It’s a mod.
After the Nier: Automata community went through a good 96-ish hours of pure, high-octane gas trying to figure out if a heretofore undiscovered church was a mod or an Easter egg or an ARG put together by Yoko Taro and his merry band of weirdos, a trio of modders has come forward and admitted it was a mod.
“We have been loving all the discussions and theories — it has been an amazing journey,” reads a statement from the trio. “It has been inspiring to see the community come together after so many years, it has made all the hard work well worth it.”
The mod represents an impressive technological advancement for the Nier: Automata modding community, which in and of itself makes the entire “hoax” worth it. Browsing Reddit and Twitter, it seems the majority of the community isn’t upset about being had but, rather, impressed that the modders were able to masterfully create something so seamless that it was visually indistinct from the game itself.
“Whoever created this is able to do things in the Nier: Automata engine that no one has ever publicly shown themselves to be able to do before outside of Platinum Games,” tweeted Lance McDonald, a Nier modder and data miner.
The fact that the church is a mod also doesn’t take away from the experience the community had while exploring the mystery. The memes, threads, and content that came out of this energized the community; it gave them something to cheer for.
Before the revelation, the Nier community remained glued to Reddit and Discord, hanging onto every post from user sadfutago. Shortly after their initial posts revealing the church, sadfutago returned as the character 9S to explore more of the area. There’s a chest only that character can open, and, when sadfutago did, it revealed a note about the character Yonah who folks should recall as the sister (or daughter) of the main character in Nier.
However, once 9S opened that chest, it aggroed a creature the community nicknamed “Blobby,” which proceeded to kick the shit outta sadfutago.
The community rallied behind sadfutago in their quest to beat Blobby, going so far as to start singing “Weight of the World” in the Nier modding Discord. In one of the multiple endings of Nier: Automata, the player must complete a difficult shoot-em-up sequence. You can, if you’re skilled enough, complete it on your own or “accept help” from others. If you choose to accept help, the song that’s playing through the end credits, “Weight of the World,” transforms from a solo voice to multiple voices, representative of the help you’ve received. Here it is in action:
Though the community sing-along is not the most pleasant thing to listen to, it’s legitimately moving hearing the Nier community essentially recreate one of the most powerful moments in the game in real life.
The fact that director Yoko Taro and the game’s developers could have but didn’t confirm that this was a mod makes this collective moment even more special. It was well within their power to potentially “ruin” the surprise, but they chose not to, seemingly impressed, amused, or, at the very least, content to let the people who enjoyed their games continue to have their fun.
Though it is a little sad to find out this wasn’t an elaborate bit of dinner theater from Yoko Taro or just a lucky find in a five-year-old game, this moment was special, an excellent example of the power of video game communities (when used for good). We all had a frigging blast watching this unfold.