2017 was loaded with incredible games. Going into that year, we knew that Persona 5 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were likely to knock our socks off. Luckily, there were some surprises as well — notably, NieR: Automata. Even if you enjoyed the first NieR, nobody expected the perfect marriage of gameplay, graphics, sound design, and story of Automata. It turns out when Yoko Taro has a proper budget and time, his ideas shine even brighter. Needless to say, NieR: Automata quickly ascended to the ranks of my all-time favorite games.
Now, almost two years later, Square Enix has delivered what will likely be this game’s final release in the current console era: the Game of the YoRHa Edition. Along with the base game, this release includes the ridiculously titled 3C3C1D119440927 DLC, along with various avatars and skins for your pods. So, does the game still hold up after two years? Is it a good entry point for newcomers? The answers to both questions are a resounding yes.
The base game is the same as the previous release for the PS4. I was hoping for some graphical updates or other bonus content, but that is nowhere to be found. Luckily, the news isn’t all bad: this is still NieR: Automata, and it’s a truly outstanding game. In fact, we already have three reviews delineating all the ways it works. So, I’ll point you to Alana’s excellent review. Everything she said still holds true. Even after two years, NieR: Automata is the rare video game I consider art. That might sound hyperbolic, but it’s not. Every mechanic — the combat, other gameplay elements, quest systems, hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, multiple endings and playthroughs, and the truly fabulous story — all add up to advance the game’s cry for humanism and the importance of our connections to one another. Even the sometimes annoying gameplay elements and repetitive story beats are important because they lead us to the game’s central thesis. Nothing over the past two years has done anything to tarnish the singular experience Taro presents in NieR: Automata.
The additional content in this package gives a little bit of something for everyone, no matter what you value most in NieR: Automata. Some of it includes bonus skins for the combat pod units, avatars for your profile, and a mask for one of the characters to wear. I’m not particularly drawn to things like that, so they didn’t add much to the package for me, but if you’re into that sort of thing, they’re cool additions.
The main draw of the additional content is the previously released DLC: 3C3C1D119440927. The bulk of the DLC amounts to arena challenges. When you first install the DLC, you’ll receive an e-mail in game that contains coordinates to three separate arenas throughout the world. Within these arenas are a variety of battles, including waves of enemies. As you clear each battle, you receive a reward and additional difficulty levels open up. Each arena differs slightly in the challenges it presents: one allows you to engage in combat using any of the playable characters with no other restrictions, another forces the player to hack into robots of their choosing in order to take on enemies, and the third presents specific combat restrictions. If you’re into the combat of NieR: Automata, and I certainly am, these different arenas present rewarding challenges. The mechanics required to clear each one are engaging and varied, and the prizes vary from fun (new costumes and wigs for the characters) to highly useful (high-end combat chips and materials for crafting).
All three arenas have engaging mini-arcs, but once you clear every challenge, additional story content opens up. I won’t spoil much, but it only lasts about half an hour, is emotionally devastating and tonally strange just like the rest of NieR: Automata, and is even capped by a weird, beautiful, and disturbing cutscene. There’s also an added superboss fight which is both ridiculous and challenging. So the new content is well worth the experience.
I suppose NieR: Automata might not be to everyone’s tastes. The crushingly dark tone that is leavened with some offbeat humor might deter you, or the direct address, parody, and excoriation of great philosophers could be a bit much. But if you’re looking for something that presents both exciting combat and a deep, thoughtful story, play NieR: Automata. If you already own the base game, there’s no real reason to buy this version. Purchasing the DLC on its own would be cheaper. Otherwise, if you’ve never experienced this game, you get the whole package here, and it’s all worth it. NieR: Automata is a true masterpiece; the new content just strengthens an all-time classic.