A Quick Explanation For How NieR: Automata’s Multiple Endings Work (No Spoilers)

NieR: Automata is one of the most unique experience you can play on a current-generation console. This is perhaps best illustrated by its game completion structure, which boasts an incredible 26 endings all achieved in distinct ways.

I've received a lot of questions about how NieR: Automata handles its endings, as it's perhaps the most confusing element of the game. Although a full list of how to achieve all 26 endings can be read here, in this guide we're going to go over the structure whilst avoiding spoilers so you can get a better idea of what's going on.

First Playthrough

When you start the game you will assume control of a certain character. You will then engage in a 12 to 16 hour open-world JRPG adventure that is formatted with several high-intensity set-pieces interwoven with open-world exploration and sidequests in-between.

Once you complete the final section of the game, you will watch an ending sequence and then see the credits roll. That doesn't mean it's over, though. Far from it.

Second Playthrough

You will have the option to load from your completed game save file at this point. When you do so, you will effectively "restart" the game. Only, instead of it being the same as your first time through, you will have a perspective shift that alters gameplay mechanics as well as what you're doing during certain main story missions. In other words, it's a mildly altered playthrough.

During this playthrough you will be able to view the world from a different viewpoint, providing new insight and introducing new interactions. This time around your playthrough will likely be at around the seven to nine hour range since all your sidequest progress will be carried over, and you'll (mostly) know what to do during the major sequences.

Third Playthrough

The third playthrough is when things get crazy. Another perspective shift will occur that drastically changes the way you play the game. Completely new experiences are unlocked through the introduction of a significant gameplay mechanic, in addition to original dialog.

This playthrough is considered the "full experience" in that only once you're on your third playthrough will you see how much potential NieR: Automata really has. To stop short of this playthrough is to not see what's it's really capable of.

The Other Endings

You might be wondering at this point where the other 20+ endings come into play. In most cases they are neat little gimmicks that require you to do something very specific, sometimes exclusive to your third playthrough, to produce a unique ending cutscene. In a lot of cases these are more humorous and fun rather than being "canon", or vital to understanding the full breadth of the story. However, a small number of these are insightful and well worth aiming for.

Due to the nature of these ending and how they are accessed, it is possible to save the game at certain points before triggering the endings and reloading the save file afterward. However, for the sake of your "ending progress" being saved, it is recommended that you wait until the completion of your third playthrough at which point you gain access to a Chapter Select. This makes it very easy to jump to the story section that you're mosts interested in and trigger endings in quick fashion, receiving full credit in the process.

Final Thoughts

The way NieR: Automata handles endings is one of its most compelling assets. Even if you aren't a gamer who traditionally finds interest in multiple playthroughs or New Game+, it's well worth your time and effort to at least achieve a handful of the endings to experience the full insanity of Yoko Toro's storytelling.

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