Large Swords" category.
  • And I Must Scream: The story for the Fang of the Twins weapon. Twins were sacrificed and their souls put into the blade. At first they are happy to be united for eternity, but eventually begin to go mad.
    "We are together. We are one. Life or death. Even if we kill our foes. Even if we kill each other. Our two bodies will be as one for all time. Someone separate us. Oh god please someone help m"note 
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Finishing Route C unlocks several purely cosmetic items for the protagonists, like two suits of Powered Armor for 2B, a "camouflage visor" that's so stealthy it completely removes her black blindfold, or a wig for A2 that restores her long hair. Others can be acquired through various sidequests, like ribbons or a Lunar Tear flower that can be worn in a character's hair. Last but not least, the 3C3C1D119440927 DLC introduces another bunch of cosmetic items that can be unlocked by completing quests or competing in arena battles. Some of them even confer actual gameplay bonuses, and one of the 3C segments of the DLC's name explicitly stands for "3 Costumes".
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Just about any fetch quest you accept will cause your Pod to detect and mark a place where the game spawns enemies that are guaranteed to drop the items you need. Not only is the area usually not far off from the quest-giver, this also means that you won't have to waste some of the rarer resources in your possession.
    • After the Bunker becomes inaccessible in Route C/D/E, if you die as A2 or 9S, you don't have to worry about losing and retrieving your chips and dead body. You do, however, need to remember to save often since you're forced to reload a save file if that happens so it evens itself out.
    • Easy Mode and its various auto-X chips are this. The Auto-Evade chip alone makes the active character virtually impossible to kill because they automatically and successfully dodge almost all incoming attacks. It's made even easier by the lack of any difficulty-related achievements/trophies. The only instance you'll have to beat without their support is, unfortunately, the Nintendo Hard Bullet Hell segment to unlock Ending E.
    • Once a couple of good Drop Up booster chips are installed, enemies start dropping insane amounts of loot that becomes a real chore to pick up one by one. Popping in an Auto-Collect chip removes this headache quite nicely.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Route B is basically the first playthrough from 9S' perspective, while Route C (where the other 3 main endings are) takes place after Route A/B where you play as 9S and A2.
  • Apocalypse How: Caused by an invasion of aliens who created the machine lifeforms to do their dirty work, forcing the remaining humans to flee to the Moon. Considering it's a continuation of the first Nier, humanity was wiped out by the White Chlorination Syndrome and the survivors became Shades, whose corporeal forms were eventually destroyed by the death of the Shadowlord. As of Automata, the only remains of humanity exist as DNA information and memories on the moon.
  • Arc Number: In the "Deserving of Life" music video, the numbers 1728 crop up quite frequently and are associated with emotions.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Glory to mankind."
    • "This cannot continue."
    • "We must die & become as gods!"
  • Artifact Title: Despite taking place in the same world as NieR, Nier himself is long dead. Virtually none of the characters from said first game appear in this one aside from Emil, Devola and Popola. Since the last living Replicant passes in the year 4198, it's clear that the definition of what is considered "human" be in question. Ultimately many of the events of the story are the product of Nier's actions in the previous game, with the alien invasion being the exception..
  • Attack Its Weakpoint:
    • Grün, far and away the largest enemy in the game, has armor and shielding so strong that not even a direct hit from a YoRHa Kill Sat deals it any damage worth mentioning. Its only weak points are the EMP generators on its back that create its anti-laser shields, and its gaping maw. 2B and 9S make good use of all of them, to spectacular effect.
    • Most regular enemies and even most bosses largely avert this trope, with the exception of Goliath Bipeds that take significantly more damage from hits to the torso than to the limbs, and the large flying snake machines with their big, glowing middle segment. The Killer Rabbit at the amusement park is extremely vulnerable to 9S' hacking, but that is true for any machine lifeform, so it doesn't really count.
  • Auto-Revive: With a Reset chip equipped, you have a chance to revive when you run out of HP.
  • Award Bait Song: "Weight of the World", which plays over the end credits. It starts off low-key, gets more uplifting as it goes on, and covers a broad theme of a person shouldering the burden of many.
  • Awful Truth: Quite a few actually, and all of which can be found mentioned under The Reveal. 9S, as the one to learns all these truths, is the one who ends up broken by them combined with his other traumatic situations on Route C/D/E.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • The amnesiac Resistance member is revealed to be a YoRHa E-Type unit, who has deleted her memories due to being unable to deal with her guilt. When she remembers, she reveals her original self has gone insane from years of killing friends and lovers, taking pleasure in murder.
    • As 9S's sanity breaks down further and further the more truths are revealed to him, the worse his psychological state deteriorates. Even Pod 153 expresses severe concern over his mental state. By the time he faces off against A2, he has the same telltale red eyes of madness as hostile machines due to being infected by the Logic Virus (again).
  • Backstory: The events of the YoRHa stage play happens before the events of Automata and goes into the suicide mission A2 and her companions took. It reveals several key elements of the story that aren't revealed until later in the game.
  • Bag of Sharing: All three protagonists share the same inventory across time and space. It doesn't matter where they are, whom they're with, if they're currently enemies or not, or if they're reliving previous parts of their adventure (via chapter select) - their inventory only improves, never resets.
  • Bag of Spilling: A very minor example for 2B who loses one of her swords, Virtuous Treaty, after the prologue mission. It's so minor because recovering it is so easy - it's basically around the corner of where she and 9S make planetfall again, near the Abandoned Factory where the Engels previously smashed the huge pier apart from below during his Boss Battle.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • Despite what that one tweet showed, 2B does not have a perfectly rendered butthole.
    • Additionally, after Adam's birth, he is shown fully naked and nothing was showned in the crotch area.
    • Side materials confirm Androids when activated are not built with genitalia. The android can later ask for it to be built in.
  • Batter Up: Unusual example. The player can combo the sword with the knuckles and use the blade as a giant bat to send one of the knuckles flying at an enemy.
  • Becoming the Mask: The machines created machine fish to wipe out aquatic life. Eventually these machines began acting like living fish until they became incorporated into schools. Machine fish can also be caught while fishing.
  • Behemoth Battle: It doesn't get much more behemothy than two 500-foot Engels-class Goliaths smashing each other apart in close combat.
  • BFG:
    • When Grün attacks, the huge android aircraft carrier it destroys can be seen toting gigantic twin-barrelled weapon emplacements on its upper deck. Unfortunately, it never gets to use them. 9S then utilizes a building-sized coastal gun he calls a mortar (actually a flat trajectory artillery piece more akin to a howitzer) in an attempt to take down Grün by aiming for its gaping maw.
    • The YoRHa flight units' mounted guns are larger than their pilots, and almost as long as the flyer itself.
    • Most guns used by machine lifeforms are vastly oversized for the frame that's wielding them. On units like small stubbies and small spheres they make up half or more of their total size, and both of them should constantly fall over due to the gross imbalance of their design.
    • The guns of medium bipeds are a more subdued example compared to the above, but still almost as large as any of the protagonists.
  • BFS:
    • The "Large Sword" category is entirely about titanic blades, from odachi to greatswords to axes. Of note: the surfboard-sized franchise favorite Iron Will, now completely rusted over and blunt after millennia, although its blade is significantly shorter than its previous incarnation.
    • The tail of any YoRHa flight unit is actually a giant sword that can be deployed against airborne threats to devastating effect, even in mid-flight at high speed.
  • Biblical Motifs: Adam and Eve. The machine's greatest creations are Adam and Eve, who misinterpret the Bible into thinking they can gain intelligence from eating apples.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The final battle of Ending A/B when 9S crashes his flight unit into the Boku-shi enemy.
    • During Ending E you eventually reach a point where your singular ship can't break through the enemy bullets. When you are destroyed, messages from other players begin to appear, and you are offered help from another player. If you accept, other ships fly in to surround you and massively increase your firepower. Upon completion you can make your own data available to help someone else in the same position.
  • Bishonen Line: He's not a villain, but Father Servo's transformations follow this trope: his penultimate form is a three-story tall giant robot, while in his final form he's back to being the size of a regular robot, just slightly more streamlined and articulated.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • The female member of the Wandering Couple has had her boyfriend reformatted and reprogramed to suit her whims multiple times, all the while using the situations they find them in to convince him to do it.
    • 11B's Mementos reveals 16D is this. If 2B chooses to reveal 11B's failed plan to desert her post at YoRHa, 16D ends up laughing at how 11B died in pain and completely alone, seeing it as karma for all the abuse she heaped on 16D due to her status as a non-combat YoRHa-type model.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ending E is this. While the world is still in ruins, the Bunker along with most YoRHa units destroyed, the creators of Project YoRHa still at large, and the threat of the Machine Lifeforms is still out there as detailed in the Emil Heads weapon story, 2B, 9S, and A2 are rebuilt with their memories intact and are finally free from the machinations of the Terminals. In addition, while Pod-153 worries that history might repeat itself because of the fact that the three have all of their memories and experiences intact, Pod-042 admits while that he cannot deny that scenario could possibly happen, he still expresses hope that the three protagonists have the capacity to defy repeating their mistakes and forge their own future.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: This happens to 2B's large sword - Virtuous Treaty - after it gets lost during her Hopeless Boss Fight in the prologue.
  • Blade on a Stick: Spears are one of the four weapon classes available to the protagonists. They're generally slower than swords and tend to have lower combo counts, but they make up for it with longer reach and noticeably higher base damage ratings.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: As depicted in the YoRHa stage play, all YoRHa androids are equipped with a "visor" or "goggle" system that appears like a blindfold. This is actually a technical piece of equipment that they use in battle. When they are not engaged in battle, there is little use or purpose to wear it; however, some androids choose to keep it on, only removing it for poignant moments in the story.
  • Block Puzzle: The "Sorting Trouble" series of quests have you moving boxes around in order to reach the requested boxes.
  • Book Ends: "Everything that lives is designed to end. We are trapped in a never-ending cycle of life and death." First said by 2B at the beginning of the game, and then by Pod 153 in Ending E, the 'last' main ending.
  • Bonus Boss: Several can be found in the game.
    • The machine Father Servo being the most recurring, he becomes stronger with the materials 2B and 9S bring until he's level 60 in his final fight.
    • The Amusement Park has the level 80 bunny machine statue, who is actually a machine living as a statue until he's forced to protect himself.
    • A particularly strong machine, the Lord of the Valley from the eponymous quest, can be found at the end of the forest valley, impaled on multiple swords and asking for death. You can oblige him, but he is really tough early game since he's set at level 60.
    • Emil is a level 99 fight, found underground where he attempts to punish his android friends for trying to steal from him. The Emil Head weapon is earned upon his defeat.
    • After beating Emil and upgrading all weapons, a final battle against a group of insane Emil copies will occur in the desert. Failing to stop them from self-destructing when they are defeated results in Ending Y.
    • A DLC has you fighting Yosuke Matsuda and Kenichi Sato, the CEOs of Square Enix and Platinum respectively.
    • The aforementioned DLC also has Masamune the blacksmith appear as a bonus boss, as well as a special gauntlet at the end of the Flooded City coliseum that ultimately ends in a couple of enemies labeled "Unknown", but look suspiciously like Shades from the first NieR...
  • Boring, but Practical: The Laser, due to being a Hit Scan pod program with long range and punch-through capability. The fact that Mana system from the original Nier is replaced with cooldown timer helps a lot too, meaning there is no reason whatsoever to not keep firing it in combat.
    • 9S's hacking ability gets boring real fast due to how easy and how damn good it is. Combat in the entire playthrough becomes utterly trivial if you're decent at twin-stick Shoot 'em Up.
    • Pod C is made of this. It fires missiles that automatically home in on targets. All you have to do is point your camera in the general direction of the enemies and hold down the fire button.
    • 2B's starting weapons - Virtuous Contract and Virtuous Treaty - are just as powerful as almost any other example of their respective categories (some have higher raw damage, but most of those pay for it with lower combo counts). Their special abilities are also quite useful.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Ranged weapons in this game need neither reloading nor ammo in the first place.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • If you die in combat during gameplay, you can leave a personalized message for any players that stumble upon your corpse.
    • In Ending D, hacking into A2 consecutive times results in 9S hacking into her Main Menu, the same one players use regularly throughout the game.
    • In Ending E, the pods take turns addressing you, first to ask if you want to send a message to others who may be struggling during the credits fight, and then to ask if you want to help a random player in exchange for all your save data.
  • Brick Joke: When you meet Emil again, he is without a body. Later revealed to be a quirk all Emil clones share.
  • Bullet Hell: The danmaku elements from the first game make a return in this game. Bosses in particular use all kinds of complex patterns as part of their attacks.
  • Bullet Time: With the Overclock chip equipped time drastically slows down for a few seconds when you execute a perfect dodge. The Evasion System chip also significantly slows down time when you're in the proximity of projectiles, making it easier to dodge them.
  • But Thou Must!: In terms of "you must listen to what the game wants you to hear in full no matter what". You're free to attack bosses like Adam and Eve with everything you have the moment their respective battle begins, but no matter how over-levelled your character is, you can't kill them until they've finished their lengthy Evil Gloating or Expo Speak. Every time you bring their health down to near zero, they'll just teleport away and come at you again with their health bar refilled. Alternatively, they'll just become invincible until the conditions to proceed are met. Other enemies are completely unkillable by default to ensure cutscenes play out as intended regardless of player skills or auto-chip usage.
  • Call Back:
    • The report Gestalt documents sums up the consequences of the previous game (even adding the info only available in Grimoire Nier and becomes a plot point behind Popola and Devola's Heroic Sacrifice in the late game.
    • When accessing the Tower at the end of the game, Devola and Popola confront you, weapons at the ready, stating that they have been expecting you. But this time, they're not trying to stop the protagonist from entering, they're buying him time so he can go ahead. They even get a final reprise of their theme song, "Song of the Ancients - Atonement".
    • The Lunar Tear, the flower that can grant all wishes, returns. Finding the Lunar Tears scattered across the land will help Emil restore his memories.
    • When entering the Tower's data storage facility, it is constructed as a perfect —if pure-white— replica of Popola's Library, right down to the placement of the ladders. Popola's office includes replicas of her houseplants, and the Trophy Room across the stairs displays effigies of all the bosses you've defeated. The boss Ro-Shi even crashes through the ceiling the same way the Knave of Hearts did during that battle.
  • Camera Abuse: If you try to tilt the camera to get a Panty Shot, 2B will push the camera away. There's even a trophy that requires the player to do this to her ten times in a row.
  • Canon Immigrant: A2, Anemone and the Terminal originate from the YoRHa stage play, which was also written by Taro Yoko.
  • Cap: There's a limit to how much certain attributes can be boosted. For example, your movement speed can only be increased by 20%, and your drop rate 90%. Character level for friend and foe alike is capped at 99, as is the amount of items of any given kind that the protagonists can carry. Plug-in chips can't be fused past level 8.
  • Cast Full of Gay: It's implied that some of the female YoRHa androids are in relationships with each other. This makes a bit of sense given that male YoRHa androids are a relatively recent development. Not so much for the Resistance, though, as the male/female ratio among them is more balanced. This is due to androids not really viewing gender the way humans do, favoring compatible personalities over gender.
  • Censor Box: A largely humorous example. Every time the Dress Module is used to remove/re-add parts of a protagonist's clothes, their pod summons a black curtain out of nowhere and holds it so that its master's changing can't be observed.
  • Chainsaw Good:
    • The Type-3 line of swords sports viciously serrated blades that make them look like YoRHa's take on the ever-popular chainsword.
    • A handful of machine lifeforms are equipped with circular saws or other weapons/attacks that produce the same effect, chief among them the Engels Goliaths that use rotary excavators as melee weapons.
  • Charged Attack:
    • Holding down a weapon attack button usually gives off a different attack.
    • Once you get more pods you can charge up a pod program to increase its effectiveness.
    • The Pod's regular attack gains a charge mode when upgraded to Level 2.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The three Goliath-class Engels units that emerge at the end of the prologue mission. One of them shows up again in the City Ruins midway through Route A/B, and its destruction opens up a crater that leads to the crashed alien mothership. The other two Engels reappear in Route C during the siege at the Abandoned Factory when Pascal takes control of one and uses it to fight off the machine army as well as the third Engels.
  • Chicken Walker: The aptly-named Reverse-Jointed Goliaths, 12-foot tall machine lifeforms that actually look like oversized metal chickens with BFGs for wings.
  • Clockwork Creature: While it's never explained exactly how the machine lifeforms' inner systems work, a great many of their unit types look like adorable wind-up toys straight out of some Clock Punk setting. All that's missing is the Wind-Up Key in their back.
  • Clothing Damage: Depending on how much damage she takes, 2B loses her Dangerously Short Skirt and show a white Leotard of Power. Similarly, 9S loses his cargo pants and ends up in shorts under his jacket. It is possible for the player to inflict this on them using the "Self Destruct" command. It is also possible to purchase an expansion that, when equipped, prevents any sort of damage to their clothing...or alternately, takes it off at will.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The eyes of the machine lifeforms have different colors depending on their disposition. Red is hostile, Yellow is passive unless attacked, and Green is friendly.
  • Commonplace Rare: Simple Gadgets are the stuff you need twenty units of to upgrade Pods A and C. Between them and the higher-tier Elaborate Gadgets and Complex Gadgets, Simple Gadgets are actually the most difficult to acquire. Most of those one can find in the open world are hidden items that need to be tracked down in unmarked, often out-of-the-way locations with the Scanner pod program, and most of the rest are either exceedingly rare random drops at fixed spots or quest rewards.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The Wise Machine is often found in high locations contemplating the meaning of his existence, which in turn causes 9S to contemplate his own existence during that questline.
  • Continuing Is Painful:
    • If you die, all of your equipped chips are left at your corpse and you have to retrieve them. If you die again before you get your chips back, they're gone for good.
    • The game stresses a few times that there are no auto-saves. This is especially important in the second part, when the Bunker is destroyed. Die any time after that and your options are to load a save file or return to the title screen.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Emil first appears in the game as just a head, which is the state he was left in at the end of NieR.
    • Most of the weapons are inherited directly from Automata's predecessor, even if Iron Will itself has lost a significant part of its original length.
    • Popola and Devola return, or to be more exact, different models of the Popola and Devola line of androids, and they're perfectly aware of the actions of the Popola and Devola from Nier's village.
    • The Desert Zone is what remains of Facade. You can even find artifacts from that civilization, and the machine lifeforms dwelling there have styled their attire after the Masked King's particular mask and robe.
    • Emil has moved Kaine's home to a perfectly preserved sanctuary filled with Lunar Tears, from her austere bed to her childhood painting of her grandmother. The BGM for this place is "Kaine - Salvation".
  • Cool Sword: The bread-and-butter weapon of all protagonists, about two dozen of them in all sizes and flavors. Their base damage within their respective classes is fairly similar overall, but they differ in their special abilities that unlock at weapon level 3 and 4.
  • The Corruption: The Logic Virus turns androids and machine into frenzied killing robots.
  • Counter Attack: The counter chip gives you the ability to counter enemy attacks by pressing forward just before you get hit.
  • Crush. Kill. Destroy!: One of the first machine lifeforms to speak simply utters one word over and over again, "Kill".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • It's neither particularly difficult nor time-consuming to grind your characters' level all the way up to the cap of 99; the first half of Route B provides everything that's required to pull it off. Thing is, the machine lifeforms scale their level by region and route (A, B, or C) instead of levelling with the player. Since even the Final Boss of Route C tops out at level 45 and even a few levels more or less make quite a difference in combat, any level 99 player with a basic grasp of the combat mechanics who isn't playing on the highest difficulty setting can easily steamroll through the rest of the game without encountering any opposition worth mentioning. Only the top-tier Bonus Bosses can still pose a challenge.
    • Easy Mode takes it Up to Eleven by turning the entire game into one long Curb-Stomp Battle from the opening scenes to the final battle.
  • Cult: The machines at the Factory after Adam's death start off as a normal religion that is worshiping God. Eventually a majority of its members go insane and believe that in death they shall "Become as Gods". Naturally most of them plan to kill everyone around them before they kill themselves.
  • Cute Machines: The smaller machine lifeforms look downright adorable, what with their huge spherical heads, plump bodies and stubby limbs. Chief among them are the machine babies, which are little more than metal eggs the size of a child's torso with two yellow eyes and a big screw for a pacifier.
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: 2B wears a dress that reaches to her thighs, and she slashes and flips around like it was nothing.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: YoRHa android outfits are almost exclusively black, be it Powered Armor or the protagonists' goth-vibe clothes. Their blindfold-like combat visors add another layer of sinisterness on top, yet none of them can honestly be called evil. They're merciless Killer Robots chock-full of Fantastic Racism, yes, but that's quite understandable after millennia of ceaseless warfare against an equally merciless foe, and, regardless of their means, they're still fighting for nothing but humanity's survival and eventual return to Earth.
  • Dead All Along: The human race, and the invading alien race, are already dead, humanity by the events of the first game, the aliens by their own machines. However, the human genome and their collected memories are stored on a data center on the moon.
  • Death is Cheap:
    • As 2B is an android, she has a practically infinite amount of spare replacement models waiting on the Bunker. Should the model she's currently using be destroyed, her memory and skills get transferred to a different model that gets sent back down to Earth. However, she loses equipment and plug-in chips that she had on her old model; if she wants to get them back, she has to find her old body where she died.
    • Averted during the second half of the game, where the Bunker becomes inaccessible due to the Logic Virus. If you die as 9S or A2 during those times, you have to reload a save file.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Whenever the player is at the Bunker. This extends even to cutscenes such as the Commander's speech to the androids about how they will launch a full-scale assault against the machines in order to finally retake Earth during the beginning of Route C. This color scheme also highlights events such as the Alien warning system, which flashes bright red on the black-and-white Command screens.
  • Developers' Foresight: 9S will briefly question 2B should the player purposefully avoid fighting a Tank Goliath in the Amusement Park the first time.
  • Difficult but Awesome: Manually aiming your pod is, for obvious reasons, much more difficult than relying on lock on (on top of the fact that, in this game built for a controller, you'll be aiming with controls that are nowhere near as precise as the likes of a mouse). That said, shots fire in a straight line when manually aiming (as opposed to the bullet spread at higher distances that's caused by shooting while locked on), and it's the only way to aim your shots on higher difficulties.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Eve in ending A and B, Terminal α and Terminal β in the complete story.
  • Disposable Woman: The entire YoRHa series was meant to be this. The Stage Play portrayed them as all female. Only the newest and most advance model of the S-Type are male.
  • Domestic Abuse: The female half of the Wandering Couple tricks both the protagonists and her partner into reformatting his memories so she can reprogram him as she sees fit - character and abilities included. She even nonchalantly tells 2B and 9S that she's done it another six times before without him having any recollection of any of it.
  • Double Jump: 2B and her crew can do double jumps, just like Nier in the original game. By catching the Pod to glide, then pressing Jump + Light Attack, they can boost themselves up a third time with a small Pod-guided spin kick.
  • Downer Beginning: The prologue ends with 2B and 9S self-destructing to take down a couple of Goliath-class machine lifeforms, when the fight with only one of them was enough to put 9S in critical condition and exhausted 2B. Granted, they simply get put into new bodies as it shows that destroying their bodies is largely inconsequential. 9S however wasn't able to back up his data in time and has to reintroduce himself to 2B.
    • The beginning of the second half of the game is this big time. The machines utilize the backdoor in the Bunker and infect all the YoRHa androids with the Logic Virus, including 2B and 9S. Soon after, the Bunker (along with the Commander and all the androids in the Bunker that haven't been killed by 2B and 9S on the way to the hangar) is destroyed. And of course, the real cherry on top is 2B on the receiving side of a Mercy Kill from A2—with 9S as a witness. It gets worse from there.
  • Downer Ending: Each weapon and combat bracer has a little four-part story or legend you can unlock as you power it up. Almost all of them have a sad or Cruel Twist Ending.
    • While the game's story as a whole can avoid this, a great many side quests tend to end on this note.
  • Do Androids Dream?: One of the game's central themes, there is a lot of emphasis placed on what exactly defines "real" and "imitations" of humans.
  • Driven to Suicide: Machine lifeforms have a disturbing tendency to suffer this fate.
    • The Wise Machine doesn't like its philosophical pondering's conclusions and jumps off a high tower.
    • The Speed Machine self-destructs at the end of its quest line.
    • The Lord of the Valley chooses the Suicide by Cop method to go out in one last blaze of glory.
    • A veritable army of machine nutjobs eventually forms an Apocalypse Cult that quickly ends up self-destructing when the majority of its members kill themselves in droves for religious reasons.
    • Pascal's machine children commit suicide by the dozen out of overwhelming fear, which in turn results in Pascal himself begging A2 to either memory-wipe or kill him. How that pans out is up to the player.
  • Drop the Hammer: One of the Pods' abilities is the "Hammer", which summons giant floating hammers. This is essentially Grimoire Weiss's "Dark Hand" move from the original game.
  • Dual Wielding: A few machine lifeform types do this, most notably the Engels with their rotary excavators. 2B and A2 can get in on the fun by rapidly chaining light and heavy melee attacks together.
  • Dub Name Change: A couple of characters had to get their names altered from the Japanese version to the English version because of copyright issues, most notably Sartre and Beauvoir, who got their names changed to Jean-Paul and Simone to keep the theme of their names in place.
  • Dueling Player Characters: Early on in Route A/B, you fight A2, who becomes a player character in the later parts. The final battle of the game has you controlling either A2 or 9S as they square off against each other, with your ending depending on who you choose.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Both androids and machines are starting to feel emotions that they weren't built to feel in the first place and their increasing self-awareness lead them to trying to cope with their places in the world and an obsession into becoming human.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • The little brother machine pouring liquid on his big brother machine appears at the beginning of Route B and during the intro of Route C. After defeating 21O, as 9S the two descend to face off against A2 as the little brother Friedrich and the big brother Auguste.
    • Devola and Popola can be spotted in the background of the Resistance Camp long before their actual involvement in the plot.
    • The Terminals make a very brief appearance at the end of Route B. Only much later, far into Route C, are their identity and purpose finally revealed.
  • Early Game Hell: If you play on Hard mode this trope is especially prevalent in the opening chapter. Because the damage values are so inflated, the bosses of the area can wipe you out in two hits at most, and it doesn't help that the opening section doesn't have any save spots or checkpoints, meaning that if you fail it will take you all the way back to the beginning of the game.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Players must play from Ending A through to Ending E to get the best, true ending. This involves playing through two viewpoints of Ending A, both sides in the Final Battle for ending C and D, and a Nintendo Hard hacking section against the credits of the game, which constantly taunts the player to just give up. Also, over the course of the story, a majority of the main cast has been killed, including all three of the main protagonists. And, with the YoRHa all dead, the pods are programmed to mark the YoRHa project complete and erase all of their records. However, if you do all of the above, the main protagonist's pods are inspired by their experiences over the course of the game and go against their programming. Instead, they rebuild 2B, 9S and A2, bringing the three back for a second chance at life in a world where the machine threat is evidently over and the proxy war is finished. And while the world is still in ruins, The main cast are now free to embrace their emotions and find their own meanings in life. Also lampshaded by creator Yoko Taro:
    [Famitsu]: What might lie at the end of this battle...? (Excerpt from Nier2.com)
    Saito: A happy ending.
    Yoko: A...happy ending.
    [Famitsu]: Somehow I want to believe you…… (haha)
    Saito: I don't think many people look forward to Yoko-san's so-called "happy endings"...
    [Famitsu]: Whether it's androids or robots, it really seems like there will be a lot of emotional moments in this story.
    Yoko: There will be a happy ending this time. I swear, I'm not joshin' you! Don't worry! I keep telling people this, but nobody believes me.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: During the final sequence before the best ending, if you decide to persevere despite the odds, eventually, options surround you, representing the sacrificed saves of other players, and make you more powerful, and basically invincible, while you finish the fight against the game's credits.
  • Elite Mook: There are red-and-black painted enemies that are stronger than their standard counterparts, designated "Enhanced Machines", and on top of that golden versions that have absurd amounts of health, even at low levels. The gold machines are also the only machines that will drop certain parts needed to upgrade the Pods with, so if players want to utilize the Pods' capabilities fully, they'll need to take these machines down.
  • EMP: For all their incredibly advanced robotics and AI technology, YoRHa androids are still extremely vulnerable to EMPs. It bites them in the ass a couple times throughout the story.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Boy does it ever. Specifically, almost every bit of dialogue and interaction between 2B and 9S from the beginning of the game to the end has to be re-evaluated with new context.
  • Equipment Upgrade:
    • You can improve your weapons using drops from enemies and around the world.
    • You can fuse chips together to enhance their effect. The new chip's cost is dependent on the cost of the fused chips.
    • You can use very rare materials and drops to upgrade your Pods, which increases their damage output and unlocks their normal Charged Attack.
  • Escape from the Crazy Place: The "Twisted Religion" mission, when 2B & Pascal find themselves trapped in the Abandoned Factory with an insane machine Apocalypse Cult and have to fight their way out, with some assistance from 9S's hacking.
    • Happens again in Route C when the Bunker is infected with the logic virus, all YoRHa units go insane, and 2B, 9S, and the Commander have to get to the Hangar to escape. The Commander doesn't make it.
  • Escort Mission: The Parade Escort sidequest. Surprisingly, the people being escorted don't act too stupid beyond the initial premise about having a parade promoting pacifism in the middle of a war zone. The real difficulty comes from the fact that the mission fails automatically if 2B and 9S get too far away from the parade - even if all immediate threats are removed and the player wants to deal with another group further ahead before they can attack the parade. Fortunately, the attackers give good experience and can drop level 3 weapon upgrade parts, so the mission is useful for grinding even if the repeated attempts needed to succeed can be frustrating.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Invoked and Discussed regarding the game's final ending, in which the pods state that in spite of the second chance all the protagonists get, they might waste it and repeat their mistakes. They still consider it an acceptable risk, believing that having been given the chance is better than not having gotten it at all.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: There's a whole lot of awesome spinning in this game, from the protagonists spinning huge swords in combat or idle animations, to some machine lifeforms' spectacular Spin Attacks, to the Engels' gigantic weaponized rotary excavators, and more.
  • Eye Beam: A fairly common and equally dangerous weapon among particularly large or powerful enemies like Engels, Grün and the Emil clones.
  • Eye Lights Out: In the rare case of a machine lifeform not exploding upon death, this will most likely happen instead, with a much higher chance of occurrence in cutscenes. Adam and Eve are a notable exception due to their bodies' utter lack of mechanical features.
  • Eye Scream: The Engels in the prologue mission finally dies when 2B drives her sword into its eye.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Or, should we say, heads do not belong there. The taller humanoid machine lifeforms have multiple heads: one on top (as per usual), two on the arms (one each), and one in the crotch. Don't believe it? See for yourself.
  • Evolutionary Levels: The machines have adapted over the generations and evolved beyond their initial state by fighting the androids, which the Terminals intended, while also making sure they couldn't defeat their enemy in spite of their evolution. YoRHa, likewise, is the most advance series of androids made with data gathered through conflict with the machines. The S-Types, 9S specifically, stand as the pinnacle of current android technology, with Adam and Eve as the machines' equivalent.
  • Experience Booster: EXP Gain Up chips increase the experience you gain by a certain percentage.
  • Expy: 9S appears to be an Expy of Emil, being a cheerful and kind Bishounen, and A2 seems to be an expy of Kainé or Zero from Drakengard 3, being an angry, hateful, scantily-clad woman.
    • Through the events of branch C 9S begins to transform into an expy of side B Nier. He becomes so hellbent on slaughtering every last machine, similar to how Nier wanted to slaughter every last shade, that by the end of the game, 9S is psychologically and mentally broken.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The entire war is this. The backdoor into the Bunker mainframe makes it impossible for YoRHa to win, as, if they ever get the upper hand, the Terminals can use it to upload the Logic Virus and destroy them. At the same time, the Terminals carefully balance the war so that it's impossible for the androids to lose, as the continuing conflict is necessary to spur both sides' technological advancement towards a state of "humanity".
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: A disturbing number of major characters get hit with this hard.
    • 2B's and 9S' first fight against Adam ends with both of them running him through with their swords in fountains of blood, accompanied by lots of screaming and gasping.
    • Adam's second boss battle results in 2B impaling him through the stomach (again) before ripping her sword sideways until it exits from his flank and he collapses to bleed out on the floor.
    • Eve is killed by 2B ramming her shattered katana through his head from above while he's kneeling before her.
    • 2B herself and A2 get relatively clean and painless deaths, which just serves to make 9S' agonizing demise in Ending D shortly afterwards all the more horrifying.
    • Before it comes to this, we get to witness 9S viciously eviscerating a hostile (and already dead) 2B android in blind fury, and then A2 doing largely the same to Operator 21O.
    • Pascal's machine children commit suicide in numbers by running themselves through with crude swords larger than themselves.
  • Fantastic Racism: 9S considers the machines to be just that, constantly and loudly insisting that any display of cognizance their targets display is just them parroting human recordings without understanding.
    • After the Popola and Devola of the first game accidentally doomed humanity to extinction when their master plan failed, other androids on Earth began shunning all other Popola and Devola models, even though the originals were uniquely flawed and no other models did anything wrong. Eventually, Twin Models were completely removed from the system.
    • The YoRHa model line was created in part using code and designs made by the aliens for their machine lifeforms, both for a practical reason of advancing android technology through data obtained from their black boxes (which contain the machine components) and that it was more "humane" to use non-human tech in the cyclical wars they helped to perpetuate to become more like their dead creators. This ends up being averted by androids in general, who didn't know YoRHa was made by their fellow androids to be sacrifices.
  • Fartillery: A strange, non-gaseous machine example. Biped Goliaths have a wide variety of attacks, one of which consists of the huge machine squatting down and farting either a fat red Death Ray or a dense Bullet Hell cloud at its target.
  • Final-Exam Boss: The penultimate bosses of endings C and D, Ko-Shi and Ro-Shi, involve you using melee combat as A2, flying a Flight Unit as 9S (and hacking it, if you so desire), and ends in A2 and 9S temporarily teaming up to duke it out with them (with the game periodically switching you between the two).
  • Fling a Light into the Future:
    • Devola and Popola are the ones who sent humanity's data to the server on the Moon to be stored in the hopes that it could be used to revive the extinct race.
    • The machine network fired an Ark into the vastness of space, carrying the memories of machine lifeforms as well as their own ghost consciousness based on humanity. Whether they ever reach a destination or travel for eternity is not an issue for them. If he chooses to, 9S can accompany them.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Charging an enemy while riding a galloping moose deals a tremendeous amount of damage to the target and hurls all but the largest machines a considerable distance, usually right next into the closest obstacle behind them, with explosive results.
  • Forever War: Androids and machine lifeforms have been fighting for several thousand years and by the time of the story the 14th War has been waging for some time. This is by design on the androids' who created YoRHa and machines' part; when humanity went extinct, they were left without the creators they love, so when the aliens arrived, tried to claim the Earth and defeated Emil and his clones in their war against him, the androids convinced the rest of their kind that humans had fled to the moon, and then began launching raids on the aliens as their new cause. They even went so far as to preset a self-destruct protocol on their main fighting forces in the event they were to ever actually start definitively winning the war. Then they will use the data gathered to advance androids further, all in order to become the creators they long for. The machine network has known about it from day one and happily played the part so both sides would advance.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A2 finds records of animal, plant, human, and other such data in the Library. The first clue that the Terminals are building an ark. After all, why would a Tower that will fall apart after firing have such important data when it's going to destroy the moon's server?
    • A small one during Route A. When you first enter the tunnel that leads to the elevator that'll take you to the Copied City, if you look closely at the dead android bodies, it seems they've all been crucified. A hint that a fight with Adam is coming up, although the player may not know it's him because they don't learn about how closely Adam follows the Bible until Route B. It's also a hint to the state 2B will find 9S in during her fight with Adam.
    • One of the sidequests has you helping a redhead find her friend's killer, and it involves 2B jealously suggesting that 9S might have a thing for her. If she's right, 9S might be an Amazon Chaser that has a thing for Executioner-class YoRHa (considering both that redhead, and 2B herself, are Executioner-class).
  • Full-Boar Action: Fish aside, there seems to be exactly two species of animals left in this world: moose, and boars. They're usually docile and can even be used as mounts, but they will defend themselves if provoked; some may also attack just for the hell of it. That's actually more dangerous than it sounds because moose and boars are the only (potential) enemies in the game that level with the protagonists, which in turn means a lone boar can easily wreck frontline battle androids that just curbstomped a 500-foot Humongous Mecha.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Dying isn't too much of a hassle since 2B and 9S can just upload their memories to the Bunker and reactivate in a new body, and this is reflected in gameplay where you can still continue your game, find your old body, and retrieve the equipment you left behind if you do die. This ability is gone in Route C when the Bunker is destroyed, and any deaths in Route C are an instant game over.
    • Gameplay and Story Segregation: On the other hand, cutscenes and story events reset when you reload, so if you died during a boss fight, you'll have to do the whole thing over again anyway.
    • In the first boss fight against Adam, as a newborn, he continuously levels up from level 1 throughout the fight, reflecting that he gradually learns more and more about his surroundings.
    • The game's HUD is justified as a bunch of chips that can be inserted, and removed, as needed. Heck, if you don't mind less information, you can remove parts of the HUD to make space for more power-ups.
    • In Route C, when 2B is dying of the Logic Virus, when her Pod mentions that her visual sensors are damaged, the game actually looks distorted so you can have a taste of what's happening to her.
    • When 9S helps 2B reboot after the prologue mission, he does so by adjusting various settings in the player's actual game menu.
      • And when he eventually fights A2 in Route C, hacking into her often enough results in him hacking ''her'' main menu as well.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The aliens don't have any purpose other than building the machine lifeforms and giving the androids something to do after the Gestalt project's failure.
  • Giant Flyer: The first boss A2 has to fight in the desert is a flying Goliath-class enemy that consists of about a dozen huge spheres forming a centipede-like entity. Its general makeup and combat style show up again later in the battle against the Emil clones, only much, much more dangerous. There are also smaller, yet still pretty huge Goliath-class flyers that make sporadic appearances during flight unit sequences.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: It isn't by luck the machines and androids Grew Beyond Their Programming: they share data of their experience, and, as long as their core and black boxes are intact, they can even come back from death with what they learned. Both groups choose humanity as their end goal, and so produce machines or androids that carry the emotions and complexity codes.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Red and dark red are associated with villainous machines eyes, bullets and energy attacks. Green is used to show good machines and gold is used for bullets and energy attacks by androids and subjugated machines. It's played with in the case of Adam and Eve, as they also have gold energy based attacks like the androids but have red eyes. Eve then trades most of the light themed attacks for black and red as the final boss of A/B.
  • The Good King: The Forest King was this. The machines in the Forest area are ready to charge at you in large numbers to protect him. He built his kingdom like a familial home, giving out his own parts and circuitry to his subjects to help them achieve sentience. When this resulted in his body deteriorating and finally stopping, he was so loved that his subjects put his data in a robot baby to raise anew. Of course, being a robot, the baby never grew or was even able to talk but they still kept him as their king because he was cute to look at.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: It's entirely possible for 2B and her allies to forgo weapons altogether and beat up the machines with just their bare hands.
  • Gradual Regeneration: With an Auto Heal chip equipped your HP slowly recovers when you haven't been damaged for six seconds. The level 6 version changes the "slowly" part to "back to full health from near death in about ten seconds".
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Their identities were never revealed, but the android faction that created Project YoRHa for the perpetuation of the Forever War is this.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Several machine lifeforms throughout the game have abandoned their battle stations to study and imitate human philosophy and culture, to various degrees of success. This is the goal of both factions. Machines seek to evolve and become humans after a machine god (Beepy after his resurrection in the Fires of Prometheus story) taught them of humanity and gave them sentience. The conspirator Androids by using the conflict to advance androids through the YoRHa series to become more human in spirit.
  • Guide Dang It: The game isn't particularly forthcoming about a whole bunch of things.
    • It's next to impossible to witness all 26 endings by accident. Many of them require actions that lie somewhere between "counterintuitive" and "downright stupid" to unlock (like pulling out your OS chip), so good luck finding them all on your own.
    • Certain areas can only be reached by performing extremely long jumps, way farther than the basic double jump can get your character. There are a couple of techniques available to accomplish this, none of which are ever mentioned in a menu or tutorial.
    • The game gives no warning whatsoever that many sidequests become unavailable or impossible to complete past specific points in the main story. This can be profoundly annoying for completionists firstly because failing to do those quests in Route A naturally blocks their follow-ups in later routes, and, secondly, some of them reward weapons or unique upgrade items, both of which are required for unlocking achievements and new quests.
    • Emil's shop inventory has several sets of goods (chips, materials, weapons) that change depending on a couple of factors, like where in the city ruins he is encountered for example. This is never alluded to at all, and a certain random factor remains even when you know about it, which makes it even harder to discern the mechanics on your own and get him to sell the stuff you need.
    • The game's resident Ultimate Blacksmith isn't much of a secret. Hints as to his existence are dropped early on by various NPCs, and he isn't particularly hard to nail down either (hint: he's the one that doesn't reside in an allied camp or village). However, things look very different when it comes to fusing plug-in chips. Lots of merchants offer this service, and they all top out at chip level 6... except the one at the bottom of the Forest Ravine. He's the only one capable of creating the true top-tier level 8 chips, something that is never mentioned by anyone, anywhere, and the chances of finding out about it are slim because he's located in such an out-of-the-way spot.
    • There's a secret Bonus Boss battle against Emil that's very hard to find if you don't know where to look, if you even suspect it exists in the first place. The boss in question gives only the vaguest of hints in this regard, it requires the completion of a specific Fetch Quest beforehand, and it doesn't show up in the questlog at all. If you somehow manage to find and beat this boss, it unlocks a second, much more difficult battle that can't be accessed until all weapons have been found and upgraded to the highest level, which in itself is a non-trivial task without a guide. This second fight at least gets a dedicated quest, a map marker and one of the many secondary endings.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted, the current battle model androids are all women while the scanners are men who use hacking or their pods as firepower. 9S is an exception as he taught himself melee combat, but even then he prefers to guide his weapons remotely instead of wielding them physically like the others do.
  • Hacking Minigame: During hacking segments you enter a stylized area where you have to play a twin-stick shooter-style sequence in order to pull off the hack. When you play as 9S, you see this much more often as he has the ability to hack others.
  • Hailfire Peaks: The game world encompasses sprawling urban ruins, a desert, and a lush forest, all of 'em in more or less direct contact with each other, with sharply defined borders, and they're crammed into an op zone less than two miles across.
  • Handshake Substitute: Among the ways the YoRHa interact with their pod's, 9S can fist bump with 153. 2B, meanwhile, simply pets the top of 042.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When you finish ending E, Pod 042 gives you the opportunity to help a random player in need during the credits. However, doing so means that all of your save data is erased.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Two of them, actually, both inhabited by machines, and bonus points for both being hidden in a forest. Pascal's village is an exceedingly friendly example full of pacifist machines that cut themselves off from the network in order to escape the Forever War. The second example, the Forest King's secluded realm, originated from the same intention but isn't nearly as inclined to welcome outsiders.
  • History Repeats: A recurring theme of the game, where events are destined to repeat over and over. From the machines simplistic programming leading them to repeat the same actions, the 14 wars between android and machine, and even Androids and their actions are not exempt from this. Fittingly, Pascal reads a book by Frederich Nietzsche, who wrote about Eternal Recurrence. Even with the cycle finally broken on Route C/D/E, the Emil's Head weapon reveals the machines begin rebuilding their network 477 years after Automata. Whether this will lead to a 15th Machine War or not is unknown.
  • Humongous Mecha: Some of the larger machine lifeforms, classified as "Goliath", veer into being this. The Engels definitely count, but they all pale before Grün, a monstrous leviathan of metal and aggression that's stated to measure over 1,000 meters in height when standing upright. The first thing it does during its introduction scene is destroy a full-sized aircraft carrier by lifting it out of the water and biting it in half.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: A major theme of the game, the majority of the main cast, NPCs, and enemies in game are all non-organic, mechanical lifeforms, yet they continuously show very human traits. Which makes this a very interesting variation, because humanity is long dead by the time of the game. The machines imitate human culture to varying extents based on their capabilities: ordinary simply imitate human behavior in a Cargo Cult of sorts without realizing the implications. More sophisticated ones - like Pascal, the Forest King and Father Servo - use human culture as a starting point to decide their own goals, and thus manifest will and personality. The full extent of the machine network in the form of Adam and Eve, however, is an example of humanity gone too far: they take such qualities as pride, ambition or curiosity to their extreme which makes them unable to empathize with anyone but each other. The androids, on the other hand, are content with already being good facsimiles of humans and are dismissive of machines' much cruder understanding at first. As the game goes on, they realize there was a preprogrammed sinister purpose behind the YoRHa program that made their free will largely irrelevant, ironically making them more automaton-like than they themselves suspected, even as this very knowledge caused them great distress. It is the example of the machines that allow the playable characters to circumvent this and reaffirm that they indeed Grew Beyond Their Programming. The true ending is achieved because even the pods, who are supposedly more machine-like than either of the above and have been largely passively following orders throughout the story, have observed, learned, made some conclusions for themselves and decided to act against their core directives in order to save 2B, 9S and A2.
  • Humans Are Special: Adam claims that when compared to humanity's depth of emotions, culture, and abstract thought, his alien creators were at best children, at worst plants in terms of intellectual capacity, despite their incredibly advanced technology. Both the machines and androids long for what humans had so much they've been fighting each other to become more like them.
  • Humans Are Warriors:
    • Adam makes it very clear that the part of the human experience he most admires and wants to emulate is their capacity for violence.
    • When the Terminals achieve diversity of opinion, and immediately attempt to destroy each other to have the dominant point of view, A2 opines that "They're acting just like humans."
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Humans are both an enigma and a constant source of fascination for every mechanical entity in the game. Machine lifeforms imitate assorted human cultures and behaviors (like sex) without fully understanding their meaning. Adam and Eve glean what they regard as proper human etiquette from the Bible. Even the androids don't fully grasp them even though they ostensibly serve humanity, finding things like roller coasters and shopping centers incredibly odd.
  • Holy Halo: Subjugated machines have halos above their heads.
  • I Know You Know I Know: It's revealed at the very end of the game that 9S knew the whole time that 2B was actually 2E and that her true function was to kill him if he ever got ahold of too much classified data. 2B is completely unaware of this, and is killed by A2 before she can ever learn of it.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: According to Adam, the aliens were so stagnant they were akin to "plants" when compared to humanity, which is why machines killed them and decided to copy human behavior instead. It's kind of telling when they were struggling against a race that was extinct before they even arrived.
  • Interface Screw: If you're severely damaged, infected, or get hit with an EMP attack from specialized machines, your HUD becomes jumbled, like your HP bar becoming really large and wrapping around the screen, or your visuals becoming a curved cathode-tube-like amber screen. In some cases you might even be unable to attack.
  • Interface Spoiler: You might collect chips that spoil what you get later in the game. For example, getting hacking chips before you play as 9S.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Your equipped chips are given representation as a visual stack, which you can move around in order to get the chips to fit. If you'd rather not contend with that, you can choose the optimize option to sort and stack the chips automatically.
  • It Has Been an Honor: 2B and 9S say as much to one another just before they activate their black box reactions to take out the surrounding enemies.
  • It's a Small World After All: The vast majority of the 14th Machine War's momentous events that will decide the millennia-long struggle between androids and machines takes place in a small section of a ruined city, plus the surrounding regions - all of which combined measure no more than a few square miles.
  • Joke Character: Multi-tier Type machines can grow to impressive size, look somewhat intimidating, are often found in large groups... and are completely harmless because they lack weapons (they're literally unarmed - their only limbs are their stubby legs). All they can do is glare at the protagonists and awkwardly waddle after them when they get close. Even the intel database points out how utterly preposterous their design is. What makes their pitiful existence even worse is the fact that they drop certain rare upgrade materials that're very hard to obtain from other sources. However, later segments of the game upgrade them to Lethal Joke Characters - their enhanced versions are armed, and quite heavily, to boot.
  • Lack of Empathy: Most machines and androids have it. One sidequest has a machine ask you to kill his kind in the Amusement Park so that he can use their component to make a video game. Other androids reveal themselves to be caustic. The leaders of both sides treat their army as disposable, sabotaging themselves so the war can continue; later, though, they act humanely enough to have their data used for new model androids and/or machines, deleting the past models that have outlived their usefulness.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: 2B's default weapon is a silver-bladed katana with a white grip (Virtuous Contract). 9S's equivalent is a gold-bladed katana with a black grip (Cruel Oath).
  • Killed Off for Real: If the machines lose their core they can't come back since their self awareness is encrypted there. Androids can also die if their data doesn't get uploaded in time to the Bunker and of course if the Bunker is destroyed.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Implied with the original S-Type series. The current models are all male, but the YoRHa stage play had S-Type (S21) and the rest of her kind as female. As they were sent on a mission meant to fail it's implied the rest of the female S-Types were wiped out to make way for the more advanced male S-Type.
    • The A-Type and G-Type were discontinued by YoRHa in the past, leaving A2 as the Sole Survivor of her series.
    • By the end of the game, there are still a few survivors of YoRHa such as 4S in the Forest King's castle and the two drug-addicted androids in the desert. But in Ending E, Pod 153 confirms all YoRHa black boxes have gone offline somehow.
  • Killer Rabbit: A literal one (although considerably larger than the average example) spends its days disguised as a golden statue at the amusement park entrance. It doesn't attack unless it's provoked by dealing it enough damage, but when it does, it turns out to be a level 80 enemy that can one-shot most player characters below level 75. It's the most popular target of experience farming runs in the whole game because it's extremely easy to kill with 9S' hacking ability, and destroying it this way results in gaining a guaranteed 2-6 levels plus some very valuable items.
  • Kill Sat: YoRHa has at least one satellite-based laser cannon in orbit around Earth. It's used against the largest, most dangerous Goliath-class machines there are, although the results tend to be less than impressive.
  • Lemony Narrator: The joke endings are a few sentences long, but an overwhelming number of them have some pretty darn sarcastic narration.
  • Life Drain: An Offensive Heal chip lets you recover a percentage of HP for every hit you land. Deadly Heal regenerates your health every time you kill an enemy.
  • Machine Monotone: All machine lifeforms that can talk have one, with the sole exceptions being Pascal, Adam, and Eve. Pascal's voice still has his species' heavily synthetic inflection, but it's much more emotional and nuanced than any of his peers'.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: No JRPG would be complete without them.
    • Engels-class Goliaths are capable of launching a barrage of worryingly big missiles at their target.
    • Whenever 2B and/or 9S pilot a flight unit, their pod attack gets replaced by their mount unleashing a ridiculous number of small, tightly clustered missiles that can destroy just about anything as long as most of them hit. Naturally, it has a lengthy cooldown to balance out its power.
    • Pod C's standard attack is a salvo of powerful homing missiles that automatically lock on and seek out enemies in sight. That includes targets far beyond the current engagement range, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation.
  • Made of Explodium: Machine lifeforms generally explode violently when they're destroyed, with the size of the explosion naturally scaling with the size of whatever it is that explodes. Fortunately, being near them when it happens doesn't hurt the protagonists, and it usually scatters various amounts of valuable salvage in the form of money, plug-in chips, and/or upgrade materials across the immediate area.
  • Madness Mantra: "This cannot continue." "Become as gods." They become part of songs during combat.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Everything the androids can do is explicitly technological in nature and often contains some Techno Babble, like their use of magnetic fields for throwing their swords the way they do. Magic, on the other hand, appears to be a known phenomenon as well - the pods outright call the insane Emil clones a "magic weapon from the old world". Both examples together make it all the more jarring that nothing is ever made clear about how Adam's and Eve's abilities work, from Adam being born from some golden juice excreted by a bunch of primitive machine lifeforms, to Eve rising fully grown from his brother's limp body in a pillar of light, to all the other insane feats of which they're capable.
  • Meaningful Name: The subtitle in the game's title, "Automata", refers to the plural form of "automaton", another word for "robot". Both the protagonists YoRHa androids and the antagonist "machine lifeforms" are non-biological, mechanical lifeforms.
    • Furthermore, the protagonist is named "2B" (to be), and "9S" (Nein ist, German for "is not"), and they have to contend with a traitorous YoRHa named "A2" (et tu, as in Caesar's famous last words, "et tu, Brute?").
      • Likewise, Pascal, the leader of the Machine Village, is named after noted mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal. Which becomes even more fitting when you remember that the Pascal is the IS unit for pressure, aka stress on an object via outside forces. And BOY, does Pascal get stressed from outside forces.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The machine lifeforms, natch.
  • The Meaning of Life: One of the main themes of the game revolves around the philosophical concept of existentialism, and explores the overwhelming despair that accompanies self-consciousness in the face of an absurd and seemingly meaningless world. It's also about accepting that meaninglessness, choosing to emphasize the importance of constructing one's own meaning, rather than succumbing to despair and living in Bad Faith.
  • Mickey Mousing: The opera singer robot has her attacks happen in time with the music, such as her lasers firing when the orchestra reaches a high point in the music, or a slow paced Bullet Hell segment when the music cuts out for the lone singer.
  • Mini-Game Credits: During Ending E you have to play a hacking-style game against the credits while prompts pop up to taunt you whenever you die.
  • Moral Myopia: The YoRHa never seem to notice their condescending comments on machinery around them apply just as much to androids like themselves. This gets even more complex when it's revealed the black box circuitry that powers their consciousness is based off of a similar object in machine lifeforms- machine cores-, meaning, in a way, androids are machine lifeforms running around in human-looking skin.
  • Multiple Endings: 5, with 21 Non Standard Game Overs. Each representing a Letter of the English Alphabet.
    • Ending A: Adam and Eve are both killed, and 9S manages to back himself up after getting hit with the Logic Virus. While the war isn't won, it's a great victory for the androids (and for 2B and 9S, whose combined efforts have allowed YoRHa to gain a foothold on Earth).
    • Ending B: Same as the above but from 9S's perspective. It also ends on a much less optimistic note as 9S ponders his true purpose now that humanity is gone for good.
    • Ending C: A2 manages to purge the Logic Virus code from 9S and destroy the Machine Lifeforms' Tower, but gives up her own life in the process and falls to her demise as the tower collapses. The Pods carry away 9S's body.
    • Ending D: 9S kills A2, but he slips in her blood and falls onto A2's blade, inadvertently killing himself. The Machine Lifeforms fire the rocket, successfully travelling to a new world, and 9S either comes with them or stays on Earth to die.
    • Ending E: The Pods decide to go against their programming and prevent the deletion of the Yorha Project's data. They reassemble 2B, 9S, and A2, giving the three of them one last shot at life now that the project has been shut down.
  • Multi-Track Drifting: Boar drifting returns from the previous game.
  • Mundane Utility: The Pods are apart from being laser shooting, physics bending and Hard Light creating devices of death, they are also good for creating makeshift chairs as well as being useful for fishing.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The YoRHa get their name from a stage play by Taro Yoko called "YoRHa", which is said to take place many years after the first NieR game, in the year 11941. The whole YoRHa story is an allusion to many events that transpired during WWII.
    • The Recorder android Accord from Drakengard 3 is mentioned by the Weapon Trader at the Resistance Camp to be the owner of the store.
    • The tattoos that spread across Eve's body include the symbol of the Cult of the Watchers from Drakengard (which we learn in Drakengard 3 is the two Ones together).
    • A Japanese pre-order DLC can let the Pod Support System look like Grimoire Weiss from the original NieR games. Gameplay-wise, the Pod Support System serves as this game's version of Weiss.
    • The NieR track "The Dark Colossus Destroys All" is reprised as "Dark Colossus - Kaiju" for the assault of the titanic machine lifeform fought in the ocean during the Missile Supply mission. Both scenes also happen to be points of no-return for their respective storylines.
    • The crooked blindfold that 2B wears over her eyes is styled like Shadowlord Nier's eyepatch.
    • The code numbers in Pod 042 and Pod 153 coincidentally are the same numbers that the Intoners from Drakengard 3 are named after.
    • Several weapon stories reference prior games in the line:
      • The Iron Pipe story is a narration by Yonah to Nier during the WCS crisis.
      • Virtuous Dignity's "fourth owner" describes the life and fate of Brother Nier, while Cruel Arrogance describes Shadowlord Nier.
      • Dragoon Lance describes Caim and Angelus.
  • NEET: A son machine in the machine village decides to dedicate his life to seclusion, seeing interacting with others as too hard and complicated.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe, every androids in the know will never forget the Devola and Popola models doomed humanity. While it was an issue with only one pair and partly the Shadowlord/Original's fault, the other models are treated with hatred by their fellow androids and were reprogrammed so they'll always feel guilt over it.
  • Nintendo Hard: The 3C3C1D119440927 DLC adds three Blood Sport arenas to the game, each with its own unique quirks and a set of six challenges ranging from level 25 to level 80 that aren't much of a problem to beat. Once you've finished the sixth one, an additional level 99 challenge unlocks that's predictably more difficult to beat, but none of them is more insane than the bonus fight in the Flooded City. This one pits the player against 21 waves of level 130+ enemies that one-shot even a maxed-out level 99 protagonist, which means you'll die very quickly and have to start over when it happens. Auto-chip use is disabled, so you'll get your ass kicked even on Easy Mode. Every couple of waves a beefed-up, Shade-colored campaign boss shows up that summons lethal backup if it isn't killed very quickly. The whole battle must be finished within one realtime hour. It takes up to 20 minutes of fighting to emerge victorious while playing in debug mode with invincibility and other cheats enabled, as demonstrated in this video. Players have since discovered some fairly viable methods to beat this challenge legitimately, but those still don't change the fact that you'll die in one hit from anything. To add insult to injury, the battle doesn't even net you any reward that would be worth the effort - all you get is a collection of bog-standard +6 chips, ten Forbidden Fruits that lower your character level by 10 each, and perhaps a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment.
  • Noble Bigot: The protagonists generally despise Machines due to their war with and losing several comrades to them, but they're willing to help non-hostile Machines.
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Cutscenes always show the protagonists with their respective standard weapons and outfits no matter what they're actually equipped with. This also means that 2B will put her skirt back on even when it was previously blown off (or removed on purpose with the Dress Module).
  • Non Standard Game Over: There are short endings that can be triggered throughout the game by doing things such as removing the OS chip, exploding while you're on the bunker, and other things that would undermine your goals. All of which are different from the other endings by the credits being sped up.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: One machine lifeform from Pascal's village kept choosing a cheap coin over an expensive one. After hacking in to him, you find his logic circuits are just fine, and he reveals he's doing this on purpose because he earns more this way.
  • Ominous Chanting: The Paris Games Week trailer shows the music will include fast-paced ominous chanting.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Playing the game on Very Hard mode makes it so not only do the enemies hit harder and you can't use your lock-on feature, you also die in one hit. And this is a game with Bullet Hell elements. Hope you're good at dodging!
  • Panty Shot: With her very short outfit, 2B is very prone to this. There's even a hidden achievement for using the camera to look up her skirt repeatedly. If the appropriate chips are equipped when triggering the self-destruct, she survives - but the skirt does not.
  • Pietà Plagiarism:
    • Shown on the game's cover art, where 2B holds 9S in the iconic manner.
    • At the end of the second boss battle, a newborn Eve holds his injured brother Adam this way.
  • Playable Epilogue: The end of Route B. While the credits are rolling, you have control of 2B and can run around the Bunker talking to everyone, with everyone mostly gushing over how awesome 2B and 9S are. The route will only end after you speak to 9S and return to your room.
  • Player Data Sharing: If you connect to the network you can choose a message to display to others when they come across your fallen body. You can also give a message to those who are struggling on Ending E.
  • Playing the Player: To unlock Ending E, which brings back the characters to life with their memories and a second chance, you have to beat a Bullet Hell section that the vast majority of people will only beat by connecting to the network and getting someone's help, after which the game explains that if you want to help someone like that you have to delete your data. It means the help you received was from someone who deleted their game so you could achieve the same ending they had.
  • Powered Armor: The standard combat attire of all YoRHa frontline fighters except for 2B and A2, for some reason. 2B then briefly gets one herself at the beginning of Route C (finishing the game unlocks it as a costume), but it's just a cosmetic item that doesn't do anything except look cool.
  • Power-Up Magnet: With an Auto-Collect Item chip equipped, items are automatically drawn in to you when you come close enough.
  • Precision F-Strike: Not spoken, but in text form from Jackass during her "Machine Research Report" of the entire truth of the game.
    Jackass: So then! To sum up: For hundreds of years, we've been fighting a network of machines with the ghost of humanity at its core. We've been living in a stupid fucking world where we fight an endless war that we COULDN'T POSSIBLY LOSE, all for the sake of some Council of Humanity on the moon that doesn't even exist. I don't know what the point is to all this, but I swear I will kill every evolutionary dead-end machine lifeform, as well as every single asshole behind Project YoRHa. I'm coming for all your heads. Fuck you.
  • Press X to Die: The game offers extensive amount of customization to allow a player to play the game the way they want thanks to the chip system. However, one of the chips available is the OS chip and removing that one causes instant Game Over. Also pressing both joysticks is a self-destruct sequence.
  • Putting on the Reich: The YoRHa organization has shades of this, what with their black, white and red base, rousing martial speeches, spiffy black uniforms, and Kerberos-esque helmets. To cap it off, the Ho-229 flight unit is named after an experimental World War II German jet fighter.
  • Rage Against the Author: The final bit of gameplay before unlocking the final ending is a shmup segment where you fight against the credits. Implicitly, after your characters died, you've become as a god fighting the other gods of the game's world for the sake of those characters.
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: Just like in the original Nier, despite the immense amount of time that has passed since civilization's downfall the ruins looks fairly fresh with only a bit of rust and overgrowth and with some of the old factories still being operational. Probably justified to a certain extent, as civilization on Earth has had about 8,000 years to not only rebuild, but advance. It's implied some machines do know how to build or re-purpose human buildings.
  • Random Drop Booster: Drop Rate Up chips gives a better chance for enemies to drop items.
  • Reality Ensues: Route B starts with the player controlling a little robot that's attempting to revive its "brother" by bringing the latter a pailful of oil. If you hit the jump button, the sprint button or any obstacle while carrying that (comparatively) huge bucket, the poor guy will faceplant into the floor and spill the oil, forcing you to go back and start over.
  • Real Time Weapon Change: You can have two weapon sets ready and switch between them with a press of a button.
  • Recurring Element: It wouldn't be a Taro Yoko game without them.
    • A very handsome early adult to late teenaged boy who hides some dark opinions underneath his seemingly normal exterior. Caim, Brother!Nier, and 9S.
    • A very Fanservicey woman wearing Stripperiffic clothing who hates her current circumstances and is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Kaine, Zero, 2B and A2.
      • A romance between the two above persons that is doomed to fail for one reason or another. Caim and his sister due to his rejection on the grounds that he finds incest disgusting, Nier and Kaine because of circumstances, and 2B and 9S due to their In Love with the Mark relationship they share.
    • A motherly figure is revealed to be in on a dark secret and/or is responsible for the current state of affairs by proxy. Zero, Popola and Devola, and the Commander.
    • Something that shouldn't have human emotions is found to exhibit them. Often the main character's assist character. Angelus, Weiss, and now the Pods.
    • Due to the action or inaction of the adults caring for them, children suffer horribly.
    • Violence perpetrated by the player is heavily chastised.
    • Red eyes on a character as a sign of intense hatred and/or hostility.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Machine lifeforms' eyes are normally yellow until they turn hostile. Once engaged, their red eyes flash even brighter as a cue to initiating an attack.
    • At some point, Eve's tattoo spreads over his body...and he smiles as his eyes glow red.
    • Also happens to the many YoRHa units infected with the logic virus.
    • The Q&A from the strategy guide reveals this is because the red eyes are connected to the Red Eye Disease from Drakengard.
  • The Reveal:
    • The forces behind the war, both the aliens and the humans, are functionally extinct by the start of the game. The humans were already extinct long before the aliens invaded. The only remains of humanity's organic legacy lie in a DNA and memory storage center on the moon.
    • YoRHa Command is aware of humanity's extinction, but keeps the lie intact so that the Androids do not lose their raison d'être.
    • 2B's real name is 2E; she is more than a combat class android, but rather an executioner class android, who is designed to kill other YoRHa. 2B has killed 9S many times over, with each incarnation of 9S not retaining his memories. However, while 9S doesn't get to keep his memories about the truth behind the humans whenever 2B has to kill him, he does retain (to a certain degree) the memory of knowing 2B's true function.
    • The YoRHa's ability to have consciousness is based on the machines' own core systems, and is the foundation of their black boxes. Due to being dispoasble this was seen as a humane option compared to creating androids through normal means.
    • Once the YoRHa's mission to defeat the machines comes close to completion, a backdoor into the network of the YoRHa system would open, allowing the Logic Virus to corrupt them and eventually destroy them. All in order to finish the YoRHa project. The data obtained from examining their emotions would be later used for the next generation of androids.
    • The Pods were created by the androids who also created YoRHa, made to oversee the YoRHa project till its conclusion. And, when all YoRHa units black boxes shut down, the pods are programmed to completely delete the YoRHa units consciousnesses.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • A major reveal near the end of the game really turns a lot of the interaction between 2B and 9S on its head once you know it: 2B's, or rather, 2E's true relationship with 9S is to serve as his executioner, and she is also In Love with the Mark. Her constant admonitions to stop showing emotion, stop being so curious, and to focus only on the mission can be interpreted as 2B/2E quietly begging him to not do something that will require her to kill him.
      • The opening cutscene of Route A can be viewed in a new light with this knowledge. Two of the YoRHa units in the squadron are designated 7E and 11B. Completing the sidequest "11B's Memento" will reveal that 11B was planning to desert YoRHa. 7E's presence most likely means that Command was aware of 11B's upcoming betrayal and sent an Executioner unit on the mission to terminate 11B, which probably would have happened had they not been shot down by an Engels unit at the factory.
      • Near the end of the prologue mission, 9S is badly damaged and on the verge of death by the Engels unit in the factory. 2B has a near-Freak Out when she gets to his body and becomes extremely desperate to save him. This looks very odd, because 1) she had no such reaction when her squadron was wiped out at the beginning, 2) she has only met 9S for the 1st time less than an hour ago, and 3) she's already told him to stop being emotional. But her reaction makes perfect sense knowing that this is far from the first time he's died in her arms; in fact, it may be one of the only times where his death was not a result of her killing him, and thus explaining her hysterical outburst since this is an "innocent" version of him she's holding.
      • While wandering around the Bunker after the prologue, you can talk to one of the Operators, who will mention the fact that 2B and 9S are always together and she's glad they're good friends. "Always" together is a very odd thing to say, considering that 2B and 9S have only just met for the first time. Supposedly.
      • After leaving the Bunker for the first time, 9S questions why a combat model like 2B would be deployed with him to gather intel when a Scanner like him could do the job just fine on his own, a question that she nonchalantly brushes off as "Orders are orders". Her orders are to monitor his progress and to swiftly execute him if he discovers too much sensitive data.
      • While traversing the castle in the Forest Zone, 2B accidentally refers to 9S as "Nines," which is what he asked her to do in the Amusement Park. He's very pleased at this, but 2B hastily tries to go back to calling him 9S, acting as if she never said "Nines". It's cute and adorable. That scene becomes heartbreaking once you know the reason why she so casually slipped up and called him by an affectionate nickname, only to furiously backpedal on it, is because she has many happy memories of being close to him that inevitably end with her killing him.
      • One conversation between 2B and 6O has 2B mentioning that she's the worst possible person to ask for relationship advice. The first time around it sounds as if it's because 2B is so dedicated to her mission that she's never had a relationship. On a replay, it's clear that she meant that because she's been forced to execute the one she loves multiple times in the line of duty.
      • The "YoRHa Betrayers" sidequest becomes doubly uncomfortable. Of course the Commander would assign 2B to this job, since killing traitors is part and parcel of what Executioners do. After the mission is complete, 9S's demands for more information on what exactly the supposed "betrayers" were up to (since they didn't actually steal any supplies) is met with stonewalling by Operator 21O and by 2B, who manages to dissuade him from prying further. The chilling fact is that 9S may have come very close to triggering 2E's kill order here. Operator 21O may also be aware of the many deaths of 9S at 2E's hands, explaining her hesitant pauses and subtle warnings to him not to pry any further.
      • The "Amnesia" sidequest in Route B is heavily affected by this as well. 2B's rather out of character passive-aggressive sniping at 9S for accepting the quest because the person asking is a pretty girl sounds more like she's irritated he's being curious again. At the end of the quest, the girl's realization that she was actually a type-E YoRHa unit makes 2B uncomfortable and she tells 9S to leave, then when he starts asking questions about the E-series, she gives him very vague answers. Replaying the quest again with the endgame knowledge, it's clear that 2E is becoming very uncomfortable with what the girl is saying about killing her own friends and lovers because it's hitting way too close to home with her own relationship with 9S.
      • Ending A/B, where 2B kills 9S, lamenting afterwards that things always seem to end as such. At first, it seems to be a Call Back to the opening mission and how 9S always dies, but what she actually means is that she always executes 9S.
      • Another tie-in comes relatively early during Route C. After A2 defeats the giant machine centipede in the desert, she ends up having to do a hacking defense where she comes into contact with some of 2B's memories. The specific memory A2 experiences is an audio log where the Commander is giving 2B orders:
      Commander: "Normally you'd be called [static interference] but we'll be calling you 2B for the time being. Continue to observe the situation and dispatch [static interference] if necessary." (The static interference is covering up the fact that the Commander is saying "2E" and "9S.")
    • A different example is Anemone's first words in the game, which don't hold any meaning for first-time players. "You're... Number Two." Route C then reveals that the reason for her hesitant delivery was because she momentarily confused 2B for A2, since the latter was the former's predecessor unit model and they share the same face. This also tells you that Anemone is closely acquainted with A2 but has lost touch with her for a while.
    • The strange appearances of the holographic red girls during Route B. You learn what they are near the end of Route C, which implies that the Terminals have been watching 9S for a long time and know exactly the triggers he has that will drive him insane.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Not only do androids look human, but they are also programmed with human emotions (See More: YoRHa Stage Play). Androids even seem to have immune responses like humans—while computer viruses affect the androids' cognition and behavior like you'd expect, they can catch them from injuries like how pathogens can infiltrate a wound on an animal, and android "first aid" implements are given similar names to human medical gear. The machines are also really good at emulating human behavior and Adam tries his hardest seem as human as possible.
  • Robot Buddy: The "Pod" Support System is one for 2B. It can help her with aerial stunts and to grab hard-to-reach items and enemies. It also functions as the Automata counterpart to the original game's Grimoire Weiss, as it can shoot projectiles similar to Weiss's Dark Blast magic, along with other similar moves (e.g. the "Dark Hand" returns as "Hammer").
  • Robot Girl: Like all of YoRHa save for S-Types, 2B and A2 are a machine that look like human women.
  • Robot War: Humans with the YoRHa androids vs. aliens with the machines.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Due to the fact that the androids have no true sex (as in male or female) and their physical appearance is base solely on their model (almost all of which resemble human females), female on female romantic relationships are extremely common among the YoRHa androids.
  • Running Gag: For all the game's depressing atmosphere, it still manages to come up with a couple of recurring funny moments.
    • 9S' habit of answering with a snarky "yeah yeah...".
    • Operator 21O's stoic "one confirmation is sufficient" reaction to the above. Doubly funny when it gets picked up by other characters as well as the story progresses.
    • Pod 042's constant Captain Obvious behavior and 2B's deadpan reaction to it.
    • Emil appearing out of nowhere within seconds every time 2B and 9S find a Lunar Tear for him, plus 9S' growing irritation about it.
  • Schmuck Bait: Once of the chips in your customization menu is the OS chip. It's literally the OS of the protagonist. The game warns that removing it kills you. You can remove it anyway. And, as warned...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: With the alien invasion and the onslaught brought on by the machine lifeforms under the command of the aliens, humanity had no choice but to abandon the Earth and take refuge on the moon. Now it's up to the YoHRa to counter these machines. The truth is, the humans were already extinct before the aliens showed up, only genomes and memories were sent to the moon in the hope they can come back.
    • Many of the Nonstandard Game Overs are triggered by the player abandoning certain plot important battles.
    • In Ending D, the machines realize that their war with the androids is pointless, so they upload themselves into an ark and launch themselves into space in hopes of finding a new world to colonize.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The machine compatriots of the feral machine Kaiju Grün banished it to the depths of the Pacific long ago because it was completely uncontrollable and killed machines and androids alike. After millennia of inaction down there, Grün rears its titanic head again during the events of the game.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: All androids come with a self-destruct option that can be toggled on and off in the options menu. By activating it in the YoRHa bunker, you get Ending U, in which you destroy the base with the only survivor being the Commander, who is now furiously drifting across space.
    • The bonus boss against the Emil clones ends with them all activating a self destruct, which all combined together destroys the planet, leading to one of the bad ends.
  • Sequel Hook: It's not blatant, but careful reading of the text for some optional quests and weapons indicates there is still more story waiting to be told, even after Ending E. Specifically, the weapon stories for Emil's Head indicates that the machine lifeforms are rebuilding their network 477 years after Automata, and an Emil clone encounters 2B one year after that but he doesn't remember her. In addition, the Machine Research Report written by Jackass after the game's end indicates she's planning to hunt down "every single asshole behind Project YoRHa," whose identities were never revealed in the story.
  • Sequence Breaking: With clever use of the games mechanics, a player can reach areas way sooner than one is meant to and manage to skip huge sections of a dungeon.
    • Pod C can (and probably will) be acquired much earlier than Pod B.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: To defeat the terminals, you have to not attack and let their representations multiply in order to mess up their logic circuits. If you fight them for too long Pod 042 points out as much.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: Some robots carrying shields that deflect ranged attacks, and can be used offensively when the robot shoves it at an android. Others have electrified, spiked shields that hurt merely on contact.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The areas the YoRHa can visit include a vast desert.
  • Shock and Awe: The Type-4O line of weapons uses an electrical charge system to stun enemies and deal increased damage for a short time after the weapon was on standby. This is represented in-game by them being wreathed in crackling lightning discharges that intensify the longer the weapon hasn't been used.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A lot of people are noticing how the machine lifeforms are giving off very Castle in the Sky-vibes, design-wise.
    • Some of the weapons you can get in the game include the Engine Blade and the Cypress Stick. The former adds a Warp-Strike effect to your character's evasion dash, and the latter also makes the treasure chests you'll find in the game a lot more like the treasure chests you'd find in a Dragon Quest game. Both of them alter the numerical damage display to fit their respective game, with thin neon-blue lettering from Final Fantasy XV and a cartoony orange font for Dragon Quest.
    • One of the Pod Skins makes the Pods look a lot like a sideways PlayStation console. It's even called a "Play System" Pod Skin.
    • On the flip-side, the PC version has a set of accessories for 2B that put red valve handles on her eyes and the back of her head, mimicking Valve's old logos.
    • The Overclock chip allows characters to invoke Bullet Time upon dodging an attack with perfect timing, just like another game developed by Platinum Games. It even uses the same sound effect!
    • At the end of the prologue, 2B beats Engels by using its own weaponized arm against it, very reminiscent of a previous Platinum title.
    • Beauvoir/Simone eating Android flesh thinking she'll become more beautiful is a reference to Casshern Sins (The game itself can be seen as a Whole Plot Reference to the anime in some instances, too).
    • The stamp collecting sidequest in the Amusement Park eventually takes you to the basement, where you fight an army of zombie machines that spew out projectile vomit. Their movements, numbers, and even the color of their vomit all resemble the zombies from Metal Slug 3, which is further helped by the fact that this is a 2D section. Another reference to Metal Slug comes in the dead aliens, which look very similar to the Martian aliens from that franchise.
    • The Monster Machine, a one-of-a-kind unit found in the Forest Kingdom in late Route C, is a robot version of Shin Godzilla. Its primary attack even behaves and looks the exact same way as that character's.
    • The ending of Route A has the subtitle "flowers for m[A]chines", likely a reference to the Science Fiction short story Flowers for Algernon.
    • The sequence of the first Engels Goliath assembling itself from various heavy machinery bears a striking resemblance to how Devastator assembles himself from various heavy construction vehicles in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
    • Grün, a feral too-big-to-exist (machine) lifeform that rises from the deepest depths of the Pacific to wreak havoc on everything it can find on land, calls to mind certain parallels to Pacific Rim. It's basically a mechanical Kaiju of epic proportions. A track related to it is even called "Kaiju Groupie".
    • One type of enemy is a headless, explosive enemy that runs at you to explode in your face, and screams like mad while doing so.
  • Sinister Geometry: The game seems to have a recurring cube motif going on, and it all seems to be linked to something important. It's because Adam and the Terminals are replicating human infrastructures using voxel geometry.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: A number of characters in Route C manage to avoid misfortune by sheer luck. 4S is the most literal example of this trope, as he avoided the YoRHa wide logic virus attack simply because he wasn't activated at the time and woke up after the Bunker's destruction. The two YoRHa women in the desert were doped up on E-Drugs and also were spared infection. A shut-in child in Pascal's village avoids infection, most likely because he never leaves his room and is probably disconnected from the machine network. When the Amusement Park is infected with the logic virus, one of the few survivors is the machine taking a break in the back alley.
  • Socialization Bonus: When you're connected to the network, you can find the corpses of other players lying around. You can pray for them to restore their health in their game, and subsequently retrieve them for some money and temporary buffs, or repair them as a temporary ally.
  • Spider Tank: The machines field a medium-sized unit type with four legs that has a distinct spider feel to it. Certain Goliath-class units like Ro-Shi boast scores of legs as well.
  • Spin Attack: Some of the larger machine lifeforms, such as the quad-copter automata, use spinning as a part of their attacks. The Pod Program "Blade" and some Large Swords also have this effect.
  • Square/Cube Law: The largest Goliath-class enemies, like Grün and the Engels, demonstrate nicely how extremely ponderous such gigantic constructs move by necessity of their enormous mass. Objectively, they still cover huge distances in short order thanks to their sheer size, but the much smaller and more agile YoRHa units still have no serious trouble evading them.
  • Starfish Aliens: What we get to see of the alien invaders fits the trope to a T.
  • Sticks to the Back: The YoRHa models all have a built-in eletromagnetic field that allows them to keep their weapons hovering on their back. This is also the in-game explanation as to how they get away with throwing swords constantly.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Androids can't swim because they're simply too heavy for it — according to the World Guide, 2B, 9S, and A2 weigh 148.8kg, 129.9kg, and 139.2kg (or 328.0lb, 286.4lb, and 306.9lb), respectively. Falling into water that's deep enough to fully submerge in results in their pod rescuing them and setting them down somewhere on dry ground with a minor loss in health.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Ko-Shi and Ro-Shi, a pair of huge spherical Goliath-class enemies that players encounter on the way to Route C's penultimate boss battle, take several epic beatings at 9S' and A2's hands in short order, but return for more multiple times mere minutes later.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Ending E is surprisingly uplifting compared to Yoko's other works, which are filled with Downer Endings and Pyrrhic Victories. The Forever War is over, the Pods and by proxy all androids show themselves capable of growing beyond their programming, and all the main characters get to live on in one last set of bodies, free from the machinations that left them suffering.
  • Sword Beam: The Shockwave chips let you shoot projectiles with each melee swing.
  • Take a Third Option: Two such choices appear during Route C. The first is deleting Pascal's memories or killing him, and choosing to leave him to decide his own fate. Later when facing Auguste the game doesn't mention any choice when it comes to sparing Auguste and Friedrich, but walking away will spare them.
  • Taking You with Me: The various kamikaze machine lifeforms will attempt this on any android that crosses their path. Interestingly, players can pull this trick themselves by activating 2B's or 9S' self-destruct system. The explosion deals very heavy damage to anything in the blast radius but is survivable for the user, which means it can be deployed as a desperation move when low on health and surrounded by powerful enemies.
  • Tank Goodness: The Machines have a fleet of heavily armored battle tanks that they unveil from time to time, and they are considered Goliath class enemies.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The two Japanese versions of the original game were named Replicant and Gestalt in reference to significant entities in the game's story. The sequel continues the trend with a title referring to automatons.
    • Adam named himself and his brother Eve after reading the Bible, using it as a guideline of how to be human.
    • Machines Beauvoir and Sartre, named after existentialist authors and couple Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.
    • Machines Hegel and Engels are named after philosophers Georg William Frederich Hegel and Fredrich Engels.
    • Pascal is named after Blaise Pascal.
    • Machines Friedrich, Auguste, and Grun after named after philosopher Friedrich Schlegel, Auguste Wilhelm Schlegel, and Karl Theodor Ferdinand Grun.
    • Machines So-shi, Boku-shi, Ko-shi, and Ro-shi are the Japanese pronunciations of Chinese philosophers Zhuangzi, Mozi, Kongzi, and Laozi.
    • Forest King Ernst and Forest King's son Immanuel are named after Ernst Cassirer and Immanuel Kant.
    • Cult King Kierkegaard is named after Soren Aabye Kierkegaard.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: A supplier in the Resistance camp has trouble walking because his leg is heavily damaged. When he's questioned why he doesn't just replace it, he explains that the leg is the only original part of him remaining. Up until that point in his life, his assorted components have been damaged and subsequently replaced, and, if he switches out his old leg, then there may not be anything left of him anymore.
  • This is a Drill: Huge drills are part of the machine lifeforms' melee weapons arsenal, to the point that "drill-equipped" is an established subcategory in YoRHa's enemy intel database.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: 2B is able to throw her sword at her enemies regardless of the blade's size and it always makes a U-turn and returns to her eventually. This is achieved through a powerful magnetic field generated by the YoRHa androids.
    • The sword throwing attacks are a lot less awkward then the usual 'spear chucking' type thing seen in most games and anime. Instead of trying to impale an enemy on the point of the blade, 2B tends to hurl the blade into a spinning buzzsaw motion, presumably using the previously mentioned magnetic fields to maintain cutting force and control the trajectory of the blade. You can even make brief pauses (~1 second) in your combos during these attacks and the sword will keep going, pushing enemies back and stacking on more damage, then rebounding to 2B when you continue the combo. The really interesting part here though is that if you dont continue the combo the sword will lose momentum and start to drift off before somehow teleporting back into position on 2B's back.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: 9S discovers documents in the Tower stating that the YoRHa units, specifically their AI, were created by reverse-engineering and adapting the consciousness codes of the machine lifeform cores.
    • Also the subject of a B route sidequest: the Resistance member asking you to find out who killed her friend in "Amnesia" discovers, to her absolute horror, that she was the murderer due to being an Executioner-type YoRHa unit who wiped her own memory out of trauma.
  • Tragic Villain: The opera singer and Eve. Simone/Beauvoir became mad with the idea of beauty and attacked androids out of despair because she hoped eating their flesh would make her beautiful while Eve is just a manchild who wants to avenge his brother in a suicidal attack. Also 9S, who is pretty much a Villain Protagonist who wants to kill everyone by the end of the game if it means stopping the cycle of pain he is in.
  • Transforming Mecha: YoRHa flight units can switch at will between their default graceful Mini-Mecha form and a dedicated fighter jet mode that's capable of interorbital operation. Both modes are capable of deploying a huge BFS that forms their tail while not in use - even in mid-flight.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Once you accept the rescue offer from other players in Ending E, the credits song gains a triumphant chorus.
  • True Final Boss: The ending credits. In order to see Ending E, the credits sequence - that you've likely seen several times already - turns into a lengthy and tremendously difficult Bullet Hell minigame where you have to take out the name of just about every person involved in the production of the game. Persisting will net you some unexpected support from another player who was willing to make a poignant sacrifice to ensure you would have the firepower necessary to defeat this final obstacle.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Adam reveals relatively early on that the machine lifeforms killed off all the actual aliens a couple of centuries before the start of the game.
  • 20 Bear Asses: Needed to upgrade weaponsnote . Said asses are random drops (making the item drop plugin very important), and enemies are capable of dropping many different things, but rarely drop more than one in a kill, which can be frustrating if you need Broken Keys and the enemies are only dropping Rusted Clumps (or vice versa), or if you need some rare environment drop and can't find it.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: There is only one character capable of upgrading your weapons all the way to level 4. The blacksmith, Masamune, can be found in a hidden room in the Forest Castle.
    • Only the machine merchant at the bottom of the Forest Ravine can fuse plug-in chips past the regular level cap of 6 to a maximum of 8.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • The camera changes perspectives occasionally from 3D to top-down to side view, with the controls changing in correspondence. Other segments play out like a shoot-'em-up.
    • Similar to the original NieR, the protagonists can decide to put the entire 14th Machine War on hold to... go fishing. It's basically an integrated, entirely optional mini-game that's completely removed from the narrative and the game's fast-paced combat. A number of useful items including weapons and Pod B can be acquired through it.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The hostile YoRHa flight units that 2B and 9S encounter after the destruction of the Bunker in Route C can be damaged but not destroyed by any means. Even if 2B sustains no damage at all during that segment, her crash landing at the Flooded City is inevitable.
  • Variable Mix:
    • The background music changes during key moments, like vocals being added as a battle wears on.
    • During hacking segments the music segues to a retro version of the track.
    • In Ending E, once you accept the rescue offer from other players the credits music takes on a Triumphant Reprise and adds a backing chorus.
  • Vendor Trash: The game outright states that fish are to be sold. One notable exception, however, is the fact that eating a mackerel results in a Cool and Unusual Punishment where 2B dies eating exquisite cuisine.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: If you kill any of the friendly machines in Pascal's village, they will scream in fear and agony at you (There's an achievement for killing 10 friendly robots). Also, if you want 100% Completion, you're required to walk away from certain plot-related events (such as walking away from 9S as 2B after killing Adam, ditching Devola and Popola as 9S at the Tower, etc.) in order to get certain joke endings. Have fun!
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: Even before the full release, players have fun spotting the best shots of 2B's ass, or using the "Self Destruction" to destroy her dress and leaving her skirtless. Using "Self Destruct" while playing as 9S reveals his boxers under his shorts. You even get an achievement related to perving on both of them.
  • Villains Out Shopping: When Adam and Eve aren't trying to make life difficult for the Androids, they spend their time just sitting at a table researching humanity by doing assorted mundane things like reading books and eating apples.
  • Walking Armory: The YoRHa captain 8B carries no fewer than nine weapons - four huge katanas about as long as she is tall on her belt, as well as two additional BFSs plus a spear and a pair of humongous combat bracers on her back. It's impressive she can actually fight with all those things obstructing her every movement.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: You discover in Ending K that androids will die instantly if they ever ingest mackerel.
  • We Have Reserves: The machines' leaders are more dismissive of their troops than the androids, mostly since they can mass-produce simpler machines, can transfer the data of the machines to the network and the Terminals have a serious God complex so they use them to test the androids capability a lot.
  • Wham Line:
    Adam: You're thinking about how much you want to *** 2B, aren't you?
    • As for what the four hidden letters spell out... It might not be as obvious as one thinks.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Ending E leaves the fates of 4S and the drug addicted YoRHa units unknown, who were shown to be still alive when they were last seen. However, considering that Pod 153 states that all YoRHa black boxes are offline at the start of Ending E, they must have died somehow.
    • Pretty much everyone in Ending C. This includes 9S' fate, which is also left unknown. Pod 042 simply carries him off somewhere.
    • If you opt to neither kill nor memory wipe Pascal and simply walk away from him in the abandoned factory, there's no word on what happens to him in any ending.
    • If you complete his sidequest, Jean Paul leaves the robot village and goes on a journey to "find himself." What happens to him after that, and whether he got infected by the logic virus like the rest of the villagers is unknown.
    • The "Parade Escort" machines travel to another location to spread their message of peace and joy. The one machine that changed its mind and stayed behind mentions that they were last seen in the Desert, and they were never heard from again.
  • What You Are in the Dark: A meta example at the end of the game. You're told that some other player(s) made a Heroic Sacrifice to help you Earn Your Happy Ending by sacrificing their save data. You're given the option to pay it forward, and make the sacrifice yourself. You don't have to, but it would be nice.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: 9S's hacking in combat, when successful, can turn any unfortunate machine on the receiving end into an AoE bomb doing massive, usually fatal, damage to themselves and half that damage to any companions nearby, with extra range and AoE stun when supported with a stun plug-in. This skill alone makes 9S incredibly powerful in group combat.
  • Zip Mode: Partway through the game you gain the ability to transport yourself between most of the terminals.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/NierAutomata