Nier: Automata Still Has The Best New Game Plus Mode (2024)

I'm something of a 'new game plus' aficionado. I've played a fair few in my time, and think it's a great way to inject new life into a game that would otherwise be totally exhausted, and in the best cases has the potential to make a second, third, fourth playthrough even better than the first.

Just so that we're all on the same page when I say 'new game plus,' I mean an optional mode unlocked after you beat a game, which allows for a second playthrough with a few things tweaked to keep it feeling fresh. It could be a higher difficulty level, access to all the weapons or items you accrued during your first playthrough, or something more substantial, like new levels or even a different ending.

Those latter kinds are my favorites. A new challenge is all very well, but discovering post-game secrets is just so satisfying. This is why I maintain that the much-maligned Dark Souls 2 (which a few of us here will defend to the grave) has the best new game plus of any game FromSoftware has ever made.

Related: Every Nier And Drakengard Game, Ranked

One game that stands head and shoulders above the others however, is 2017's Nier Automata, Platinum Game's hack-and-slash magnum opus. It's a fantastic game in its own right, with a truly beautiful soundtrack, and the most elaborate and content-rich new game plus I have ever experienced. The moment the credits roll is only the beginning. Huge swathes of the story and all sorts of new mechanics are hidden behind the first ending, and it doesn't stop there.

Nier: Automata Still Has The Best New Game Plus Mode (1)

The first time you play through Nier: Automata, you take control of 2B, an android soldier tasked with reclaiming an Earth overrun by apparently sentient machine lifeforms. You are accompanied (almost all the time) by another android called 9S, and as events unfold the relationship between the two becomes more and more central to the story.

Once you finish the game as 2B, things take an unexpected turn. The game rewinds to the very beginning, but this time you get to play as 9S. This has two significant implications. Firstly, 9S plays very differently from 2B and has access to a number of entirely new mechanics. Where 2B is primarily designed for close-range combat, 9S has the ability to hack into enemies and destroy or even take control of them. The hacking mini-game itself is a kind of stripped-down bullet hell shooter, which allows you to do all kinds of thing that would have been impossible on your first playthrough.

Taking direct control of the robots you've already been facing off against for 20 hours or so does a lot to keep things fresh. Even more than that though, playing as 9S fills in a few story gaps from when the focus was on 2B. There are moments when the pair are separated, and getting to fill them in as 9S is a nice reward for players who go the extra mile.

Related: Nier Automata Cosplayer Takes 2B To Another Level

If you manage to beat the game a second time, things get even crazier, and what feels like an entire second story becomes available. The perspective switches again, to another android called A2, and you get to experience some of the most impactful and heart-wrenching moments the game has to offer. It takes a bit of work to get to this point, but believe me it's worth it.

Nier: Automata Still Has The Best New Game Plus Mode (2)

Beyond the story and the mechanics, Nier Automata's new game plus packs in a ton of new content. If you played the original Nier, then you probably remember Emil, a young boy suffering from a terrible curse who turns out to be an ancient magical weapon (it's complicated). He makes several appearances in Automata too, and if you make it to new game plus, you even get to have a boss fight against him.

Emil is by no means the game's only secret boss, but deserves highlighting for how spectacular he is. You need to have beaten the game at least once because only 9S can hack the chest that you need to open to start the fight. Once the chest is open, Emil appears and the fight begins. He is level 99 (the highest level in the game), which makes things a little tricky, as does the fact that he spawns dozens of copies of his own eerily skeletal head in an effort to disorientate the player. He's definitely tough, but with practice, you should be able to take him down.

I've been trying to avoid spoilers since Nier: Automata is so full of surprises, but even after you win this fight, it's not the end of Emil. There is a way to have an even more ridiculous battle with him if you manage to collect and upgrade every weapon in the game. I won't say much more, but for die-hard fans, it's well worth the effort.

Nier: Automata Still Has The Best New Game Plus Mode (3)

Related: Yoko Taro Explains The Final Secret Of Nier: Automata

What I love about Nier Automata, and its approach to new game plus in particular is that it just oozes confidence. It's not afraid that someone might miss something, and the developers obviously believe that players are going to want to put the work in to see everything that the game has to offer. It's one of the many reasons we think it's one of the best games Square Enix has ever produced.

It's also nice to feel like you're being rewarded for going above and beyond by playing the game again. As much as I love honing my skills by replaying Dark Souls over and over, I do wish it offered a little more than just an increased difficulty level and a couple of bits of Artorias' equipment. Here's to Nier, and its utterly bonkers brand of brilliance.

Next: Games To Play If You Love Nier Automata

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Nier: Automata Still Has The Best New Game Plus Mode (2024)


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