Here, in reality, we live in a period of unprecedented introspection with regard to robots and automation. Hastening developments in the fields of artificial intelligence and cybernetics are converging on the creation of machines that are independent from human oversight. A recent commission from the European Parliament demanded a set of regulations be drawn up to govern the creation, use, and even rights of robots. Luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned that AI presents the greatest existential threat to mankind.
NieR: Automata, a hyperactive action game from the idiosyncratic Yoko Taro—the closest Japan has to a Tim Burton—winds the clock forward to a time when humanity has been driven from Earth by their robotic creations. We have, in Taro’s fiction, been forced to take refuge in the stars. Only robots and androids, two distinct mechanical species, walk our now overgrown cities. They exist in perpetual war.
You play as YoRHa No. 2 Model B (hereafter 2B for brevity and sanity’s sake), a combat droid deployed by the human survivors who live on a spaceship circumnavigating Earth. 2B has been built in the shape of a waifish girl with a short, blonde bob and a taste for black clothing. Appearances deceive: 2B is whip-quick and deadly, able to wield two melee weapons (which she switches between depending on the ferocity of your attack) as well as an orbiting drone, which adds back-up fire as well as providing a floating support for when 2B performs a giant leap and needs a handhold for a gentle landing. 2B is supported by 9S, a boyish droid who, as well as providing AI-controlled backup, supplies a steady stream of quips to counter 2B’s rather stern outlook on life.
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