NieR New Project will feature three playable characters, two of which we’ve already seen, director Yoko Taro confirmed during an E3 interview with GameSpot.
We’ve already seen two of them: the white-haired girl featured in the trailer and the small boy we see briefly standing atop a building. The third character has yet to be revealed.
“For this new NieR, we kept an action RPG mindset and thought, this time we want to hit out a great, high-level JRPG, so we’re going to stick to one character design,” producer Yosuke Saito said.
“Platinum is great at creating action games, and we’ve asked them to make things a little more simplified, slightly. At first I thought it was going to be a battle-heavy action game, but luckily for us, a lot of PlatinumGames’ staff members really respect NieR and took it to heart, and understand the project.
“We’re really fortunate in that they essentially took the battle system and the game design of the original NieR and added PlatinumGames-type elements on top of it to make this hybrid if you will. It’s not like it’s a completely new game, they really have respect for the previous game.”
Taro and Saito explained that the new game is focused on creating an original story within a game world, and won’t follow the narrative of the original. As confirmed in Weekly Famitsu, players can expect several NieR character cameos. While these kind of connections will be there, Taro emphasized that newcomers won’t feel alienated if they haven’t played the original, but returning players will enjoy the nods and easter eggs to the original game.
The original NieR had five different endings based on player choice, and that encouraged players to go back and play again. There was also one ending that, based on your choice, deletes your save file when the game comes to a close. This won’t be repeated in the new game. Maybe.
“We are going to maintain that multiple playthrough idea for the new project, but in terms of the save file deletion thing, we probably won’t do it, since we did it in the original one and want to do new things,” Taro explained. “But we will have multiple playthroughs involved. But you know… we’re still in early phases of development. Maybe we will delete you save files.”
Level design in the original game contained a mesh of different genres. The game was a third-person action RPG for the most part, but for some fights, the game would use a top-down perspective, side-on platformer perspective, or even shoot-em-up perspective. The new game likely won’t have the same genre mesh.
What NieR New Project will retain is the tone of the original game and the Drakengard series, its mature subject matter and approach to dialogue and presentation, and not shying away from violence and sexualization.
“Drakengard was my first game as director, and we were actually told a lot by our advisory board to do retakes and make changes and honestly, I said, screw this, I’m not making another one,” Taro said.
“I thought, with NieR, I’m going to make a normal game. That’s what I tried to make, a normal game, though people think it’s very dark and somber. But for me, that’s normal.
“The way I look at original NieR is like your mom’s home cooking: it may not be the best, but it’s okay, you’re comfortable with it. Members of the media told me the original NieR is like a puppy someone threw out. It’s cute in a way, but there’s something wrong in a sense, and you can’t help but love it even though there’s something missing and you can’t put your finger on it.
“But now we’re working with PlatinumGames, and with [Akihiko] Yoshida and [Keiichi] Okabe, and we feel we have these great ingredients now. Is it going to be too perfect? We have all these great chefs, if you will, working together, and now, is it going to be missing that thing that made it so endearing to our fans? But after thinking about it, we think, we’re just going to try it and see how it goes.”
A release date for the new NieR has not been announced. But whenever it does release, it will be in a single version. The original NieR released in two forms in Japan—NieR Replicant for PlayStation 3 and NieR Gestalt for Xbox 360. The former featured a younger, teenage protagonist geared towards Japanese audiences, while the latter a middle-aged protagonist geared towards western audiences. The latter was released as NieR for both platforms in North America and Europe, with Replicant never leaving Japan. Now, the developers believe the time has passed for treating each market so differently.